Restaurant review - Derwentwater Arms, Calver
PUBLISHED: 00:00 30 January 2020
Friar Tuck has a disagreement at the Derwentwater Arms!
I do not like to disagree publicly with a restaurateur, especially in so sensitive a matter as his assessment of his own establishment. But on this occasion I have to report a divergence of views, though not so severe as to cause us to come to blows.
The Abbess and I had been taken to the north of the county. Needing hearty sustenance we visited the Derwentwater Arms at Calver, noted for good home-cooked Derbyshire food. The pub enjoys an elevated position offering splendid views over Calver village to hills beyond, though on this winter day they were wreathed in clouds. On a summer's day the outdoor seating would be lovely, but we were pleased to step quickly inside to the warm lounge and an array of real ales. A quick test proved them well-cellared. I only just resisted the array of real gins, noting one by my old friend, Robin of Loxley.
Specialities of the house are the pies and the fish dishes, so the Abbess started with an Orkney Crab Tart and commended the crumbly pastry. I ordered the 'CFC' - three generous pieces of 'Calver Fried Chicken', crisp outside, moist within, served with a garlic mayo.
To wash down the food we both desired wine - but could not agree on a colour. Fortunately the wine list offered a good selection of wines from noted vintner John Hattersley of Bakewell at £15-£25 a bottle, mostly available by the glass. This allowed the Abbess to enjoy a warming French Malbec whilst I partook of a 'White' (ie pink) Zinfandel.
For mains the Abbess chose a Spinach, Mushroom and Wild Watercress pie, not because she inclines toward vegetarianism, but rather because she liked the look of it. I was delighted by my Sea Bass with chorizo, king prawns and Orzo pasta, beautifully cooked with crisp skin and soft flesh. We then proceeded to desserts, the Abbess opting for chef's special bread and butter pudding, which she described as wonderfully light. I was more than content with Pecan Pie with orange sauce and vanilla ice cream.
We both felt well fed and sought out owner Tom Keogh to present our compliments. This is where the disagreement arose. Asked to describe his establishment he suggested 'humble'. I could not concur, contending that this was really good Derbyshire food, the quality of the ingredients and the care and skill in their preparation shone through. I suggested instead 'unpretentious'. Everything on offer at the Derwentwater Arms is done well, the menus and the drinks lists are straightforward, when the manifestly home-made food arrives it is what you expect, not exotic or fanciful, no pretence to be a 'gastro pub', with the pretentious prices that often follow. The prices are around £5-£6 for starters, £8-£16 for mains and £5.50 for desserts. Not the cheapest but very fair for what you get.
So, 'humble'? I ask you. Try out this eatery and I trust you will take my side. This is really good Derbyshire pub food, unpretentious undoubtedly, but with quality shining through.
Derwentwater Arms, Lowside, Calver, Hope Valley S32 3XQ, 01433 639211, derwentwaterarms.co.uk