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Fischer's at Baslow Hall, Derbyshire


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Birthday lunch yesterday (Saturday 21st) was exellent.

Amuse of a very tangy and, considering it was tres sunny, very welcome gazpacho.

Starter of home cured beef fillet, avocado ice cream, parmesan custard, assorted tomatoes - superb, the beef with real flavour from the curing process, and the whole dish eating together very well. Special shoutout to the sun-dried cherry tomatoes - really fantastic. The wife (upgraded since last visit) had a blackstick's blue twice baked souffle - tasted nice enough, but my starter was in another league, so didn't press the issue.

Mains were lamb rump & crisp tongue, goats cheese pomme puree; pan fried fish with wild garlic rissotto, red wine sauce. Both over the moon with the mains, the lamb with real "roasting" flavour on the fat, which was rendered excellently, fantastic pommes, excellent fresh garden vegetables. The crisp tongue was a revelation, unctuous and rich without being the slightest bit greasy. The wife said little other than "excellent" and refused to share her main which says it all - the fish was declared "super fresh" and crispy.

Desert were cheese with great selection of crackers, and a chocolate fondant, banana caramel sauce, banana powder - superb. Coffee and fresh chocolates in the lounge to finish, with a real generous amount of coffee in the cafetiere - I took 4 cups and had an energetic drive home!

All in all a great meal; we only went for the £35 lunch deal, and we were in there for just shy of 3 hours, with no intention to rush us through, lots of nice touches with the service (which IMO has come on leaps and bounds from our first visits) and superb food. Make no mistake, the cooking is as modern as anything I've had recently, which whilst it isn't in the Sat Bains or Purnell "modernist" camp, we had dessicated ingredients, powders, custards, chocolate "soil", ice creams - and everything was presented in a very modern way.

Continues to be an excellent location, and I look forward to my next visit.

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Reads like you had a grand lunch. Can't understand why folk knock the place. Food doesn't have to be a constant challenge, in fact I do find it tiring at times! It shouldn't be pitted against the likes of Sat Bains, as the cooking is competely different. As for Purnells, I've always thought it to be very overated and overhyped. Would visit Fischers any day of the week over the likes of Purnells.

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I must have misread Kutsus above report then. Silly me. I was sure it mentioned Sat Bains, along with Purnells. Its a little like texting, this online thing, sometimes doesn't read how its meant, know what I mean?

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Well, we returned here for lunch yesterday after a very long absence. In fact as we entered I noticed a plaque on the wall from Egon Ronay's now long defunct Cellnet guide, which stated that they had won restaurant of the year in 1995. For those who remember the great man, this was one guide that I really rated and I followed it religiously year after year. Perhaps this was about the last time that we ate here, and unlike me the interior looks like it has changed little, and like a lot of Country House Hotels it feels like its lost in a time warp.

The lounge area is not too comfy a place to sit, it needs updating.

You know what they say about places though don't you? They need people. Perhaps that was the missing ingredient also, as apart from us a couple of ladies took another table.

We were offered some green olives and nuts, skipped drinks, because I was driving of course, and went through to the dining room.

The three, three, three, lunch menu was as described above, which was a shame as I would have liked to have tried something different. This was the only menu on offer and I can understand why, as the place was hardly buzzing.

A tasty little bowl of Gazpacho was the amuse. Bang on for summer although the weather was a bit dull outside.

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Bread was decent, and a choice of four which included, sourdough, tomato, ciabatta, and granary. I did take photos but my new Nikon camera is taking a bit of getting used too so the pictures were blurred and not worth posting.

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Twice baked Stinking Bishop cheese souffle served with a hazelnut salad and poached figs was the other halfs dish which was just ok. However the souffle itself was crusty and heavy, not at all as light as expected.

My choice Home cured Beef parmesan custard, herb ice cream, garden leaves, lemon olive oil has already been described above. So I will not expand on that. Just to add that I also enjoyed it too. Note the Heritage tomatoes which were nice and tasty.

