Church Lane Shirley Ashbourne Derbyshire DE6 3AS 01335 360 330
The Saracen's Head dates back to 1791 when it was run as a farm and hostelry, and whilst owners Robin and Terri Hunter have retained lots of original features they've cleverly brought the place up to date with no small amount of pizzazz. Inside is a mix of old and new; some lovely vintage pieces sit next to contemporary chunky tables and chairs, the odd wall painted a vibrant duck egg blue. It's a supremely stylish and comfortable place, with a menu to match. Robin is no slouch in the kitchen, so expect the likes of fresh cod and coriander fishcakes with chilli syrup, rack of lamb, chorizo mash, olive and garlic jus and a divine blueberry and almond tart, served warm with custard sauce. Well-kept local beer and a dartboard ensures that this still feels like a proper pub. The village of Shirley can be traced back as far as the early 1100s, and this part of south Derbyshire is woefully under-visited, so it's worth a wander round before you get set in for the day. Talking of which, they've got a fab cottage out back, very reasonably priced and just as stylish as the pub, so why not make a night of it?
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