Rising like Phoenix from the Ashes: Rising like Phoenix from the Ashes: The Ashford Arms’ stunning transformation

Rising like Phoenix from the Ashes: The Ashford Arms’ stunning transformation


The Ashford Arms, a charming 17th-century pub and restaurant steeped in local history, reopened its doors on Friday, March 8th following a £1.6 million redevelopment.

The transformation has retained much of the character of the historic building while transforming the décor for the 21st century. Among the notable changes are a newly-lit beer garden, a retractable roof (would you believe it?), and comfortable, yet stunning, new interiors.

Commenting on the pub’s new look, General Manager, Josh Butler, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to welcome both locals and first-time guests to experience the Ashford Arms’ new, refreshed look. Whether you’re seeking a picturesque setting to enjoy high-quality pub dining or a cosy spot by the fire to enjoy a drink, our pub has it all. We’ve only been open a couple of weeks, and it’s already going down a storm. We’re doing around 120 covers a day and this is increasing day by day. With spring and summer on the horizon, who knows what the next few months will bring!”

Stepping inside The Ashford Arms feels like stepping back in time, with its cosy ambience and inviting fireplaces. The pub features a popular bar area and a stunning botanically-themed restaurant with captivating décor. The menu promises pub classics with a modern twist, all crafted using fresh, local ingredients. Raymond Blanc-trained executive chef, Adrian Gagea, has designed the menu alongside multi-award-winning chef, Chris Parker, who leads the culinary team as head chef.

The Ashford Arms is part of a wider story of revitalisation by Longbow Bars & Restaurants. It’s the latest of three hospitality ventures in Derbyshire to benefit from owner Rob Hattersley’s dedication to the region. With his passion and business acumen, Rob has breathed new life into historic establishments like The Maynard in Grindleford and The George in Hathersage, creating over 180 jobs in the process. 

“Everything we have planned for The Ashford Arms has been about providing our guests with a premium pub experience,” said Rob. “It’s about warmth, joy, cosiness, seasonal dishes that feel special but aren’t at all fussy or over complicated. It’s about feeling welcomed and at home as soon as you step in the door. It’s everything that we would ever want in a pub ourselves, and it’s been a pleasure and privilege to share it.

“We’re lovingly stubborn about only using locally-sourced produce from hard-working Peak District farmers, brewers, and artisan producers. Quality and freshness matter to us. It’s a short, sustainable journey from field to farm to fork so our menus change to use what is in season and being grown locally. Because we make everything to order, we can adapt the majority of our dishes to be gluten-free and we create divine vegetarian and vegan dishes too.”

So, the menu? Legendary pub classics, with delightfully fresh modern twists, nibbles, and sandwiches to more refined mains – all lovingly created with subtly balanced flavour combinations. An anthology of expertly crafted local ales adorns the bar, juggling with expertly distilled gins, velvety reds, crisp whites, and soft pinks. 

From the main menu, there’s an eclectic selection of 8 starters, with scrumptious vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. The pan-fried pigeon breast, served with celeriac and dark chocolate purée, crispy courgette, and red wine reduction was a testament to harmony of flavours, with the rich texture of the purée enhancing the perfectly cooked, medium rare pigeon breast – where warmth and comfort met the freshness of spring. Similarly, the caramelised onion and apple scotch egg, served with chorizo mayonnaise and a mixed leaf salad offered a beautiful counterbalance of tastes – the rich warmth from the sausage meat matching the sharpness and saltiness of the sauce. Both dishes sat well on the palate – unpretentious, comforting, fresh, and delicious.

And as for the mains? The pan-fried duck breast, served with chamomile-infused rice, stir-fried vegetables in a miso sauce, and sweet and sour pineapple brought out the real talent of the award-winning chefs. The delicate softness of the duck was enhanced by the crunchy exterior of the rice cake, balanced with its soft and spicy interior, and further intensified by the sweet and sour acidity of the sauce. The pub classic beer-battered cod, triple-cooked chips, minted mushy peas, roasted lemon, and homemade tartar sauce offered a different, yet enticing, alternative. It was Friday, after all! It’s one of the country’s best known and most loved dishes, and quite possibly the greatest coupling of all time. But fish and chips is also one of the hardest to get right. However, here, everything was perfect! The calibre of the food preparation really manifested itself in the flaky, moist, and sweet-tasting cod that gently steamed within a light but crunchy batter. and the chips were soft and fluffy. The homemade tartar sauce gave the meal its final kick of flavour. 

To finish. Due homage was paid to the area with the homemade Bakewell tart, served with crème anglaise and raspberry ice cream. Sticky toffee pudding, served with banoffee sauce and vanilla ice cream was the other indulgent and irresistible temptation. Yet again, balanced flavours, harmonised textures, and delicious local recipes paved the way for the perfect ending to a remarkable culinary experience. 

Food to dine for!

“A delightful haven tucked away in the beating heart of The Peak District” 

The Ashford Arms, 1 Church Street, Ashford in the Water, Bakewell DE45 1QB

T: 01629 690490
E: enjoymore@theashfordarms.com