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From the mains we added an extra course and took it as a fish course between starters and mains proper. Selection of Pan Fried Fish

The chef thoughtfully plated this dish separately for us. Each bowl featured Grilled John Dory, langoustine, wild asparagus, and baby fennel, all holding court atop a verdant wild garlic risotto. It did state on the menu, "red wine reduction". It was not evident in the eating or indeed in the photo. Also I was expecting a bit more flavour from the fish than it delivered, however overall the dish was good.

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Roast breast of Poussin consisted of confit leg, potato and egg yolk ravioli, English asparagus, and a red wine sauce. This ate rather well and as has been mentioned already, a decent portion, not some begging for more, pittance on a plate.

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My wifes main was simpicity itself, Roast saddle of Lamb and crispy Tongue goats cheese pomme puree, baby artichokes, and broad beans. Decent Lamb, decent everything really. I needed more than a few little forkfulls to make true comment though.

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Desserts next (and no pre dessert) Mille-Feuille of Raspberry & Tarragon, raspberry sorbet, crunchy meringue was right up my street. Note the dehydrated raspberries which added a welcome crunch and intensity.

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Looking more like a tranche of black pudding and slivers of cheddar cheese the other dessert was Chocolate fondant banana & creme fraiche ice cream, dehydrated lime curd.

More my wife than me, she enjoyed it, and said so between spoonfuls.

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As has been stated above this is solid cooking on a par with a few Michelin meals that we have eaten. Certainly not exciting or fresh but worthy of a not too far away visit. Yes you could argue that its only the lunch menu, however we eat loads of lunches at Michelin places and know what to expect. An all singing and dancing tasting menu was not on offer in any event, but even if it were I would not have chosen it, as personally I am becoming bored with tasting menus, and most are overpriced for what they are.

I suppose one of the problems facing restaurateurs, especially of out of the way country house hotels is pricing, and how to fill your restaurant. If I could answer that question I would have been a consultant, not a customer. But whilst on the subject, if this place were to be in the Capital it would still be empty for lunch as there is just so much competition at early to mid twenty price range. Charging £33.50 for a three course lunch must put off all but the strong admirers and I wonder if there is any local lunch trade at all. In conversation with the two other diners, they had travelled from Derby to find out what the place was about and by their own admission were very infrequent diners at this level and I guess they may never return. By making a comparison to Northcote Manor, albeit a bit longer journey wise, their lunch is quite frankly a steal and I may just feel a bit guilty next time that I walk through the door. Having said that of course its not all about money or value , to most people its what is on their doorstep that counts as very few would travel the crazy miles that we do to eat.

All in all I would give this place another go. On a summers day the gardens are worth a stroll, especially the kitchen garden where they try to grow as much as possible for the restaurant. Service was pleasant and friendly, but I would like the dishes explained to me, especially when a menu is not at hand.

Two times three course lunches @ £33.50, extra fish course £12, three glasses of Pinot Noir, £18, no coffees, tap water,

Total including tip £105.

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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Some interesting points there David. I do think lunch time trade in these sort of venues, anywhere outside London is very, very difficult. Folk just don't want it. They see these places as get dressed up, Saturday night destination restaurants. Its a real shame but thats the over riding attitude that prevails in the UK. The only real exceptions are the gastro pubs, which folk seem to feel more at ease with on a lunch time, which for me sums it up.

PS I may have to start employing you as our food photographer, some sharp images there!! :biggrin:

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  • 1 month later...

It’s the start of our “family celebration” season, kicking off with my partner’s birthday so we wanted somewhere “a bit special” that we hadn’t tried. Our usual rule for meals is it’s got to be less than an hour’s drive and we’ve pretty much done everywhere that fitted the bill in the last few years. Except Baslow Hall. We pass it a few times a year on our way to and from the excellent farmers market at Bakewell. But it’s only recently made its way on to our “to try” list. You see until recently, it had the archaic policy of requiring jackets for men – which, for me, means they aren’t going to get my money under any circumstances.

Now much more relaxed about things – folk looked fine in jeans and polo – even though the staff are suited up and service is entirely formal, as you might expect from a “certain sort” of Michelin starred place. It’s one of those places where everything is “proper” and that includes the welcoming hospitality.

