The White Horse, Woolley Moor, Derbyshire Restaurant Review

There's no knowing what you'll find these days when you choose to dine at an inn or pub. While expectations have blossomed since the era of scampi in a basket, there are still plenty of places that serve wholesome and delicious pub grub.

The White Horse, Badger Lane,Woolley Moor, DE55 6FGTel: 01246 590319

The White Horse has recently been renovated with a light touch in a 'smart rustic' style, with chunk wood,stone floors and some very stylish soft furnishings. Genial landlord/owner David Boulby took our drinks order and pointed out the specials board too, which offered four fish dishes from the daily delivery.

In spite of my efforts to wean him off anything that contains the words 'smoked salmon', in the interests of variety, my partner selected smoked salmon and crayfish ravioli from the main menu. My own starter came from the specials board, a deceptively simple cheddar cheese souffl�. Prices range from �3.95 for home-made soup with chunky bread to �5.75 for a freshly-made crab cake with lemon and dill mayonaise. There were several other vegetarian starters available that day: goat's cheese and roast vegetable canneloni; deep fried Brie with port and cranberry sauce; bruschetta with saut�ed wild mushrooms, mozzarella and basil, as well as a marinaded herring salad and chicken and prawn tempura. No fewer than 13 main courses were on offer, including rack of lamb which came with mashed potato and red cabbage and a rosemary and red currant jus; Barbary duck breast with potato rosti, pak choi and a burnt orange sauce; and avocado, mozzarella, cherry tomato and basil tart. The 'specials' fish were very special indeed. An amberjack fillet with saut�ed potatoes, spinach and pea cream; roasted halibut, potato pur�e with lemon and thyme butter sauce; and pan-fried sea trout with crushed new potatoes and a prawn and garlic sauce. Main courses are priced at between �10.25 and �16.75.

We were soon shown to our table by waitress Cara in a cosy-sized dining area and served some of the best tomato bread I've had. There is also a larger conservatory style room (suitable for a range of functions), and another more intimate area. A steaming dish of the freshly-made ravioli was placed in front of my companion, its fishy breath curling upwards to entice him to take his first forkful.The perfectly-cooked pasta was served with a creamy sauce hiding coral nuggets of crayfish, the tangy fish within. My deceptively simple cheese souffl� was delicious and perfect. Dome-shaped with a golden, slightly crisp outer skin, topped with a mad hairdo of delicate green leaves and a tiny jug of cheesy sauce to pour over. I wished it could have gone on for ever.

Our main courses followed after a break for more sips of our chosen wines. A good selection included a dozen available by the glass. I'd gone for a Vicuna Sauvignon Semillon from Chile (�4.20 for 250ml), and my partner had selected the Australian Karri Oak Shiraz (�5.25). While mine was nicely crisp and dry, his was particularly toothsome, rich and plummy, the perfect complement for the venison steak with spinach, potato rosti and rosemary jus which now sat before him. The ideal dish for the freezing January night with intensely rich gravy that lubricated each mouthful. I'd chosen fillet of turbot with a lemon, prawn and chive risotto, and couldn't have done better. Recent 'chef TV' has stressed the importance of not overcooking fish and this was an excellent example of the result of a skilled and experienced hand, the outside golden and slightly crunchy, the flesh soft and melting. The freshtasting risotto provided a delicious background to each mouthful. A dish of crisply cooked vegetables was served too.

My partner's order was down on Cara's pad before I could open my mouth to suggest not having the sticky toffee pudding yet again. Served with ice cream, it was indeed sticky and bursting with toffee. I had a lemon tart, so prettily served on a dark slate that it seemed a shame to eat it. A neat wedge of the tart, with tangy filling and brl�estyle crust on an excellent pastry base was partnered with a blob of clotted cream sitting on a little pile of finely crushed amaretti biscuits. Half a dozen fresh raspberries sat opposite matching pools of cream. Back down to earth, coffees were served with an opportunity to meet David again, this time with his young and talented chef, Matthew Rushton. Matt's cv includes stints with some top eateries, as well as experience with Gordon Ramsay.

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David and wife Melanie, soon to be the parents of three boys under four, have had the White Horse for only a short while, and in that time have built the place into animmaculate and stylish restaurant. They well deserve their obvious success.The White Horse is also open for a range of lunch options, from a full three-course meal to sandwiches and bar snacks.

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