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Dining out at Blenheim House Hotel and Restaurant, Etwall

PUBLISHED: 13:41 30 September 2014 | UPDATED: 13:41 30 September 2014

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Seamless service and a cosy atmosphere help to create a special dining experience near Derby

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Blenheim House Hotel and Restaurant is situated in the village of Etwall, midway between Derby and Burton. A popular port of call for locals, holidaymakers and business travellers alike, in addition to a convenient location the venue is enhanced by the fact that it can cater for almost any occasion – whether it be an al fresco drink, a relaxing lunch, a more formal three-course dinner, a Champagne breakfast or a peaceful night’s sleep when exploring the area.

In a 18th century converted farmhouse, The Blenheim comprises a stylish bar area with inviting sofas, a choice of cosy eating spaces – including private dining rooms – and eight en suite bedrooms.

On the sunny evening of our visit, we were warmly welcomed by owners Philip and Helga Ritchie-Smith, who took over the business in 2011. We perused the menu in the bar area and marvelled at the restaurant’s vast wine list, which includes a mouth-watering variety of European and New World wines – many of which are available by the bottle or glass – and a selection of real ales.

When it comes to food, the evening menu is concise and offers a choice of six starters and six main courses, which can be accompanied by seasonal salad, chunky chips or fresh vegetables (£2.95 each). Saffron and leek risotto with creamed goat’s cheese and toasted seeds, or beetroot cured salmon with lemon emulsion, crispy onions and endive lettuce were just two of the tempting starters, whilst main courses included pan-fried sea bream, pak choi spring onions, enoki mushrooms, noodles and thai broth; or steamed turbot with buttered greens, brown shrimps, toasted almonds and new potatoes.

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Following some helpful guidance from Philip, we relaxed with a drink whilst soaking up the surroundings. A smiling waitress then led us to our table in the main restaurant area, where exposed ceiling beams, dark furniture and a warm colour scheme create an intimate atmosphere. A fragrant platter of homemade bread in the centre of our table was a welcoming sight, and no sooner were we seated than our starters swiftly arrived.

My choice of pressed ham hock terrine (£5.95), served on a wooden board, had a deep meaty flavour enhanced by a generous serving of vibrant homemade picallili, bright green pea shoots and crispy walnut toast.

My partner declared his seared scallops (£6.95) to be sweet, fleshy, perfectly cooked and with just the right amount of ‘bite’. They were served with chunks of crumbled black pudding, creamy mashed potato and braised spring onions.

The Blenheim uses local, seasonal ingredients where possible and the menu’s list of suppliers includes some of the county’s finest producers such as Owen Taylor & Sons of Alfreton, South Derbyshire Growers and Etwall-based Happy Hens.

Pleasingly, my main course rack of lamb had been expertly cooked to let the freshness of the ingredients shine through. The intensely flavoured meat – served pink – was accompanied by a medley of Mediterranean vegetables, new potatoes, mint purée and an intense red wine jus.

My partner’s char-grilled rib-eye steak (£19.95), topped with tasty homemade red onion marmalade, was equally flawless, enlivened by melted stilton cheese and thyme jus. The Blenheim’s chunky chips are said to be renowned and they certainly lived up to expectations!

Portion sizes left just enough room for dessert. My partner’s dark chocolate and peppermint pavé (£5.95) – a devilishly rich, thick and velvet-like combination – was offset with mascarpone, drizzles of coffee syrup and biscuit crumbs.

My summery fruit salad was a mix of refreshing pineapple, orange and kiwi, crunchy honeycomb brittle, Champagne gelatine cubes and raspberry sorbet. Those who favour after-dinner drinks can choose from a wide range of port, liqueurs and hot beverages served with petits fours.

Considering the excellent standard of service, it was no surprise to learn that Blenheim House received a well-deserved TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence 2014.

Blenheim House, 56 Main St, Etwall DE65 6LP Tel: 01283 732254 www.blenheimhouse-etwall.co.uk



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