Profile: The Peacock, Rowsley, Derbyshire

Published June 22, 2012

The charming 17th century Peacock at Rowsley, Derbyshire is the perfect place for a food lovers’ weekend getaway.

It’s in a great spot for exploring the Peak District, oozes country style and serves seriously good food, having recently been awarded a third AA Rosette for its fine dining menu. It’s the sort of hotel where, from the moment you walk through the door, you lose yourself in comfort, great service and the unique ambience of a 360-year-old building.

The writer was lucky enough to spend his wedding night here in 2004 and visited again in February 2010. One of the highlights on both occasions was a first-class English breakfast, followed by a beautiful walk to Bakewell through Manners Wood (the hotel will supply you with walk directions). Chatsworth House and Haddon Hall – the latter of which is owned by The Peacock’s custodian, Lord Edward Manners – are also within striking distance.

The hotel’s cosy bar – complete with open fire, of course – is another jewel in this venue’s crown. Here you can really kick back, surrounded by ancient stone walls and wood beams, and there can be few places in England where a glass of single malt in front of a roaring fire feels as appropriate, or as pleasant.

Feasting your eyes on the menu from the comfort of the bar is recommended, before being led to the dining room. The Peacock takes a formal approach to its fine dining experience – expect white gloves and silver salvers – but you can remain in the bar if you wish.

The 16 bedrooms are as well-appointed as you’d expect for an historic, luxury hotel.

The Peacock used to be both a farmhouse and the Dower House for Haddon Hall, becoming an inn in 1828. The peacock that sits above the front porch (a peacock is part of the Manners’ family crest) was carved in the 19th century by the same chap who carved Rowsley’s village fountain. This is not a hotel short on history.

Food at The Peacock
The Peacock takes great pride in its food and drink. Head chef Dan Smith runs the show and has created a superb fine-dining à la carte menu (hence the three AA stars). Local suppliers are used where possible and include EW Coates Butchers of Two Dales, Matlock, LW Hancock Butchers of Stoney Middleton, Peak District Dairies and Country Fresh Foods of Sheffield. The more laid-back bar menu comprises dishes such as venison bourguignonne and haddock in beer batter.

Prices start at £175 per night for a standard double room, including three-course dinner.

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Specialities: Fine dining; local food
Food times: Fine dining – 7-9pm (Tue-Sat); bar menu – 12-2pm (Mon-Sun) and 6.30-9pm (Mon-Sat); 7-8.30pm (Sun)

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SAMPLE MENU (A LA CARTE)

£55.50 for three courses

Starters
Celeriac soup with crispy quails’ eggs and truffle toast
Duck liver ballotine, smoked eel, pickled red cabbage purée, raisins

Mains
Fillet of beef, glazed shin, crispy ox tongue, smoked ratte potato purée, watercress, vegetable risotto
Monkfish with poached oyster, broccoli and Parmesan

Dessert
Dark chocolate tart, peanut parfait, salted caramel ice cream

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The Peacock at Rowsley, Bakewell Rd, Rowsley, Matlock, Debyshire DE4 2EB, 01629 733518

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Matt Wright
The author:

Matt lives in Leicestershire with his wife, two kids and dog. He is passionate about British pubs, slow food and home brewing. He founded Great Food Club (originally as Great Food Magazine) in 2010 after being inspired by local producers near his home town of Melton Mowbray - Britain's 'Rural Capital of Food'.