Last weekend we went to a wedding up near Sheffield on the edge on the Peak District and whilst up north we decided to make a weekend of it and the day after we had a lazy drive across the Peak District in some gorgeous spring sunshine to have lunch in a highly regarded pub, The Lord Clyde in Cheshire.
From the outside this is your typical lovely and homely country pub, but inside the food is something a little special. The pub and dining room has a lovely relaxed vibe, really making you feel welcomed. We were lucky enough to be eating that lunchtime on the Chefs Table right in the kitchen itself. The Chefs Table is quite new to the Lord Clyde and is bookable for parties of 4-6 people for a truly unique dining experience, which is something we certainly had.
The Head Chef and Co-owner Ernst Van Zyl was born in South Africa and moved to England in his 20’s, working in many places around the country and also doing stages in well renowned restaurants such as Noma and The Fat Duck. He met Sarah in 2007 and together they bought The Lord Clyde back in 2013, and since then have gone from strength to strength.
We were dining from a specially tailored 7 course tasting menu so without further ado lets get to the main event, the food!
We started off with several ‘snacks’. I often think that the little amuse bouche or snack you get as an appetite whetter at fine dining establishements will be a taste of the quality to come, and these ones got me quite excited. We tried:
- Spelt and Wild Garlic Cracker with Chicken Liver and Vanilla
- Moss with Grape Avocado and Sorrel
- Beetroot with Blacksitcks Blue Cheese
- Chicken Skin with Shallot and Passion Fruit
- Cod Skin with Cured Seabass, Caper and Yellow Raisen
The standout of these for me was the beautiful chicken skin, which combined crisp saltiness with sweet shallot and sharp passion fruit in an absolute taste explosion of amazingness!
One of the best things about sitting on the chefs table was the interaction with the chefs, and with Sarah who was serving us, we found out so much more about where the pub had been and where it was going and the ethos of the food. For example the stunning sourdough bread that came up next was made right in the restaurant. They have even recently started milling their own flour from grains that they get from a mill several miles away. You can’t get much fresher or back to basics than that. Their sourdough starter is now over 2 years old, and all of the above combined with some smoked butter and beef dripping combined to produce some of the yummiest bread I’ve tasted.
The seven courses went by in a blur of flavours and textures and we both enjoyed every mouthful. 1st was Cod Cheek, Smoked Pancetta, Wild Garlic and Smoked Bacon Dash.
Trout with Heritage Carrot, Sorrel and Apple. The freshness of this dish was really special with perfectly cooked trout. Ernst told us that he orders the rainbow trout from less than 10 miles away, and that they are freshly caught for him and delivered the same day – you can’t ask for more than that with your fish!
Possibly Lee’s favourite course was up next – Celeriac with Fennel, Vanilla and Hazelnuts. Such precise clever cooking really reinforces that vegetarian cooking does not have to be boring and can be quite exceptional!
It was fantastic being able to watch the chefs in action and the precision and passion that goes into each plate of food.
This Monkfish with Lentil and Clam Salsa with Cauliflower and Cucumber was my dish of the day. The monkfish was delicatley spiced, the lentil salsa with clams unusual and full of texture while a trio of pickled, roasted and pureed romanesco went perfectly.
The meat course was Duck with Carrot, Pressed Potato and Grapefruit. I love the bittersweet grapefruit with this, a little different to the usual fruits you see accompanying duck but working brilliantly.
Another challenging flavour combination greeted us for the first dessert course; Beetroot, Blueberry, Passionfruit and Salted Caramel. Anyone who can get me to eat beetroot and enjoy it is a pretty special chef, and I really liked this sweet but earthy dessert.
Lastly was the Chefs own take on Tiramisu. A creamy chocolaty classic of a dessert taken to a really high level with lots of skilful elements.
Coffee and some little petit fours including passionfruit jelly and kahlua truffles finished off a wonderful meal.
Overall we couldn’t fault the meal we had at The Lord Clyde. We encountered some of the most creative and inventive food we’ve had in a long time, with a challenging use of flavour combinations that really wowed us along the way.
If you live anywhere near this place and haven’t been, or are planning a foodie trip up North, I’d urge you to give this place a whirl sharpish!
Disclosure: Thanks to Ernst, Sarah and the team at The Lord Clyde for inviting us down to try out their menu. The food was free of charge, all opinions as always are entirely from the heart.