Melbourne, just south of Derby, is an elegant, historically rich, town; the narrow streets that slow the traffic down to a steady pace makes wandering around the sites and the many independent retailers, a pleasurable experience, as was the short walk from the free car park to the centre of town; where, on the corner of Derby Road and Potter Street, is The Bay Tree Restaurant.
We’d been delayed on our journey by a bundle of dirty laundry, in the outside lane of the A38, that had fallen from a delivery van, however we need not have worried. Despite being a little bit ‘fashionably late’, our table was still waiting for us.
The interior of The Bay Tree is a pleasant contrast to the simple, silver grey paintwork of the exterior. Decorated in a contemporary, almost New England, style; a lot of thought has been given to the colours, creating a sophisticated yet relaxed atmosphere. The entrance to the restaurant houses a stylish cocktail bar and this is where we met the manager, Pascal. After a friendly introduction we were shown to our table. The dining space is made up of several areas of the old building that have been combined into one, but it still retains an intimate quality. The restaurant hummed with the sound of quiet conversations.
Over a relaxing drink we drifted through the lunchtime menu while nibbling on chunks of a brown baguette which we dipped in to a very fruity olive oil.
For her starter Susan chose the smooth chicken liver parfait. It was smooth, creamy and retained the delicate flavour of the livers. It was presented with Italian mustard fruits, sharp tasting pickled grapes and surrounded by a garland of watercress, all served with crispy melba toast.
I selected the home-cured gravlax tartare; a dish of delicious contrasts. A serving of smooth cured salmon was garnished with crescents of pickled cucumber, topped with sour cream and dusted with paprika. A passion fruit, lime, coriander and chilli dressing brought the combination together.
Susan’s choice for her main course was pan-roasted breast of duckling. It was tender, juicy and full of flavour, served pink on a bed of spiced aubergine with parsnip ‘two ways’ and in a sweet shallot sauce.
My selection was the rump of English lamb. This had been slow roasted so that the fat had cooked but the meat was still pink. This tasty portion arrived on a bed of buttered curly kale in a provençale lamb jus: a sauce that had a rich lamb flavour and less tomato than its French counterpart.
Susan finished with a trio of sorbets looking almost artificial in their perfection. A refreshing green apple, a mango and passion fruit and a raspberry. All garnished with mint and what I think was a boysenberry.
I was attracted to the liquorice parfait for my dessert. The parfait was made with liquorice paste, cream, eggs, and a hint of Pernod. It was served with lime syrup and lime wedges and garnished with a mango and passion fruit sorbet; all topped with a disc of spun sugar. The combination of sweet and sour was the perfect finish to a delicious lunch.
We had the 3 course lunch at The Bay Tree. There is also a Champagne breakfast (what a way to start the day!), a ‘fast track’ lunch (for when time is of the essence) and of course, dinner. The dishes are modern British with influences from across the globe.
We had a brief chat with Rex, the chef and owner, after lunch and could not help but sense his passion for food and his business. Thank you again for a memorable afternoon.