Dining Out: The Red Lion, Kniveton
PUBLISHED: 00:00 22 June 2016
In the small village of Kniveton, near Ashbourne, this cosy pub offers traditional dishes with a modern twist
WHICHEVER way you approach the Red Lion at Kniveton, nestled at the southern edge of the Peak District on the Ashbourne to Wirksworth Road, once you’ve wound your way on the twisting B5035 road to get there, you really feel as if you’ve found a hidden gem
Little has changed in this charming grey-stone village for hundreds of years and were it not for the tell-tale sign and neat row of parking spaces tucked against the wall the Red Lion would almost completely blend into its surroundings.
Inside, owner Bridget Smith has embraced the building’s history and character to create a cosy, relaxed experience. The bar area and restaurant are all joined in one softly-lit, low ceilinged room, creating a convivial atmosphere. At one end customers can unwind in front of the fire with a refreshing pint (the pub holds a CAMRA award and is listed in the Good Beer Guide), while at the other freshly-cooked, homemade dishes are served in a restaurant that is intimate without being overcrowded.
Once comfortably ensconced in the dining area, we admired the dishes being served as we browsed the concise menu and specials board. The food is a mix of traditional classics such as sirloin steak with all the trimmings; ‘proper pie’; beer-battered haddock with hand-cut chips, mushy peas and homemade tartare sauce; sausages with butter mash, apple chutney and real pan gravy; and gammon with free-range egg ‘from the farm down the road’; alongside other dishes that wouldn’t look out of place in a top restaurant.
Derbyshire ingredients are a prominent feature and head chef Gavin Lord champions local suppliers where possible, using Ashbourne’s George Peach & Son butchers for the tastiest meat, Fresh Choice for seasonal vegetables and even sourcing some ingredients from the village itself.
Capitalising on the seasonal aspect, I began with crunchy young asparagus spears served with a poached free-range duck egg on toasted ciabatta bread, lifted by a generous helping of hollandaise sauce (£7).
Across the table, my partner’s Spanish-style prawns (£7) were of such quality that a delicate garlic and chilli olive oil dressing (and bread for dipping) were all that was needed to let the flavours shine.
After a short pause, which allowed us to enjoy a delicious Pinot Grigio and local ale from the well-stocked bar, our main courses arrived – the ‘famous’ 18-hour roasted belly pork with Kniveton Cider gravy and champ for me (£12) and chicken supreme for my companion (£12).
The belly pork was melt-in-the-mouth succulent, with meat so tender it fell apart at the touch of a fork. The pan-fried chicken, served on crushed new potatoes with a creamy white wine, mushroom and dill sauce, was both perfectly cooked and extremely well-flavoured.
If you’re into desserts – especially the comforting, indulgent kind – the menu here would be able to corrupt even the most dedicated of dieters and we finished with sticky toffee pudding with ice cream and bread and butter pudding with custard (£4.50 each) – for the perfect balance of well-being and wickedness.
By the time we left the restaurant was full of the sound of contented diners, chatting and enjoying themselves – in keeping with the ambience created by the friendly staff. I suspect it won’t be long before a return visit is in order – possibly to sample Sunday Lunch or the Friday curry night.
The Red Lion, Main St, Kniveton Ashbourne DE6 1JH, 01335 345554, www.theredlionkniveton.co.uk