Ears pricked up in the office when they heard that this months dining out was at The Old Poets Corner in Ashover. So Jane was well and truly out of the frame, as Alistair, Scott and I pushed our way in to dine there.
Since Kim Beresford took over the ‘Red Lion’ in Ashover 14 years ago he has worked tirelessly to keep this tradition pub in the way a real village pub should be. Changing its name to The Old Poets Corner, was not, as you would imagine, one that was done without little thought. Kim did his research and found that the renowned poet Leonard Wheatcroft resided in the village in the 1600’s and so the name Old Poets came into the mix.
When we arrived on a decidedly chilly September evening the open fire was blazing away along with flickering candles on the tables, giving a lovely warm welcome. As I was first to arrive I managed to meet Rory who was very welcoming and offered to pour the tipple of my choice. Choosing from ten ales is never easy as too much reading means it takes longer to get the drink! I opted for a pint of Church End Brewery bitter only to discover that it had won titles. Taste you see!
Rory introduced me to Kerry who was looking after us for the evening as well as all the other diners. The lads arrived and ordered pints of Littlemoor Citra and then we quickly chose our food. At that point owner Kim joined us. We would have to wait to meet Head Chef Scott Darby later, whose experience boasts working in several Michelin starred and rosetted restaurants, as he was busy preparing food, as chefs should be. Kim was quickly in swing giving us the history of the pub and of his love for brewing hence the formation of The Ashover Brewery with Roy Shorrock. They both share a passion for brewing and drinking quality ales as far back as the 70’s. The Ashover brewery really got into swing in 2007 and from there on has proved a resounding success. Their beers can be seen around in many a local including The Black Swan in Crich which is now under the Ashover Brewery umbrella.
As soon as our starters arrived Kim left us to enjoy them. Scott tucked into his steamed mussels served in cider and bacon sauce with warm chunky bread. Alistair decided on the whole baked Camembert with warm bread and chutney. The red pepper spiced chutney lit your taste buds up beautifully. He knew he was being adventurous having this for just one person as he said. “You’re going to have to help me with this guys’’. So we did. I opted for sautéed wild mushrooms in a garlic and white wine sauce served on a huge chunk of lightly toasted bread. A really generous tasty dish. You may at this point be thinking ‘We have over ordered’. So did the pleasant couple at the next table because when Kerry brought the mains they said. “We thought you’d just had a meal?”
The generous portions of the main courses proved a challenge. I nearly had the tagliatelli carbonara but succumbed to their famous meat and potato pie. A big wedge of pie complete with chips, mushy peas and a boat of gravy – perfection for me. Scott, the only one to completely finish every dish, had the ‘double thick’ homemade Derbyshire burger with all the accompaniments stacked so high we turned the camera on its side to get it in. Ali decided on the mixed grill from the specials board and declared the gammon particularly nice, again generous portions – led him not quite to finish.
All of our dishes were home cooked using locally sourced produce wherever possible. When Kerry asked if we wanted to see the dessert menu we said yes. We looked at it and decided ‘no too full’. We’re sorry there isn’t a photograph of those as it seemed rude to ask someone if we could photograph theirs. The menu also features plenty of vegetarian dishes as well as light bites for the unambitious!
From the above you will gather that we had a great evening of food, beer and company. Kim came after our meal and we discussed the pub industry in general. Eventually Scott appeared out of the kitchen to get in on the photographs. He’s a busy man under pressure. It’s easier front of house!
Rory (Kims son), Kerry and Scott run the pub as a manchise. A mix of franchise and management so they have a vested interest all round in making the Old Poets a place to eat drink and enjoy a good evening out. Ali and Scott stayed for the Wednesday Quiz night that featured questions such as ‘What was Rick Wakemans first band?’ Tough one that as no one knew the answer. Even me, a lifelong Yes fan had to look it up. You can too.
We decided that in the interest of family peace we would try the Sunday carvery with all of us present.
Thanks Kim, Rory, Kerry and Scott for giving us such a great evening.