Dining Out: The Tickled Trout, Barlow

Steak at the Tickled Trout

Steak at the Tickled Trout - Credit: Archant

A beautifully-renovated dining pub offering Derbyshire cooking with an Italian twist awaits visitors in Barlow, near Chesterfield

Tickled Trout

Tickled Trout - Credit: Archant

Many talented chefs dream of owning their own restaurant, but for Chris Mapp the fantasy became a reality in a remarkable twist of fate, when a move back home to Derbyshire perfectly coincided with the sale of his former local pub.

Chris has worked in some of the country’s finest restaurants including Paul Ainsworth’s Number 6 at Padstow, which he also co-owned, the Michelin-star Greenhouse restaurant in Mayfair and Marcus Wareing’s Petrus in Knightsbridge, so when the Trout – as it was then known – came up for sale in his childhood village of Barlow, he seized the opportunity to launch his own restaurant back home.

An exciting and extensive transformation project soon followed and, after being stylishly updated from top to bottom, the renamed Tickled Trout opened its doors in 2014. Renovations had included the introduction of a calming, neutral colour scheme with carefully chosen fabrics; the addition of an airy, open-plan orangery dining area, a sleek bar overlooking the kitchen and a renovated snug with a log burner; and the installation of a stylish new lit-tread staircase leading to a glass-walled private dining room. The result is a fresh, modern and welcoming atmosphere that is as suited to couples as it is to families with young children.

Chris grew up just a stone’s throw from the Tickled Trout and was no stranger to the restaurant industry: his father, Derek, founded the successful Tom Cobleigh pub company and has helped Chris set up in Derbyshire. Pleasingly, his duties as owner haven’t stopped him from working his magic in the kitchen and Chris has retained a strong focus on quality cooking with an Italian influence – as the menu puts it, ‘Derbyshire Pride’ with ‘Italian Inspiration’. The majority of the ingredients are sourced locally and the one thing that isn’t available nearby – seafood – is delivered fresh from Cornwall on the day it is caught.

Starters vary from smoked mackerel pâté to a charcuterie board of Derbyshire and Italian cured hams to share, whilst main courses are divided into ‘Derbyshire Pride’ and ‘Italian Inspiration’ sections, each with an inspired mix of dishes such as free-range spicy chicken with red pesto, and Derbyshire pie. There’s also a sourdough pizza section with delicious-sounding toppings. All of this is complemented by a regularly-changing specials board and a great choice of local ales.

To begin, I opted for the braised spring lamb (£7.95). Lightly spiced and delicately cooked, the meat was served as two neat wedges in a tasty pea velouté, topped with infused goats’ curd – simply delicious. My partner’s ‘bacon and egg’ starter (£7.50) combined pork belly that had been slow-cooked for 72 hours, with soft-boiled quails’ eggs, ham consommé and homemade ketchup. Pressed and crispened for maximum flavour, the meat had just the right amount of crunch from the crackling and the carefully-judged portion sizes left plenty of room for the main course.

I ordered the pub’s speciality ‘day boat fish pasta’ (£16.95): the thought of enjoying something that had been caught that day was too good to miss. I’m pleased to report it was as delicious as expected, combining mussels, a feather-light piece of cod, a seafood emulsion and homemade tagliatelle.

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My partner’s eyes were drawn to the ‘Derbyshire Pride’ menu with its locally-sourced chicken and beef dishes. Though tempted by the ‘two beef or not two beef’ burger, he chose the sirloin steak (£22.95), sourced from award-winning Highfield House Farm in Ashover and aged for 35 days. Glazed with garlic butter, the meat was served medium-rare alongside chunky chips, grilled mushroom, mini shallot rings, a baby leaf and tomato salad, and a caramelised onion dip.

All food is cooked freshly to order so there was a pleasant pause before dessert. We chose ‘topsy turvy’ blueberry and lavender cheesecake (£6.50). Served upside down, the subtly-flavoured cheesecake mixture was topped with crispy biscuit and a toothsome lemon curd ice cream (£6.50) – a refreshing way to end the meal.

The service was superb and together with its modern surroundings, mouth-watering menu and warm and friendly atmosphere, this stylish venue certainly tickled our tastebuds.

Tickled Trout, 33 Valley Road, Barlow, Chesterfield S18 7SL. Tel: 0114 289 1111, www.tickledtroutbarlow.com

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