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Dining In Derbyshire – The Bear Inn, Alderwasley

Dining In Derbyshire – The Bear Inn, Alderwasley

When you plan to visit a country inn the imagination can run wild. What’s its history? Is it still original or has it been spoilt by modernisation? Having visited the Bear many times during the years before lock down and way before that, my memory was of log fires, oak beams, stone walls and a very tasty pint of  Bass with a traditional carvery. 

‘I so hope it hasn’t changed’ I thought as we set off one evening. Well one thing you can’t change is the view of delightful surrounding countryside, perfect walking territory, neither can you change it’s history as the list of previous owners, landlords, tenants, etc. have their  names etched in the pubs illustrious past along with its tales of  Mary Queen of Scotts stopping here while the horses were watered or a nights stay was required as this was on the main coaching road from Birmingham to Chatsworth. These are the stories that make a 1528 oak beamed property what it is.

Innkeeper  Claire greeted us warmly and gave us a tour to highlight the work they have done since taking over a year or so ago. We were so pleased to see the way the building had been sympathetically decorated to show off the existing features to their best. Bear Hall is the main function room seating around 80 comfortably, making it ideal for a special occasion such as a wedding or anniversary. It comes complete with its own bar too.  The decor is rich and comfortable here, where old paintings  and maps compliment the leaded windows and old oak floors.  Most of the guest rooms were occupied but we were able to take a peek at a couple that were empty and again each room was individual, with it’s own quirky features adding character and yet in sympathy with its age. Each named after animals that you may find wandering in the local countryside. Except Bear Hall that is!

I was delighted to see that the bar area was just as I remembered it – a roaring log fire, a selection of fine ales and the buzzing hub-hub as locals and visitors engaged in friendly good humoured banter. Casting my eye along the bar I noticed Timothy Taylors Landlord was on offer, but then the Bass caught my eye especially as Claire said I could have it from the back, flat with no head! Ah yes now I remember that phrase. It was perfectly clear, the glass brimming and not a sign of a sparkle. If you ever look up flat beer on the web this is what it says   ‘Serving flat beer will quickly drive away customers’ what total rubbish, they were serving it at a nice steady rate. It allows you to taste the hops, it’s smooth and delicious and this particular Bass was extremely well kept…I’d recommend it.  

A little history from the Bear Inn’s web site for you. In 1690, the building became the property of the Hurt family, when it then became an alehouse and soon after was known as the Olde Brown Bear Inn. The Bear Inn, as it became known by 1735, lay on the Birmingham-Derby-Chesterfield-Sheffield turnpike road. By 1764 it had become a prominent coaching Inn. The names and dates of all Innkeepers and owners from 1735 –  2008, 2022 are listed in the entrance hall of The Bear. In recent years, the fame of the Inn has spread across various counties and continents – mainly as a Gastro pub of note, a hotel, carvery, and a real ale venue.

The menu is easy to follow, well explained, gives you a good choice and is not too expensive to visit on a week day, with pie and chip specials on Tuesdays and curry on Thursdays to temp you. We were dining early in the evening and with no rush, so we began with starters. The arancini were mozzarella and tomato, lightly cooked and rich and soft inside; mental note to myself to try these on our next visit! I had the crispy tiger prawns in the lightest of tempura batter and with a tasty tequila mayo for a dip, lovely.
Then for main course my husband chose the chicken leek and ham pie with chunky chips and lashings of gravy. A hearty pie with short pastry and plenty of filling, a generous portion to boot. My appetite isn’t quite as robust so the pan fried sea bass fillet was perfect, served with tomato salsa and garlic, rosemary new potatoes with asparagus. 

Now have you ever fancied something sweet and clean tasting to finish but can’t manage a whole pudding, well I found the small carton of locally made (Ashbourne) ice-cream was just perfect. True to character, my husband tucked into his fruit crumble and custard, with gusto!!

This is a treasure of an old inn with plenty of cosy corners for an intimate meal, but also good size square tables where families and friends can gather. The atmosphere is warm and friendly where the staff are cheerful and happy to help. Long may inns of this calibre continue to offer true, traditional hospitality. 

Monday – Thursday Lunch:  12pm – 4pm Dinner: 5pm – 9pm
Friday and Saturday Breakfast: 8.30am – 11.00am Lunch: 12pm – 4pm Dinner: 5pm – 9pm
Sunday Breakfast: 8.30am – 10.00am Carvery 12pm – 5:45pm

Accommodation. Choose from two individually designed and newly renovated self-contained holiday cottages. Or stay in one of the seven stylish hotel rooms, all equipped with their very own en-suites, and shared access to the private residents’ lounge. Ample free parking is available for all guests! 


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