Derbyshire Life Luncheon - The Bay Tree, Melbourne

Andrew Perkins, Layla Babadi, Sarah Davis and James Davis

Andrew Perkins, Layla Babadi, Sarah Davis and James Davis - Credit: Archant

Guests enjoyed New World cuisine in intimate surroundings south of the county

Main course - rack of English lamb

Main course - rack of English lamb - Credit: Archant

Immaculately-presented food prepared by a chef long renowned as one of the county’s finest and served in sophisticated surroundings, has become a hallmark of dining at The Bay Tree in Melbourne. Since opening over 20 years ago, it has earned a glowing reputation as one of the county’s most celebrated restaurants.

Proprietors Rex Howell and Vicki Talbott have created a friendly, intimate atmosphere whilst their delicious modern British cuisine maintains award-winning standards. Dishes are cooked with creativity and finesse and Malaysian-born head chef Rex, who has lived in countries across the Far East, uses influences from around the world when devising his New World menus.

On the day of Derbyshire Life’s luncheon, guests were greeted with Champagne and a cavalcade of canapés that included asparagus wrapped in Parma ham with red onion chutney, prawn cocktail on china spoons and bruschetta slices topped with mouth-wateringly delicious chicken liver parfait.

We were seated at elegantly dressed tables in the smart split-level dining area, which is classically decorated in a stylish colour scheme of blue, brown and white. Jeremy Staley of Telford Wines then gave a knowledgable introduction to the luncheon’s carefully chosen wines.

Jeremy Staley, Vicki Hendry and Les Banton

Jeremy Staley, Vicki Hendry and Les Banton - Credit: Archant

Wonderful seafood aromas signified the arrival of the first course – smoked haddock and leek risotto. The perfectly judged dish combined Italian Arborio rice with tasty sautéed leeks and fish stock, crowned with a lightly poached egg and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. It was complemented by a citrussy Vergelegen Chardonnay 2012.

The Bay Tree likes to incorporate local produce where possible and the quality of the main course’s rack of English lamb was evident. The perfectly-cooked pink meat was served with spiced chorizo sausage, broad beans, baby glazed onions, saffron potatoes and a silky light lamb jus. The wine match for this piquant dish was Paternina Reserva 2006.

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Dessert was aptly named as ‘sweet destiny’ – a heavenly combination of white chocolate panna cotta with cubes of jelly, glazed walnuts, fresh strawberries and a delicate wafer crisp. Appreciative murmurs could be heard from around the room and the nectar-sweet flavours were enhanced by an excellent Moscatel dessert wine.

A choice of fresh coffee or tea rounded off a flawless meal. The Bay Tree prides itself on providing impeccable levels of service, comfort and elegance – and with the help of waiting staff David Prochazka and Pascal Cuny – it certainly didn’t disappoint.

Wine tasting notes

By Jeremy Staley of Telford Wines Ltd

Perrier Jouet Grand Brut

With claims to be the first Brut style of Champagne – developed for the British market. Perfect for this time of year with an elegant, delicate, floral style.

Vergelegen Chardonnay 2012

From an estate in Stellenbosch, South Africa, which was established in 1700. Vergelegen means ‘situated far away’. Wine is part barrel/part stainless steel fermented for a balanced taste. A full flavoured white wine with hints of vanilla and citrus.

Paternina Reserva 2006

From Rioja, Spain. French influence in Rioja comes from the late 19th century when phylloxera destroyed many French vineyards, so winemakers moved to Rioja. Reserva wines are only made in good years. A full flavoured, quite structured wine – ideal with food.

Ochoa Vino Dulce de Moscatel 2012

From Navarra, Spain – a region that mainly produces red wine and rose. Moscatel is Spanish for Muscat (grape variety). Vines are grown on south-facing slopes and left to ripen for longer than normal. This wine is sweet, but not too rich – nicely balanced.