There’s three menus on offer – a tasting, a short menu of the day and the more interesting main menu, offering three courses at what seemed a very well priced £72. And it was the latter that we went for.

Kick off was in the lounge where we were offered an excellent selection of canapés. A cylinder of crunchy,caramelised potato, a spoonful of salmon tartare topped with hard boiled quails egg, a porky concoction (long cooked then egg & breadcrumbed), together with good olives and even better nuts.

Dining takes places in two rooms. Ours was bloody chilly when we went in but they turned the radiator on – that’s a Derbyshire July for you. Half a dozen tables, so quite cosy, but not at all cramped. Once seated excellent bread was served – sourdough, a treacle & stout one and a pesto and sundried tomato. It went very nicely with the amuse – a green and white onion soup which was light, delicate and summery.

For starters proper, scallops on one plate, served with fennel fronds, crispy bacon, a savoury if indeterminate ice cream, sliver of apple and an apple cream sauce. Now this cream provoked an initial “yuk” as it was shaped exactly like a fried egg – something my partner cannot abide. In the event, the sharpness of the Granny Smith contrasted well with the sweetness of the perfectly cooked scallop.

I had a dish of John Dory which was also offered as a main course. A small fillet of fish – fried to a nice crust but still perfectly moist. Alongside, sliced razor clam had been steamed over a teriyaki sauce, giving a light sweetness. Packed back into its shell with diced potato, along with a little ginger. Good dish.

I followed that up with “the lamb dish” – very pink cannon, a little long braised shoulder, briefly fried sweetbread. All damn good in their different ways. Good gravy. A scattering of mushrooms and peas. Excellent little slice of a goats cheese dauphinoise – I really wanted more of this. Much more – it really was good.

The birthday girl was getting stuck into the beef version of the “meat three ways”. In this case, a little sirloin perfect at medium rare, some very long braised Jacob’s Ladder and a croquette of some other cooked and shredded cut. A few mushrooms and lovely little slices of artichoke contributed to the “five a day” and, as with the lamb, a really well made and well flavoured sauce. And a side dish of smoked garlic puree perked things up if more perking was needed.

There was then a pre-dessert. Passion fruit pannacotta, topped with a scattering of apple granite. Really clever. Really nice.

For desserts proper, it was a game of two halves. “Iced liquorice root” tasted of nothing of the sort. Even when fresh liquorice was grated over the dish, it couldn’t be tasted. Now, call me old-fashioned if you will but I reckon that you should be able to taste the principal ingredient in a description. But it was a pretty plate of food tasting nicely of sweet fruit and ice cream.

Mine was better. Yes, it’s a risk when restaurants decide to have a bit of fun but “Choccywoocydoodah” was a bit hard to resist. Well, it was for me. A thin crumb base incorporated hazelnuts, topped with a layer of marshmallow and another layer of chocolate. Alongside, ice cream covered in a just warm, and very rich, chocolate sauce. Good textures, good flavours. A lovely rich end to a meal.

We finished off with good coffee and some very excellent petit fours.

Service had been faultless. The food had also been pretty much faultless – although a couple of dishes were not piping hot and may have sat on the pass for a little too long. There was a small number of decent wines available by the glass. All in all, a really cracking evening.

John Hartley

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  • 5 months later...

I'm not going to write this up in full as just back and very merry, but by god lunch was value today. Taste of Britain lunch menu - 7 courses - £50. It included amuses, but for £40 extra they serve a glass of wine with every course, and there's some quality producers in amongst it. Supposedly it's 100ml a go, but even with wine goggles they're the most generous free pours I've ever seen.

Today they added in an extra course (pumpkin, parmesan and shaved truffle no less) and a glass at no extra charge.

As before it's very good one star cooking. Beautiful setting and service, so a lovely overall experience. But, bottom line, I'm not sure there's better value fine dining to be had any where right now. Fair play to them.

Maybe all the (relative) value I'm encountering is recession induced, but I'm really loving it either way!

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