Myself and Susan had been invited to sample the Sunday carvery at The Fishpond.
It had been a pleasant mid-day drive through the quieter country lanes to our destination: Matlock Bath. It was a warm Sunday and although the main roads were busy the car parks were a long way from being full. The day was beautiful and Matlock Bath was humming with life. After a five minute stroll we entered the tastefully refurbished bar of The Fishpond. The pub attracts families and this is reflected in the pleasant, relaxed atmosphere. It was busy but, with plenty of out door space, it wasn’t packed. We chose one of the many empty tables and enjoyed a pre-lunch drink. The non alcoholic bottled beer I’d ordered was served, with a smile, and in a chilled glass; nice touch. Many of the beers behind the bar are from local brewers.
The menu at The Fishpond caters for all tastes and reflects the informal atmosphere. There’s a grill selection that ranges from grilled halloumi with Mediterranean vegetables to sirloin steak with chips, mushrooms and onion rings. Nothing can be more casual than a burger or pizza and the menu offers more than 10 different burger combinations and an equal number of topping combinations for their stone baked pizzas.
There’s something for everyone from beer battered fish and chips to linguine served with a choice of sauces. Plus a selection of ‘small plates’ for the youngsters. However, I think there’s nothing better than a lovingly cooked lunch on a Sunday afternoon.
On Sundays the first floor ballroom at the Fishpond is dedicated to the carvery where you can choose from the delicious selection of roast meats, a nut roast or homemade cheese and onion pie. The meats on offer when we visited were leg of lamb, roast pork shoulder, honey glazed gammon, turkey, chicken and four different beef roasts.
The roast beefs ranged from a well done silverside to a rare fore rib and all presided over by the chef, Elmer de Villa. I selected the rare fore rib. Elmer generously sliced the beef, laid it onto a warm plate and topped it with a Yorkshire pudding. I then helped myself to the delicious looking freshly prepared vegetables. There was roast and mashed potatoes. Carrots and broccoli. Both with a little bit of bite; not overcooked. Sweet roast parsnips, peas, French beans and a delicious cauliflower cheese. Along with the tasty homemade gravy was an onion sauce, a good old fashioned accompaniment to the lamb. Large bowls of all the usual extras were available: cranberry sauce, mint sauce, horseradish, apple and mustard.
The beef was delicious. It had good depth of flavour and melted in the mouth, enhanced by the sweet and warm notes from the horseradish. All the vegetables had retained their flavour and the smooth, rich gravy didn’t overpower the meal. Surroundings in the ballroom were very comfortable and the service was extremely friendly.
The 1920s ballroom has been restored and decorated in a contemporary style. The room has a fully equipped bar adjacent to a large bay window that overlooks the road and floods the space with natural light. This versatile space is not only used for weddings and the carvery but also live music events and a beer festival.
The outdoor space at The Fishpond comes as a surprise to those who only view the venue from the main road. At the front there are a few tables where you can sit and watch the lively A6. At the rear it’s more relaxed with a landscaped, multi-tiered patio. At ground level there’s seating and a Koi pond fed by a natural waterfall. 2 more paved levels have extensive seating plus, during the summer months, an open-air bar.
The Fishpond is establishing its self as a wedding venue with the ballroom and its dedicated bar being much sought after. The Raft dining room, an intimate space on the first floor, is also available for hire and private dining, and has been cleverly decorated and restored; retaining many of the buildings original features. The Raft, along with the ballroom, is licensed for civil wedding ceremonies.
Our Sunday had been a relaxing day at the end of a busy week. A cool beer, a proper lunch and an afternoon stroll through a picturesque Derbyshire town.