The Strutt Arms first appeared on my radar last year after news of its opening last autumn. It only took a year for me to get over there to try out their new menu, on the eve of lockdown number two, no less.
The Strutt Arms is an approximate 10-minute drive from Derby city centre, and the car-park is spacious. As we pull into the first car-park (there is an adjacent one for any over-spill) I am immediately intrigued by an array of mini wood-burners.
They are positioned at the entrance of each grey mini-marquee flanking one perimeter of the car-park. Intrigue swiftly turns to adoration as the scent of charcoal and burning wood tantalises me, because these scents remind me of bonfires and the advent of the festive season.
The Strutt Arms sits in a pretty, expansive building. I am made more keenly aware of the massive ground-floor space it occupies when I walk from one exit facing the car-park, to the entrance facing the main road. A one-way system, scannable QR code for the NHS app and hand sanitiser show The Strutt Arms have got the safety of staff and patrons at the forefront of their minds.
The compact menu has something for everyone, and very pocket-friendly pricing of £12.50 for two courses.
Gloriously fat, butterflied prawns bathed in garlic butter are a joy to look at and even better when scarfed. With zero shame. I tear off the prawn shell like a hungry bear and contemplate licking my fingers before I realise that licking fingers isn’t something one does in public, or probably ever in a current pandemic era. I like the addition of roasted bread slices that act as a sponge, soaking up the salty garlicky butter, rendering the toast chewy at the edges and squidgy soft in the middle.
Dining partner starts with grilled lamb chop. Tender lamb with a chargrilled crust is very good, whilst the roasted pepper purée gives it an added dimension by bringing a subtle sweetness to the plate.
We’re both in the mood for a burger, so I choose the veggie burger. A vegan patty has crunch, bite and is excellent with Smokey Jack cheese. This is a whopper of a burger, and great when you’re starving, especially with the generous portion of fries. It’s not just your regular burger, this otherwise humble sandwich is elevated by the accompanying creamy kale slaw that gives it a unique appearance. Add a hash brown and large brioche bun to the mix, and you’ve got a dish substantial enough to last you for the full day.
Dining partner enjoys his ‘The Strutt Burger’, which is a tender 8oz beef patty loaded with Smokey Jack cheese, fried egg, hash brown. Again, this is served with skinny fries and kale slaw, which is a good staple should more burgers be added to the menu.
My straining belt forbids me a full dessert, which is why we choose to share a Morello Cherry Tart. Shortcrust pastry casing with a frangipane textured filling is fragrant and delicious, and I like how it is served warm with a lake of double cream.
Food at The Strutt Arms is hearty, filling and tasty. The accessible menu (there are also Sunday Lunch, and afternoon tea and children’s menu available) means it is an easy place to be for parties with varying palates. The service is attentive, the ambience cosily warming and the menu boasts dishes that ensure a second return. A personal favourite is the garlic prawn starter, which would not be out of place in a high-end restaurant with a price of £20 as a main.
Thank you to The Strutt Arms team for the kind invite, I will be back.
Restaurant name: The Strutt Arms
Address: Derby Road, Milford, Belper DE56 0QW
Opening times: please check with the pub before visiting as opening hours may change during Covid restrictions.