Immaculate setting and even better food
You can tell at a glance that much thought, time and love has been lavished on the latest makeover at one of the most popular country pubs in Derbyshire, the Peacock at Cutthorpe.
From the immaculate beer garden with its pretty floral displays to the bathrooms with their gorgeous Moroccan tiles and high-tech hand driers, everything is just so. Since my last visit a few years back, a redesign of the considerable indoor space has created a more relaxed bar area and a private dining room that allows groups of up to 12 to have a little privacy and still feel part of the pub.
Meanwhile, the menu - a mix of pub classics and finer dining dishes - is nicely balanced. General manager Tim Treeby is a familiar face, having spent many years overseeing hugely popular food venues in Sheffield, such as the Cricket Inn in Totley and Thyme Café in Broomhill, and he runs a tight ship. Service is cheerful and very efficient.
Presentation is pristine, even with the simplest dishes. Fish and chips was most definitely the most popular main course coming out of the kitchen when we visited, and the mushy peas and tartare sauce showed up a treat on shiny black plates.
Our starters looked pretty special, too. Pearl barley risotto (£6) was a vivid green courtesy of asparagus and watercress, with shavings of Pecorino cheese melting splendidly over the top. It was perfectly cooked and deeply comforting. Pan seared scallops (£9) were sweet, slightly caramelised and sparkling fresh. Served with florets of cauliflower, cooked tempura-style in crunchy batter, on a cauliflower and truffle sauce, they helped provide the most immaculate start to a meal as we could remember for many months.
Mains continued the sky-high standards. Sautéed duck breast (£18) was gloriously shade of pink with a not-too-sweet cherry sauce on the side. Those cherries dotted around the plate were soaked in booze to provide little bombs of mouth-numbing pleasure and the accompanying duck leg croquette and wedge of potato rosti satisfied the carb craving with considerable panache.
That was quite a cheffy main course, and pretty special it was too. By contrast, fillet steak (£23.95) was presented with no frills. Just as well, this glorious hunk of seared, medium-rare meat could speak for itself. Hung for 28 days and served with peppercorn sauce, good chips and the usual trimmings, it provided my carnivorous companion with much comfort.
After such substantial main courses, we were looking to end our meal on a lighter note. Chocolate parfait with cinder toffee, figs and hazelnuts (£6) and ricotta semi-fredo with berry compote and rhubarb (£6) rounded the evening off in the relaxed, special style that had been evident from the moment we arrived.
There is a good choice of hand-pulled beers and a very decent wine list including a fantastic Argentinian Malbec, Dante Robino (£5.50 glass). Note to self: next time, get someone else to drive and go for the bottle.
The Peacock, School Hill, Cutthorpe, Chesterfield, S42 7AS
Tel: 01246 563 669