The Pack Horse
This lovingly restored 18th-century venue is nestled in the beautiful village of Hayfield. Sitting on the edge of the Peak District National Park, the village is overlooked by the notable beauty spot Kinder Scout and is popular with hikers and nature-lovers. The Pack Horse is presided over by Luke Payne and Emma Daniels, who have managed to give this gastropub its mixture of traditional charm and contemporary style.
The spacious interior houses local artwork, inviting Chesterfi eld sofas and log burners, creating a relaxed and cosy atmosphere that only enhanced our anticipation of the culinary delights to come. Landlord and talented chef Luke showcases a real mastery of flavour, bringing together seasonal, sustainable ingredients to create a delectable menu. I began with exquisite soused mackerel, paired with piquant dill-pickled vegetables, flavoursome Melba toast and horseradish mayo. The imaginative selection of main courses brings together delicious combinations of locally gathered wild plants and herbs. I selected Chisworth lamb shoulder seasoned with merguez spices and served with flatbread, raita, crisp raw courgette and fennel, and roast carrots and beetroots. The dish was perfectly complemented by a chilled glass of Bad Eye Deer zinfandel rosé. My companion favoured a succulent chicken and bacon sandwich with delicious crispy chips. My meal came to a sumptuous finish with an elegantly presented chocolate delice with blitzed hazelnuts and salted caramel ice cream. For my companion it had to be the lemon cheesecake, creatively paired with gin and tonic jelly and iced cucumber.
The exceptional flavours are reinforced by the emphasis the kitchen team place on sustainable produce. You can expect free-range meat, reared to the highest welfare standards, alongside hand-dived scallops and sustainably caught seafood. Luke’s cooking style has been highly influenced by famed chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s back to basics philosophy. This is evidenced, not only in the exceptional à la carte menu, but in the introduction of Nose to Tail nights, where the chef discusses delicious recipes and methods reducing food waste. Alongside high-quality cuisine, you’ll find prompt, friendly service and attention to detail when it comes to the comfort of guests. With this winning combination, it’s no surprise that this is a popular spot, and we can’t wait for our return visit.