Dining Out: The Eating House, Calver
00:00 17 February 2017
On those crisp winter days when the air is so cold you could slice it, there’s nothing better than braving the elements with a bracing walk before warming your bones in a cosy café and enjoying a hearty meal
It would be hard to find a more inviting location to rest your legs and refuel than the Eating House at Calver. On the A623 between Baslow and Stoney Middleton, the welcoming eatery adjoins the Derbyshire Craft Centre with its eclectic mix of gifts, accessories, home wares and guidebooks – complete with local walks.
Just half an hour from Chesterfield or Sheffield, and a short drive from the tourist hotspots of Bakewell and Chatsworth, its location makes it an ideal port of call for those visiting the Peak District and exploring the spectacular scenery nearby.
Inside, the dining room is welcomingly informal with a handful of tables, exposed stone walls and tiled flooring. Around the corner is a counter and cake cabinet brimming with home-made treats and, if a four-legged friend is joining you on your visit, there’s a covered outside seating area – with the added comfort of blankets and heat lamps.
In the centre of the café is the small kitchen where hands-on owner Katrina Locke, who is celebrating her 20th year at the Eating House, makes everything from scratch with the help of manageress Lydia Conner.
Following a scenic walk through Calver, tracing the River Derwent to Froggatt before looping back round (the more energetic could trek to Curbar Edge to appreciate the far-reaching views), we’d worked up an appetite and judging by the extensive menu we’d come to the right place.
The offering is more varied than your typical café and in tune with the Eating House’s relaxed surroundings, the seasonally-changing menu is displayed on chalkboards behind the counter. Breakfast, served from 9am-11.30am, can be hearty or healthy with choices such as a full English breakfast, omelettes, granola with fruit compôte and Greek yoghurt, kedgeree, smoked salmon and eggs Benedict.
From 11.30am, lunches range from quiche, soup, jacket potatoes, sandwiches and baguettes to delicious-sounding larger meals such as jewelled quinoa with pear and goats’ cheese; squash, spinach and walnut linguine; spicy smoked haddock fishcakes; ham, pork and apricot pâté; and a ‘winter picnic’ of meat, cheese, chutney, salad and crusty bread. There’s also a good choice of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free dishes.
As we relaxed with tea and filter coffee – free re-fills are included – we grazed on freshly-baked bread, marinated olives, sun-dried tomatoes and flavoursome home-made houmous (£3.50).
Dishes come in hungry-walker-sized portions and my partner enjoyed his generous serving of delicately-spiced Arabic lamb (£9.50), presented on a bed of seasoned rice with little jewels of pomegranate and apricot to add texture and sweetness.
I opted for the spiced beef and beetroot casserole (£9.95), served with piquant braised red cabbage and roast potatoes that were fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside. The rich red wine sauce included chilli and ginger for depth of flavour, whilst the beef and beetroot proved a delicious combination.
The Eating House is a haven for those with a sweet tooth and it’s difficult to choose from the vast array of home-made cakes, tarts and tray bakes which can be served hot or cold with custard, cream or ice cream. Afternoon teas are available and, we were thrilled to learn, there’s even a cake loyalty card that offers the perfect excuse for repeat return visits.
My partner declared the treacle tart ‘sticky and moreish’ – great for post-walk fuel – but I only had eyes for the coffee and walnut cake which was moist, covered in buttercream and served alongside a mini pot of fruit and cream.
With the guarantee of a warm welcome and a comforting meal, it’s worth planning a walk or trip nearby just for an excuse to end the day here.
The Eating House, Calver Bridge, Hope Valley S32 3XA, 01433 631583, www.theeatinghousecalver.co.uk