I was really looking forward to our visit to The Boot at Repton, checking it out on the website the lovely hand drawn images set the scene and the menu looked innovative. Hence I was not deterred by the torrential rain and wind, and the distinctly chilly feel to the evening as we set out.
The village of Repton dates back to Anglo-Saxon times and so is an eclectic mix of buildings through the ages. The beam with 1649 carved into it dates The Boot itself and the higgledy mix of rooms, with not a straight wall or floor, shout character and history. Originally, an old boot hung outside the premises, signified the cobbler who lived there and whom it is said offered ale and hospitality to his customers while they awaited his services.
The present owners have restored and preserved the building with care and thought, letting the building tell its own story through history while introducing all the luxuries of a 21st century boutique hotel with rooms and a sophisticated menu to match. We met Heidi Taylor, owner and the driving force behind The Boot, and worth a special mention too is head chef Robert Taylor who as you will see, orchestrates the fine food coming from the kitchen, and at a young age has brought The Boot it’s first award. Which brings me to the main event, as we were dining this evening, and The Boot has just won its’ first AA rosette, quite an accolade for a recently opened establishment.
My starter was served in what looked like a hand thrown bowl which accommodated a bed of smooth apple purée on which small and sweet roasted figs and slim slices of roasted halloumi sat, garnished with tango lettuce. Fine slithers of endive added a sharpness to a very well balanced starter. Small balls of finely diced, age dried, Derbyshire fillet combined with diced tomato and served with a creamy Hollandaise and rocket salad was my husband’s choice, and had great flavours.
I followed my starter with a generously thick halibut steak, pan fried with a deep golden crust, an intensely flavoured sauce with tiny girolles and sweet small brown prawns proving the perfect companion for the white fish. A smooth veloute of new potatoes didn’t overpower any of the flavours, the micro salad and nasturtium leaves giving a very attractive presentation.
Beautifully tender slices of lamb rump were my husband’s choice, they looked browned and caramel on the outside, with pink centres, just as they should be served and certainly made him smile. The crisp coating of the goats curd and sharp smooth middle went surprisingly well with the lamb and roasted beetroot. Not overpowering the flavours with heavy vegetables, it was served with a salad garnish.
The desserts were of the same high standard, beautiful presentation and attention to detail. I loved the touches that made you stop and think, exploring the texture and flavour further such as the cracked meringue where your eyes told you one thing while your taste buds said another.
As we reflected on the evening, we both commented on how we enjoyed the fine standard of food, far and above the usual ‘pub offering’ but without slipping into that swanky genre of haute cuisine. The balance of classic and contemporary has its feet firmly in the relaxed atmosphere of a warm and friendly pub where you can call for a pint of their own beer, enjoy a sandwich at lunch, or dine in the evening.
Worth a special mention is the Boot beer, brewed in their very own microbrewery to the rear of The Boot. After showing my husband the brewery, run by one of the partners Alan Shepherd, Graham offered to let him work his way through the bar. ‘Half of everything’ was the idea but then found out that they do six different beers of varying strength. The ‘Boot Bitter’ was his favourite, which has quite a spicy tang while remaining true to traditional bitter. The golden Clod Hopper came a close second and he decided to return at a later date to give the others a try.
We would like to thank everyone, including the helpful and friendly staff, who made our evening so enjoyable. The Boot is so versatile that we plan to return, both with family and with friends, often.