Dining Out - The Red Lion Bar & Bistro at Peak Edge Hotel, Stonedge

The Red Lion Bar & Bistro at Peak Edge Hotel, Stonedge, nr Chesterfield

The Red Lion Bar & Bistro at Peak Edge Hotel, Stonedge, nr Chesterfield - Credit: Archant

Our reviewer enjoys imaginative cuisine in a beautiful countryside location on the outskirts of Chesterfield

The Red Lion Bar & Bistro

The Red Lion Bar & Bistro - Credit: Archant

There’s no denying the fact that the Red Lion Bar & Bistro at Stonedge, near Chesterfield, has made a big impact on the county dining scene. It was voted best ‘Out of Town Restaurant’ at the Chesterfield Food and Drink Awards 2013, with team member Ryan Lee crowned ‘Young Chef of the Year’, received an AA rosette for culinary excellence and was recently declared Derbyshire Food and Drink Awards’ ‘Gastro Pub of The Year’ for the third time running.

Prestigious awards aside, this charming 17th century former coaching inn, situated just off the main Matlock to Chesterfield road, certainly has a winning location. It enjoys superb views from its hilltop position, although my partner and I couldn’t fully appreciate them on the rainy evening of our visit! It is also conveniently situated adjacent to its sister business, the four star Peak Edge Hotel, which was built in 2011 and is listed as one of Trip Advisor’s Travellers’ Choice ‘Top 10 Best Small Hotels in the Country’.

Inside, owners Damian and Joanne Dugdale have created a warm and welcoming country pub atmosphere, enhanced by an open fire, cosy leather seating and exposed stone walls. Modern additions include a stylish curved bar and glass partitions displaying wine bottles in the lounge area, where diners can relax whilst perusing the food choices.

The menu is refreshingly simple. Designed by accomplished head chef Daniel Laycock and complemented by a specials board, it constantly evolves to reflect whatever is in season – some of the produce is even home-grown – and the innovative modern British dishes are summed up in one word to highlight the main component, with a mouth-watering snippet of key ingredients underneath. Service is professional but friendly and our knowledgeable waiter, Will, helpfully guided us through the choices.

Following an aperitif of fresh bread, we started with crab lasagne (£7.95) – a blend of seafood bisque and pasta layers, topped with a wafer thin crab biscuit – and my partner chose perfectly cooked mackerel (£6.95), served on red cabbage gazpacho with a pommery mustard panna cotta. Both dishes blended fresh, harmonious flavours and proved that you don’t need to be in a coastal location to enjoy high quality seafood.

Main courses were every bit as impressive. Despite being the smallest dish in terms of size, my choice of barbecued lamb (£21.95) was big on flavour. Served pink, the tender meat was wrapped in an innovative smoked onion charcoal coating with cherries, gremolata and a mini jug of jus that provided a sweet balance to offset any richness. The colourful ingredients made it a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds.

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My partner’s dish of roasted beef fillet (£24.95), served on the bone with oxtail bourguignon and tangy – but not overpowering – horeseradish mashed potato, was an equally fine combination of excellently crafted ingredients. Between forkfuls, we tucked into accompaniments of honey roasted chantenay carrots and cauliflower cheese (£3.50 each).

To finish, we shared the Granny Smith apple dessert (£6.95). Best described as a deconstructed apple pie, it combined a wedge of semi-freddo (a partly frozen mix of ice cream and cake) with artistically presented accompaniments of apple, warm cinnamon doughnut spheres, creamy ricotta and malt crumbs. We could have easily been tempted to share a second (chocolate, salt and peanut with frozen beurre noisette sounded almost too good to resist) – but portion sizes had been expertly judged.

Dining here is an enlightening culinary experience. Dan’s adventurous menu champions local produce whilst celebrating delights from further afield, and on the back of its recent awards success the Red Lion Bar & Bistro is definitely one to watch out for!

The Red Lion Bar & Bistro at the Peak Edge Hotel, Darley Road, Stonedge, Chesterfield S45 0LW. Tel: 01246 566142 www.peakedgehotel.co.uk