It’s been some time since we visited The Fox and Goose in Wigley and there have been some notable changes since then, so they kindly invited us back to sample their new game menu, both devised and beautifully executed by new head chef, Marcus Jefford. The Inn is situated on top of Pudding Pie Hill, on the edge of the Peak District between Chesterfield and Sheffield on the old road and as it was a clearer evening this time, we could take full advantage of the outstanding views over Chesterfield and the Linacre Valley from our window seat in the Orangery.
We were greeted very warmly by every member of staff, but I must give a special mention to Hannah our waitress for the evening, as she possesses that very special, but unfortunately rare talent of noticing that you might need something just before you’ve thought to look up and ask for it, all without hovering ‘with intent’, a valuable asset in any restaurant. Marcus came over to explain his new menu and a little about the changes he is bringing to the restaurant. The Fox and Goose has always been proud of the fact it strives to use as much fresh and local produce as is possible and that will not be changing.
With the game season upon us, Marcus is trying to source as much locally caught food as he can in order to provide new and interesting dishes for diners to enjoy. Hannah brought us over some olives, breadsticks, homemade bread and hummus (yum!) to whet the appetite along with our drinks while we waited for the starters to be prepared. The first dish to arrive was ‘The Fox and Goose Plate’; home smoked goose breast, in delicate slivers with pickled walnuts and beetroot purée accompanied by homemade rustic toasts and a little pot of goose liver parfait which was very rich and absolutely incredible.
The goose breast was perfectly pink and we fought a bit over the third slice but ended up dividing it perfectly. Along with this, the kitchen sent us a plate of potted salmon and shrimp with saffron butter, served with rustic toasts, pressed cucumber and salad leaves. Every mouthful was delicious. I loved the little tiny kilner jars as (had I have been in the privacy of my own home of course) my finger would have reached right to the bottom….. For the main courses we were served confit of duck leg and a ‘taste of venison’, both of which were superbly cooked and presented.
The high standard of cooking and presentation does not falter throughout the meal. The locally sourced duck leg had a very crispy skin yet with succulent moist flesh inside and was huge, I don’t know what Derbyshire ducks are fed on but it works! The leg arrived perched on top of a rosemary mashed potato, drizzled with garlic oil and served with wilted greens. Our ‘taste of venison’ was just that; three very generous slices of steak, cooked fairly rare as is our preference. Next to the steak was a hotpot containing shoulder of venison braised in chicken wing jus, so tender and tasty it was hard to believe it was only the shoulder, we thought there were different cuts in there. To accompany the meat was a celeriac purée and pickled red cabbage. I can’t really rate the quality of the food highly enough but it isn’t surprising when you learn where Marcus learned to cook. We spoke to him between our main and dessert, which is just as well as we were both extremely full and I was very worried I wouldn’t manage any more.
He was working at Marco Pierre White’s Mirabelle in Mayfair as a pot washer aged 15, when one day one of the chefs noticed his interest and asked him whether he was interested in learning how to cook, Marcus jumped at the chance and was immediately set to work, chopping and peeling, whilst simultaneously burning and cutting various body parts but loving every second of it. Well and truly hooked, he left school and trained at Westminster College, Vincent Square. Since then he has worked at some very prestigious restaurants, including Sir Terence Conran’s Alcazar in Saint Germain des Prés, Paris and at Hadrian’s Brasserie in the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh.
He also worked at the Bocuse d’Or in Lyons, alongside some very famous chefs. Our desserts, thankfully beautifully delayed by our chat, were brought across for us to sample and we were delighted to be able to do them all justice; a perfectly baked strawberry Bakewell tart, no soggy bottoms here(!) with a scoop of strawberry sorbet, a blueberry and elderflower crème brulée served with a pistachio biscotti and the pièce de résistance; a deliciously gooey, rich chocolate fondant with salted caramel, peanut crack and surprise – all three desserts were quite amazing, the chocolate fondant was our firm favourite but I’m not going to ruin the surprise). Marcus told us that they will be introducing a Barter Board in the bar, where presumably you can trade your hunting and fishing ‘spoils’ with others, but if you want to find out more then you will have to pay them a visit!
The bar is worth it alone, with a fine selection of locally brewed Derbyshire Guest Ales and extensive wine list. The Fox and Goose are organising an abundance of events over the next few months and leading up to the festive season so visit the website for more information. Highly recommended.