DERBYSHIRE: Wheatsheaf Hotel is top al fresco setting

NDET 4-6-13 RKH 5 Wheatsheaf Baslow

NDET 4-6-13 RKH 5 Wheatsheaf Baslow

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We asked for it, and last week it came – sunshine, in all its blazing glory.

There is no better way to while away the (probably limited) sunny weather than sat – drink in hand – in a beer garden. Except sitting with a drink in a beer garden with a plateful of delicious grub, of course.

It was in search of this that I found myself strolling through Baslow last weekend, hot on the trail of the perfect al fresco experience.

There is no shortage of choice when it comes to eating out in the village, but when it comes to outdoor spaces few can compare to the beer garden at The Wheatsheaf Hotel.

Walking through the pub, on Nether End, my fellow diner and I emerged into a bustling garden, beautifully designed with canopies, wooden arbours and a turfed area complete with kids’ adventure playground.

The menu is just as you would expect from a pub, offering classics such as fish and chips and burgers as well as sharing platters and grills.

We ordered a picnic platter to share followed by a rump steak and chips and lasagne.

Despite being told there was a 45 minute wait on meals, our starter was served in half that time.

For £8.95, the picnic platter consisted of warm bread, feta cheese, breaded jalapeno bites, mozzarella balls and olives. It was presented on an authentic wooden slab and was a delicious introduction to our meal. I was particularly enamoured with the mozzarella balls – cheese and salsa coated in breadcrumbs and fried.

Our mains came shortly after and I tucked into the 8oz rump steak with gusto. It was a tender and delicious piece of meat, value for money at just £9.80 and served with chips, mushroom, tomato and peas. My fellow diner wasn’t as pleased with his £7.45 lasagne, which was drowned in rich sauces and not much mince. Still, he is partly to blame. Who orders lasange on a boiling hot day?

The outdoor space is no doubt the jewel in the Wheatsheaf’s crown, but the fare is mostly good, honest, value for money pub grub. If they can rustle up decent meals when the place is absolutely packed to the rafters, and the staff can serve them with a smile despite being rushed off their feet, there is no wonder it is such a popular choice.

Rating: Three stars.