We ate there two nights ago on the way to watch a much over-hyped and under-achieving film; which shattered almost all love for one of my favourite books. My partner looked on this very website to see if there was a half decent place to fill up on the way to Derby and low and behold the Bluebell Inn was fairly high up there.
It's a little off the beaten track though there's one of those brown "sightseeing" road signs on the main road which lists it and points up the hill. First impressions were of parking the car and seeing a "proper" kitchen in operation - people actually cooking rather than a bank of deep fat friers and microwaves. They couldn't see us watching them, but the chefs looked to me to be going about their jobs in a "cheffy" manner. The kitchen looked clean and well organised.
Inside it's newly decorated and is a little "ikea" in it's use of browns and beiges and vases of dead sticks and it doesn't suit a pub; more restaurant decor.
We were shown to our table (as we'd booked) by a charming maitre'd, who, for the first time in years, wasn't oily, fake, and the greeting/seating experience wasn't cringeworthy for once. He'd even remembered my partners phone call and struck up a conversation about something she'd said. The menu is more restaurant than pub too, with pork belly with black pudding, sea bass, curried crab, mackerel salad, etc etc, yes, I know you can get these things in good food pubs, but there really was a distinct touch of non-pub about the menu and in the presentation too.
We were on a tight time frame so only ordered main and pudding but I really did want to try a starter as they sounded so appetising. My partner had figs with goats cheese and some other leafy stuff that I've forgotten, which she enjoyed and my fork-full of tasted nice. I had steak and ale pie with chips. The "pie" came in a small pot with a biscuit like shortcrust pastry lid and a sprig of thyme poking out of the top. It was delicious. Not the best pie I've ever had, but good for £9.95p. Chips were lovely too. Other diners were wolfing their meals down and they appeared to be enjoying them too. Pudding was a strawberry panacotta, which was ok, but wasn't strawberry tasting enough for me.
The staff throughout the meal were a total and utter delight. From the maitre'd to the dark haired little waitress. They were personable without pushing their luck, polite, friendly, knowledgable about the food, happy looking, and knew exactly when to do what they should be doing. As we left I said to my partner that this was the best service I'd encountered for years! When the kitchen catches up to the front of house staff the Bluebell Inn will be keeping the hoards back with a cattle prod!! Still, for "pub grub" it's good stuff. And our meal of two mains, one pudding, a large glass of wine and a lemonade came to £32. I thought that pretty fair for what we had received. Good luck to the place, we'll be back.
Starters - £4 - £8
Mains - £9 - £19
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.