“I'm a rambler, I'm a rambler from Manchester way
I get all my pleasure the hard moorland way
I may be a wage slave on Monday
But I am a free man on Sunday”
All of which may have been fine for Ewan MacColl but, for some of us, pleasure in the High Peaks is searching out a decent dinner.
The next stage of the Hartlers quest to “eat the Good Food Guide” near to home took us down the A6 to Buxton. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fine spa town which retains some of its Victorian charm – and it has a non-too-shabby farmers market. But it is not over-burdened with good restaurants. The GFG defines a “cooking 2” as “Decent cooking, displaying good basic technical skills and interesting combinations and flavours. Occasional inconsistencies”. Well, if that means a place that serves food cooked as well as Mrs H and I can cook, with combinations that wouldn’t have been out of place at a 1980s dinner party, then Columbine is a “cooking 2”.
My starter was game terrine served with caramelised pearl onions. Clearly made in a kitchen not a factory but this was very underwhelming. Not at all gamey; no discernable booze (essential IMO in a good terrine); insufficient seasoning. Truth be told, this was not anywhere as good as Delia’s coarse country pate which I make every Christmas.
Mrs H did a little better. Indian spiced lamb on a coriander salad with yoghurt & mint dip. Pleasant enough – tasty lamb; nicely spiced.
She followed with a peppered sirloin steak – so very 80s. Nothing to shout from the rooftops over. Nothing to moan about either. .
My main was chicken and ham pie. Free range local chicken, nice ham, bacon. Pastry was a bit thin and overcooked. Gravy was very nicely flavoured with tarragon which worked well but need reduction (or thickening). I quite enjoyed it.
Spuds and selection of 5 or 6 veg came separately. Readers of a certain age will remember this sort of veg mix from 20 years ago. But, no, it didn’t come on a half-moon plate – but it wouldn’t have been at all out of place.
I finished with toffee and apple pancakes. It was as written. 2 pancakes; filling of apple segments and a thin toffee sauce. Came with vanilla ice cream and was a perfectly fine ending.
Mrs H finished with lemon ice cream. Homemade? Possibly. Any good? Absolutely. Best thing amongst the six plates we’d eaten.
We had a drink before, some water, Mrs H had a glass of something red, coffees. Bill came to £61. Credit card machine was “closed” so a six quid tip was left in cash. Service had been fine.
I reckon Columbine is a bit like Buxton itself - bit old-fashioned; bit stuck in its ways.
Worth a visit if you’re in town? Yep.
Worth driving 40 minutes each way as part of an eating quest? Yep.
Worth driving 40 minutes each way to go again? Nope.
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