One of the saddest things I noticed on a recent visit to north Wales was the scarcity of the village pub. Twenty years or so ago we were spoilt for choice as to where to go for Sunday lunch or which pub garden to sit and have a drink in on frequent visits to my parents’ home. Now we head off with great anticipation only to find in the same location, a close of expensive houses, or the same pub boarded up either awaiting demolition or with a tired ‘for sale’ sign hanging outside. What a pleasant change to find the total opposite and someone with the initiative to completely refurbish, install experienced chefs in a brand new kitchen and breathe life again into a local village pub. This was our recent experience on a visit to the Rising Sun at Rise End, just outside Wirksworth on the road to Carsington. Exposing many original features and using modern muted shades, the Rising Sun has been restored to a lovely local with space for drinkers, diners and families. On the bar were a selection of beers including Pedigree, Timothy Taylor’s and Doombar which my husband says is becoming very popular in Derbyshire. The menu offered a variety of choice from an ‘all day’ breakfast, ploughmans, ciabattas and sandwiches, to a three course meal. We had the whole evening to ourselves and so indulged in the full 3 courses. I started with a dish full of whitebait, very lightly coated in breadcrumbs then fried, which I dipped into mayonnaise, this was garnished with rocket. A bowl of mixed olives in oil and herbs accompanied chunks of fresh warm bread and a dish of balsamic, forming the perfect summer evening starter for my husband. This I followed with pangasius which is a lovely moist white fish, covered in a crispy, golden beer batter and hand cut chips. This may have been a traditional pub meal but it was very well executed. As a complete contrast, my husband’s curry was the chef’s special; chicken tikka masala served with a mini naan and a spicy dish of mango chutney, this medium dish was full of tender white chicken pieces and very filling. Overhearing the next table of holiday makers ordering the Bakewell pudding because ‘it was the local dish’, we decided to do the same. With rich flaky pastry and that lovely ‘eggy’, almond filling it was a true Bakewell pudding. Over a coffee I looked back at the menu and was really impressed by the reasonable prices. The presentation was certainly a notch above the usual and talking to the manager we realised that this was because the chefs come from a well known Derbyshire hotel which was reflected in the quality and freshness of the food served. We had enjoyed a very relaxed evening, good food, a lively atmosphere and good service. This is the traditional village pub at its best… Long live the village pub!