This was one of the nearest Good Beer Guide pubs to Bakewell, so that in its own right justified a visit here in my eyes. I’m on the hunt for a pub that’s as good as the Hop & Vine in Hull, although I suspect that it might take me some time to find it.
The pub certainly has an excellent view over the Derbyshire hills and it’s no doubt a real treat for walkers plodding up the hill in the rain or cold, a little bastion of heat, alcohol and comfort. Not that there was any need of that comfort when we were there, as it was too hot…. There were some tables and chairs on the road, but it was a quiet area and nearly all the traffic here was likely coming to the pub, so it was a more peaceful setting that might appear in the photo. I can think of many worse spots for a drink as well than here, what a lovely place to enjoy a stout whilst peering over the fence at the hills.
The eclectic range of food was more orientated to pub meals, which was fine, but it didn’t quite seem to fit the surroundings. We stayed outside and so I didn’t really see inside, but it seemed clean although in need of a refurbishment.
There was a table available for us outside and the pub was a little quieter than I expected given its location and that it was a warm Saturday evening.
There were only two beer options, which was a moderate disappointment from a Good Beer Guide pub. Although what was more of a disappointment, without sounding just a little snobbish, was the big sign for a 4-pint jug of Carling for £15. It does show the priorities of the pub and might explain the complete absence of most style of beers, so my hope for a decent stout was out of the window. Anyway, the real ale choices were the Infinity IPA from Blue Monkey brewery and the Brainstorm from Storm Brewing, the latter of which was poorly reviewed on Untappd. The IPA was fine and at the appropriate temperature, but that’s about as far as I would go. I liked the nod towards local ales though, at least they didn’t have a Greene King IPA as one of their two beers.
I opted for the curry, which wasn’t particularly well presented and was overflowing. The portion of naan bread was pointlessly small, they might as well have left that off. The curry tasted fine, nothing exceptional, but it was hot in terms of the temperature and the chicken was tender. As a comparison, it was perhaps on the wrong side of the quality of a JD Wetherspoon curry, so I was expecting more from this venue. But, these are challenging times, perhaps the kitchen was struggling for whatever reason as the reviews are normally better.
The service wasn’t quite there either, the request to split the bill was met with horror and I overheard the staff member talking to a colleague about what she thought of the request. She was perhaps more irritated that she had to go back to the main part of the pub for each transaction due to the limitations of the card machine, but I’m not entirely sure that this was our fault. The pub doesn’t respond to on-line reviews, so it’s hard to get a measure of what things are meant to be like or how seriously the owners take feedback. It was the sort of pub where the staff were polite, but they weren’t going to offer farewells or go beyond the minimum. But, I accept these are challenging times.
All told, there was nothing particularly wrong with the pub, but there was nothing particularly inspirational either. I can’t really compare it to a craft beer bar or many independent pubs in the Good Beer Guide, as it was nowhere near the quality of experience, it was more like a visit to a Marston’s pub. Not a disaster by any means, but I don’t feel the need to hurry back. Based just on this experience, I’m not entirely sure why they’re in the Good Beer Guide, but perhaps our visit was a slight aberration.