From the outside it looks like any other quaint countryside pub, but step inside The Devonshire Arms in Beeley and enter the world of a culinary genius.
This 18th century coachng inn has retained its historic charm with its inglenook fireplace and beams, yet somehow the colourful and contemporary brasserie complements this well.
Situated in the Chatsworth estate, this is the domain of new head chef Lewis Thornhill.
Originally from Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire, Lewis has a passion for simple ingredients, served with aplomb.
He started off work in the hospitality world at Stapleford Park, a local country house hotel, simply to fund his habit for snow sports.
Starting off as a waiter, he soon realised that he had an affinity with the chefs, and a passion for cooking.
This led to Lewis’s career development over the next 15 years, working at prestigious hotels and restaurants in London and Dublin to hone his chef’s skills.
His posts included Bentleys and The Cliff Townhouse in Dublin, as well as Corrigan’s Mayfair, a Gentleman’s Club in London.
General manager at The Devonshire Arms, Andy Morris, said: “Lewis brings such passion to his first head chef role, he loves working with fresh, seasonal ingredients from the local area, his ‘signature dish’ this summer being Chatsworth estate lamb, served with Moroccan spiced couscous and sprinkled with toasted almonds.
“With Lewis it’s all about the best of ingredients being cooked with respect, and then small finishing detail, nothing too fancy as at the end of the day, we’re a traditional pub serving the best local foods, with the best ales and wines.”
It is on a beautiful June evening that we arrive at The Devonshire Arms and the al fresco seating area is already full of walkers and diners.
Entering into the pub we receive a very friendly welcome and are seated by a very chatty and informative chap who waited on attentively, without being intrusive.
The menu is small, but perfectly formed.
Intrigued by how the ingredients would work together I opted for the hand picked Devon crab with Granny Smith apple, avocado, spring onion, sesame seeds, and crab dressing for my starter.
It really did work.
The textures and the tastes were wonderful together, and worth every penny of the £11 price tag.
My dining partner sampled the scorched tomato soup with sourdough and butter which was on the specials menu for just £6. She said it was the best she had ever tasted - and that’s a lot of soup!
Then onto the main, I simply had to try the chef’s signature dish of Chatsworth lamb with Moroccan spiced couscous, priced at £17. The meat simply melted in the mouth and the combination of the spices worked perfectly. What a very clever man.
This was washed down with a speciality gin, one of the dozens that the bar stocks, infused with Yorkshire Tea. Seriously. It has got to be tried to be believed.
My partner again chose from the specials menu and went for the roast lamb rump with peas and broad beans, Jersey royal fondant and confit vine tomatoes at £19.
One clean plate told all that needed telling about the quality of this dish.
Although the trousers were getting a lttle tight around the waistline we simply had to try the desserts, my partner opted for the sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch, rum-soaked raisins and vanilla ice cream while I selected the roasted caramelised pineapple with chilli, mango and passion fruit sorbert.
Both were absolutely divine, and a perfect end to a meal fit for royalty.
I was tickled by the ‘young adults menu’ that announced it was for the under 10s, no bigger than 6ft or size 8 feet! Very entertaining.
Following our visit Lewis has introduced a new summer menu with dishes such as Vale of Belvoir wood pigeon with quinoa salad, pomegranate, hazelnuts, sumac, and sherry vinaigrette as a starter and braised Derbyshire ox cheek with creamed potato, smoked bone marrow, charred onion and wild mushrooms as a main.
Also available are pub classics such as prawn cocktail, beef burger and beer battered haddock. So there really is something forevery palate.
Lewis said: “I like to seek out great ingredients, treat them with respect and put together meals people which people want to eat.
“My approach to cooking is simplicity, yet with a refined touch.
“Cooking seasonally is the only way forward.
“It’s cost effective and you work with ingredients when they’re at their best.”
The Devonshire Arms’ food has been awarded an AA rosette and many local dining awards during recent years. Customers can choose to dine in the ow-beamed pub, the brasserie, or al fresco on the terrace.
Lunch and dinner menus are served seven days a week. The pub welcomes dogs too in the bar and terrace areas.
For more information visit www.devonshirearmsbeeley.co.uk