A glorious bank holiday saw droves of people heading out to the Peak District to enjoy the sunshine, and a drink or bite to eat at one of the area’s hostelries.
We had booked for a late lunch at the Ladybower Inn near Bamford, a centuries old place with plenty of parking that advertises relaxed dining, and offers a warm welcome to four-legged visitors and muddy boots.
Once a morgue for multiple murder victims in a spate of seventeenth century mystery killings (so the menu tells us), the Inn is beamed and rustic, and as expected, on a Bank Holiday Monday was exceptionally busy.
Our table was waiting, close to the door and the bar, where staff were just about winning the battle to serve and keep up with demand from a stream of customers.
Having made our choices we ordered our food at the bar. We opted for Ladybower trout, with lemon and parsley crushed new potatoes, garden peas and tarragon sauce, and two selections from the vegan menu.
These consisted of vegan ‘fish and chips’ or an intriguing ‘banana blossom’ with chips and peas, and the vegan pie with mixed seasonal vegetables, and chips.
Our chosen olives and bread as a three-way shared starter was in fact a non-starter as they had run out of olives, but they were replaced by sun-dried tomatoes, bread and balsamic.
That was fine by us. The bread was all white, but was warmed, and pleasant enough dipped in the tasty balsamic.
Our mains arrived soon afterwards. My trout and new potatoes did look extremely appetising and lived up to expectations in the taste trial.
The fish was plentiful, fresh and boneless, with a subtly flavoured sauce and a deep bed of new potatoes.
Both vegan choices were a touch disappointing, in that the pie was top crust only, with a ‘confused’ curried flavour, according to its taster.
There was a decent selection of vegetables but not a huge portion.
Cate’s battered banana blossom sounded interesting and did resemble fish on the plate. However, the flavour was bland within the generous batter and she couldn’t finish her plate. Chips and peas again, were serviceable.
All the mains were priced similarly, around the £12 to £13 mark, but my dish was a notch above the others, we agreed.
Bar and waiting staff were pulled out the whole time we were there, but were unfailingly polite and cheerful. Any errors in the rush were swiftly rectified.
To sample the sweets, we ordered a Bakewell tart, and a chocolate brownie with ice cream.
The brownie was deliciously chocolatey and rich…not too rich, with a succulent centre, while the Bakewell tart was moist and light, with artfully blended flavours of almond and raspberry.
General manager Lars Godley said that the vegan menu is still being developed, and the new summer menu is out this week, devised by head chef Dimi Papadakis.
The Inn is invariably very busy at weekends, he added, but less so for visitors during the week.
It would be a very cosy place during the winter with its fireplace and low, beamed ceilings. Despite its popularity it was comfortably cool in the heat too. And there are quite a few tables outside, to sit and enjoy a drink.
Its informality makes the Inn ideal for families. Some parents with young children next to us were clearly happy.
We paid £59,60 in total, excluding drinks, for three.