Restaurant review - The Dovecote Restaurant, Morley Hayes

Morley Hayes Photo: Ruth Downing

Morley Hayes Photo: Ruth Downing - Credit: Archant

Gourmand ‘Friar Tuck’ visits The Dovecote at Morley Hayes.

Morley Hayes Photo: Cactus Images

Morley Hayes Photo: Cactus Images - Credit: Archant

The Abbess had been sorely tried. Some serious mollification was required to restore her to sweet serenity. It struck me that The Dovecote might have the answer. Morley Hayes is well known for its golf course and excellent catering for functions, but less familiar to many is this, its fine dining restaurant.

We travelled through a cold winter's night and were pleased to step into a warm welcoming building which mixes traditional plain stone and brick walls with elegant modern furniture and lighting.

Complimentary mozzarella beignets arrived to be washed down by Renishaw Hall Sparkling Brut (£6.75 per glass). We could not resist this North Derbyshire wine and found it light, crisp and green, with gooseberry tartness. Well worth a try.

The menus offered much of interest. I was able to find all I wanted on the fixed price menu (2 courses for £20.95 or 3 for £24.95), though the Abbess decided to head off à la carte, starters around £9.50, mains £17.50-£23.50 including vegetables. As with the wine, local produce was much in evidence, in particular the rare breed Dexter cattle from the Allsop Brothers' (owners of Morley Hayes) farm at Smalley.

The Abbess started with a generous portion of smoked salmon with rye bread. I tried Crispy Dexter ox tongue, fried in breadcrumbs with a cooling white sauce.

The wine list offered a range of interesting wines from £20 northward. I confess I was seduced into going a fair way north. I am oft accused of being a closet Papist, but I will defend to the death my faith in Châteauneuf-du-Pape for soothing the Abbess. The Dovecote's offering, Domaine de Beaurenard, 2015, arrived decanted and proved luscious, smooth and smoky.

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The main courses truly excelled. The Abbess expressed great pleasure over her loin of venison, with beetroot in various colours, blackberry, and parsnip fondant. I opted for Dexter liver, with bacon vol-au-vent and sherry jus, plus a side order of mashed potatoes with crispy shallots (£3.50). Now I do love my liver and bacon, but never have I had better than this. The liver was seared on the outside, but sublimely warm, pink and rich as foie gras in the middle, and wonderfully complemented by the rich jus and the crispy shallots in the mash. Magnificent.

For pudding the Abbess chose the Jam roly-poly from the fixed price menu. This was pronounced excellent, not too heavy, and whilst I incline to call a custard a custard, the delicate 'vanilla crème anglaise' merited its title. I took the cheese board, £9.50 for 4 slices of interesting English cheeses plus accoutrements, which afforded the two of us plenty to share.

We rounded off with coffee and petits fours and concluded that we had indeed been finely treated. The Dovecote offers traditional dishes, using the finest ingredients, many local, beautifully presented in elegant modern style.

It was well worth the trip. A truly memorable meal. And the Abbess left, cooing like a dove.

The Dovecote Restaurant, Morley Hayes, Morley Hayes, Main Road, Morley, Derbyshire DE7 6DG. Tel: 01332 780480