Why You Should Eat At: Emily’s Steakhouse, Derby

It took me 10 years, but I finally got around to eating at Emily’s Steakhouse. I am a classic victim of ‘life passing me by’, and when it dawned on me that I still had not been, I decided this had to change. I’m so glad this decision was made, as I really enjoyed my visit.

The premises themselves are small, but the best has been made of the space and the distance between tables maintains that feeling of privacy. When I mentioned to family where we were going, someone made the remark, ‘is that the one that looks like someone’s front room?’ I now understand what they mean, as it has a very homely feel to it, and we were sat right next to a front door that seemed to be no longer in use. Still, it was a welcoming environment to relax and dine in.

We were met by Emily herself when we arrived, and had a chuckle that the table was booked under my name, also Emily. We were seated straight away, and drinks orders were taken. I’ve never been one to be fussed by the vessels of my food and drink, but I really liked their glasses! There was something cute and unique about them. It gave a classy feel to the restaurant.

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The staff were friendly and attentive, without the dreaded hovering. A rarity these days, as many places seem to force their staff to barge in with questions about your enjoyment of a meal, just as you’ve taken a ginormous bite… No, Emily’s was a much more relaxed experience.

We couldn’t resist trying the starters, as there were a few tantalising options. I went for the Crab Pot with Toast, and I was in heaven. It was fresh tasting and full of flavour, with just the right ratio of crab to toast. It perfectly whetted my appetite, getting me geared up for the next round.

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The main menu had a selection of steaks and burgers, with a few non-beef. I couldn’t go to a steakhouse and not order the steak, so I went for the rump with a side of chips. I asked for mine to be medium cooked, which came as ordered, and my friends were also happy with theirs. A thing I love about this place is that they openly advertise they don’t want you to suffer in silence. If you’re steak is not cooked to your satisfaction, they would rather you said something and have the issue resolved. ‘Subject to 80% not eaten… We make strenuous efforts to strive for the best cuts to ensure quality but ultimately cannot eat into your steak to quality control.’ I love a menu with a sense of humour, it adds character to the restaurant and creates a friendly vibe.

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Chips are a big deal to me. Serve me bad chips and I will likely never return. Emily’s Steakhouse do amazing chips, I was delighted to find. Golden brown, crisp and fluffy potato, with a combination of almost crisp like pieces of sweet potato. I love the idea of serving a mixture of both, as it can be hard to choose between the two.

There’s a desert menu too, consisting of the usual suspects of ice-cream, sponge puddings and crumbles. Unfortunately, we were too stuffed to give them a sample. There’s even the option of Cuban Habanos Cigars, if you that’s your thing. I was intrigued, but decided to pass this time.

We left extremely satisfied with our venture out, and I can’t wait to go back again. I’ve seen that they do a £7 Basket Menu on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6pm, what better excuse to return?

Why You Should Eat At: The Joiner’s Arms, Quarndon

I have lived in the area all my life, and seen this pub transform from a meeting place for the locals to have a quiet pint, to a quirky and busy gastropub. As much as I enjoyed the evenings of sitting in my pyjamas and having a drink whilst playing board games with my friends, I am rather happy and proud that the Joiner’s has become so successful. I have not attempted going to the Joiner’s Arms in my pyjamas since its takeover, but I suspect I would be asked to leave.

The pub used to have the typical local boozer decor of gaudily patterned carpets and long benches that lined the walls, but all of this was torn out and stripped back to reveal the original brickwork and wooden floorboards. It’s cute, and helps open up the rooms, balancing out the low, wide-beamed ceiling.

There is a specific area for dining in, although you can sit anywhere inside or outside to eat. We were seated in the extension, which from the outside looks like a large wedding tent, but gives no impression of this from within. Walking through to this area, we found ourselves transported to the Amazon Rainforest, or at least Derbyshire’s equivalent. There were trees and plants lining the room and down the centre. I quite enjoyed the privacy and separation between tables this created.  It was not until we sat down, that I noticed the ceiling had been decorated with lights to look like a starry sky. We did not stay until sunset, but I can imagine it creates a soothing and relaxing atmosphere to relax with a glass of wine after a meal.

Decor aside, let’s discuss food! I have a passion for excellent food, with it being one of the things that excites me the most in life. I very rarely find eateries that leave me eager to go back, but I cannot get this place out of my head. They have a wide selection of starters, and the choices made by myself and my companions varied from mussels in a creamy onion and white wine sauce, to a spicy Thai beef salad. I went for the crab yakitori stick, expecting it to be a deep fried formation of crab meat, but was amused to be presented with a whole crab in tempura batter. It was a small crab, the sort of size you would expect as a starter. It tasted fresh, with a crisp coating and flavoursome meat within. I was not disappointed. I also got a sneaky dip of bread in the mussels’ sauce, talk about food envy! There was so much flavour, despite not being a mussels fan I may have to give that one a try on my next visit.

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For my main I went for a pizza. These are the only pizzas that leave me craving more. Often I get bored halfway through, and prefer to have a side of chips to make things more interesting, but again I found the food to be bursting with flavour. They have a wide choice of pizzas, all with a geographical themed name. I couldn’t resist the Havana: sliced beef fillet with rocket and a drizzle of balsamic. This combination was delicious, I can’t believe how perfectly they go. The beef was so tender and moreish, that even though I felt stuffed halfway through, my taste buds willed me to continue. Luckily, the Joiner’s Arms do cute little takeaway boxes (or large ones if you wish to order a pizza to go). That was me sorted for lunch the next day!

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Unfortunately, I had no room for dessert, but as we had mentioned when booking that we were celebrating a birthday, a surprise scoop of gelato was brought out on a wooden board, complete with ‘Happy Birthday’ written in a red fruit coulis!

All in all, we left full and satisfied. The food arrived promptly enough, with almost immediate arrival of our mains after our starters. The staff were friendly and attentive, checking up on us without that hovery feeling some over keen places provide at no extra charge… Their drinks menu has something for everyone, and it is more than likely you will leave having tried something new. They have their own recipe for homemade lemonade, a clear favourite amongst many.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Joiner’s Arms from beginning to end, and it is high on my list of recommendations for that special somewhere for a memorable night out. It is a popular venue, and therefore often busy, so I advise booking in advance. With the summer months fast approaching, you should definitely make use of the outdoor seating area, with complimentary blankets and hot water bottles!

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Starters ranged from £2-7, and mains from £8.50-26 (I’m looking at you, 8oz Premium Fillet!)