On Friday evening my friend Iona and I were invited to The Shoulder at Hardstoft for dinner and an overnight stay. Located in Hardstoft Village, just South East of Chesterfield, around the corner from Hardwick Hall and 12 miles from the Peak District, it is a great location for exploring the area. It is actually a 300 year old coach house.
Upon arrival, just as the sun was setting over the fields, this country pub looked so inviting. Fairy lights adorned the outside and there is a large car park with plenty of spaces. The Landlords Costin and Adina have recently taken over the place and are working hard to bring this pub back to its former glory as a community hub. It has undergone a full renovation and there may be other work in the pipeline. As you arrive there is a check in desk for guests and a large bar that goes around the corner into the pub. There is a ‘library room’ along with the bar and the restaurant/function room.
We were treated to a gin and tonic on arrival (Gooseberry Whitley Neill and slimline tonic for me) while we relaxed in the bar until our room was ready. Later during dinner we also tried some cocktails, also delicious!
The pub has 5 rooms to let, we were shown to a family room with a double bed and a single. There was plenty of space, the room was huge. Simply furnished and decorated but very welcoming and the temperature of the room was ideal. The beds were incredibly comfortable and the pillows were lovely and soft. There were tea and coffee making facilities available, as well as shampoo, shower gel and soap. Rooms start from £60 a night for a double. Very kindly, a bottle of Prosecco was chilling on the side for us to enjoy later too. We immediately felt at home in the room. The rooms are above the pub, meaning that the room was a little noisy while we were getting ready for dinner, however when we retired to the room later that evening all was quiet. This didn’t affect us in the slightest, I just wanted to mention it in case you had young children that needed to be asleep by 7pm.
The room also had a very large bathroom with shower over bath, and a separate toilet too.
We settled in and then headed down for dinner. Oh my what a treat!
By the time we headed back downstairs, the bar was in full swing. Couples and groups of friends gathered around the fire, on the large comfy sofas in the snug and in the library waiting for dinner. The pub is dog friendly and Iona and I met a couple of cute doggies in the bar too.
The locals mentioned that the Landlords had done a fantastic job of bringing the pub back to life after the pandemic. They mentioned that they had been worried that the pub would close when the old Landlords had vacated and they were so happy to have their local back. The absolute joy on their faces when speaking about Costin and Adina was lovely to witness. The atmosphere was very welcoming, no ‘You’re not a local are you’ vibe at all. It honestly felt like it could have been my local pub!
As well as offering an a la carte menu, they also have theme nights. Tuesday is curry night (£12.95 for a curry and a pint), Wednesday is quiz night with a free buffet and free entry, Thursday is steak night (£29.95 for two steaks and a bottle of wine) and Friday is naturally fish and chip night (£12.50 for cod, chips and a pint). On a Saturday there is live music and they also do a Sunday lunch. A choice of 3 meats is available for £12.95 with all the trimmings.
Everything on the menu is homemade and you really can tell.
To start, I ordered the scallops. I opted to swap the parsnip puree to pea puree due to allergens. Although on the small side, the scallops were perfectly cooked and absolutely delicious. They were perfectly seasoned and buttery and perfect. The price of the starter was £7.50.
Iona went for the duck liver and pork pate, served with toasted brioche and homemade onion chutney. The pate was delicious and there was a hint of orange. The chutney was lovely and sharp and complemented the pate beautifully. The toasted brioche paired very well with it. Starters were a winner! At £6.25 I thought this was very reasonably priced considering the amount of pate.
For main I went for the ‘pie of the day’. This happened to be steak and ale and was served with seasonal veggies and mash. Oh my gosh. There were chunks of steak the size of my thumb in there. The pastry was to die for and the gravy was superb. I even loved the mash and I am usually a chip kinda girl. At under £12 this was a bargain. I would eat this again and again!
Iona had the beef stroganoff. Again another superb dish. A huge portion, served with rice, there was a LOT of meat. So much so that it defeated Iona. It was creamy, peppery and all round fabulous. I would highly recommend either dish.
I also saw someone eating the fish and chips. They make the tartare sauce and the chips too. The fish was substantial and looked divine. Again at under £12 it was a great portion side and I would not have been able to finish it all.
We were way too full for dessert but there are the usual classics of chocolate fudge cake, apple pie and others. We watched others devour theirs so they must be good. Desserts range from £5-5.50
We managed to have a chat with chefs Kerri and Jack (although I missed the opportunity for a photo!) and they seemed so passionate about the food which was lovely to see. The duo are mother and son and if you see them be sure to say hi!
Drinks in the bar
After dinner we retired to the bar for a couple of glasses of wine and again spoke to the locals. The general consensus is that the new landlords are doing a fantastic job and I do agree. The food was of great quality and you can tell that care and attention has been put in to create proper hearty, homemade dishes. We finished our drinks and headed upstairs.
How did we sleep?
Honestly? Like babies! We had a belly full of lovely food, a few wines and gins in our system and comfy beds. I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. One thing to mention is that there is a small step as you enter the room, remember this if you stay in room 5 and need a wee in the middle of the night! The room was very quiet and the curtains didn’t let light in until about 9am.
The pub doesn’t open until 11am so we didn’t actually stay for breakfast but I understand there is the option of a full English before departure. I hope to visit again soon to try that out!
Overall, I really enjoyed my stay. As I have said, the food really was lovely, proper comfort food very well executed. The room was bright and airy, and although simple, was exactly what I would expect from a country pub. There are no airs and graces here, just friendly staff, welcoming locals and a comfy bed for when you need the fun to end. If you are looking for a place to stay near to Hardwick Hall, you won’t be disappointed with the Shoulder at Hardstoft.
*Our meal and overnight stay were complimentary in return for honest feedback.