Dining out at The Eating House, Calver

The dining room

The dining room - Credit: Archant

An ideal stop for breakfast, lunch or tea, this friendly café in Calver offers a wide range of homemade delights

The Eating House

The Eating House - Credit: Archant

Situated just off the A623 between Baslow and Stoney Middleton, where a line of pretty cottages terminates in the Derbyshire Craft Centre, the Eating House at Calver has a head start in its charming location.

Just a stone’s throw from Chatsworth, and in the heart of the Peak District, it is conveniently located for day-trippers and tourists seeking rest and refreshment. The very name of the café conjures up images of cosy surroundings and a homely atmosphere, and on stepping over the threshold that is exactly what visitors find.

From the private car park and through the side entrance, you enter a corridor with a dining area to the left and a doorway that takes you to the counter – laden with home-made cakes – at the rear. Go further and you enter the craft centre, home to a wonderful collection of crafts, gifts and pottery.

The dining room is welcomingly informal with exposed stone walls, tiled flooring and wood panelling. There’s also a small outdoor seating area with a canopy for shelter and wall-mounted heaters and blankets for when the weather drops cooler.

Smoked salmon platter

Smoked salmon platter - Credit: Archant

With only a handful of covers and an intimate atmosphere, it makes for a quaint dining experience and the café’s popularity is evident from the number of people who eat here – on the Wednesday lunchtime of our visit, there was seldom a free table and the room was alive with a convivial atmosphere.

When it comes to food, fresh and traditional is the mantra and proprietor Katrina Locke – who is currently celebrating her 18th year at the Eating House – is helped in the kitchen by a skilled and friendly team including talented manageress Lydia Conner.

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Breakfast is served from 9am and lunches from 11.30am, and all food is prepared in-house and cooked to order. Customers with specialist dietary needs are particularly well-catered for: there’s a vast choice of vegan and gluten-free dishes, a good choice of vegetarian options and a children’s menu. The café is also signed up to the Heart of Derbyshire pledge which encourages healthy eating through the use of healthier oils when frying, lean meats and fresh, unprocessed fruit and vegetables in its dishes.

Lunchtime main courses range from vegetable curry and special recipe kedgeree to mussels with smoked garlic and whisky, each sounding like a culinary delight. There’s also platters, salads, quiche, soups, baked potatoes, sandwiches and deli rolls.

Italian meatballs

Italian meatballs - Credit: Archant

We began with the smoked salmon platter to share (£8.95). Care had been taken to keep the flavours true and the choice of prawns, capers and succulent ribbons of salmon were paired simply with salad, dill mayonnaise and Scottish oatcakes.

My dining companion chose chicken and leek crumble served with fresh sourdough bread for main course (£8.95). The tender shredded chicken pieces and creamy leeks were full of flavour, and a brilliant touch was the savoury crumble topping which had just the right amount of ‘crunch’.

My main course of homemade Italian meatballs (£8.95) arrived as a colossal bowlful, complete with ciabatta bread for mopping up leftover sauce. Made to Lydia’s own recipe, the dish was rich, satisfying and seemingly never-ending – although you can never have too much of a good thing!

Service was warm, attentive and unobtrusive throughout and we finished in style with homemade cakes, chosen from the café’s ever-changing selection. Served on the same tiered stands as the afternoon teas, choices included rocky road, lime and coconut loaf, lemon and blueberry slices, meringues and gluten-free orange and almond slices – freshly-made, beautifully presented and above all tasty.

As newcomers to the Eating House, we couldn’t help but be amazed that we hadn’t been here before but having discovered this gem, it won’t be long before we return. w

The Eating House, Calver Bridge, Hope Valley S32 3XA, 01433 631583, www.theeatinghousecalver.co.uk