Rebecca’s beautiful pub on edge of Peak needs food quality to go with staff friendliness.
It all began so well.
A lovely greeting, a bar bristling with real ale hand-pumps and the aroma of roasting meat in a beautiful pub.
Subtle lighting and quirky furnishings give every table a film set authenticity.
As first impressions go Sunday at the Dore Moor Inn was right up there with Pedro’s debut for Chelsea.
But there were issues. According to the charming and remarkable manager Rebecca Aitken there were problems with the quality of the cod and after several complaints the dish was taken off the menu.
But not until after I’d ordered it.
Rebecca assured me that every complainant had their money refunded, offered a replacement dish and a free dessert. This week her supplier - Brake Brothers of Warrington - is coming to Dore to face her wrath.
Then there was a hiccup in the digital ordering system that recently replaced written orders to the kitchen and it meant a 40-minute wait from ordering to receiving our main course.
An on-screen glitch meant our order had been ‘dumped’ from the queue.
But it would take more than a couple of complaints from the likes of me to worry Rebecca Aitken.
Sheffielder Rebecca made the newspapers when she became the youngest pub landlady in the south of England - aged 20.
And it was a tough start at the Star and Garter in Bromley, Kent.
She had her face cut when an angry punter put his fist through a stained glass window as she – all 5’4” of her - threw him out.
Rebecca had to learn fast how to run a pub standing between two tough council estates - her mum and dad Jackie and Phil Saunders sold their house in Totley and moved in with her to offer family support.
She survived and thrived and went on to run pubs round the country and in Sheffield at the Robin Hood at Millhouses, The Prince Of Wales on Carter Knowle Road and the Sportsman at Crosspool.
Finally to The Dore Moor Inn three-and-a-half years ago in an area where good food is easy to find.
“I love it here, and I love working for Mitchell’s and Butler. The Dore Moor Inn is one of their Vintage Inns. We source some of our food locally and some from national suppliers but we’ve never had trouble with the fish before. I’ll be having words.”
As luck would have it - or not - I chose the cod for my main course and found it very dry but just about eatable.
“I’m really sorry about that,” said 44-year-old Rebecca.
“If you had complained I would have given you another course and a dessert. We don’t want people leaving the place unhappy.”
Note to self: moan more.
The meal started reasonably well. I had beer battered mushrooms with Cropwell Bishop Stilton mayonnaise and my son Joe had the spiced calamari and chorizo salad. The Cropwell Bishop mayonnaise had a real Stilton kick with it and worked well with the subtle tones and crunch of the battered mushrooms.
Joe’s calamari was tender and not overcooked and with a decent batter but the chorizo was in the form of seasoning rather than pieces of the Spanish smoked sausage which was slightly disappointing.
Others in our party went straight for the Sunday roast beef.
One loved it and the other wasn’t too impressed and it has to be said that the food appeared to have been plated and under a heat lamp for some time, drying the peas and creating gravy rings on the plate.
The food actually tasted good – the meat tender and plenty of it and the veg that came with it was nicely cooked with some decent roast potatoes but nothing inspiring.
Then there was the fish.
I chose cod over Pollock but as already mentioned the dryness of the fish spoiled a good batter.
The chips and peas were very good.
“We’re using different chips these days from frozen and they have a gluten free dusting of flour to give them extra crunch,” adds Rebecca.
Our dessert choice was a sharing platter with two mini portions of warm Belgian chocolate brownie topped with vanilla ice cream, classic sherry trifle, peanut butter and chocolate cheesecake, and strawberry and blackberry Eton mess.
Undoubtedly the highlight of the meal.
The sherry trifle was an indulgent splodge of sweetness and cream, the Eton mess a fruity delight and though it’s not Michelin starred or even Bake-Off complexity it always hits the sweet spot.
The brownie was rich but perhaps a little chewy but the peanut butter and chocolate cheesecake – which I’ve had recently elsewhere – was good without the hit of intensity real hunks of peanut butter would give.
All in all not a great day for the Dore Moor Inn with the problems mentioned but a big plus is the staff.
Friendly, helpful and busy, they make the place buzz and but for the computer failure etc would have ranked higher than three stars.
If Rebecca gets the food and systems to the standard of the people and ambience she’s on to a another winner.
With a glass of Oyster Bay sauvignon blanc our meal came to £50.66
Star rating out of five:
* Food 2
* Atmosphere 4
* Service 3
* Value 2
* The Dore Moor Inn, Hathersage Road, Dore, Sheffield S17 3AB
* Tel: 0114 262 1031
* Hours:· noon – 11 pm Monday to Saturday, noon to 10.30pm on Sundays.
* Reservations Book a table