What do Jason Statham, Timothy Dalton and Stones Restaurant have in common? They all have connections to Derbyshire. Whilst the likelihood was slim of seeing our Jay or Tim mooching around Derbyshire, I was looking forward to visiting Stones Restaurant nestled slap bang in the centre of the sleepy market town of Matlock.
The restaurant is ideally located opposite Matlock train station. It is also on a busy bus route, meaning accessibility is great. This dedicated foodie braved the hailstones (and positively apocalyptic weather) to visit the restaurant this weekend.
The descent down the steep steps feels as if you’re walking down an enchanted path (the outdoor setting is quaint and makes a great backdrop for photos). We were greeted warmly by the team, our coats whisked away as if my magic, and then we were shown to our table.
The ambiance in the restaurant is understated elegance – it doesn’t cosh you over the head with it, you just FEEL it. The airy expanse feels spacious yet cosy at the same time, and I think this is down to the warm customer service. Our server for the afternoon was Laura, who took our orders, patiently explained the menu and specials to us, and disappeared into the kitchen with the efficiency of a magical elf (a compliment, I assure you).
We started with an appetiser of sunflower seed croute, blue cheese and walnut dip, with a Nigella seed sprinkling. The croute was deliciously brittle and nutty, the dip luxurious and gloriously pungent, with the Nigella seeds providing a subtle herby aftertaste.
We were presented with a tray of bread; not to try the oven warm offerings would be sacrilege. The black treacle bun had a whisper of caramelised sugar on the swallow. The tomato and herb tasted of gorgeous homemade soup, whilst the cheddar cheese and onion (my favourite) was a classical flavour combination I couldn’t get enough of, with a pillowy light texture.
Bread and butter is the perfect marriage, and the butter slate didn’t disappoint. We cut a tiny medallion of butter, swiped it into the line of sea salt and slathered generously over the warm bread. It was heaven. The goats cheese was salty and tasty (what really worked was the cheese with the treacle bread). I had to set some bread aside to dip into my starter of Leek and Potato Soup (goats cheese beignet, truffle oil).
The soup was velvety smooth and gorgeous, the perfect food for a chilly wintry afternoon. Tasty tip – smash the beignet, which will leave cheesy trails in the soup, which is great to dunk the aforementioned bread into.
My dining partner had the Ham Hock Croquette (piccalilli mayonnaise, pickled cauliflower, watercress). The ham had a magnificently meaty texture and went perfectly with the zingy mayonnaise. I managed to snaffle a forkful of the pickled cucumber, which I thought was innovative and a lovely little palate cleanser too.
For main, I had the Breast of Chicken (smoked garlic purée, fondant potato, creamed cabbage). The meat was tender and moist, the fondant potato a revelation (buttery soft) and the spring greens, filling and wholesome, especially with a smidgeon of the gorgeous garlicky puree.
My dining partner had the Breaded Fillet of Plaice (pickled cucumber, new potatoes, capers, lemon mayonnaise). The fish was perfectly cooked and seasoned (again, I couldn’t help but slide my fork surreptitiously over onto his plate). This was a good dish, the real star being the refreshing mayonnaise with scattered capers.
I loved dining at Stones. It is one very special place indeed. Be it a romantic date night (come on guys and girls, treat your other half here), or a Father’s Day treat, you’re guaranteed to have your socks knocked off with the handsome and tasty food.
A special shout out to Laura, our server on the day. She was thoughtful, attentive and a real asset to Stones Restaurant. (She kindly offered to leave the cheese dip on our table for the duration of the meal. How cool is that?)
Stones Restaurant is the epitome of fine dining with a contemporary twist. Come hail or shine, Stones Restaurant is one brilliant, luminous place to be. Hat tip to Stones Restaurant; the world is a better place with you in it.
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: 1c Dale Road, Matlock, Derbyshire DE4 3LT
Tel: 01629 56061