*Review by invite*
Are you a person who likes surprises? I’m not a fan. I’m a Leo and it takes me a while to adapt, but if it’s a nice, albeit unexpected occurence, I guess that would be OK.
According to a study*, the brain’s pleasure centres are more “turned on” when we experience unpredictable pleasant things, compared to expected pleasant events.
And so it was that my surprise receptors went into overdrive as I entered The Yard to review one Sunday afternoon.
I was expecting a place with a sports bar vibe… but it was the opposite to what I had expected and could easily pass as a quaint eatery offering brunch where the Chelsea set convene for double espressos and smashed avocado on toast.
What is The Yard? It is the eatery at the site of Derby County Football Club. It is still fairly new and has that clean, tidy air about it, found in newish establishments that is oddly endearing.
Having gotten over the seriously cute foyer replete with retro mailbox displayed on art deco-esque tiles, we were shown to a spacious booth with spacious table in expansive surroundings. Yes, I know I have emphasised space, but small tables in scrunched up sardine formation is a massive bugbear and an unwelcome trend I am seeing in more restaurants of late (more on that in a standalone post).
We took a seat in our comfortable booth and took a few minutes to absorb and digest. When reviewing, I always take a few moments to “just be”, to feel the ambiance and spectate. Being in the building felt great, because it’s pretty, neat (yes I’m a loud and proud “neat freak”) and decked out in warm vanilla and twinkly fairy lights.
We kicked off (pardon the pun) with a few starters. I had roasted beets (goats curd, baby leaves), which was an extraordinarily pretty dish. Beet carpaccio and artistic swirls of balsamic beet powder was very good; I especially liked the tang of the curd, which elevated the dish from earthy and decent to wonderfully piquant and delicious.
Dining partner had grilled spiced chicken (pickled watermelon and buffalo sauce). The Yard chefs’ plate up as if their alma mater is the acclaimed Royal College of Art, such is the level of precision and eye for detail. I especially loved the green wasabi dust, but even if you’re not a fan of wasabi (James Martin is right when he calls it the devil’s food), the taste is subtle to ultimately render inoffensive.
My main of buttermilk pan-fried chicken was tender inside and beautifully burnished. Too often a fat chicken breast is cooked and plated up as it is, to make it unpalatable. Here, a generous breast was portioned off by cleaving, which I found tastier, due to the increased surface area to absorb all those sauces. Accompanying rainbow slaw was very good, whilst my skin-on fries (swapped out for sweet potato – I have to be in the mood for sweet potato) were fresh and moreish.
Dining partner had the roast served with all the trimmings. Tender roasties with a gorgeous fondant-esque texture, scrumptious roasted pork, Hulk-fist-sized Yorkshire pudding, steamed vegetables and elixir-like gravy was stunning. “The best roast I have ever had.” These are my dinner date’s words verbatim, and at a very pocket-friendly £10.50, there is absolutely nothing to gripe about here.
The Yard white chocolate and strawberry tart was dreamy, creamy and arrived with a welcome drizzle of caramel sauce, whilst the traditional apple pie with custard was a classic combination that I loved. Too often I have been on the receiving end of sub-standard apple crumble (with vinegary-sharp tart apples). Not so the case here at The Yard, whose fragrant apples with a hint of warming vanilla were a dream to eat.
I loved dining at The Yard. It surprised the heck out of me, the food was delicious, and I also discovered a place in Derby that does “the best roast ever.” Service is efficient and friendly, the décor is inviting and I will most certainly be back.
*Source: ABC News*
Rating: (1: Hate: I’d rather eat my shoe – 10: Love: I’d sell my kidney for a meal here)
Value for money: 10
Eatery name: The Yard, Derby
Open since: August 2017
Address: Pride Park Stadium, Derby DE24 8XL
Opening times: Mon – Wed 08:00 – 20:00 / Thurs 08:00 – 22:00 / Fri 08:00 – 23:00 / Sat 12:00 – 23:00 / Sun 12:00 – 18:00
How to make reservation: Telephone / website (ResDiary)
Call: 01332 821 001
Head Chef: Chris Marshall
Front of House: Rose
GM: Zsuzsanna Orban
Table service: Yes
Menu notes: Will cater for allergies. Vegetarian-friendly menu.
Wheelchair friendly: Yes
Whilst in the area: Check out Costco on Wyvernside, whose collection of cookbooks is covetable. They also dish out samples of food, great so you can try-before-you-buy (at least 25% of my larder consists of stock that I tasted whilst in-store in Costco).