Child-friendly venue serves up no-frills food at great prices
JANUARY can be a dismal month. The weather is cold and miserable, we all return to our regular routines after the hectic festive period – and most are feeling the pinch after the Christmas expense.
So Secret Service decided to look for somewhere that would be purse-friendly and, with two little spies in tow, somewhere that was also child-friendly.
It had been a while since your spy had visited The Bridge Inn at Duffield – a Marston's inn – and little appeared to have changed. The place is cosy, with a couple of open fires roaring away – perfect for thawing you out on a cold winter's evening.
There are lots of nooks and crannies, with plenty of tables of all shapes and sizes, meaning that, no matter how many hungry diners visit, you can eat in relative privacy.
The place would benefit from a fresh coat of paint but the pretty location – right by the River Derwent and with beautiful views of the Derbyshire countryside – is the pub's main selling point.
The Bridge was busy for an early Saturday tea-time in January but we managed to find a suitable table.
There is everything on the menu you would expect from a family eatery – from jacket potatoes and sandwiches for those wanting a light bite to burgers, grills and classics such as fish and chips and chicken tikka masala.
And, with it being January, there was a "January sale" on, with 20% off certain drinks.
Secret Service noted 18 dishes on the specials board, which were also available in the pub's two-for-one offer.
However, none of these specials were suitable for our vegetarian diner. But there were four dishes included in the deal on the main menu.
Little ones get their own menu, which includes jacket potatoes, tortilla wraps, chicken dippers and pasta. Children's main meals are £3.99 each and come with a selection of sides.
Secret Service liked the sound of a steak Americano – a 10oz rump steak topped with bacon, barbecue sauce and cheese, served with a cooked tomato, onion rings, chips and peas.
My vegetarian companion chose the barbecue bean burger, while our two young diners both went for rigatoni pasta, which came with garlic bread and a corn on the cob.
While waiting for our food, Secret Service ordered a large Pinot Grigio, while my sidekick went for a pint of Pedigree. The pint-sized spies shared a lemonade and ran amok in the restaurant but no-one seemed to mind.
Our food arrived and our waiter seemed genuinely pleased to be serving it, even to the youngest spy, who turned her nose up at the rigatoni (before gobbling most of it up when she thought no-one was looking).
Secret Service was pleased with the steak. It was juicy, cooked as requested and came with a decent side order of chips and salad.
My companion was a little less enthusiastic about the bean burger, which was overcooked and was served with lukewarm chips and a plain bap, not the soft, floured type as promised on the menu.
The only saving grace was not having to pay the full price of £9.15 for it, as it was included in the two-for-one deal.
Still, that didn't put my companion off the idea of ordering dessert – apple and cherry pie with custard – which went some way to redeeming the disastrous main meal. The elder of the little spies also enjoyed the apple and cherry pie, while a chocolate Smarties ice-cream dessert got the thumbs-up from our smallest spy.
We left The Bridge satisfied, especially with the bill. Although the food is nothing too special, Secret Service felt comfortable bringing two young children here.
The service was great, the price fantastic – and it's somewhere we may visit again when the menu changes at the end of the month.
MEAL FOR FOUR: BBQ bean burger £9.15, steak Americano £14.95, 2 x kid's rigatoni at £3.99 each. Two cherry and apple pies at £3.20 each, one Smarties ice-cream £1.30.
DRINKS: 2 x pints of Pedigree at £2.90 each, one lemonade at £1.85, 2 x large wines at £4.60 each.
TOTAL: (inclusive of 2-for-1 deal): £47.48.
WHERE: The Bridge Inn, Makeney Road, Duffield, Derbyshire.
CONTACT: Derby 842959.