The Duncombe Arms, Ellastone

I love celebrating birthdays – it’s always so nice to get together with your favourite people, and they’re just such a great excuse to go for dinner (as if I needed another one!)

To celebrate such an occasion for a friend the other week, we booked a table at The Duncombe Arms for dinner – a pub in Ellastone, Staffordshire, which is a stones throw from Alton Towers

We arrived a little early so whilst we waited for the guest of honour, I had a light & elderflower-y Lillet Hugo and the husband had a pint of Estrella, commenting on how well kept the beer must be as it tasted perfect (and he’s tried enough to know the difference, believe me!)

The glow of candles in the fading summer evening light gave the terrace a secret garden vibe which was lovely, and we chatted away whilst looking at the menus (just look at the artwork on the front – love!)

 

Orders taken, we started with sourdough & foccacia with the lightest whipped salted butter – it wasn’t around for long!

My starter was chilled pea & mint soup which was such a vibrant green, I hoped that the taste would live up to the colour…and it certainly did! Having the soup cold made it taste like eating peas straight from the pod, and combined with the mint was really refreshing

As the evening cooled we moved inside – I have this spot below earmarked for a wintery Sunday lunch when the weather turns!

Our little tradition of pink champagne with dinner was even more appropriate that evening to toast the birthday girl – always happy to see Laurent Perrier Rosé on the wine list!

Breaking with my recent run of ordering fish eveywhere I go (exhibit A, exhibit B) I went for the lamb rump for my main, and what an excellent decision it was! The softest, most tender blushing pink lamb just melted in the mouth, and managed to remain light in texture but rich in flavour. It was served with buttery fondant new potatoes, green beans, grilled artichokes & whole garlic, and topped with a lamb jus and what I assumed to be a fragrant marjoram oil – a thoroughly delicious dish

(On a side note: I love artichoke and feel it isn’t included on enough menus – anyone else think that?)

What is dinner without sides? I can vouch that the truffle fries, creamy mash & silky smooth swede puree (gone before I could take a picture!) were all gorgeous

Even if I’m stuffed, when there’s soufflé on the menu I feel I must have it, and this raspberry version was definitely worth undoing a button for – it’s only light, right? In this instance it definitely was superbly light and fluffy, but it was also MASSIVE! The raspberry sauce which was poured into the centre at the table, was beautifully tart and stopped it feeling too sickly

To accompany my souffle I had a glass of Hungarian Tokaji dessert wine – a much lighter dessert wine than some, and perfect with this dessert

We left full, happy and eager to return!

I love places like The Duncombe Arms, (see also: The Boot at Repton) – much more than a pub, they just feel special in that the setting is upmarket but still ‘traditional’ and the food is top notch. It’s somewhere as suited to an alfresco summer dinner as it would be to a cozy wintery Sunday lunch

The staff were fantastic and happily put up with our request to move inside half way through our meal, and to find out the football scores for us as England were playing in the world cup!

They are currently in the process of building rooms on site, so if you fancy staying over you’ll soon be able to – I for one can’t wait to see what they create, although I’m not sure the husband would agree to a stay when we only live half an hour away!

 

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