REVIEW: Wheatsheaf harvests an opportunity

Food review at The Wheatsheaf in Bakewell. Pictured are Jason Field, Kash Field, Nick Beagrie and Jemma Beagrie.
Food review at The Wheatsheaf in Bakewell. Pictured are Jason Field, Kash Field, Nick Beagrie and Jemma Beagrie.

If you want a job doing, do it yourself, they say… which is exactly the motivation behind Nick and Jemma Beagrie's transformation of The Wheatsheaf in Bakewell.

The couple both grew up in the Peak District town and enjoyed drinking in the pub in their younger days: "It was a great focal point – but it had never been used to its full potential, which seemed a bit of a missed opportunity to us," says Jemma.

Food review at The Wheatsheaf in Bakewell. Pictured are Nick Beagrie and Jemma Beagrie.

Food review at The Wheatsheaf in Bakewell. Pictured are Nick Beagrie and Jemma Beagrie.

So when the lease came up, she and Nick took the plunge. The result is an eye-opener: "It's unrecognisable! We wanted it to become a comfortable, modern family pub offering good quality, unfussy food."

Jemma and Nick are no strangers to giving Bakewell just what it needs. It all started ten years ago when Nick – who already had the Scotsman's Pack at Hathersage – took over the Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop, where Jemma was manager.

The couple fell in love over Bakewell Pudding, married and now have a young daughter. They have also become a lynchpin of the local economy, taking on a string of key businesses including the Bakewell Book Shop, the Eyre Arms at Calver, and the Bakewell Bakery.

"We're just passionate about the town's economy," says Jemma. "Developing our businesses here seemed an obvious choice because we know the place and the people well – and we keep things local by using local suppliers, which is good for the town."

This is a great place and we’re building up a really good pub

Jason Field manager

When it came to relaunching the Wheatsheaf this summer, Nick called in another familiar face – he and Jason Field met years ago, when both ran city centre bars in Sheffield, and have been good friends ever since.

Jason and wife Kashryn, who also have a young family, were keen to take on a new challenge in a rural town.

"We're loving it!" says Jason, who has 25 years' experience in bars and clubs around the area. "We're tired out, but this is a great place and we're building up a really good pub."

Located right in the centre of the town, between the river and the roundabout, the Wheatsheaf is enjoying a new lease of life since it reopened two months ago.

Goat's cheese, beetroot and walnut salad - Wheatsheaf, Bakewell

Goat's cheese, beetroot and walnut salad - Wheatsheaf, Bakewell

It's still a traditional pub, but the interior has been opened up and different areas created: a bar-side snug, sofa corners, sociable spaces and an airy, café-style Pudding Room at the back. The whole place has been refurnished, with a focus on contemporary comfort and quirky lighting.

In charge of the kitchen is head chef Ryan Lockwood, who worked at Mosborough Hall and Van Dyk's in Clowne before broadening his horizons in Donington, York and five-star hotels in Ibiza and Costa Rica.

There's no shortage of choice, with a breakfast menu available from 9am to noon (full English £6.95, double helpings £8.95); or a sumptuous afternoon tea in the Pudding Room (£12.95).

For now, the main menu concentrates on pub classics – with sandwiches and salads as well as burgers, grills, chip shop specials, starters and mains. But more exotic daily specials are planned in due course.

Wheatsheaf, Bakewell

Wheatsheaf, Bakewell

Jason is also developing a programme of live music and events. This evening we've stumbled upon the new Friday quiz night and the place is buzzing as we claim our reserved table in the corner.

The starters all sound fairly calorific, but the kitchen is happy to do me a small version of the main course goat's cheese salad.

It's still a generous portion: crisp leaves, slices of pepper, tomatoes, cucumber and beetroot are topped with a round of grilled goat's cheese, drizzled with balsamic syrup and sprinkled with walnut halves.

My companion orders soup of the day – mushroom and stilton – which looks almost meagre in comparison. It's good though: thick and wonderfully intense, with plenty of texture and a plateful of bread, fresh from the in-house Bakewell Bakery.

His main course is the house roast (available all day, every day): a skyscraper of lean, tender beef with a side dish of mixed veg – perfectly al dente – roast potatoes, a jug of good, meaty gravy and the biggest, lightest Yorkshire pudding imaginable.

If Sunday roast is your thing, then this is the place to get it, whatever day of the week.

Whole baked plaice - Wheatsheaf, Bakewell

Whole baked plaice - Wheatsheaf, Bakewell

I go for the plaice: the real deal. Last time I ordered that here, it came neatly filleted; but it seems some diners prefer to do the job themselves, so this time it's down to me.

The fish is huge, head and tail hanging off the board like a stranded whale. It doesn't look nearly so impressive once I've attacked it with the filleting knife!

Anyway, both flesh and flavour are delicate, with a mound of new potatoes, a dish of buttery mangetout and a wedge of lemon to add the finishing touch.

We finish our meal with crumble of the day: an intriguing-but-delicious combination of apple, pear, mango and basil. It's sweet and tangy with plenty of bite. The only thing that lets it down is the powdery topping that passes for crumble these days.

Dinner for two is £44.15 excluding drinks and service – which is very good and earns the tip. The quiz is free and there are free chips too, for those who have room.

* The Wheatsheaf, Bridge Street, Bakewell DE45 1DS (01629) 812193 The Wheatsheaf, Bakewell

Crumble and custard - Wheatsheaf, Bakewell

Crumble and custard - Wheatsheaf, Bakewell