[AD] The George is an historic inn situated in the picturesque Peak District village of Alstonefield. Located on the Derbyshire and Staffordshire border, within the Peak District national park, it is quite simply a magical place to eat. Current owners, Siobhan and Graham took over The George in 2017 and it has gradually become one of the premier places to eat in the local area. Recognised by the Michelin Guide, Harden’s Sawday’s and The Good Food Guide, The George Alstonefield has also been listed by The Times as one of the 28 sexiest restaurants in Britain.
I was invited to review their tasting menu and couldn’t have accepted quickly enough. Daughter dispatched to her grandparents, we set off for a rare date night on a beautiful summer’s evening. The scenic drive through beautiful Derbyshire countryside during golden hour was a treat in itself. (Perhaps less so for my long suffering husband who was blinded by the low light and then on Diet Cokes for the evening – but I was in my element.) The multicoloured bunting in the pretty high street of nearby Winster was a particular highlight.
We arrived at The George Alstonefield just as the sun was setting. It is such a picture perfect location. Sitting pretty on the village green, The George is a visual, as well as gastronomic delight. Inside, traditional country inn meets chic, understated style.
We were warmly welcomed and quickly furnished with drinks. I enjoyed a beautifully elegant cocktail in a dainty champagne saucer as we perused the menus. This was a delicious blend of homemade elderflower syrup and English sparkling wine.
Head chef, Jordan Hemsil, previously at the four AA Rosette, The French in Manchester joined The George Alstonefield in the spring and has elevated their already exceptional offerings. The ethos at The George is one of complete respect for the ingredients, which aim to be sourced within a 15 mile radius. The meat is sourced from local farmers, with quality, welfare and sustainability prioritised. Many of the herbs and seasonal vegetables are grown in The George’s kitchen gardens according to organic principles. They even make their own honey (owner, Siobhan’s lockdown project!).
Tasting menu at The George Alstonefield
The evening menu at The George in Alstonefield is exclusively tasting menu style. There was a choice of a seven course menu, priced at £75 or nine courses for £90. On the day we dined, the difference between the two menus was a lobster course and a cheese course (considering how these two items might be priced on a fine dining a la carte menu, the upgrade to the nine courses menu is incredibly well priced).
I treated myself to a wine flight (£39 for the seven courses or £52 for the nine). Although I don’t know much about wine other than knowing what I like, I’m a huge fan of a wine pairing. I’ve previously found it a good way to learn more. This proved to be an excellent decision as the sommelier, Jane Ibbotson (previously at Fischer’s at Baslow Hall) was incredible. Each wine was explained in detail in an engaging way, we were shown the bottle (really handy if you want to go away and buy) and Jane explained why it was a good pairing for each dish.
The first two courses on the tasting menu are ‘snacks’ (essentially large canapés). First up was a carrot croustade with pumpkin and parsley. This was deliciously light and crispy, perfectly paired with an English sparkling wine.
The second snack was a revelation to me. Prior to this, I would actively avoid beef tartare but enjoyed this course immensely. Shorthorn beef tartare was served in a kohlrabi taco. The presentation was exquisite and the flavours so expertly balanced. The second course, and this was already some of the best food I have eaten anywhere in the world.
At this point were we treated to the lobster dish from the nine course menu and the accompanying wine pairing. Native lobster was served with courgette and pea and served with a deliciously savoury, beautiful emerald broth. Expertly paired with a Pouilly Fumé.
Next up was yeast glazed maitake mushroom with a confit egg (laid freshly by the The George’s own hens!). Again, mushroom isn’t something I usually enjoy but this was so moreish, a real triumph of textures and flavours.
This was served with homemade Italian style bread served with onion butter.
Then it was time for the fish course. Fish is delivered daily to The George, from the UK coastline by sustainable suppliers who serve some of the very best restaurants and leading chefs. Catch of the day (which was brill today – in place of turbot) was served on top of tomato and romesco with a delicious creamy sauce. The white Rioja that was served with this really cut through the creaminess of the sauce, and was probably my favourite wine of the evening.
The main course consisted of locally reared, higher welfare rare breed pork. This was served with celery and bread sauce and accompanied with the most exquisite salad of thin shards of pickled rhubarb in an IPA dressing. The combination of the fresh, zingy salad with the rich, flavoursome meat was just divine. The wine pairing for this course was a Pinot Noir, the lightness of which worked beautifully with the pork and on such a balmy summer’s evening.
Dessert was incredible. Utterly divine peach ice cream with little squares of savoy sponge and yogurt. Heavenly! I’m not usually a fan of dessert wines but Jane explained this was one of the drier versions. I may well be a convert.
The final course was a delicious Pink Lady apple sorbet with tamarind and perfectly crispy feuilletine. I think I would have preferred this served immediately after the pork as more of a palate cleanser, but the dish itself was lovely.
Despite being full, it would have been remiss of us not to sample the petit fours. They consisted of two, jewel like handmade chocolates – one ginger, one chai spiced, both exquisite. The chocolates are from Knutsford based, Hot Cocoa – with The George’s honey chocolate currently in development! Accompanied by a delicious espresso in a lovely cup and saucer.
The crockery throughout was magnificent. Beautiful yet understated. Many of the plates are made by The Clayrooms in nearby Ashbourne.
We had such a wonderful evening. This is probably the best dining experience I have ever had locally. Each dish was put together with such precision and respect for the ingredients. The tasting menu format meant I tried things I normally avoid, and the things I would never have picked myself (mushroom, beef tartare, ice cream) were some of my favourite courses.
We also loved the relaxed ambiance. The old country pub is just delightful – and feels much more relaxed and more ‘us’ than starched table cloths and stuffy service.
I honestly can’t rate The George Alstonefield highly enough. Food, drinks, service, ambiance were all spot on. All the staff were attentive without being fussy, clearly very knowledgeable but also really friendly and down to earth. The George is such a special place. They’ve nailed that elusive combination of perfectly executed fine dining in a relaxed, friendly, welcoming environment and I can’t wait to go back.
Magical fine dining in a relaxed, beautiful country inn.
The George Alstonefield, Nr Ashbourne, Peak District, DE6 2FX
No on site car parking but street parking available (be careful not to block access for tractors etc). Also several car parks within walking distance.
Tasting menus only in the evening. Menus change with the seasons/availability of ingredients. Specify any allergies at the time of booking. (Lunch is similar dishes but you choose which ‘small plates’ you want, more traditional Sunday lunch menu).
It is possible to dine with a well behaved dog, Thursday to Saturday lunchtimes, but do specify this at the time of booking as there are a limited number of dog friendly tables. No dogs in the restaurant.
Access – several steps to access restaurant, plus steps to the toilets.
We visited during the heatwave but it was comfortably cool inside (thick walled old building). It looks beautifully cosy in winter, real log fires etc.
Where to stay near The George Alstonefield – I don’t have any personal experience of any of these, but The Manor looks gorgeous online, and there are lots of holiday cottages in Alstonefield on Air BnB.
Can I go to The George Alstonefield just for drinks? The George is now fully dining. There’s all the lovely ambiance of a pub, but it is now solely for dining (and drinks before/after dining).
Is The George Alstonefield family friendly? There’s no children’s menu. I would not advise taking children (it’s far too nice!), get a babysitter and enjoy a night off! You might also want to check out my recommendations for family friendly dining.