Geoff and I wanted a few days away late summer but flights were looking rather expensive from our local airport to anywhere we fancied going. We decided instead to holiday in good Old Blighty. It never seems quite like a proper holiday unless you’re getting on a plane or catching a ferry does it? But we don’t get to see much of this beautiful country of ours except the local bits and personally I think there’s nothing quite like the English countryside – although I do love Italy’s too.
We stayed two nights at the Old Shoulder of Mutton B&B in the small Peak District village of Winster. Steven & Julie were great hosts, their home was to die for, the beds and rooms very comfortable and the breakfasts Julie made for us were amazing, I couldn’t wait to get out of bed in the morning.
Their favourite restaurant Stones is in Matlock, which isn’t too far from Winster and they recommended it to us. We booked a week ahead (which is advisable as its popular) and set off down the very narrow country lanes with ‘helpful’ directions as ever from the satnav. En route we helped herd three escapee cows back into their field with our car, a jolly good excuse for being a few minutes late.
It was Friday night and Matlock seemed very much alive, there are tons of places to eat at, each one quite different. The entrance to Stones is down some steps by the bridge with the river Derwent flowing underneath. We received a warm welcome and sat outside by the river and had a pre dinner drink each. I chose Stone’s Pink Fizz cocktail which is Monmarthe Champagne, Cherry Brandy & rose syrup which was delicious and Geoff a beer.
With the drinks canapés were served, I forget exactly what they all were but there was a blue cheese one, a wasabi one and a hot pulled pork one with mango sauce which was our favourite.
When we were ready we moved inside to be seated – opposite the kitchen door which oddly enough we seemed to be seated in the same position everywhere we dined those few days away. It wasn’t a problem thankfully, sometimes sitting by kitchen doors can obviously be a little draughty and noisy with lots of comings and goings which can become intrusive but this was fine.
There were some good choices on the menu, two courses for £32 and three for £36 plus a couple of tasting menus but there were one or two items on those which I wouldn’t have chosen so we stuck with the normal menu instead. Bread was served, three different types, white onion & cheddar, black treacle and tomato & herb. Our favourite was the black treacle although tomato & herb was tasty too (we didn’t try the white onion & cheddar). They were served with two butters, roasted red pepper and sea salt.
My starter of crab & lobster spring rolls with sweetcorn, spring onion & coriander salsa was very nice. Fresh, light and crisp filo pastry with the filling full of flavour. Beautifully presented too.
The pressed ham hock with pea panna cotta, picallili purée and pea & mint dressing starter which Geoff ordered looked great and he said it was very flavoursome. “Lots of different flavours, very good, top quality, taking you to places you wouldn’t expect to go”. I’m not sure how much alcohol he’d quaffed by the time he said that.
My main dish, rump of lamb, aubergine cannelloni, crushed peas, black pudding and goat’s curd was fairly tender and pink but would have been nicer, I think, had it been cooked very slowly. The fat I couldn’t eat – which is probably a good thing really – but if it had been cooked slowly then perhaps I could have, I had to cut those bits away. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it. My potato looked the same as Geoff’s but had been forgotten to be layered which didn’t really matter I guess. Again presentation was excellent.
Geoff had the fillet of beef, dauphinoise potato, cabbage and bacon, carrot purée, Masala sauce which had a supplement of £4. I had a taste and if I were to return, which I would if I’m ever up that way again, then I would probably choose that.
For dessert I was going to have the cheese board but this was with malt loaf and I’m not a fan of that so I went for the pistachio & olive oil cake with raspberry sorbet and white chocolate powder instead.
It was very good indeed.
Geoff’ enjoyed his dessert too. Lemon & clotted cream tart, poached strawberries, burnt strawberry sorbet.
Coffee time and Stones came up trumps with the six petit fours – or petit sixes – chocolates between us which are made on the premises. All different flavours which I cannot recall. The chocolate was melt in the mouth delicious!
We very much enjoyed Stones, the young staff were very friendly and very attentive. In fact we threw in a couple of ‘curve balls’ to test them. We asked to wait 20 minutes until we had our dessert as we wanted to let our meals go down first and the evening was going too quickly, this they did almost to the second! Also we asked for coffees to be served after our dessert, not with it, which again they did, so well done there.
The restaurant is divided into three separate areas, you have a few tables in the bar area by the entrance, the middle section where we were and then through to a light conservatory type of room close to the river – although I don’t think you can see the river from there unless you stand up – and of course in the summer, outdoor seating.
It was a jolly nice evening.
Return? Yes, definitely!
Living life, loving Stones and the Peak District