Travelling along the leafy country lanes on a rare sunny summer’s day, the road to Elmton’s Elm Tree inn feels like a journey back in time.
The lush fields and towering hedgerows recall an era when there was more time, less stress, pressure and hustle and bustle.
The Elm Tree itself also radiates all the traditional values of a timeless country pub.
From the exposed timber beams to the warm welcome, it’s easy to see why it was named pub of the year in last year’s Derbyshire Food and Drink awards.
Sipping a glass of excellent Garnacha rosē, while studying the menu, the Elm Tree’s evident philosophy was based onseasonal availability and local, fresh ingredients.
With that in mind, I opted for the Derbyshire fillet steak, aged for 31 days, served with onion rings, field mushrooms and hand-cut chips (£21).
It seems such a simple thing, but getting meat cooked just the way you like it is still the litmus test for any restaurant. Ordered blue, the soft earthy meat was cooked just as requested.
Chunky chips and the butery mushrooms, packed with flavour, provided an excellent accompaniment.
My fellow diner opted for the fillet of rainbow trout with mushroom risotto, which was elegant, delicious and clean tasting.
Although steeped in traditional virtues, the Elm Tree’s kitchen is definitely not averse to trying new things.
Once I’d spotted battered deep fried mushy peas (£3), a side order I’d never seen before, I just had to try it. Crisp batter around balls of sweet, soft pea is a genius combination.
The meal was rounded off with the richly decadent ginger creme brulee , vanilla ice cream and ginger biscuit. Although I could have done with an extra kick of the promised ginger, the brulee delivered on all fronts.
If you’re looking for good food in a perfect country pub, make the Elm Tree your destination.
Rating: Four stars
The Elm Tree