Food review - The Greenman Public House, Ashbourne

In House Smoked Salmon and Beer Crumpet

In House Smoked Salmon and Beer Crumpet - Credit: Archant

Tasteful surroundings and modern cuisine give every reason to visit this recently-refurbished coaching inn in Ashbourne

The Greenman Public Houses snug dining area

The Greenman Public Houses snug dining area - Credit: Archant

Few buildings have a history as colourful as that of the Green Man in Ashbourne’s St John Street. The iconic coaching inn, built in the 1750s, has been at the centre of local life for centuries. Once known as the Green Man and Black’s Head Royal Hotel, it was visited by Princess Victoria in the 1830s, recognised for having the longest inn sign in the world and – perhaps most importantly in these parts – is the longstanding committee headquarters of Derbyshire’s most famous annual sporting event, Ashbourne’s Royal Shrovetide Football.

Now, over 250 years since it was constructed, new life has been breathed into the building following the opening of a stylish pub and restaurant.

Tucked away in the courtyard of the Green Man complex purchased by local entrepreneurs Anne and Colin Wright in 2012, the Greenman Public House and Restaurant is the latest in a series of exciting developments at the site, which already includes two premium retail stores and a popular café.

Tastefully blending into its surroundings, the Greenman Public House boasts smart and modern interiors with tan leather booths, reclaimed furniture and statement lighting. The atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming: guests can enjoy drinks in the vibrant bar (it’s a flagship for Nyetimber Wines), while snacking on beef sliders or triple-cooked chips, or dine in the cosy dining room – which has just 40 covers – overlooking the open-plan kitchen.

The venue has been open for just four months but its owners already have an impressive culinary pedigree: foodies will be thrilled to hear that locally-renowned chefs Peter and Laura Dale, who previously ran the highly-acclaimed Dining Room restaurant in St John Street, are at the helm, so great food is centre stage.

The menu changes on a regular basis – sometimes daily – to incorporate the best ingredients available and head chef Peter’s unpretentious cooking style focuses on the best local, seasonal and international produce.

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This ethos was showcased in the two menus available on the evening of our visit: a winter weekday evening menu (one course £13, two courses £17.50, three courses £22) and an à la carte menu (starters £8-£10, mains £18-£20). Choices ranged from pork terrine or Jerusalem artichoke velouté to start, followed by Ashbourne pheasant, Mayfield Saddleback pork, Derbyshire beef hanger steak and Melbourne parsnip tarte tatin.

As soon as we were seated, restaurant manager Guna delivered delicious homemade sourdough bread and butter to our table, commenting that the Greenman Public House also serves fabulous Sunday lunches.

Our appetites whetted, my starter of smoked salmon soon arrived. Smoked in-house by the talented team, the mouth-wateringly tasty fish was complemented by inventive flavours of celeriac, apple and soured cream while expertly-prepared French fish stew, with beautifully-poached Cornish seafood, earned a thumbs-up across the table.

My main course of Cornish day-boat cod was feather-light and evidently fresh, enhanced by a simple medley of Shetland mussels, artichoke, salsify and fir apple potatoes. It was a sensational combination of flavours and textures.

My partner relished the comforting taste of his Derbyshire beef cottage pie (apparently cottage pie, lasagne and a Sunday roast were recently voted top of a list of the nation’s favourite ‘winter warmers’). The juicy slow-cooked meat, moreish gravy, and well-seasoned mash, all served in a casserole pot, were a match made in heaven.

To finish, we chose indulgent damson steamed pudding with a brilliant buttermilk sorbet – is there anything better than comfort food on a winter’s night?

A special mention must be given to the presentation: each course was arranged like a work of art on trendy tableware and proved a feast for the eyes as well as the tastebuds.

When we heard the Greenman Public House had reopened, we couldn’t wait to put it to the taste test. It’s safe to say that after such a delicious experience it passed with flying colours. u

The Greenman Public House, 10 St John Street, Ashbourne DE6 1GH, 01335 346040,

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