Dining Out: The Remarkable Hare, Matlock
PUBLISHED: 00:00 20 July 2017
Our reviewer finds a pub dining experience with a difference in the heart of Matlock
When conjuring up the image of the perfect pub, a warm welcome, friendly atmosphere, characterful surroundings and a great choice of local ales would probably be at the top of most people’s lists. Add to this an offering of freshly-prepared food, made using local ingredients, and a packed events programme that includes regular live music nights, and The Remarkable Hare in Matlock has all the right ingredients – with a modern twist.
This fairly new addition to the town’s food and drink scene opened its doors last summer, in the historic surroundings of the former Old English Hotel on Dale Road. It is a part of Matlock that is fast becoming a popular dining and drinking destination – with several bars and restaurants on the same stretch of road – so owners Simon Dormand and Jan Leybourne knew the former hotel presented a great opportunity for development into a unique venue.
They soon set about breathing new life into the 19th century building and the results of their extensive renovation project are stylish yet sympathetic. The décor is a tasteful mix of wooden furniture and quirky wall hangings, and tables are well-spaced to allow distance and privacy between customers. There’s an open fire for extra comfort, plenty of standing space at the bar, and a selection of board games to offer entertainment instead of the traditional TV screens and gaming machines.
It all combines to create a relaxed environment and guests on the Friday evening of our visit ranged from couples to young families and groups of friends enjoying after-work drinks.
Both Simon and Jan are real ale aficionados and at the well-stocked bar are brews to satisfy all palates, including local choices from Peak Ales, Bradfield Brewery and Ashover Brewery. The offering changes each week, ensuring there’s always a variety of strengths and styles and there’s also a good choice of cider and lager plus a comprehensive wine list.
The food menu (served Mon-Sat, 12-6.30pm) is simple and compact whilst on Sundays, traditional roast lunches are served from 12noon-4pm in an elegant and capacious dining room to the rear of the building – sometimes with a live pianist.
Throughout the rest of the week, menu options include soups, baguettes, melts, pies, salads, and the venue’s speciality ‘bowls’, which are inspired by flavours from around the world and range from mushroom dahl to traditional corned beef hash, pork cassoulet, beef chilli and black pepper and sausage casserole. Bowls are served with a choice of rice or bread and salad.
Although the offering isn’t extensive, everything is home-cooked on the premises by head chef Pete Groves. The venue is also committed to local producers and is a member of the Matlock Food Assembly, an inspiring initiative that brings together farmers, producers and buyers – so diners can be assured they’re eating the freshest produce.
Whilst sipping on Chatsworth Gold ale we snacked on a sharing platter of hummus, olives, tangy feta cheese, warm pitta bread and salad (£4.50) – a refreshingly simple and satisfying way to begin.
For main course I opted for the chicken, mushroom and Stilton bowl (£9), served with crusty bread and fresh salad, and topped with a generous serving of crisp and sweet mangetout. The creamy sauce was rich and flavoursome without being cloying, and there were plentiful chunks of succulent meat.
My partner’s choice of lamb tagine (£9.50) – served with fluffy white rice – transported his tastebuds to Morocco and was loaded with authentic flavours and meltingly tender pieces of lamb. The two dishes couldn’t have been more different in terms of flavour yet both presented the perfect balance of meat, sauce and seasoning.
Portion sizes are hearty but we couldn’t finish without trying the toothsome homemade apple crumble and custard (£4.50) to share – rounding off a relaxed dining experience that was as enjoyable as it was delicious.
The Remarkable Hare offers informal dining at great value for money. The friendly staff give the venue a warm spark and the welcoming surroundings are as suited to diners as they are to drinkers – providing a remarkable experience for all. 77 Dale Rd, Matlock DE4 3LT. Tel: 01629 580850, remarkablehare.co.uk