Derbyshire Food at it's Finest on the Edge of the Peak District
Having cycled up and down the A6 between Matlock and Darley Dale many times over the years I've witnessed the development of Audley St Elphin's Park. A former Grammar School that's been transformed into a very impressive looking retirement village. The development looks fantastic, the kind of place I'd consider living myself even as a 35 year old.
When you think of a retirement village you wouldn't think that there would be a fantastic restaurant and leisure facilities open to the general public unless you really were in the know and that's where in some ways our visit falls in. We were invited to sample the menu and take in the impressive surroundings to make up our own mind and were very impressed.
The team pride themselves on offering a very seasonal menu with high standards of presentation and service. We were also rather impressed by the pricing with main courses priced around what you'd expect locally for pub food making this a very viable option if you're not looking to overindulge your wallet
|The Orangery Bar and Restaurant at St Elphin's Park near Matlock|
We opted to try the Orangery's Tasting Menu which is £40 each. Certainly not the realm of a light lunch however if you're looking for an alternative for Date Night or a celebration it would work very well indeed. On the night we attended there were couples dining and a large group celebrating a 90th birthday party had not long left- the settings actually worked well for both situations.
|The Orangery's Homemade Soda Bread with Truffle Butter|
First item to arrive at our table was homemade Soda Bread. Beautifully light in texture
and delicately seasoned it was served alongside butter and a luxurious Truffle butter. Both butters had been whipped into almost a mousse: easy to spread and with a lovely soft fluffy texture.
|An Amuse Bouche of Spiced Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup|
To start our tasting menu we began with an Amuse Bouche of Spiced Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup. A lovely warming start with peppery notes this would have made an excellent seasonal soup. A definite winter warmer served elegantly in an espresso cup and saucer. We were already very impressed and anticipating some great dishes
|Scallops Squid Pea Puree and Mint|
We love scallops as a starter and the Orangery really did a great job with our first Starter of Scallops, Squid, Pea Puree and Mint. The scallops were impeccably cooked, delicate, soft and full of flavour alongside a very generous sized piece of squid topped with what appeared to be a Black Pudding lattice which added to the presentation of the dish. A really fresh tasting dish which worked well with the sweetness of the pea puree.
|Wood Pigeon with Beetroot and Blue Cheese at the Orangery|
After a morning cycle around the Derwent Valley we'd seen a few Pheasants out and about so were hoping for Game on the menu and it came in the form of flavoursome Wood Pigeon served with Beetroot Textures, Pear and Blue Cheese.
With beautiful rare cooked pigeon alongside an artists palate of beetroot puree, slices and crisps celebrating a very in season vegetable with a fantastic sweetness. The dish was complemented by what we thought to be a fairly young blue cheese which didn't overpower the sweetness adding an intriguing compliment we'd never considered before.
|Mushroom Gnocchi with Miso Butter, Cep Powder, Poached Egg and King Oyster Mushroom|
First of our main meals was Mushroom Gnocchi with Miso Butter, Poached Egg and King Oyster Mushrooms. It definitely wasn't a classic gnocchi dish you'd expect to see in your local Italian restaurant. A very modern take on a classic which looked very much in keeping with the rest of the menu from somewhere serving up a dish looking like it's ready for the master chef judges. Artwork on a plate.
The poached egg yolk was cooked to perfection and added a welcome moisture to the dish alongside the fluffy Miso butter which had earthy tones that worked well alongside the mushrooms. Cep powder is a meaty dried Porcini mushroom powder which added real intensity to the dish.
|Sea Bream with Chard, Clams and Scallop Veloute|
Our second main course on the Tasting Menu was Sea Trout, Chard, Clams and Scallop Veloute and it was another fantastic dish. With flavoursome charred Sea Trout in a generous sized piece atop a bed of fresh clams it really nailed the fish course. The addition of beetroot puree added a nice sweetness to the slightly salty notes of the Trout and Clams with the earthy crunch of the Chard.
|Duck Cava Nero, Sweet Potato and Confit Leg|
Last main meal of the tasting menu was a fantastic Duck with Cava Nero, Sweet Potato, Confit Leg and Jus. With a beautiful rare piece of duck breast served with sweet potato pureed and roasted alongside a ball of duck confit in breadcrumbs. It looked as good on the plate as it tasted.
|Blood Orange Sorbet with Orange Glass|
Pre-dessert was a zesty but cleansing Blood Orange Sorbet which we really loved. It had a very refreshing taste- not as strong as we initially anticipated- an orange sorbet can be very full on however this was a very tempered version that worked very well, especially alongside the orange glass.
|Brown Batter Parfait|
Dessert was a very impressive looking Brown Batter Parfait with fluffy sourdough, finely chopped apple and a beautifully soft Ice Cream centre on a bed of like a biscuit crisp. It was almost a deconstructed apple crumble but took things to a whole new level.
We had a fantastic experience at The Orangery at St Elphin's Park- Beautiful food served in great surroundings by very attentive staff. We'll be heading back there soon we're sure for a treat. I'm told they serve a very nice carvery sunday lunch however the tasting menu definitely comes recommended by ourselves and with fantastic views out the windows that we sadly couldn't quite see due to darkness setting in we're sure this was Derbyshire food at it's finest.
You can see more at The Orangery at St Elphin's or give the a call to book on 01629 258 055
|Coffee and amazing Miso Fudge to finish|
The Small Print- We were invited to sample the menu and whilst our evening cost us nothing we always value our integrity. Our thoughts and feelings are completely our own. We don't pander to PR companies like some bloggers we've met. We review food based on a very simple philosophy- Is it worth what we're paying. If there are issues we'll point them out however we're honest and think somewhere is fantastic we'll also sing their praises.