Epic pie at The George
If you’re staying in that charming part of the Peak District between Dove Dale and the Manifold Valley, don’t whatever you do waste your time and money with the Royal Oak in Whetton. My steak was just horrible, almost textureless and it tasted… boiled?! “Ah yes,” our B&B hostess reliably informed us, “they keep their steaks frozen and then defrost them under the hot tap.” It all makes horrible sense!
You should go instead to The George, in the neighbouring village of Alstonefield, where the food is splendid and they care just a tiny bit more about everything they do. It’s a proper pub though, through and through; tables don’t get made up for dining until you sit at them. There’s a good range of local beer on and the wine list is pretty decent, if our Marsanne/Viognier and Merlot were anything to go by.
My starter was a beautifully fresh chilled pea and mint soup, quite hard to spend too many words on but basically exactly the right starter for a
The George, Alstonefield
sunny summer evening, flawlessly tasty. Maureen opted for a heritage tomato salad with goat curds, and crucially the tomatoes had a really robust taste. There was a coarse green olive tapenade that really helped the dish sing.
On to mains, and I am very proud to declare The George winner of that most prestigious prize: Best Chicken & Mushroom Pie In The World. From the sturdy, sinful pastry casing to the slippery little fibrous pieces of delicious chicken, the mushrooms imparting a deep and funky flavour of their own and the sprinkles of crispy onion on top. All perfect. The summer greens and red wine gravy were perfect accompaniments. So big and gorgeous was this pie that I didn’t need any of the (very decent) accompanying chips.
Maureen’s Sunday roast starred an amazingly deep-flavoured piece of beef, pink perfection. Almost eclipsed by the best supporting actor: a dish of roasted root vegetables. Baby carrots with sugar, salt-baked beetroots, and small onions stained with balsamic, all slowly roasted to earthy beauty.
Tomato salad to start
The other veg dish was equally distinctive; marrow & squash, roasted in a tangy tomato sauce. There were a couple of minor twinges: not enough of the very good gravy, and a Yorkshire pud that looked brilliant but had maybe been cooked at lunchtime (we were eating in the evening, and frankly very happy to find such a great pub still open on a Sunday evening).
Somehow we squished in a pudding. The oblong slab of rhubarb bakewell tart looked heavy, but was by some strange alchemy almost as light as air. The rhubarb sorbet with it was sharp and clear, but I’d have taken a second slab of that stunning tart in an instant.
Really great pub cooking. Some good wines by the glass as well. Not cheap pub cooking, you’ll pay maybe £32 each before drinks. But look at the attention to detail in that Sunday roast. And the pie. So very well worth it!
Feather light rhubarb bakewell