We were invited to eat at The Denby Lodge on Church Street in Denby Village, nr Ripley last month, a Pub People establishment. It was a very warm summer evening when we arrived so we were ready for the air conditioned interior and more importantly to see a bar! The bar and dining area have been refurbished to a very high standard and the staff are all very welcoming and helpful. Outside is a large terraced beer garden area, ideal for these long summer evenings and hot weekends we’ve been enjoying recently. It was such a hot day I only wanted a soft drink but there was a very good choice of real ales and ciders as well, I was tempted by the Stowford Press on draft. After I had quenched my thirst we were shown to our table and given our menus. The new menu is great, not too big but a good mix of traditional pub meals along with some really interesting dishes which may be new to you, so something for everyone. I was particularly impressed with the vegetarian choices and the amount of gluten free dishes. The management is very keen to cater for every dietary need and appetite, I am sure that they would do everything possible to accommodate everyone. There’s a real ‘recession beater’ of a menu available Monday-Saturday (12noon-2.30pm) and Monday-Friday (5pm-6.30pm) where you can choose 2 meals for £10 – if you team this up with the 2 puddings for £5 offer then you really are getting a bargain. There are offers on soft drinks at lunchtime too. The Sunday lunch menu is served from 12-3pm and offers both child and regular prices as well as a premium portion for the hearty appetite, a brilliant idea I thought! For my starter, I chose the stilton and mushroom pepper pots with garlic bread and my daughter decided on the shredded duck served with pancakes, hoi sin and plum sauces; both starters were well presented and very tasty – I thoroughly recommend the pepper pots (and not just because it’s such a fantastic word to say) as they were amazingly flavoured and perfect for someone like me who loves really strong black pepper. I decided to sample the wine menu at this point so had a large glass of the Pinot Grigio, it was chilled and crisp, perfect for the hot evening. Our mains arrived, piping hot from the kitchen and again, beautifully presented. My daughter chose the pork belly which was slow roasted and served on a bed of pan fried shredded cabbage and pancetta with seasonal vegetables; this was cooked to perfection with a beautiful crispy skin and really succulent layers of meat. I decided on the chorizo chicken; chicken breast with bacon and chorizo, served in a creamy, mushroom, leek and garlic sauce with fine green beans and some french bread, necessary to mop up the lovely sauce. All this is cooked freshly on the premises and you can tell, the chicken was moist and none of the flavours overpowered the others. I knew I wouldn’t manage a pudding so we only ordered the one; a gluten free chocolate torte with ice cream, which was absolutely delicious, very rich and filling, you couldn’t eat more than one slice! We had a really enjoyable evening at The Denby Lodge; it’s a very warm, friendly, welcoming place. Sally and Lon’s enthusiasm is infectious and they are clearly very passionate about the quality of their food, ensuring everyone who visits them has a positive experience. Many of the other diners were well known to the staff so presumably regular visitors and I would recommend you visit. We will be going back as there are many things still want to try on this new menu.