The first thing that strikes you about the Marquis of Ormonde on Codnor Denby Lane, apart from the smart décor of the exterior, is the sleek steel and glass surround to the front terrace. This south facing alfresco seating area is decked out with matching solid wooden tables and benches making it an ideal spot to linger over a leisurely lunch or an evening drink watching the sun go down.
Evening temperature’s in the Spring soon drop and so, forgoing the temptation to soak up the last rays of the setting sun, Susan and myself made our way inside. The Marquis of Ormonde styles itself as a traditional pub and dining and part of the interior is clearly set aside as the ‘traditional pub’. The rest is a comfortable dining area; set out with tables for intimate dining and for large family groups. The latter in horseshoe shaped, booth style seating.
We were greeted at the bar by Keli who, after taking our drinks order, showed us to our table. The bar is well stocked with draught beers to suit most tastes. I ordered a pint of Doom Bar and Susan ordered a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. The interior of the pub is decorated in a muted style that is homely and relaxing. The walls are a mix of soft greys, the woodwork is a pale honey colour. The exposed brickwork of mottled terracotta has a warming effect that adds to the laidback atmosphere.
Keli brought the drinks to our table and informed us of the current specials. We sipped our drinks and studied the menu although one of the specials had grabbed my attention: the Wagyu beef burger!
Along with the traditional starters of prawn cocktail and the chef’s homemade soup there is a deep fried brie plus a starter of nachos with dips. The latter two suitable for vegetarians. One of the specials that evening was an Ardennes pate. We chose the pâté. It was served with long pieces of toasted baguette and accompanied by red onion chutney. The pâté was not too course and the rich taste and smooth texture contrasted with the sharp and slightly sweet onion chutney; with the toast and a small salad it was a perfect starter.
The mains menu has been well thought out with all the pub favourites putting in an appearance including scampi, lasagne, battered cod and hunter’s chicken; that’s a barbecue sauce with diced bacon and topped with melted cheese. There are vegetarian dishes and a children’s menu plus a grill section, with popular dishes such as gammon and surf and turf. On the mains menu there are 3 types of steak: fillet. flat iron and sirloin, all supplied by local butcher CN Wright of Codnor, and a selection of homemade burgers.
Susan chose the beer battered cod, mushy peas and chips. The cod was a generous portion and coated in a light, crispy batter. The crunch of the golden batter gave way to white, succulent flakes of beautifully cooked cod. Hand cut chips accompanied the fish along with a dish of mushy peas and a pot of tartare sauce. This was comfort food in comfortable surroundings.
The Wagyu burger had captured my attention and I was anxious to try it. Wagyu beef is highly prized and has a higher fat to meat ratio compared to traditional breeds. The burger was presented in a brioche bun topped with battered onion rings and served with hand cut chips and a salad. Nothing out of the ordinary until I took a bite. The burger had a fine and very tasty crisp outer coating that had formed during the grilling. The inside was divine: a distinctive beef flavour with a melt in the mouth texture. I cannot recall having a better burger.
The evening had been a relaxed and delicious affair. We had eaten our fill and sadly didn’t try any of the desserts on offer; they range from the apple pie to my favourite: lemon meringue pie.
As we waited for our taxi we chatted with owners Keli and Ed. They mentioned they are about to launch a new menu with some new dishes but plenty of old favourites. I understand that the chef is introducing, along with the other dishes, a new burger for the summer. I think that calls for a return visit.