If there is a restaurant in this region offering better food, a classier service and a nicer environment then I’m yet to discover it.
Everything about our visit to Sitwell Arms at Renishaw said ‘special occasion’ – and it was more than deserving of a five-star rating.
What made the experience all the more impressive was the set of circumstances that the venue was up against.
Two wedding parties, a large and boisterous birthday celebration and our own high expectations, based on positive recommendations, could have set them up for a fall.
But the staff didn’t miss a beat, and ensured we didn’t feel neglected despite the perhaps more obvious clamour for their attention from other, larger groups of guests and diners.
It’s the little things that make an excellent evening out – simple things, like being greeted at the door with a smile and ushered into the lounge while your order is taken and the starters prepared.
A pint of Moonshine pale ale from the Abbeydale Brewery made the short wait all the more enjoyable, before – once seated in the Wild Boar restaurant – I was presented with garlic mushrooms in a beautiful cream sauce with a chunk of soft garlic ciabatta (£4.75).
The food was hot, and the sauce had a lovely kick to it.
My wife’s smoked haddock, asparagus and soft poached egg £5.95 was served on a potato rosti with hollandaise sauce and deep fried leek.
The asparagus was well cooked, the egg poached perfectly, the haddock good quality and rosti delicious.
In somewhat of a break from my usual steak-centric selection, I went for the grand sounding parma wrapped pork fillet and twice cooked belly (£15.95).
The meat was incredible – tender and tasty.
It came with dauphinoise potato, buttered savoy cabbage, sauté wild mushrooms and an apple and calvados sauce.
The dish was beautifully presented, the potato had a ‘melt in your mouth’quality, the mushrooms had a faintly smoky taste and the apple sauce brought a welcome sweetness.
The fillet of beef Wellington (£19.95) was my wife’s choice and it was every bit as good as the pork.
It came accompanied with mushroom Duxelle and red wine sauce, dauphinoise potato and panache of veg.
You expect a dish carrying such a weighty price tag to live up to the billing, and it did.
My pregnant wife couldn’t ask for the beef to be rare, but didn’t want it too well done, and the chef got it spot on – cooked thoroughly and yet still so soft.
The pastry was good, the stuffing was fruity and nutty, and the vegetables were perfect.
In a restaurant so grand, with a somewhat fancy menu, the ‘Ultimate Chocolate Brownie Sundae’ (£5.95) stood out a little on the desert list.
But despite a lack of class about the title, it earns its place on the menu.
The desert’s homemade Belgian chocolate sauce and vanilla seed ice cream tasted superb, and visually it looked appealing.
The portion sizes were on the generous side, the service prompt, polite and pleasant, the music unobtrusive and the decor tasteful.
There are plenty of gluten free choices, and two vegetarian options for main courses.
If I was forced, at gun point, to provide constrcutive criticism, it would surround the absence of low alcohol or alcohol free wine in the bar – hardly the greatest oversight and evidence of how good an evening it was.
By Graham Smyth