**4 MINUTE READ**
A new independent restaurant has opened its doors on Friar Gate, Derby. Promising to showcase the best of British, The Dining Room is serving classic dishes with a contemporary twist, with a focus on the best of local and regional British produce. I attended press night yesterday evening and sampled food on the taster menu; here are my thoughts, which I hope you will digest (sorry I couldn’t resist) and share.
I love a good taster menu, where you can try larger swathes of the menu, giving you more idea of the style of a chef’s cooking. Here are the dishes I sampled on the evening.
- Spiced chicken terrine (raisin purée, apricots, pickled shallots).
Lightly spiced meat was good. A surprise was the tea and honey steeped apricots, which went exceedingly well with the spiked mayonnaise. I haven’t seen raisin purée on a menu for a while, which leaves me wondering… why the heck not? It was hellagood delicious, in all its slightly fudgy, unctuous glory. Call out to chefs to use on menus more often. (Thank you.)
- Seared scallops (pea purée, black pudding, lobster emulsion, pea shoots).
Translucent fleshy scallops were a joy to scarf. I’m not a fan of black pudding, but I did taste a little and it worked in the dish. Delicate lobster emulsion flavoured like a bisque was very good, especially with double whammy of fragrant peas. A highlight from the menu and one which I would eat as a main, it was that good.
- Heritage tomato and mozzarella salad (Laverstoke buffalo mozzarella, tomato consommé, basil oil, tomato foam).
Creamy, dreamy Laverstoke buffalo mozzarella was perfect with colourful Heritage tomatoes. I would have liked to see more of this cheese on the plate. Consommé was good, being a potent partner to the light as air tomato foam.
- Roast corn-fed chicken supreme (smoked garlic mash, courgette ribbons, olive crumb, broccoli).
Chicken and courgette are natural partners; throw garlicky mash into the mix, and you have a winner. I loved the olive crumb too. Although I could happily scarf a bowlful of garlic mash and retire for the evening in happiness.
- Pistachio and herb crusted pork loin (sticky pork belly, aubergine caviar, runner beans, gooseberry jam, pork sauce).
A good dish with strong support cast. Aubergine caviar was excellent and married well with gooseberry jam. Silky, meaty pork sauce was easily my favourite component on this dish.
- Gooseberry mess (syllabub, meringue, dehydrated gooseberries).
Decent dessert with cracking good meringue. Dehydrated gooseberries were tart, sweet, sour, and lovely with the creamy syllabub.
- Sticky toffee pudding (salted caramel sauce, caramelised banana, clotted cream).
I am not a fan of bananas, however I did appreciate the texture of the light sponge and sticky, salted caramel sauce.
- Chocolate tart (raspberry gel, raspberry caviar, vanilla ice cream, crystallised pistachios). A grown-up dessert delivering a deep, dark, chocolate hit. Raspberry caviar was moreish as heck; I resorted to scooping all the gel in two spoon-fulls and scarfing shamelessly, praying the waitstaff wouldn’t notice my gluttony.
- British cheese board (selection of cheeses, quince jelly, fig chutney, crackers).
One of the best curated cheeseboards I have seen of late. Wild garlic yarg, and vintage Red Leicester were two hot favourites at our table.
I dined at Terroir last year (The Dining Room supersedes it). It would be somewhat disingenuous not to think of the previous tenants, who struggled to get people through the door. Somehow, I know The Dining Room will flourish. Simon’s food is cleverly avant-garde without alienating beige palates. It also happens to be rip-roaringly delicious.
It is an accomplished menu testament to Simon Bates’ skilfull cooking. He takes simple ingredients (i.e. raisin purée) to magically transform it into a covetable dish.
The wine list deserves a mention, because it is thoughtfully put together and showcases some gorgeous English wine. I had a few glasses of Chapel Down Brut NV, an elegant, English sparkling wine, and which is now my go-to wine of the summer.
The building’s new avatar is more user-friendly. It feels more lighter, brighter, and is generally a nicer space to be in.
I highly recommend a visit to The Dining Room. Look out for Chloe whose attentive service and genuine smile will leave you feeling as if you are bidding goodbye to an old friend. Marco is a fountain of knowledge, who knows everything about the restaurant and probably a whole bunch of trivia too (seriously, I am close to asking him to be on my team for quiz night, his knowledge is seriously impressive).
I plan on visiting The Dining Room for lunch next week – and I think you should too. See you there – I’ll be the one ogling the scallop and pea purée.
Rating: (1: Hate – 10: Love)
Restaurant name: The Dining Room
Address: 121 Friar Gate, Derby DE1 1EX
Owners: Simon and Claire Bates
Thursday- Saturday 12:00pm – 9:30pm
Wednesday 5:00pm – 9:30pm
Sunday 12:00pm – 4:00pm
Caters for dietary requirements: Yes, inform the dining team of your requirements when booking.
Quietest table: 9
How to make reservation: Telephone
Telephone: 01332 613 991
Head Chef: Simon Bates
Restaurant Manager: Marco
Front of House: Chloe
How to get there: The Dining Room’s Friar Gate location means it is slap bang in the city centre and easily accessible from all corners of Derby.
Whilst in the area: Duck into Friargate Antiques to see if you can spot something nice. Items sold recently include a diamond solitaire ring and a pair of Swarovski candle-holders.