on February 11, 2013
THE DUNCOMBE ARMSEllastone Derbyshire/Staffordshire borderFor many months now our children have been saying they have heard good things about this gastro pub and that the food is good so my friend suggested going here for her birthday last week. Ellastone is actually just in Staffordshire but is one of the villages that is right on the border. Strangely the actual address is Main Rd, Middle Mayfield, Ashbourne, Derbyshire DE6 2GZ but Mayfield is the village before Ellastone but they kind of run into each other.The pub is open Monday – Thursday from12:00–2:30 pm and again from 6:00–9:30 . On Friday they are open from 12:00–2:30 pm and then 6:00–10:30 pm on Saturday from 12:00–3:00 pm and 6:00–10:30 pm and then on Sunday12:00–3:00 pm and then 6:00–9:00 pmARRIVINGWe arrived and fortunately the car park was a gritty gravel so no danger of falling over and the steps into the pub had been gritted and cleared.We walked through to the bar and told them we had a booking but that one person was missing. They asked if we would like to sit in the bar and have a drink while we were waiting. We ordered drinks and found a table to sit and wait for my friend’s daughter to arrive.DRINKSI have no idea what price the drinks were as they were put on the bill. I did appreciate that the bar man was happy to dilute my friend and my spritzer with a lot of soda water as neither of us are big drinkers and we really only want a sniff of wine. They also offer a taster menu for beer with three beers of a third of a pint each of the local brews which I thought was a nice idea for someone like my husband who enjoys trying beers but may not want three pints.Once my friend’s daughter arrived and had her drink they gave us the menus to have a look at. After some time for thought and discussion we ordered our meals and about five minutes later were taken through to our table.A LA TABLEWe were asked if any of us wanted wine with our meal but we chose to stay with our drinks and asked for a jug of tap water to share as well. The water came in a jug with some lemon and ice, the wine glasses were removed and water glasses came instead.The table was rather large for five of us as it was circular but others were rectangular and a lot smaller. Once we got used to waving to each other across the table it wasn’t actually too bad. The pub is proud of their range of locally sourced dishes They not only have the a la carte restaurant but also have a traditional bar menu with many usual dishes given the ‘special Duncombe twist’. STARTERSMy friend and I decided to share a starter and went for a mixed continental meats and olives with bread. ( £8 )We got a mountain of meat and sundried tomatoes and olives. We both had our fill then the others helped us out by finishing it off. That would have taken some getting through if you had ordered it for one person.The other three all went for the ballotine of local estate game, hazelnut, pickled beetroot and toasted brioche ( £7 )Ours was very tasty and we certainly got a huge portion. The other three all said theirs was very tasty and it came well presented.TO THE MAIN EVENTMy friend and my husband ordered Derbyshire Pork three ways, slow roasted crispy be;;y, braised cheek and sautéed tenderloin with apple puree, mashed potato, red cabbage and red wine jus for £17.My friend’s daughter and I chose Pan fried halibut steak with devon crab, chilli and rocket linguine at the cost of £18 each.My friend’s husband chose the Honey glazed Goosnargh duck breast, roasted root vegetables, red cabbage and blackberry jus for £18.My husband said his was tasty but could have done with a bit more on his plate. It did look very nicely presented and my friend was happy with heres but everyone except me cleared their plate.The duck again was well presented, tasty and tender according to the person who chose that.The dish I chose I was a bit disappointed with as the halibut was very strong and a bit dry and full of bones. I ate half then gave up. The linguine was nice but I had been hoping for a bit more crab to be evident and to pay £18 for a pasta dish was a bit steep. It came in a bowl and there were a few bits of rocket around but I really could have done with some more fresh salad stuff to balance the creamy linguine.If you wanted some bread and butter then that was £1 extra which i thought was a bit cvheeky as most restaurants give you the bread and butter.Sides of salad or chips mange tout or mashed potato were all £3 extra but I am of the opinion if you pay for a meal you should get a whole meal not just part of the meal so on principle we didn’t order extra sides. DESSERTSMy husband is very good and declined a pud but the rest of us did succumb to temptation. I chose a really yummy crème Brule as did my friend. Her husband and daughter ordered a chocolate fruity desert of the specials board which they said was delicious and certainly there was nothing left on any of our plates afterwards.ANY EXTRAS?None of us wanted coffee and we had ordered extra drinks during the meal.AMBIENCE AND DECORThe pub looked like a traditional pub with stone floors and brick feature walls. The chimney wall had a huge family tree of the Duncombe family featuring their coat of arms. In the restaurant room the floor was wooden and the large pictures on the wall were of a cow, sheep and pig - quite appropriate for that room I guess.The place was busy enough to have a bit of atmosphere but not so busy that we couldn’t hear each other speak. STAFF AND SERVICEService was quiet, understated and efficient. There was no fussing over us but any time we wanted something someone was there.The Head chef is award-winning chef, Matt Wadsley The awards were won when at the Nottingham restaurant ‘World Service ‘and then when he was at ‘ Tonic’,in Nottingham,e they received two rosettes. TOILETS AND ACCESSThese were down and up one step and two clean pleasant toilets. The towels were small face clothes and the hand soap a liquid that smelled lovely and of geranium. This would have been a bit of a challenge for someone in a wheel chair and I don’t know if there were other toilets. There were also a couple of steps into the restaurant and of course there were steps into the pub itself. RECOMMENDED?Again it is hard to say as the food was good and certainly well presented but for the price the meals were I did feel that sides should have been included, certainly a basket of bread and butter. The starters were good, I was disappointed with my main meal considering the price and I think my husband was too. The dessert was delicious.I can’t complain about the service or really any of the food except to say my fish was very bony which I hate but considering the prices it should have been good.I don’t think my husband and I will be rushing back here as I think the food was good but not special and those prices are special food prices in my view.
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