We’ve been coming to the Tickled Trout in Barlow fairly regularly ever since moving to Chesterfield five years ago and I have never had even a dud course, let alone a disappointing meal. It’s consistently great in every way – the food, the service, the ambiance. It’s definitely been one of my favourite places to eat in the Chesterfield area – whether for a casual family lunch or a more decadent date night.
But the world has changed, and the current restrictions are really tricky for hospitality so I wanted to actually go and experience the Trout as it is NOW. As always, I went as a paying customer (well, my lovely Dad paid) so none of this is gifted or sponsored in anyway and these are my honest opinions.
What you might not know about me is that I’ve actually been quite hesitant to get back out and about myself. I know how important it’s been for outdoor hospitality to get customers back through the doors, but personally I wasn’t in a rush. Not only have I been really worried about coronavirus but this last year has been so crazy and disruptive that I’ve had some low level social anxiety. I feel like I’ve forgotten how to socialise! So these perceptions are coming from someone who is a bit of a nervous nelly about returning to the outside world/normal life (even though I’m looking forward to it too – if any of this makes any sense?!).
I couldn’t quite remember what the outside seating was like at the Tickled Trout and I hadn’t seen detailed pictures on their social media. From memory, I thought it was basic picnic benches and possibly a bit of a marquee but it’s way better than that. The tables immediately outside the pub are picnic style benches but they’re massive (they’d seat six really comfortably) and really well made so were very comfortable to sit at. We sat on one of these as we’d been blessed with wonderful weather. I can’t tell you how nice it was to sit outside in the sun and eat a meal someone else had cooked. There is also some covered seating in the back of the car park. This would be a great option on drizzly day. If you’re looking for other great outdoor seating options, read my edit of the best here.
All the other covid restrictions were being followed. Even though you’re dining outside you have to enter via the main pub doors. They were quite strict with track and trace (each household needs to scan in with the NHS app or complete a form) which I find reassuring. Then there’s a one way system through the pub to the outside area. I’d booked online and noticed that the time slots seemed to be staggered carefully which I assume is to ensure social distancing. There were hand sanitisers, everything you would expect. I felt entirely safe the whole time.
Why the Tickled Trout is one of my all time favourites
The Tickled Trout is a perfect example of a truly great gastro pub. Relaxed, welcoming and stylish. The food is simply delicious and ranges from simple classic favourites like fish and chips to well executed gastronomic delights, many with an Italian twist.
Situated in Barlow, a picturesque little village near Dronfield on the edge of the Peak District, so it’s easily accessible from both Chesterfield and Sheffield. Normally there’s a light and airy dining room or the cosier option of dining in the bar (it’s currently outside dining only in line with the government roadmap). Everywhere is beautifully decorated with a contemporary, stylish feel.
There’s a real emphasis on locally sourced ingredients. They proudly showcase top-notch local suppliers, whether that’s farmers, growers, bakers etc. In fact, there’s a map on their website which details exactly where they get many of the ingredients used.
There’s a very loose Italian theme to the food on offer. Their sourdough pizzas are seriously good. My favourite is the pollo piccante which punches a really spicy kick with chilli-marinated chicken and red onion, garlic, chilli, Roquito peppers and goats’ cheese. Check out their ongoing offer of 2 pizzas for £20 on Tuesdays.
Other dishes I would definitely recommend, all from their ‘small plates’ section of the menu – which you can enjoy tapas style, as a starter or as a side:
The arancini is honestly the best I have had anywhere. Including in Italy (a bold claim I’m aware). The Red Fox (an aged red Leicester) works beautifully to provide a delicious little ‘crunch amongst the oozing, cheesy goodness. And if that wasn’t enough they’re finished in THE most perfect truffle mayonnaise. Honestly, incredible!
Chargrilled halloumi sticks with sticky Vietnamese dressing. Regular readers will know I am a huge halloumi fan. I don’t think you can go wrong with it. I don’t exactly know what a Vietnamese dressing involves, but it works exceptionally well together. A match made in heaven. Sweet, spicy, sticky, salty… sooo good.
OMG truffle & Parmesan fries with truffle mayonnaise (this is in the sides section of the menu). At £5.50 you want your chips to be something special and OMG these are. Perfectly crispy skinny fries, dusted in just the right amount of parmesan and then generously drizzled in that wonderful truffle mayonnaise. They are a masterpiece in their own right, and I think about them often.
So that would be my perfect order, maybe with a side salad. You would need to share (with a compliant dining partner) but I dare you not to enjoy that.
Definitely leave room for dessert! Through the years I think I’ve worked my way through the entirely dessert menu. My favourite is their sticky toffee pudding which is done exceptionally well here), but there’s also a chocolate brownie with salted caramel ice cream or a deconstructed blueberry and lavender cheesecake with lemon curd and crème fraiche ice cream.
I would also recommend visiting the Trout on a Sunday. Their roasts are simply divine. Beautifully cooked meat with all the trimmings and sumptuous vegetable side dishes, often with a little twist.
The Trout is very family friendly, particularly in the day. There’s a decent children’s menu consisting of real, simple food (not the ubiquitous fish fingers or chicken nuggets) and any of the main menu dishes can be tailored to smaller portions for more adventurous kids. There’s good baby changing facilities, plenty of high chairs and a ramp to the entrance so fully pushchair friendly. My little girl loves it here as much as I do, and often asks whether we going to The Tickled Trout!
Lastly, I just want to give the staff a mention. The front of house staff are always lovely – really friendly and helpful. But what is most evident are the standards in the kitchen. Chef owner Chris Mapp has obviously taught a team exceptionally well. Whenever we have visited over the last five years the food has been to exact the same standards of quality and presentation, and there’s not many other places I can honestly say that about.
So basically, you need to go!