Dining Out: The Steak and Burger Merchant, Bakewell

PUBLISHED: 00:00 30 November 2017

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Our reviewer discovers a stylish new restaurant in the heart of Bakewell

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With its historic pubs, cosy cafés and attractive restaurants – not forgetting its eponymous Pudding – Bakewell is one of Derbyshire’s finest foodie hotspots. Recently, its dining scene became even more diverse following the launch of an innovative restaurant specialising in mouth-watering steaks and juicy burgers.

The Steak and Burger Merchant is the second restaurant to be launched by David and Robert Hopkins, who own the two AA rosette-awarded fine dining restaurant The Merchant’s Yard in Tideswell. This time, the brothers say they ‘have gone back to basics’ with a restaurant that is ‘as appealing to families as it is to couples and business people’.

Despite having some reservations about a restaurant that was mainly focused on steaks and burgers, I was delighted to discover a stylish, upmarket venue with a varied menu and a focus on quality and provenance.

Pleasingly, animal welfare is a top priority for the team and all beef on the menu is sourced from cows that have been reared slowly on a 100% grass-fed diet in hand-selected farms in the Yorkshire Dales, the Peak District and the North York Moors. Whilst giving diners peace of mind, this natural, supplement-free diet – together with the restaurant’s 28-day ageing process – gives the meat a unique depth of flavour.

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The Steak and Burger Merchant’s location on picturesque Bridge Street also scores top marks. The charming yet suprisingly spacious building blends traditional and modern elements, with rustic wooden flooring, a tasteful mustard and soft blue colour scheme and a mix of comfortable booth-style seating and separate tables.

When it comes to food, diners can opt for various cuts of steak by weight – from 8oz rump (£14.95) to 7oz fillet (£20.95) – or choose from five burgers, including two vegetarian options and a vegan burger. Sharing steaks such as the 18oz Chateaubriand and the 72oz rump would be ideal for groups, and there’s also a good choice of salads and light bites (the grilled aubergine and pesto stack sounded particularly tempting).

Most meals are served with grilled beef tomato, field mushroom and one side order such as fat chips, skinny fries, salad, sautéed mushrooms, potatoes or wilted spinach – although more can be added if desired.

As soon as my partner’s starter of sticky Asian-spiced pork ribs (£5.75) arrived, we were immediately impressed by the generous portion size. The tender meat was enhanced by a rich and moreish sauce, whilst my calamari rings (£5.75) were served in a well-balanced batter – not too greasy, perfectly crispy, and slightly spicy with a lovely cinnamon aftertaste.

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My smoked burger (£12) soon followed, stylishly presented on a wooden board with a skewer placed through the towering stack of ingredients. The beef patty was thick and flavoursome whilst the toppings of free-range smoked bacon, smoked cheese, smoked mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato and gherkin provided a pleasant mix of textures. Despite its packed appearance, the burger was juicy without being messy and the toasted brioche bun held everything together with a subtle sweetness.

Predictably, my partner’s 10oz ribeye steak (£20.95) was cooked exactly as requested, to a textbook medium-rare, with the tender meat boasting that all-important charred finish. Accompanied by sweet potato fries, home-made coleslaw and flavourful blue cheese sauce (£2), the dish was a perfect example of how simple, high-quality ingredients can speak for themselves.

We finished with strawberry and white chocolate cheesecake to share (£5.50) – another superbly presented dish that provided a satisfying end to a feast of a meal. Had our appetites permitted, we would have loved to sample the cocktail list whilst watching the world go by.

Despite being a prime choice for meat-lovers, the Steak and Burger Merchant offers something to suit all tastes, and whether you plan to visit for a quiet meal or a lively family get-together, a memorable experience awaits. Just don’t forget your appetite!

Bridge St, Bakewell DE45 1DS. Tel: 01629 815613, www.steakandburgermerchant.com

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