Dining out: A food trail along Sadler Gate and The Strand
PUBLISHED: 10:52 04 August 2015 | UPDATED: 10:52 04 August 2015
With everything from artisan coffee shops to wine bars and restaurants, this attractive part of Derby is fast becoming a 'gourmet quarter'
Derby’s Cathedral Quarter is undergoing a culinary awakening. This historical commercial area of the city centre has been transformed into a destination in its own right, with a unique range of shops and a thriving restaurant and café culture that offers a variety of food and drink certain to whet the appetite of visitors at any time of day. With everything from artisan coffee shops to wine bars and restaurants, the area is fast becoming a ‘gourmet quarter’.
Sadler Gate is one of the city’s most historic streets that has retained much of its original charm and is brimming with high quality independent shops.
At the top of the street the Grade II listed Old Bell Hotel has recently reopened following an extensive restoration and renovation project under the supervision of local entrepreneur Paul Hurst. Once a famous coaching inn, the first record of the Bell Inn is in 1678 and its striking black and white mock-Tudor frontage was added in 1929. The Tudor bar remains, the grand ballroom is now used for events, and earlier this year it became home to the relaxed fine dining venue Restaurant Zest.
Halfway down the street the Good Green Café, run by sisters Marta and Kasia, offers a bright and friendly welcome. Freshly-prepared dishes include organic ingredients where possible and there is an unrivalled choice of gluten-free options with French galettes, sweet crêpes, ciabattas, sandwiches and homemade cakes. If you’re feeling health-conscious, there’s a vast menu of shakes and smoothies made from whole fruits and unusual ingredients, such as avocado, organic cocoa powder and peanut butter.
Further along Sadler Gate, home-grown produce is a prominent feature on the menu at The Kitchen, a cosy café with a tempting breakfast and lunch offering.
Towards the bottom of the street you’ll discover one of Derby’s hidden gems, The Wonky Table. It is an ideal place for a pre-theatre drink, a snack or a special meal out and offers freshly-made, European-influenced dishes. The menu changes to reflect the seasons and vegetarians are well-catered for with monthly meat-free evenings. Last year, the bistro, bar and restaurant earned a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence.
Tucked away just off Sadler Gate is Blacksmith’s Yard, where buildings date back to the 15th century. The cul-de-sac was renovated in the early 1980s and is now a charming courtyard development with a handful of eateries. A recent addition is Embers, run by the Britland family. A café by day and a stylish bar by night, it offers the largest selection of wine and Champagne by the glass in the area. Staff have been expertly-trained to offer wine-matching advice to make your meal extra special and wine and champagne tasting events have just been introduced to complement the new summer food menu. If you fancy an after-work drink, there are events throughout the year such as courtyard parties and live music evenings with pianists and singers. Visiting at lunchtime? Try the ‘Ember’s Board’ which combines specialist cheeses that are unique to the area.
Across the courtyard, The Forge is a magnet for the city’s meat-lovers. A gourmet grill and bar that proudly calls itself ‘Derby’s first gourmet burger bar’, diners can choose from over 25 hand-crafted burgers made using local beef. It has one of the best bottled beer selections in the city with choices from around the world and, if the sun is shining, you can relax at one of the outside tables. Keep an eye out for their ‘American-style smoker days’ when there’s home-smoked barbecue food such as brisket, pork and chilli jerky. For ‘rustic fine dining’, a visit to Blacksmith’s Loft is recommended. The restaurant serves contemporary cuisine in lovingly refurbished surroundings, whilst the ground floor Blacksmith’s Lounge offers creative cocktails, wine, spirits, real ales and beers.
The Strand Arcade
Joining Sadler Gate to The Strand is a Grade II listed arcade, built in the late 1870s to replicate London’s Burlington Arcade. Last December, its elegant vaults became home to the Prosecco Parlour, set up by mother and daughter team Lynda and Lisa who run the ‘pop-up’ bar at the local Fabulous Places markets.
Their comfortable, bijou ‘parlour room’ on the first floor provides a cosy haven for wine tasting or an elegant High Tea. You probably won’t be able to leave either without purchasing a unique gift or something tasty to take home. They also sell Prosecco, champagne and wine from small, family-owned vineyards, plus Italian confectionary from Artisan producers including Elcocoa in Buxton.
Emerge from the arcade onto The Strand, where the handsome curved shop frontages have been restored to their former glory. Here you’ll find Baked, an artisan bakery and contemporary coffee shop offering freshly-made food and specialist teas and coffees. It’s a refreshing stop at any time of day, whether you’re after a hearty breakfast or light lunch and the menu includes soup, salads, sandwiches and homemade cakes. Self-taught bakers Victoria Bate and Garry Baker make everything from scratch using traditional methods and the bakery’s varied offering includes speciality loaves such as spelt, chorizo bread with chilli and cheese and St Stephen’s beer bread, created with beer from the Rowditch Inn on Uttoxeter New Road. A warm welcome is guaranteed – many customers have become close friends – and the bakery’s efforts have been recognised with a host of awards.
You could combine a cup of tea with a cultural experience at Derby Museum & Art Gallery’s recently opened contemporary Coffee House, indulging in cakes and savouries whilst surrounded by fine examples of 18th century Derby porcelain.
This area also has a myriad of vibrant bars and many of the city’s pubs offer an impressively wide choice of traditional real ales. Let’s not forget that Derby is ‘the best place to drink real ale in the world’.
For details on other bars and restaurants in the area, and for opening times, visit www.derbycathedralquarter.co.uk.