The Cow, Dalbury Lees
THE COW: DALBURY LEES
WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT:
Take advantage of the remote and peaceful village location
Relax in the bar or garden with a G&T in a fancy glass
Enjoy comfortable beds and spacious rooms
Indulge in a tapas style dinner and a great cooked breakfast
The Cow is situated in the village of Dalbury Lees in Derbyshire, a short drive from the picturesque village of Ashbourne. You arrive down a country road, with just fields either side, and the guest room inn is in a cute but small village, with only houses and the Village Green for company.
If you want to enjoy the relaxation of The Cow, but want something to do in the day, then Ashbourne is definitely worth a visit, with its boutique shops, cafes and market, and the city of Derby is only a 25minute drive away and perfect for shopping and exploring.
I was visiting with my husband Steve and we were staying for one night as part of a few days away in Derbyshire. You can read about the barn we stayed at on the other nights here.
The Cow has been extensively renovated recently and it is now spacious and modern with a traditional yet eclectic decor. The owners have kept a lot of the original features of the pub such as exposed beams and combined this with unique elements, which give the place a home away from home feel but with an inventive twist.
Rooms have the feel of a french chateau with panelled beds, light paintwork and lots of bare wood features and during my stay, I had a look around a host of bedrooms and they're all a good size with large bathrooms. One of my favourite bedrooms was the below, which had a wooden and velvet bed and a clever storage solution, with a small clothes rail behind it masked into the headboard.
The bar area has a definite country vibe and it echoes the fact you are literally right in the centre of the countryside and staying somewhere named 'The Cow', with bar stools made out of vintage milk churns and old tractor seats and a big butchers block acting as a table in the bar. I liked the juxtaposition of old and new with a brass and copper bar taking centre stage.
After enjoying a nice spritzer outside in the sunshine, in probably one of the most decadent glasses ever (which you can purchase yourself on request), we decided to walk to one of The Cow's sister pubs, The Horseshoes. We were told they will be offering a 'Cow Cab' shuttle service between the pubs eventually, and it's a shame this wasn't running during our stay, as we ended up getting lost on our walk to the other pub, having to walk down a very busy road and get an overpriced taxi back, despite it being a short car journey! There is actually a safe field walk to the pub, we just went the wrong way!
Safely back for dinner, we were seated at a cosy table for two. The inn was rather quiet on the night we were there, with just two other diners and a few people enjoying a drink. Whilst it would have been nice to have more atmosphere, I think you have to take into account that this in the middle of the countryside and unless you're staying there overnight, it's probably just locals visiting. I can imagine that when it is busy, it has a great atmosphere though.
The menu is relaxed tapas style and we ordered a selection of dishes to share across the Cow Pats, Feed Buckets, Udder Bits and Big Troughs sections (get it?... cow themed!). Here is what we chose:
Cow Pats: Pear, Walnut & Buxton Blue Flatbread (£8.50)
Feed Buckets: Packington Pork Satay Skewers (£5.50), Potato Croquettes and Confit Free Range Chicken Thigh with Chorizo & Chickpea Hotpot (both £6.50 each)
Udder Bits: Charred Purple Sprouting Broccoli with Lemon & Parmesan Dressing (£3.50)
Big Troughs: Ginger Braised Hazelwood Ox Cheek with Honey Glazed Carrots (£11)
The stars of the show were definitely the flatbread and the satay skewers. I loved the combination of juicy pear, salty blue cheese and bitter walnuts all weighing down a crisp doughy base. The pork was kofta-like and the spice of the roasted chilli nuts and sharp spring onion were balanced with the creamy and nutty satay sauce. The only disappointment was the ox cheek, which despite being perfectly cooked and falling apart exactly as it should, lacked flavour and we were disappointed there wasn't the ginger kick as advertised.
We finished our meal with contently full stomachs, rather than having to roll ourselves to bed, which allowed us to dig in at breakfast the next morning! I tucked into a great Full English and Steve went for the Eggs Benedict. I would have liked to have seen more choice on the continental offering however, as this was a bit sparse, and I would have preferred freshly squeezed orange juice to concentrated juice.
We had an enjoyable and relaxing stay at The Cow and made the most of the peace and quiet, tasty food and stylish surroundings. If you want a chilled out countryside spot for a relax then this is a good option.
The Cow Dalbury Lees, The Green, Dalbury Lees, Ashbourne, Derbyshire, DE6 5BE.
Dotty Dishes was a guest on a B&B basis of The Cow Dalbury Lees but paid for all other food and drink - as ever, all reviews are our honest opinion!