What do you do when you’re craving hearty wholesome food, but the weather is so bad, you just can’t be bothered to venture out? I have a suggestion for you. Get your coat on, and head off to Riva at Rose Cottage in Matlock Bath.

With Storm Abigail threatening to make an appearance this weekend in Derby, I very nearly didn’t make it (cold, wet outdoors isn’t my cup of tea). But because I had made a foodie date with one of my favourite gal pals, I found myself on a train, Matlock Bath bound on Saturday afternoon.

The cobbled stone exterior gives the restaurant a quintessentially countryside ambiance, whilst the vibe inside is cosy and inviting. I arrived earlier than my 1pm slot and was warmly greeted and seated by the lovely Debbie. Whilst awaiting my dining partner to rock up, I watched Megan write up the Specials Boards (updated daily) in painstaking detail. And that’s what hit me first. The incredibly down to earth, welcoming smiles from Debbie and her team.

You know those ‘round-the-houses’ conversations you have, trying to choose a restaurant to please everyone, from your vegetarian aunt to carnivorous, foodie boyfriend? Riva has it all, because the menu is wonderfully diverse. From tapas and seafood platters, to pub classics, children’s menu and hot baguettes, there is something for everyone at Riva.

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I didn’t order a starter, but my dining companion ordered Creamy Garlic Mushrooms. These were served in a mini casserole pot with a selection of bread from a local bakery. The mushrooms were deliciously meaty, moreish mouthfuls and the luxurious sauce, velvety smooth with just a hint of garlic so as not to be over-powering. The sauce paired with the wholemeal bread was a revelation, whilst the tomato bread was delicious all on its own.

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For main, I ordered Lobster Thermidor from the Specials Board. It was a generous portion and the meat succulent, tender and melt-in-your-mouth. Seafood can be difficult to get right and the chef at Riva certainly knows how to cook fish to perfection. The luscious, positively lip-smacking sauce was beautiful in all its pale amber glory, whilst the unctuous cheese gave it an edge that I couldn’t get enough of. (I wish I had purloined some of that wholemeal bread, because I didn’t want to waste a single droplet of this stunning sauce.)

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My dining partner was exceedingly happy with her roast beef sandwich from the Specials Board, which arrived with Sunday roast perfect spuds and a healthy jug of gravy. The portion sizes are fabulously generous, which is great to see as you get more bang for your buck.

For dessert, we shared the Sticky Toffee Crumble, drizzled with a heavenly butterscotchy sauce. The pastry was deliciously short with the perfect crumb, whilst the filling had gorgeously earthy notes of baked apples and caramelised toffee.

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What blew me away, was the presentation. The attention to detail and tasty-as-hell food, is what sets Riva apart from the competition, which is why I cannot wait to check it out again. To quote Arnie from The Terminator – “I will be back.”

Food is served Monday to Saturday 11am till 9pm, and Sunday 12pm till 6pm. For more information about the gorgeous Riva, and to check out their festive offerings (highly recommended, their Herby Crusted Salmon and Raspberry Cranachan Trifle sounds awesome), do give them a call.

Star Rating 1-10 (1: “I’d rather eat my own shoe, I hated it that much” – 10: “I’d pillage for food here”.)

Food: 10

Value for money: 9

Ambience: 9

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Address: 124 North Parade, Matlock Bath, Derbyshire DE4 3NS.

Tel: 01629 581 662

Website: www.rivamatlock.com

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