found in the market town of melbourne in south derbyshire, the bay tree is a popular choice for evening dining, champagne breakfasts and afternoon tea. my family and friends love it there, and we've been many times for their beautifully made breakfasts and endless tasting menus at the weekend. the residents seem to adore it too, since its always bustling with happy locals who have booked far in advance for a table.
to start, i went for the homemade ravioli filled with crab meat, prawns and a seasoned fish mousse, topped with white crab meat, chilli, tomato, parsley and a lemon dressing. on the other hand, my boyfriend opted for the thinly sliced loch duart smoked salmon garnished with capers, chopped shallots and soft brown bread. other offerings included butternut squash risotto, celeriac soup of the day with poached egg and duck and chicken liver parfait. upon ordering starters, we hadn't yet received our drinks, so i politely prompted a busy waiter and our wine came out within another ten minutes.
as you can see, both dishes had been carefully presented with great colours and inviting textures. i thoroughly enjoyed the zesty flavours, delicate seafood and dainty pasta which made up my starter, making me forget about the brief lapse in table service.
lots of lovely looking plates danced past, giving us a real appetite for our mains. i'd chosen the rack of english lamb cooked until pink and presented with poached quince and quince jam (£5.50 supplement), whilst my boyfriend had picked the fillet of beef "as you like it" topped with fois gras pate, crispy toast, red onion confit and madeira sauce (£7.50 supplement), although he asked for the fois gras to be left off.
my perfectly pink and tender lamb was a triumph, which married so well with the sweet and textured quince. if i'm honest though it could have done with some form of creamy herbed potato or unusual vegetable offering, since we just had simple peas and carrots to share for a side.
sam enjoyed his alluring fillet of beef, which had be skilfully sliced horizontally and lightly grilled in two parts. we were both in agreement that the chef was a master for flavoursome sauces, which really would have benefitted again from a form of potato to soak it up. i unashamedly found myself requesting extra bread to do exactly this.
with other tables soon getting involved with a third course and busy waiters darting about with delectable desserts, we couldn't wait to choose a sweet treat. again it took quite a while to get served but everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, with a laid back atmosphere all round.
i have to admit we had to wait quite a while for these desserts, although i was undecided whether to include this in the review as it's rather unusual for their service to be so slow. i went for the chocolate and raspberry tart whilst sam chose a bailey's cheesecake.
the conversation fell silent at this point, in favour of devouring our delicious desserts. i savoured the luxuriously thick chocolate ensemble, and delighted in the tangy crunch of freeze dried raspberries throughout.
unsurprisingly, i enjoyed my evening experience at the bay tree and the slow pace definitely hasn't put me off returning for the exceptional champagne breakfasts and sunday lunches i've had before. a sneaky peek at recent trip advisor reviews assure me that the staff are usually extremely attentive and pacy, so i put it down to a bad night. in future, i'll be sure to opt for a friday or saturday evening so i can lay back and soak up the leisurely atmosphere of the independent gem showcasing talented dishes.
have you been to the bay tree before? where are your favourite restaurants in derbyshire?
4 potter street
note: we paid for our meals in full. as always, all opinions are honest and my own.