Blink and you’ll miss it. Perched on the edge of Derbyshire’s Peak District lies The Peacock at Rowsley.
This magnificent grade II listed building has been around since the late 1600’s, originally being used as a dower house and is jam packed full of intriguing history. Nowadays, it’s home to a remarkable fifteen bedroom boutique hotel and boasts a three AA fine dining restaurant and is known as one of the best in the area.
The Peacock has many benefits in terms of location which attracts customers time and time again. Nearby you will find Chatsworth House, Bakewell – home of the famous Bakewell Tart, fishing on the Derbyshire Wye and glorious countryside around every corner.
Upon arrival, me and my companion were greeted by Laura who runs the hotel side of the business. She took us on a guided tour of the building explaining the history along the way. The hotel has a traditional yet contemporary feel which is tastefully done. There are a variety of suites over two floors, many of which overlook the gardens.
After our tour, we descended to the bar which is home to the majority of original features still being used. The log fire was roaring and really made you feel relaxed and at home. We were joined by head chef of eight years, Dan Smith. Dan told us all about what goes off in his kitchen and how smoothly it all runs when you have a team as gelled together as his. In his time at The Peacock, Dan has built up excellent relationships which suppliers and tries to source produce as locally as possible.
The menu’s change with the seasons, usually around five times per year to ensure that freshness and quality is not compromised. Shortly afterwards, we moved to the lobby area which also houses a log fire. We took our seats directly in front and ordered cocktails with bar manager Christian. For teetotal self, a mocktail comprising of elderflower, passionfruit and maraschino cherry. A divine combination resembling that of a Cherry Bakewell. Very fitting for the area. My companion opted for a London Gin based cocktail as recommended by Christian. It contained Champagne, elderflower cordial, cucumber and ground black pepper. Flavours which worked in harmony. Alongside these, we were treated to some homemade honey roasted nuts. Perfectly sweet and crunchy.
Oliver, the F&B manager popped over for a chat and subsequently took our food order, advising when requested his personal opinions. He was really knowledgeable and confident with the menu and it’s ingredients which is very reassuring. It’s here that we were served an Amuse Bouche. A flavourful steak tartare accompanied with a subtle horseradish cream and an incredibly light, fluffy Celeriac mousse topped over crunchy cubes of apple.
We were shown to our table in the main dining room and presented with two varieties of homemade breads. A bacon and shallot brioche which was so flaky and light, plus an individual black treacle loaf. Crunchy on the outside, lovely and sweet on the inside. Delicious when accompanied with the butter.
It wasn’t long before starters were served. For myself, the Smoked beetroot tartare with a deep fried goats curd ravioli, goats cheese ice cream and 12 year old balsamic. A fantastic combination of contrasts; sweet & sour, hot & cold, soft & crunchy. My companion, Pressed Pig’s head croquettes, Jerusalem artichokes, ham and truffle. Tender cheeks with a much welcomed crunch from the croquettes.
Following a perfectly timed break between courses, we were presented with main courses. I opted for Derbyshire fillet of Beef, red wine braised Oxtail, parsnip, potato & bacon mousseline. Served pink, this meat duo melts in the mouth and cuts like butter. The accompanying elements all bring the dish together amazingly. Also, the Venison loin, caramelised cauliflower, hispi cabbage and dauphinoise all with a grating of chocolate to top it off.
Having not been keen on Venison before, my companion is now well and truly converted. Along with a fine glass of Muscadet, this went down a treat. The top quality produce really makes all the difference. After a superb feast so far, we couldn’t turn down dessert. It is after all my favourite course. Following our mains, we were given a palate cleanser. I refreshing taster with a slush like consistency.
The desserts we chose were Caramelised white chocolate & banana mousse, passion fruit curd and a passionfruit sorbet. Delightfully creamy with the kick of the passion fruit. Delicious. A great way to end the evening. The lime parfait with dark chocolate sorbet and chocolate mousse is a chocoholic’s dream. Immense richness with a citrus packed punch.
Throughout all of the courses the presentation was exceptional and the service as smooth and professional as you’d hope it to be. I can’t wait to see what treats are served up on their next menu. Definitely worth a trip back and possibly a luxury overnight stay. You have to treat yourself every now and again, right!