I love quirky names. I have always been fascinated by Heathcliff, Bathsheba, Joe Gargery and more recently, Pokémon. I just had to find out the reason behind the name of The Flying Childers Restaurant in Chatsworth, the latest eatery to be reviewed on my birthday.
Now, this is a story for equine enthusiasts – not quite as dramatic as Morpugo’s War Horse, but cool all the same. Flying Childers was a prize winning thoroughbred stallion purchased by the 2nd Duke of Devonshire in 1719. It made such an impression after running six races and winning them all, that it is seen as the original thoroughbred racehorse. Today, its reputation continues to flourish, and naming a restaurant in its honour, is a hallmark of the horse’s pedigree and stunning heritage. In addition, all tea-ware and crockery to The Flying Childers is Wedgwood, making your visit to the restaurant an extra special one.
The Flying Childers Restaurant is a restaurant dedicated solely to afternoon teas. They must also be booked in advance, otherwise you simply won’t get in. We strolled (well, I skipped) across the pretty courtyard and having spotted the huge sign and big placard in insouciant chalk handwriting, headed straight over to the entrance.
Floor to ceiling glass doors makes this place reminiscent of Sean Connery’s James Bond – handsome yet somewhat forbidding. I immediately fell in love with the place. After being seated near the window for an opportune spot of people-watching, we proceeded to check out the menu.
The book-like menu hit the spot for this self-confessed bibliophile. It’s an extensive tome with an excellent list of teas (and just to be awkward, coffee). Afternoon tea is different here; whereas in most places you are handed your entire afternoon tea in one hit, here, each segment is served separately, much like a standalone course.
We had the choice of having a glass of Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé Champagne either at the beginning or the end of the afternoon tea. We couldn’t think of a better way to toast my birthday, so had it at the beginning. The champagne is served with a traditional Rose de Reims biscuit (pink and wafery), which is apparently best eaten when dunked into the champagne. The biscuit is quite dry and 99% savoury; I preferred it un-dunked and eaten instead as a savoury nibble.
We kicked off with a stunning plate of Beetroot Macaron (goats cheese curd, beetroot, golden beetroot, tomato jelly). The macaron was wonderfully chewy, the subtly savoury beetroot the perfect component to the creamy sweetness of the macaron. The tomato jelly brought the whole dish together making this one of the most inventive dishes I have ever tasted.
A platter of sandwiches arrived, consisting of four flavours. Smoked Salmon and Dill Mayo was light on the palate, creamy and herby, whilst the salmon was gorgeously pungent with a lovely earthy aftertaste. Ham and Tomato Chutney was inspired and a clever step away from mustard. The tomato was punchy and zingy, and this was my favourite sandwich. The Egg and Cress was decent on a deliciously textured wholegrain brad, and the Cream Cheese and Cucumber was crunchy and perfectly seasoned with a hint of black pepper. The sandwiches were a little on the messy side; some were uneven and the bread corners on two of them seemed to be unceremoniously squished down. After the stunning macarons, this was a slight disappointment, but only a teeny tiny niggle.
A tier of pastries arrived and we were talked through the various offerings. For brevity, here are my thoughts:
Stilton and Walnut Scone (uber cheesy, beautiful crumb).
Sultana Scone (dough had a whisper of sweetness, sultanas delivering that sugar hit to render this scone tasty as hell).
Spiced Chocolate Mousse with cinnamon, mixed spice, Star Anise (was interesting to eat with warming undertones from cinnamon coming through within 20 seconds of the swallow).
Strawberry Savarin (like a mini rhum baba, oozing syrup, moist sponge, and my favourite sweet treat from this tier).
Pistachio, Cranberry Florentine (crunchy and nutty, bound together by white, dark and milk chocolate, which is heaven).
Bakewell Cheesecake (great take on traditional Bakewell Tart, and only fitting to serve in a top notch restaurant situated in Bakewell).
Passion Fruit Posset with Cavendish Banana (was supposed to be a palate cleanser, but which I found wonderfully sweet anyway. I’m not a huge fan of banana, so for me to eat banana and enjoy it, speaks volumes of how well this dish was cooked).
Earl Grey Macaron (pretty as a picture, filling on this was a little light, but flavour of almonds and fragrant tea came through nicely).
My dining partner had the teapot of Wedgwood Tea which had gorgeous malty overtones, whilst I ordered a latte (creamy, strong and bold, perfect for waking me up).
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to The Flying Childers. Edward and his team deserve a gold medal and a hug for their sublime service. The ambience is luxe and elegant, the music relaxing jazz. I love gorgeous spaces that make your spirit soar and The Flying Childers Restaurant is one very special place that will leave you grinning like the Cheshire Cat upon dining in.
For brownie points, a special date with a difference, or a pick-me-up, scoot on over to The Flying Childers Restaurant in Bakewell. Whilst you’re there, do try to take a walk around the gardens. If you’re lucky and the sun’s out, loiter with intent in the beautiful stone courtyard, whilst gazing wistfully at the fountain (I did).
Afternoon tea options include traditional and Wedgwood, priced at £35 and £45 respectively.
Star Rating 1-10 (1: “I’d rather eat my own shoe, I hated it that much” – 10: “I’d pillage for a meal here”.)
Value for money: 10
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Address: The Flying Childers Restaurant, Chatsworth, Bakewell, Derbyshire DE45 1PP
Tel: 01246 565300