The sun was shining and I was in high spirits when I popped in to review The Kedleston Country House in Derby. Set in an impressive estate, the boutique hotel and restaurant replete with stunning Georgian architecture is a short drive from the city centre.
Understated elegance is the order of the day, as you take in the brushed sandstone, meticulous shrubbery and acres of lush green countryside.
Now, this is a “frock place”. You know, a lovely space that calls for lovely clothes. The location is ideal to unleash your inner Jane Austen, and you can seriously imagine (I did) that you’re awaiting the dashing Darcy in your floaty finery with bated breath, whilst posing coquettishly on the top step.
After ordering drinks at the bar, we were seated in the concourse section and handed food menus. Instead of ordering food in the restaurant, we were given the option of perusing menus at leisure in the comfortably luxe concourse. I must admit, it felt great to be able to order food whilst relaxing in the bar area, instead of sitting ramrod straight for a solid two hours in a restaurant.
We were shown to our table within 15 minutes where a basket of artisan bread, olives and dipping oils awaited us. The bread was fresh and tasty, the balsamic swirled oil deliciously sweet on the swallow, and the olives scrummy mouthfuls of oily goodness.
I kicked off with Salmon Fishcake (tartare sauce, house salad). The fist-sized fish-cake was very substantial; what I loved was that the salmon flakes were discernible from the smooth potato filling, and together with the punchy tartare sauce, made for a very good starter indeed.
My partner had Chicken and Asparagus Terrine (pea purée, pea and basil salad, toasted brioche). The terrine was gorgeously unctuous with a hint of ground pepper, lifted by the pea purée for a magnificent mouthful. The toasted brioche added a delicate sweetness and pillowy texture to the dish, which was inspired and downright delicious.
For main, I had DBC Beer Roasted Chicken (fondant potato, chestnut mushrooms, smoked bacon, garlic, shallots). Do not be fooled by the presentation of the dish; the river of sauce did look a little messy, but I soon forgot about aesthetics once I’d had a mouthful. The chicken was meaty and succulent, the mushrooms little spongy morsels of nirvana, and the sauce so moreish, I had to resist licking the plate clean.
My partner had Derbyshire Lamb Rump (aubergine purée, roasted cherry tomatoes, chargrilled courgette, feta, olive couscous salad). I was interested to see how this dish played out. This was a decent plate of food, albeit a little mismatched. The lamb was lovely and cooked to perfection, the aubergine a gorgeous bed of silkiness and the cooked vegetables pretty as a picture. I’m not entirely sure the couscous with lamb worked, never having seen this combination before, but hey, hats off to the chef for attempting something new and thinking out of the box.
Not to have dessert is tantamount to blasphemy. We shared a Sticky Toffee Pudding (clotted cream ice-cream) and loved it. The texture of the pudding was a little too smooth for my liking, however the sauce was divine and hit heavy on the butterscotch notes. The sprinkling of coffee crumb was the genius idea that elevated this dish to new levels – and for this alone, I would get this dessert again.
From setting foot in the handsome building, to leaving, this is one dining experience with a difference. Make Kedleston Country House your next port of call, go on, you deserve a treat.
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: 9.5
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Kedleston Country House, Kedleston Road, Kedleston, Derby DE22 5JD
Tel: 01332 477 222