I’ve been to The Hunloke Arms in Wingerworth on the outskirts of Chesterfield a few times over the years. It’s usually good but never quite been perfect in my eyes. I would only ever recommend somewhere that I truly love… so it hasn’t been featured much on my blog, despite it being a really popular place locally. But we went for lunch today and they absolutely nailed it.
Firstly, if you live in Derbyshire, chances are you’ve been to one of the other pubs in the same chain. The Hunloke isn’t “a chain pub” but there are four pubs that are locally owned. There’s The Bulls Head in Repton (which I’ve been to a few times and loved – but a long time ago), The Joiner’s Arms in Quarndon and The Swan at Walton. From what I know of the Bulls Head and from what I can see online the vibe and menus is similar at all the pubs, so if you’ve enjoyed one, chances are you’d like the rest (one of the few benefits of a chain!).
What’s the Hunloke Arms like?
There’s a massive beer garden to the rear of the pub. I had no idea how big this was and it probably deserves a spot in my best places for outdoor seating in Derbyshire blog post. Inside is lovely and cosy, think dark wooden panelling, open fires and quirky décor. In fact, it’s one of my favourite cosy pubs in Derbyshire.
Cocktails at The Hunloke
The Hunloke boasts a decent cocktail menu and are famed for their bathtub cocktails. I started with an Elderflower Collins cocktail (gin, elderflower and cucumber) which I really enjoyed. Check out my guide to the best independent cocktail bars in Derbyshire.
The Hunloke Arms menu
The first thing to be aware of is there are essentially two menus (and two kitchens) – there’s the “main menu” and the pizza menu (including garlic breads etc). If you want your meals to all arrive at the same time you have to all order from the same menu. We decided to risk ordering from the separate menus and just see what happened and it was fine. My husband’s and I’s food arrived separately but less than five minutes apart, but I guess it depends how busy each kitchen is. All the food is fresh and home cooked.
Dietary requirements and allergen information at The Hunloke Arms
We were asked if we had any allergies prior to ordering. There’s a clear, easy to find allergen policy on their website and a really handy tool where you can search the menu online to see which dishes contain specific allergens, e.g. to see which dishes are gluten freeand which dishes are suitable for vegans and vegetarians. All the pizzas can be made with vegan cheese on request. For more vegan and vegetarian places to eat click here.
What we ate
We started with a shared garlic bread which was ginormous. It could have feed about six people! The garlic pizza bread was beautifully crispy yet still soft and doughy – covered in an optimum amount of deliciously garlicky butter and scattered with fresh herbs.
I also ordered one small yakitori stick of halloumi and maple glaze. I was a bit disappointed in this – it was £3.50 for one small skewer served on a huge plate (which was a bit impractical given the table was smallish and we’d ordered a lot, gluttons that we are). I would have preferred the halloumi to have been properly chargrilled. But I am fussy, so we’ll let them off with this.
For mains my husband had the open steak sandwich which he thought was very reasonably priced at £10 given that it arrived with a plant pot of chips.
I ordered the Sicily pizza. This was topped with sweet red peppers, sun dried tomatoes, aubergine, impressively large olives and blobs of feta and mozzarella. For me, the dough and quality of tomato sauce makes or breaks a pizza and both were excellent. The crusts were pleasingly crispy and the tomato sauce deliciously piquant. Like the garlic bread this was HUGE and very reasonably priced at just £11. You could easily share a pizza with maybe a couple of sides or a salad etc.
There’s a decent wine list and I really liked the “If you like pinot grigio etc, try….” suggestions. I washed my pizza down with a large glass of Rioja. Full bodied and spicy I could have merrily finished the bottle of this. Incidentally, this was brought over by a very polite young lad who said “large glass of er, wine. I don’t know what it is!”. And it mattered not one jot since there was only one drink and he was very good humoured about it… but I think that sums the Hunloke up. It’s not airs and graces, or serious, earnest foodie stuff. But it’s good food and drinks in a lovely cosy, contemporary atmosphere.
I knew I wanted dessert so barely ate half the pizza. I was really impressed that Josie, our server asked whether I’d like some foil to take my pizza home, completely unprompted when she arrived to clear our table. In fact, Josie was a star. She was polite, attentive and efficient. Clearly some of the younger staff are just food runners – bringing out dishes or clearing tables etc – but the system worked like a well oiled machine. It’s possible to order via an app but we had such prompt, great service we didn’t ever do this.
The dessert menu is really quite limited unless you like ice cream (which I appreciate most people do). But, they had my favourite, crème brûlée and it was exceptionally well executed. In fact it was one of the best I’ve had this year. Perfectly creamy custard, a satisfyingly crunchy top, crumbly shortbread biscuits and accompanied by sweet, flavourful raspberries.
Overall we had a lovely lunch. It was really relaxed and I would go back in a heartbeat.
Is the Hunloke Arms family friendly?
We were child free on this occasion but have eaten here with my daughter when she was a baby and staff were helpful with high chairs and so on. There’s a good children’s menu, it’s ‘proper food’, simple dishes like chicken goujons and chips and beans, but home cooked. Kids meals are approx. £6. There’s no entertainment/anywhere for kids to play but I would happily go here for a family meal.
A great contemporary, cosy pub environment with great food and drinks.
Booking recommended, although they do take walk ins. Dog friendly outside (and there’s treats by the door) and in the bar area. Masks weren’t mandatory. We spent just under £60 on a three course lunch with two drinks each (husband had soft drinks but I had a cocktail and then a large glass of wine). Note that cash is not currently accepted – card payments only.
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