The Bull's Head in Chesterfield delivers heaven on a plate

The term gastropub can often leave a bad taste in the mouth.

Tuesday, 18th February 2020, 7:05 pm
Scottish venison two ways at the Bull's Head, Holymoorside
Scottish venison two ways at the Bull's Head, Holymoorside

Too often it has been used by unscrupulous landlords as an excuse to scatter a few micro-herbs on their freezer-section fishcakes and double the price for unsuspecting punters.

At the Bull's Head, in Holymoorside, Chesterfield, you'll find the real deal: an inn that offers pub classics, alongside other dishes that are elevated to true fine-dining standards.

To showcase this exceptional food, owner and chef Mark Aisthorpe has launched a stunning new tasting menu.It began with canapés of 'scallop scampi’ and tartar sauce, as well as duck liver parfait, homemade brioche, beetroot and orange chutney, with blood orange gel.

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Creme brulee at the Bull's Head, Holymoorside, Chesterfield

Both packed an incredible level of flavours into a single mouthful and set the bar exceptionally high for the seven other courses to follow.

The joy of a tasting menu is that it lets you try things you might never normally risk ordering a la carte.

The amuse course was a case in point. Carrot and swede risotto with blue cheese bonbon doesn't sound appetising - but it was simply delicious, perfectly cooked and well balanced.

Next was the king scallops “Thermidor”, with cured egg yolk and parmesan crisp.

Loch Duart salmon fillet, mussels and saffron potato.

But the centrepiece of the evening was the Scottish venison two ways, with dry-aged cannon of venison, 36-hour braised venison neck, pickled carrot, charred onion petals, fondant potato, cavalo nero, red wine jus. The neck was smoky, unctuous and melted in the mouth.

The soft and salty ​​Loch Duart salmon fillet with mussels and saffron potato was followed by a palate-cleansing raspberry sorbet which was simple, stunning and almost criminally reduced to a solitary spoonful.

But then we had to leave room for the vanilla crème brulee, with forced Yorkshire rhubarb three ways and ginger nitro sponge, before the meal was rounded off with petit fours, including hand-made and hand-painted chocolates that were a work of art and artistry – courtesy of Mark and head pastry chef, Jonathan Wells.

What was even more astonishing than the quality of food on offer from the kitchen of a Derbyshire village pub, was the bill. All eight courses came to a fixed price of just £35.

You’ll struggle to find better-value food of such high quality anywhere else in the county.