Nestled in the picturesque Peak District, the charming village of Tideswell might not be the first place you think of when hunting for high class, modern cooking, but one restaurant looking to change that is The Merchant's Yard. I'd heard good things, so was looking forward to an interesting meal as I paid a visit on a snowy January Saturday with my wife, our two young children, and my parents.
It was a bitterly cold day, but the welcome on arrival was suitably warm. I'd booked over email a couple of months in advance and given the snowy conditions outside, the gentleman who greeted us looked quite relieved we'd actually turned up. The venue itself has been very nicely done; it has a perfect modern-country feel with plenty of space. There's a comfortable lounge area downstairs by the bar where we were initially seated to have some aperitifs and peruse some menus, before being shown upstairs to our table. I should add that there was no problem whatsoever with our young five year old daughter (a children's menu is available), my coeliac mother (a menu highlighting gluten free options was provided) or our baby son (highchair provided) so full marks on those aspects of the service. Indeed, the service throughout was friendly and professional with no issues whatsoever at any point in the afternoon.
There's a well thought out yet concise wine list; we enjoyed a thoroughly decent bottle of 'Flagstone The Music Room Cabernet Sauvignon', and there's even a decent selection of non-alcoholic cocktails on offer which was a pleasant surprise. But of course, as always, I was there for the food. And in short, it didn't disappoint.
First up for me, after some very decent bread (including a gluten free offering) was a smart venison tartare dish. It was an accomplished plate, lifted by the addition of some locally foraged reindeer moss. I can't recall eating reindeer moss before but it was certainly a memorable flavour and added an extra little dimension to the dish. My main of mutton loin & scrag was another well put together plate of food and for dessert, although slightly uninspired, my chocolate orange fondant with tonka bean ice cream was technically without fault. I couldn't resist a nice glass of dessert wine to finish; a fitting end to an excellent meal.
All the various courses served were enjoyed by everyone in our party; there was some high-quality cooking on show without doubt, with some great flavours, smart ingredient usage and impressive presentation. It would have been nice if an amuse bouche and pre-dessert were included as part of the meal (they're charged for separately which I've not seen before) but that's a minor complaint and I can understand why it's priced as such.
The only thing that crossed my mind whilst leaving is if the food here is too good for a small village in Derbyshire; it was pretty quiet for a Saturday lunch and the prices, although in line with the quality of food served, are of course substantially more than your standard pub grub or restaurant chain. However, I for one hope the punters keep coming in because the food and service is more than good enough to warrant a full restaurant; we thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of our visit and look forward to going back in the not too distant future.
|Ratings||Michelin Guide||AA Guide||Good Food Guide|
|At time of review||-||-|