Our visit to Belfry Steakhouse in The Old Bell on Sadlergate was on a Saturday night, 10 days after the soft launch of the restaurant and as we had invited friends from out of town to join us, I must admit to being a little nervous with somewhere so new… Would it meet our expectations? Would our friends enjoy themselves or would I be in trouble for picking a dud…?
I’ve always had a love for Sadlergate and as I said in one of my previous posts, what was a slightly neglected area of Derby for a while is swiftly becoming one of the most popular places in the city again. We started our night with a few drinks at The Palfrey and Blacksmiths Lounge before heading to The Belfry – very handy on a cold night as all three are within metres of each other!
We entered the cobbled passage of the 17th century building which is The Old Bell and turned right through the double doors. As you enter there is another door on your right which is the ground floor Tavern Bar – this was bustling both as we arrived and when we left which was great to see. The Old Bell also houses a ballroom, The Tudor Bar and Restaurant Zest, and the owner has plans to open boutique bedrooms in 2018 so the whole of the building really will have a new lease of life!
We headed up the Jacobean staircase to the first floor restaurant. Having been closed for over 30 years, my mind had conjoured up images of a really dark, old fashioned place I but was encouraged to see that this wasn’t the case. The decor is definitely traditional and in keeping with the building but good lighting prevents it from feeling gloomy. The retention of features such as the original William Morris wallpaper on the ceilings shows how much care has been put into the renovations
The restaurant is seperated into smaller dining rooms which gives you a nice welcoming feeling of being in someone’s home – this does however make it difficult to take pictures as pointing a camera in the room feels invasive to the other diners so you’ll have to visit to see for yourself! This being said, the rooms themselves aren’t cramped and you have plenty of space around your table
Our orders were taken by the fabulous Olivia who looked after us and was an absolute pleasure all evening. It took me a while to narrow down what I wanted for my starter as everything sounded so good but on Olivia’s recommendation I finally landed on the barbecued venison carpaccio
The dish was beautifully presented and made you want to dive straight in (which I promptly did!) The carpaccio was slightly different to what I’d expected as it was sliced thicker than I’ve had previously but the meat was so soft and tender, with a deep gamey flavour that this didn’t matter. The venison was dressed with a light tarragon emulsion, earthy diced beetroot, delicately pickled mushrooms & my favourite – the sharp tangy blackberry which I thought complimented it the most. I also tried the husbands steak tartare which was amazing with a real good punch from the horseradish cream
Onto the mains and there are a couple of alternatives for anyone not wanting steak, but that’s definitely not me – top quality locally sourced steaks, cooked over coals on the Josper Grill is like music to my ears!
I always choose a fillet steak whether at home or eating out but I wanted to try something different, preferably on the bone, so I went for the 12oz bone-in sirloin. Each of the steaks come with a side included (or lobster mac & cheese for a £3.50 surcharge). As I’d also ordered half a lobster and didn’t want to double up I chose to go with the bone marrow mash as my accompaniment. Maybe a plain mac & cheese would be a good addition to the menu for those not wanting to upgrade to the version with lobster? You can also choose from a range of sauces and butters to add on as well, which a couple of my fellow diners did
All our plates certainly looked great when they arrived! We all felt that the lobsters were slightly on the small side and would liked to have had the claw included, but we couldn’t knock the flavour and the grilled lobster meat was lovely and moist with a topping of herb butter. The bone marrow mash was rich & smooth (for me it could have handled more marrow and just a little more salt) and the grilled shallot was a tasty addition but the star of the show was obviously the steak, cooked exactly as I’d asked – medium rare. I purposely didn’t have a sauce as I wanted to taste the meat and I was really impressed with the flavour that came from being cooked on the Josper grill. I felt that it was more subtle than barbecuing but still gave the meat a wonderful smokiness that comes from the coals, and the layer of fat on the edges was lightly charred and crispy which I loved – this was a truly great steak
Lastly was dessert and after all that savoury I was glad to see something fresh & fruity on the menu – barcecued pineapple with rum & raisin ice cream. So simple but right up my street, the chunky pineapple was warm, sweet and slightly scorched from the grill which meant delicious areas of golden caramelisation. The ice cream had loads of plump rum-soaked raisins but wasn’t too overpowering – just the thing to finish my meal
If you’re not then ready for a lie down, there’s a small bar on the first floor where you can have a nightcap – we didn’t visit on this occasion but maybe next time…
Overall the meal was great and was actually more reasonably priced than anticipated given that three out of the four of us added half a lobster to our mains
There was a slight mix up with another table’s steaks arriving with us but we realised as soon as they were placed infront of us and this was dealt with efficiently, and let’s face it, didn’t really affect us at all as our meals followed shortly behind. For a restaurant that had only been open for 10 days, if this was the only ‘issue’ then I think they’re doing pretty well!
Derby had been lacking a proper steak place but this is a problem no more. We’ll definitely be back – if anyone wants to join me to share the ginormous 57 oz steak special then give me a shout!