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With veganism getting another boatload of positive PR (did you see Joaquin Phoenix celebrate his Oscar win by scarfing a vegan burger?), it is also nice to give some TLC to meaty morsels too. I sampled the best hotdog in the Midlands – more on that later.
It is a cool Saturday evening. Not like John Travolta in Grease cool, but icy-I-can’t-believe-it’s-so-goddamn-freezing-cool.
I am booked in to check out the new menu at Silk Mill Derby. It is a pub where I have previously dined, but as that was some time ago, I am looking forward to seeing what has changed.
Turns out a lot has changed, including new owners who like plates. This is a good thing, as eating Sunday lunch and sloppy gravy from a slate is not fun. (Yes this actually happened, no it wasn’t a pleasant experience.)
Barry Garnham is the general manager and host with the most on the evening. He greets us as we’re old friends, and you automatically warm to him, as he shepherds you through the crowd to show you to your table.
There’s a big rugby match on, with a soul music band scheduled to play later, meaning it’s a busy Saturday night for the full evening. An eclectic crowd, ranging from spirited mates on a big night out, to coy couples enjoying date night reflects the Silk Mill’s diverse appeal.
It’s a good menu. I am hungry and uncharacteristically in the mood for snacky bits. Which is why I go for the 4 snacks for £15, whilst dining partner opts for a more structured starter and main.
Mac & cheese bites (rarebit sauce, beer glaze) boast a gloriously fudgy inside which is a nice juxtaposition with the crispy coating.
Thai spiced chickpea fritters are very mildly spiced and also good for the young uns. The drizzle of chip shop curry sauce is inspired and a real mash up of east meets west.
Wholetail Whitby scampi have an excellent bite, and I especially love the mushy pea mayonnaise which has saved me from my usual of swiping the two separately.
When is the last time you were surprised? For me, it was earlier this evening when I made Simon Hopkinson’s cheese pie, and fell in love with the recipe because it tastes even better than the Marks & Spencer version.
If you fancy a nice surprise, order the tempura battered courgette. Seriously, I dare you to order it, and not be astounded by firstly its size, and its delicious nature.
Delicate bubbly batter on full size courgette wedges is a joy to scarf. I could eat that all by itself. The citrus dip and salsa side is good with the lightly cooked courgette; I prefer the slight waxy interior in stark contrast to the dainty, bubbly batter.
Dining partner orders the Bulldog hotdog (English Mustard, grilled crispy onions). It arrives in a toasted, oat and sesame seed topped, burnished brioche bun. I snaffle a bite of his dish, and love the deep, smoky depths of the seasoned, flavoursome meat. Served with skin-on fries and smoky ketchup, this Silk Mill Bulldog hotdog is the stuff of dreams. (I have just made myself hungry thinking about it, so I need to quickly move on.)
We share Mexican cross-hatch fries topped with avocado, jalapeños, tomato salsa, rarebit sauce and sour cream. I love how the seasoned potatoes are cut, to form a base on which the other ingredients are loaded. This could work with your regular fries, but it’s nice to see a new dish on the menu that is considerate towards the diner (you can use the cross-hatch potatoes as edible scoops).
Dessert of Bramley apple and cinnamon tart is wickedly moreish. Delicate pastry topped with artistic half-moon tart apples and creamy custard swirled with salted caramel is the perfect end to a gorgeous meal.
I am planning on visiting Silk Mill Derby again this week (that hotdog is in my head now). When you go – and you should – look out for Barry. His wit will leave a smile on your face, and will guarantee a return visit.
For first-rate service, moreish food and a pub dessert that is actually pretty and scrumptious, visit Silk Mill Derby now.
The Silk Mill frequently showcases live music bands, including a jazz evening on the first Sunday of every month, so keep an eye on their calendar.
Bookings are now being taken for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. There are various menus including Sunday, evening and lunch menus. For more information, please visit the website now.
Restaurant name: The Silk Mill Derby
Address: 9 Full St, Derby DE1 3AF
Mon – Thurs 12pm–11pm
Fri – Sat 12pm–12am
How to make reservation: Online
Telephone: 01332 365439
Covers: 100 covers spanning the whole pub, plus private dining room seating 12
Kitchen Manager: Debbie Garnham
General Manager: Barry Garnham
Caters for dietary requirements: Yes
Wheelchair friendly: Large parts of the building are accessible to a wheelchair user, however there is no disabled toilet.
Dog friendly: Yes
How to get there: The Silk Mill Derby is in the city centre and a five minute walk (ten in heels) from Derby bus station.
Whilst in the area: Make a day of it in Derby and visit the Derby Museum. Current exhibitions include Fashion House, giving a rare glimpse inside the private wardrobe of Grace Elvina, Marchioness Curzon of Kedleston.