LADIES who lunch would be hard pushed to find a better spot for their midday bite than the Manor House Hotel – a truly modern gem hidden in the shell of a 15th Century listed building, on one of Dronfield’s busiest streets.
Freezing Derbyshire winters are no match for the Manor House, which welcomes diners throughout the day into the warmth of its bar and restaurant, serving everything from breakfast pastries and light lunches, to jazzed up tapas – small dishes from a variety of cuisines – in the evening.
My companion and I visited the restaurant on a Thursday lunchtime and found it brimming with families, groups of friends and people out for a Christmas celebration.
We chose from the December Yuletide menu, which offers two courses with coffee and mince pies for a respectable £18.95 a head.
Although the service was slow – it was around 20 minutes before our drinks order was taken – the atmosphere was spirited and festive and the menu extensive enough to ruminate over.
The starters were a choice of three tapas-style platters – either meat, fish or vegetarian – and we both opted for the fish, including pan seared smoked salmon with a beetroot jus, spicy whitebait and paprika mayo and grilled mussels.
It arrived presented so beautifully presented that my companion decided to capture the moment on his camera phone. I, on the other hand, devoured the dish without a moment’s hesitation.
The highlight of the plate was the salmon chunk, lightly seared and with a subtle smoked flavour, but the dish was so ambrosial that when the waitress came to clear our plates, not a morsel remained between us.
For the main course I ordered oven roasted pork tenderloin with apricot and chestnut stuffing and a creamy calvados sauce. My fellow diner chose a garlic and rosemary marinated rack of lamb with crushed pea and mint, redcurrant jelly and red wine sauce.
Presentation was again second to none and the flavours of my pork tenderloin dish were so delectable that everything I ate for days afterwards seemed bland.
The lamb was served pink, and was beautifully tender, accented by a rich red wine sauce – though my fellow diner neglected to share much of his coveted entrée.
Our meal was finished with freshly ground coffee, and an offering of mince pies that we politely declined owing to our previous fill.
The Manor House offers high calibre dining in a laidback setting, for a price that is every penny well spent. Rating: Four stars
The Manor House Hotel, 10-14 High Street, Dronfield, S18 1PY.
Contact: (01246) 412119 or visit www.manor-househotel.co.uk