Restaurant visits are back on the menu. And there’s no better place to start than at Casa Hotel.
It was so nice to be out. After months of being cooped up, it was just lovely to be sat inside a restaurant enjoying a delicious meal and a chilled glass of wine. It was the most normal I’d felt in, well, I can’t quite remember.
And the venue for our ‘outing’ couldn’t have been better. The two rosette award winning Cocina Restaurant, on the first floor of the Casa Hotel, is a stylish space with a bar at its entrance which gives a way to a huge L-shaped dining room with panoramic windows. The open kitchen is a hive of activity and the plentiful staff were eager to please and charming throughout the evening.
Chesterfield’s Casa Hotel was launched by Steve Perez, the successful businessman behind Global Brands, the drinks company who brought us VK, Bacardi Breezers and Amigos. His father, originally from Barcelona, went on to become a restaurateur and put down roots in Derbyshire.
Papá’s influence is clear to see, from the Mediterranean-inspired dishes cooked on the Barcelona-made, coal-fuelled Josper oven in the kitchen, to the Spanish bull ornaments on the shelves of the dining area. But the ingredients themselves are locally-sourced, thanks to Steve’s own farm, Walton Lodge. At the top of the menu is a brief paragraph telling us about the farm where all Cocina’s meat is organically sourced. More restaurants should be this up-front about sourcing their produce.
It’s an impressive enough building but this is not a place to go to for the views. If searching out new sources of culinary excellence is on your radar however the good news is it couldn’t be easier to find.
At the restaurant entrance is one of those Salvador Dali-inspired melting grandfather clocks, the first indication that they aren’t afraid to do things a little differently here.
The menu has a good selection of tapas options, which can also be eaten as starters, as well as grill dishes, main courses and ‘Cocina comforts’, which included burgers, fish and chips, pasta and curry.
The bread is home-made and delicious, the wine list has plainly been assembled with some care and includes an excellent selection available by the glass, and the coffee has clearly been made by a barista who knows their stuff.
A lemon gin cocktail (£9) provided the perfect aperitif for my companion whilst I indulged in a glass of the house white, a Borsao Blanco Macabeo (£5.80), which had notes of peach, lemon and fennel.
To start we chose from the tapas menu, opting for dishes of sauteed garlic and chilli king prawns (£5.50) and pan-seared scallops (£8) and very good they were too. The juicy prawns had just the right amount of heat whilst the scallops, served with pineapple and chilli glazed belly pork, toasted coconut and a wasabi cracker, was refined and equally delicious.
For mains I couldn’t resist putting the Josper grill to the test and the tuna steak (£25), served with a chimchurri sauce and a side of sauteed green beans and shallots, was divine. It was cooked just how I like it; seared on the outside and deliciously rare on the inside with its fresh flavour well complemented by the parsley, oregano, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, and red pepper sauce.
My wife chose the Walton Lodge rump of lamb (£19), which was served pink and accompanied by dauphinoise potato, buttered asparagus, spinach and wild garlic puree and a very more-ish lamb sauce. It was the perfect spring/summer dish; the meat was cooked just right while the accompaniments provided plenty of flavour and interest.
Desserts continued the high standards - both the salted caramel tart, hazelnut praline, espresso gel, clotted cream (£7) and rhubarb and custard panna cotta, poached rhubarb, crumble (£5.50) were excellent and a fitting way to end a delicious meal. The wait was well worth it.
Casa Hotel, Lockoford Lane, Chesterfield, S41 7JB
Tel: 01246 245999