DINING OUT: Multi-award winner lives up to the hype

sp94501  Old Poets Corner Isaac Hayes serving the food
sp94501 Old Poets Corner Isaac Hayes serving the food

SOMETIMES when you build your expectations too much they can quickly be shattered.

Like New Year’s Eve, it’s meant to be a good night out but so often it’s average.

The Old Poets’ Corner promised so much.

Tucked in the picture postcard village of Ashover the pub has won bucket loads of awards over the years.

Just last month it was runner-up in a nationwide search to find Britain’s best local pub of the year and it has a hat-trick of CAMRA awards to its name.

From the outside the pub looks pretty ordinary and arriving we started to wonder whether we should have believed all the hype.

But stepping inside on a bitterly cold winter evening it became pretty clear why this pub is a favourite.

Three fires were burning in the pub and the place was packed with walkers in their hiking boots, families on a night out and even folk enjoying a pint with their four-legged friends.

Low beams and soft lighting help create a cosy atmosphere and the walls are packed with food menus, drink menus, and entertainment on offer - the place is a hive of activity.

After managing to find a spare table we placed our order at the bar.

My partner went for the ribeye steak which is served on an enormous plate bursting with homemade chips, mushrooms, onion rings, garden peas and salad (£13.50).

The steak was tender and cooked just as he’d asked, the home-made chips were chunky and delicious not a bit greasy and despite the mountain of food he’d faced he couldn’t help but leave a clean plate at the end.

My selection was homemade sausages. Made in-house there are nine varieties to choose from and they can also be bought to take home and cook.

I went for pork, caramelised red onion and sage (£8.50), my original choice of beef and stilton was sold out, but the chicken tikka, and pork and Ashover Brewery’s Coffin Lane Stout were equally as tempting.

The sausages were meaty, and the red onion complemented the meat without being overpowering. The accompanying mash was creamy, and along with peas provided a good solid winter meal.

Both stuffed, we opted to share a pudding, and went for an old favourite: strawberry, white chocolate and cream cheesecake served with ice cream, (£4.25) which was light enough to finish the meal off nicely.

My only grumble was the time it took to receive our dessert but amends were made when we weren’t charged fully for it without even raising the issue ourselves.

The pub is famed for its real ales and there are always nine available, brewed on the premises.

And when the kitchen is not in service the pub offers freshly made cobs, pork pies and pasties.

The Old Poets’ Corner offers something for everyone. Next time we visit we will be bringing all the family.

Rating: Four stars

Opening times: The pub is open 12 noon - 11pm every day.

Food is served Monday - Friday 12 noon - 2pm and 6.30pm - 9pm

Saturday 12 noon - 3pm and 6.30pm - 9pm

Sunday Carvery 12 noon - 3pm and Sunday Curry Night 7pm-9pm.

Contact: (01246) 590888