On a balmy Friday evening, after work we drove up to the Marquis of Ormonde on Denby Lane in Codnor and parked up in the car park. Although I had never been before, I had often considered a visit on recommendations from friends. When the opportunity arose to visit for Country Images, I jumped at it and I was not disappointed. The reports I had heard were all true; a lovely atmosphere, excellent service, generous portions, clean fresh surroundings and exceptional value for money.
Keli, who at present is the manager but having just bought The Marquis from the current owners is soon to be the owner/ manager along with her partner Ed, greeted us with a welcoming smile and showed us to our table, nestled by the window with comfy banquet seating. We ordered our drinks, wine for both – a dry white Pinot Grigio for me and a Zinfandel Rose for my friend. Both glasses were beautifully chilled and it was just the thing after a long week at work on a hot evening. There was also a fine selection of real ales on the well-stocked bar.
We looked through the menu, which is a perfect size; enough choice to satisfy every palate but without being overwhelming and making it too difficult to choose. It is a traditional pub menu first and foremost but with a few more unusual dishes thrown in, for instance the beef and mushroom in black bean sauce and the steamed mussels, which I was tempted by.
After a while, we decided on our meal; the prawn cocktail and the deli board for one to start followed by the chef’s special; slow cooked lamb shank with vegetables and a fillet steak with a stilton and mushroom sauce with chips and salad plus trimmings.
While we were having an ‘end of the week’ catch up it was clear that there was a lot going on for the staff – at the back of the pub there is a large function room, which holds around 60-70 people and there was a big celebration in there with bouquets of flowers being carried through at regular intervals. The Marquis can cater for all your special occasions with buffet menus at very reasonable prices.
Despite all this happening on a busy Friday evening at no point did any of the staff look flustered or too busy to stop and talk, take extra drinks orders or ask if we needed anything. At the front of the pub there is a modern beer garden and this was bustling with evening drinkers enjoying the last of the day’s sunshine.
Our starters arrived very quickly, my friend enjoyed her traditional prawn cocktail served in a sundae dish and piled high with juicy prawns, cucumber, iceberg lettuce, marie rose sauce and a slice of lemon all accompanied by thinly sliced bread and butter. My deli board had a selection of cold meats, artisan breads and a big bowl of delicious olives and sun dried tomatoes with a peppery rocket salad. This dish is available for one or as a sharing platter and was very tasty.
After a short interlude and a top up of wine our mains arrived. After ensuring we didn’t need anything else we were left to enjoy our meals, which we did. My steak was cooked exactly as I had ordered, really rare and came with a very generous helping of homemade chips (which were absolutely delicious so it was a shame I couldn’t do them justice), grilled mushroom, tomatoes and crispy onion rings, with a large jug of stilton and mushroom sauce. The lamb shank was tender and fell off the bone and arrived with a very generous helping of vegetables. The quality of the meat is excellent; locally sourced and provided exclusively by C N Wright, the butchers in Codnor who have an excellent reputation.
After the amount of food consumed we were really very full up but my friend Tracey’s eye had been caught at the beginning of the meal by the chilled dessert cabinet in front of us and despite her admirable attempts at abstinence (which took all of 30 seconds!) she ordered the apple pie which our lovely waitress Yasmin brought to the table. It was deep filled and beautifully presented with caramel sauce, a small dish of ice cream, a jug of custard and topped with a fresh strawberry.
We were chatting to Keli who is full of enthusiasm for the pub; it is clear that she has been very instrumental in helping the present owners make the pub the success it is today and so a change of ownership should not alter things too much, which is good. They serve a home cooked carvery on Wednesdays and Sundays, which is very popular as well as holding live music evenings.
The Marquis of Ormonde comes recommended, so make sure you are hungry!