Do you believe in happy coincidences? I do.
One Saturday, Twitter was alight with news of a new indie bookshop opening in Belper. Considering I rarely venture there, I thought it high time to go check the new book shop and wider town out.
We managed to visit Dormouse Books, marvelled at the giant Cowboy Mr Potato Head (oh Belper, you never cease to amaze me), had a drink at Strutts Arms then headed over for an early supper at The Palfrey. Visiting The Palfrey’s new location has been on my To Do List ever since the acclaimed restaurant upped sticks and well, moved out a little bit into the sticks, to Milford.
To access the restaurant you walk up some steps. These steps ought to be nicknamed Magic Steps, because once you reach the top, be prepared for an altogether out-of-this-world experience.
Magnificent exterior (consisting of copper and dramatic black façade) aside, you will love the outside seating area. When the weather is warmer, you can hunker down for some al fresco drinking and dining, with comfy seating and stunning views across Milford as far as the eye can see.
This all makes The Palfrey feel like a place you want to spend more than just a fleeting few hours, because trust me, time flies when you’re having fun. It was whilst perusing the drinks menu, that I spotted the Hampden Estate rum.
I fell in love with this rum whilst enjoying my honeymoon in Montego Bay. We were lucky to visit the Hampden Estate which is one of the oldest sugar estates in Jamaica, see the rum being made and participate in a rum tasting.
(More on Hampden Estate in a standalone post coming shortly.) Hampden Estate is renowned for creating deep-flavoured pot still rums, however getting hold of this rum in the UK is nigh on impossible.
I was honest to God left agog at seeing Hampden Estate rum being served at The Palfrey. That to me, gives me a clue about the sort of establishment The Palfrey wants to be, where it reveres attention to detail and strives to be a place like no other (mission accomplished).
The décor gives a nod to the restaurant’s original design palate of semi-industrial canvas with a dash of contemporary luxe. We dined off the set menu, choosing two courses for £21.95, although there is a three course option for £27.95.
I chose main and dessert, whilst dining partner had starter and main. He enjoyed his prawn cocktail (King prawns, Marie Rose, baby gem, sundried tomato sourdough).
I managed to nibble on the sourdough, which had a glorious tang. His main of Shetland mussels (shallot, leek and white wine cream sauce, homemade focaccia) was the star of the menu.
It was a mountain of mussels piled high, nestling in a bountiful river of creamy, onion-based sauce, perfect for those pillowy, spongey depths of that focaccia that made the visit so memorable.
My main was essentially fish and chips done The Palfrey way. Beer battered line-caught haddock was served with crisp, triple-cooked chips, a side of minted crushed peas and tartare sauce.
I loved these good and generous chunky chips, whose burnished exteriors hid a yielding, soft to the bite, inside. My dessert of strawberry cheesecake was the perfect light dessert.
A biscuit base topped with creamy cheese, with a hint of vanilla was glorious. The strawberry sorbet was incredible, as if the flavour of summer was condensed and served up on my plate.
The addition of elderflower in the icy sorbet made the dish altogether more fragrant. The dessert was supposed to be served with meringue shards, however I had them removed because of allergies.
The chef and team at The Palfrey are doing some amazing things in the kitchen and beyond. From the knowledgeable Front of House (hat-tip Kiana and Joshua) who play a massive part in the dining experience, to Chef Dan et al, The Palfrey is one of Derbyshire, nay, the UK’s best restaurants.
Visit now and I promise you won’t be surprised. If Kiana and Josh are there, you’re in for a treat.
The Palfrey has released its Christmas menu (yes I will be lobbying my book club to go here).
Restaurant name: The Palfrey
Address: Hopping Hill, Milford, Belper DE56 0RL
How to make reservation: Online via ResDiary or telephone
Telephone: 01332 293135
Covers: 50 covers
Head Chef: Dan
Front of House: Kiana, Josh
Caters for dietary requirements: Yes
How to get there: 15 minute drive from Derby city centre