Dining Out: The Horse and Jockey, Wessington
PUBLISHED: 00:00 27 July 2017
This newly-renovated gastropub offers Great British classics and inspiring new cuisine for diners in Wessington
AT A TIME when pubs across the country are closing at a rate of 23 per week, it’s impressive and inspiring to discover venues that aren’t just surviving, but also thriving, in the current climate. Such is the case at Wessington’s Horse and Jockey.
Three years after launching their first dining pub, the popular White Hart at Moorwood Moor, owners Barry and Karen Johnson purchased the Horse and Jockey, just over a mile down the road towards Alfreton, in February 2016.
Keen to put their own stamp on the place, they planned an impressive overhaul of the venue’s interiors and layout, with extensive renovations from top to bottom. No area was left untouched, such was their attention to detail, and the newly-refurbished Horse and Jockey opened last autumn to reveal its spectacular transformation, with contemporary yet characterful interiors.
Though the pub boasts many stylish similarities to its sister venue at Moorwood Moor, with tasteful yet pared-back surroundings, the Horse and Jockey retains a strong sense of charm and character, with its exposed brickwork and revealed ceiling beams.
Alongside the comfortable restaurant, which includes rustic wooden furniture and cosy stable-style booths, there’s also a well-stocked, welcoming bar area, a pub room for sports and live music and 14 individually-designed bedrooms offering home-from-home comfort.
The venue is presided over by general manager Luke Richards whilst the restaurant is overseen by Chris Karamyer, who showed us to our seats in the relaxed yet busy dining area.
The gastropub-style menu focuses on fresh, local produce with an innovative twist. Drinkers will appreciate upmarket-sounding bar snacks such as cauliflower fritters, spicy maple chorizo sausage and pork scratchings with burnt apple purée, whilst for the full dining experience, customers can choose from starters such as chicken liver pâté or smoked salmon and pomegranate salad, and main courses ranging from pies, pub classics and grilled meats, to gnocchi, lamb curry and the Jockey meat board – where you can choose up to three meats such as chicken thighs and barbecue pulled pork, served on sizzling onions and peppers with chips, onion rings and coleslaw.
I began with homemade Scotch egg (£6) – a Great British gastropub staple. The not-too-hard, not-too-soft boiled egg was one of the best I’ve tasted, encased in a crispy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside shell of sausage-meat and freshly-fried breadcrumbs, with streaky bacon balanced on top.
My friend’s choice of potted crab (£6.50) was simple yet full of flavour. Presented in a chilled terrine jar with an accompaniment of brown toast, the delicate crab meat was teamed with just a subtle hint of lemon to let the seafood flavours shine through – proof that you don’t have to be by the sea to enjoy the best quality crab.
Service was swift and efficient with only a short wait before the main course arrived. My herby chicken (£9.50) was tender but with a satisfying ‘bite’. It was complemented by a well-seasoned, aromatic garlic butter, grilled mushroom and tomato, salad and triple-cooked chips served in a mini frying basket.
After discovering the wild mushroom and feta lasagne (£11) was one of the pub’s best-sellers, my friend couldn’t resist sampling it and she wasn’t disappointed. Beneath a crispy, well-cooked golden topping, the soft sheets of pasta were evidently fresh and homemade, whilst the creamy, uniquely-flavoured cheese sauce was punctuated with little gems of mushrooms for added texture.
Presentation is superb and our desserts were no exception. My friend’s golden treacle tart (£6) was a delicious mix of sticky and sweet, with an innovative crème brûlée ice cream, whilst my white chocolate and Bailey’s cheesecake (£6.50) was set-off by a criss-crossed layer of milk chocolate sauce and salted caramel ice cream.
The Horse and Jockey has struck the perfect balance between pub and restaurant, mixing quality food with attractive surroundings. The news that another pub – the Hurt Arms at Ambergate – has recently joined this stable of successful establishments, with a renovation soon to follow, indicates exciting times ahead.
6 Brackenfield Ln, Wessington, Alfreton DE55 6DW. Tel: 01773 309482, www.horseandjockeywessington.co.uk