During a recent visit to the Peak District, Ellie & I stayed at The Sir William in Grindleford for a couple of nights. For the tiny price we paid we thought our room was pretty nice, nothing out of the ordinary though.
The food rather impressed us. We ate there three times. On the first evening, which this blog post is about, we had been tired from the drive and the half day orienteering course we had done. We felt hungrier than usual, and we’re always very good eaters.
We started by ordering a fish cake for starters (£6). Ellie went for the chicken balti with rice and naan (£12), I couldn’t say no to the special of the day venison steak, mashed potatoes, and steamed vegetables (£19).
The starter arrived only ten minutes later and we shared. Flakes of smoked haddock are a great way of putting fish into fish cake. The white cheddar cheese sauce and the leafy salad went well with the cake.
Shortly after we had finished, our mains arrived. Ellie’s Balti contained half a chicken by the look of it. The basmati rice and naan were delicious too. I usually order everything except for the beer and pudding medium rare, when in England. However, the previous week I had been served a medium rare steak more on the rare side. In England. After ordering medium rare. This had never happened. I had had plenty of well-done steaks after ordering medium-rare, but not once a medium-rare steak.
MEDIUM-RARE CAN MEAN A LOT OF THINGS
I am a British citizen and I’m not even rubbishing British food habits, no hard feelings. I don’t mind ordering medium-rare whenever I want a medium steak, it’s all good. However, the incident had shocked me to the core, and so I ordered a medium steak, and of course it arrived more on the well-done side, which is entirely my fault. It still had a bit of pink bits, was very flavoursome, and not chewy or anything. The mashed potatoes were marvellous and must have been prepared moments before being served.
Perhaps I would have preferred a tiny tad more sauce, but it’s very common to be served so little sauce. The roasted asparagus and tomatoes were probably more for decoration, the steamed vegetables very British and very moderate in flavour.
ANOTHER MAIN PERHAPS?
We took our time and chatted about the day. When we had finished, we thought, why not order another main, not that these two hadn’t been pleasant, they were. I asked the friendly waiter what his thoughts were, and his eyes lit up: “The steak & ale pie, sir, you’ve got to try the pie.”
THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE EVENING
Who are we to doubt the judgement of a seasoned member of staff, so we went right along with it (for £13). Like any good pie, it took more than a minute or two to arrive, probably more like 25 minutes. As soon as we saw the masterpiece, smelled its alluring scent, we knew this one was going to be the highlight of the evening. And we should not be disappointed.
PLAIN, SIMPLE, MEATY PERFECTION ON A PLATE
Plain, simple, meaty perfection on a plate. I feel ashamed to say it, but we were seriously considering ordering another one of these pies the very moment we had finished. In the end we decided to leave that to our next two dinners there. The following day and the day thereafter, one of us ordered the pie, the other another dish, and we shared both. It’s so rare to find good specimen of this quintessential part of the local cooking tradition on menus today. 4 out of 5 in our book.
Looking for more food-related posts? Feel welcome to eyeball our write-ups about our meals at Gruvelageret near the North Pole (Spitsbergen), Lafleur, Frankfurt, Ekeberg, Oslo, Her Name Is Han, NYC, Ratskeller, Munich, or Galvin La Chapelle, London.
For other fun things to do, why not check out our posts about our one day in Dubai, two days in Nepal, our week in Bhutan, our visit to the Robot Restaurant in Tokyo, and the time I jumped out of a plane mid-air or flew around a lake on a jetlev.