Kate Morrison, the new manageress at the Black Swan Ashover, has embarked on a fresh venture that has come to fruition after working for many years in the food and restaurant industry. Their new chef was in the kitchen on our visit on June 15th, he comes with a great reputation and has years of experience working at well respected restaurants in Derbyshire, and he has been there just a few weeks.
At the outset I will say that we had a super evening, the welcome was a warm one, the staff were really friendly with no pretensions and the food was excellent pub fare. The menu is simple and straightforward with all the regular dishes you would expect from a good pub. I looked around, whilst enjoying a pint of Robinsons blonde, at what other people had ordered (as you do!) to see what the portions and presentation was like and was impressed with what I saw, so I knew we were in for a good evening’s food.
Ashover is a pretty and thriving Derbyshire stone village set amidst rolling green fields, and yet surprisingly near to many major roads. Right on our doorstep we have enjoyed many walks around its ancient stone pathways and watched many a game of cricket from its green. The added attraction of the Black Swan, a 300-year-old Inn also makes it an ideal place to while a way an hour or two over a meal and glass of wine.
What better position could you have in a village than to be located right on the main road junctions? Ashover would appear to have been blessed with numerous pubs, although some now have sadly closed. It is reputed that bear baiting took place just near the Black Swan around 1810. Were there bears in Derbyshire? Possibly at fairs and circus’s I would think, however it was recorded by C E Lugard in ‘The Saint and Sinners of Ashover’ that John Smith was sent to prison for being in charge of a bear. All places need a bit of folklore don’t they? Our trip to Ashover was quite interesting with roads flooded, torrential rain, and debris scattered along the way – a typical June evening!
Back to the food:
So, our choice from the menu, which as I say includes traditional favourites, was a starter of creamy garlic mushrooms with a hint of garlic and herbs accompanied by a warm, soft, granary cob which set the meal off perfectly.
My wife chose the Pate, which was home made and very smooth.
Pie of the day caught my eye hoping it was steak and ale, but it had been replaced with steak cooked in a rich ale sauce served with two generous Yorkshire puddings and accompanied by home made chips and peas. This was even better I thought, and it proved a great choice. The pieces of steak were tender and melted in the mouth along with the mushrooms and rich sauce. The plate was cleared with aplomb.
My wife chose one of the specials: Tarragon Chicken served on a bed of leeks. White chicken breast sitting on chunky slices of buttered leeks and with a generous sauce gently flavoured with the subtle anise flavour of tarragon. Served with homemade chips and sweet garden peas this was delicious.
I admit we were pretty full at this point so decided to share a pudding, which in the true meaning of the word was treacle sponge and custard. Light and tasty, and absolutely scrumptious.
The Black Swan also doubles up as a tearoom during the day with a room at the back called the Dizzy Duck, which is pleasantly decorated and serves some delicious cakes. So, if you can’t manage a full meal you can call in and while away the time over a fresh coffee and a slab of cake – the best of both worlds.
Kate is putting a lot of effort into her first foray into running a village pub and things are coming together nicely for her. The new chef is in place and upstairs you can play a game of darts or watch sport on the TV leaving the downstairs free for diners to eat in peace – a good move I feel and one which is working.
The food prices were very reasonable for the quality of food; my starter was £3.95 and generous main course £8.95. I’ve been to places that charge much more for this standard of dining so the chef has pitched prices fairly to attract those who enjoy good quality, well cooked and presented food.
Sunday lunch is also proving popular at £7.95 for roast beef or pork.
We thoroughly enjoyed our wet, windy evening at the Black Swan and a wander through the countryside is always a delight. On a drier day just have a wander around the village and enjoy its history.
Our thanks to Kate, the chef and her staff for making us welcome and we wish her all the best as she brings her style to the Black Swan, Ashover.