Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The Great Barn Restaurant, Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire

Before we get on to the food, how about some architecture? Hardwick Hall is a magnificent building, just look at it. The windows are what really wowed me, the extensive use of glass is hugely impressive for something that was built in the 1590's, so much so that it reminds me of things built 300 years or more later, like early modern buildings with its clean lines and restraint in ornamentation. I actually think it looks a bit like Glasgow School of Art.

If this sort of thing interests you I'd definitely recommend a visit, and while you're there you might want to lunch at the Great Barn restaurant, and if you're lucky it might be a good lunch.

Our lunch was good in parts. The long-stewed pigeon, pheasant and rabbit in a game pie was held in an intensely meaty stock, heady with bay, and a lamb stew also tasted great.

Less good were accompanying 'winter vegetables' which included, amongst other things, sugar snap peas. Mmmm wintry. Surely some root veg in addition to the carrots would have made more sense?

I said if you're lucky you might have a very good lunch here, but on the other hand you might not. It feels a bit harsh writing negative things about a restaurant run by a charity (which the National Trust is of course), but if they're going to big themselves up then they deserve to be held to it. 'Creative vegetarian options' is what it says online. Sorry but a potato and aubergine bake comprising slices of aubergine, undercooked potato, undercooked peppers, whole cloves of virtually raw garlic and loads of tinned tomatoes all under a slick of melted cheese does not add up to a 'creative vegetarian option', 'rubbish vegetarian option' would be more apt.

Rhubarb crumble and custard was also poor. First time around it arrived cold, as in actually not even a little bit warm, second time around it was hot but under-sweetened and not very crumbly.

The meat dishes were good, the other things weren't. Service was a bit slow but they were exceedingly busy.   For purposes of comparison, the veggie dish aside, you'd be happy enough with a pub serving food of this standard for under a tenner, as it is here. Visit Hardwick Hall, eat at the Great Barn restaurant, you might be lucky.


Hardwick Hall
Doe Lea
S44 5QJ

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