Food is sehr gut at the Rutland & Derby
Anyway, I digress. We were invited back to the R&D this week to sample their new menu. This is a fascinating mix of Germanic and Alpine inspired dishes, with a peppering of other flavours from around the world. In this sense, it is a typical pub menu – a little bit of everything so that everyone can find something that appeals – but done in this case with an added dose of precision and panache.
The Germanic inspiration came at the Beautiful Pubs recent birthday celebration, when the kitchen team at the R&D were invited to produce a series of small plates for service at the party, hosted at The Forge in Glenfield. So popular were these dishes, that it was immediately decreed that they should be incorporated into the new menu proposal that they had been working on and this ad hoc creation, allowing the chefs to run free and cook dishes that inspired them really shines through in the quality of the dishes, and the quality of the ingredients used to make them.
When being introduced to the menu, we were told about the high quality sourcing that is the backbone of the R&D’s food offer. I wouldn’t normally post a picture of raw meat on a restaurant review, but I was absolutely blown away by the quality of this Lincolnshire dry-aged, bone on sirloin. The fact that you can enjoy this, cooked to your liking, with triple cooked wedges, watercress and pub gravy for £15 absolutely blows me away. You will be paying a lot more for a significantly poorer quality of steak elsewhere in the city, I will guarantee you that!
To get a good idea of the Germanic style dishes on the menu, we had the pleasure of sharing a few dishes. They have a broad cross section of offers on the menu – small plates, pizza (from their in-house woodfired pizza oven), sandwiches and wurst, grills and mains and sides. I am a huge fan of sharing small plates, in any cuisine, so I was particularly excited to start with these.
The sliced Bratwurst was rich and meaty with that slight crunch on the skin that you would expect in Germany. The flavour of the lightly spiced meat was complimented beautifully by the home-pickled red cabbage and a selection of flavoured mustards which were light, spicy and added a real depth of authentic flavour to the dish. We were shown the homemade pretzel buns which accompany the burger and wurst dishes if you are looking for something a bit more filling and they were soft and fluffy in the centre with a perfect amount of chewiness on the crust. Divine.
On to the ham and smoked cheddar croquettes – which I adored. Not particularly Germanic in form, but truely Alpine in flavour, these reminded me of a Swiss fondue, all wrapped in a delightfully crispy crumb. The chilli jam, produced in house of course, was just the perfect combination of sweet and spicy which really brought out the best in the delicate ham flavour and of course, the beautiful smokiness from the cheese permeated the whole dish.
Finally, we had a go at the pretzel from the bakery menu. This was served with more of that addictive smoked cheddar, which was softened by the heat of the fresh baked pretzel and had a different selection of mustards, designed to compliment the subtle flavours in the bread. I’d be pretty happy just to order this for £3, enjoy it with a lovely pint of Everard’s Sunchaser and think to myself, what a wonderful world.
From the pizza menu, we couldn’t ignore the Flammkuchen – a traditional dish seen in the South of Germany as well as Alsace which is rumoured to have been developed as a way of using up extra bread dough and seems to have originated independently of Naples pizza, although the dishes have much in common.
The wood-fired dough holds its flavour, and is given body and depth from truly beautiful paprika roasted onions. These have earthiness and brooding spice, but also a sweet, caramel finish which is just immense. Add to that fat, juicy bacon lardons and a liberal splash of creme fraiche and you have a creamy, salty, spicy, sweet treat that would be an ideal sharing dish if you pop to the R&D for after work drinks with friends.
And how could we leave without trying the Chicken Schnitzel? An absolute classic, and offered as a spiced vegetable schnitzel burger for those of you who are meat averse, there is something deeply satisfying about a freshly made crisp breadcrumb coating in the darkest months of winter. A difficult dish to present in a particularly beautiful way, I was impressed by the job the team had done to tart up what is essentially a very homely dish.
The chicken, hammered into a thin steak, was crisp on the outside but still soft and yielding in the centre – no dryness here! It was served with a rocket salad, salty and pungent grand padano cheese, curled delicately over the top and a flavour-packed combination of lemon aioli and salsa verde which complimented the chicken perfectly, without over-powering it. Add to this triple cooked wedges and you have an almost faultless dish, not least because the R&D nailed the perfect wedges and ‘chippies’ years ago and have been turning out incredibly fluffy potato products with the right amount of exterior crunch ever since.
Everything we tried absolutely hit the spot. Everything we didn’t try on the menu looks mouth watering. I understand on a Friday you can get 4 small plates for £18 and this would be a great opportunity to try their potted beef served with mini Yorkshire puddings and gravy, or the artisan German salami selection with friends. They also have a lunchtime offer running at the moment where you can get one of their sandwiches for £6 – keep an eye on their social media for full details and information about any specials.
The R&D is hardly off the beaten track, but it does still feel like a bit of a hidden gem.If you haven’t made the trip down Millstone Lane (which is a bit of an adventure at the moment with the road improvement works taking place there) then I can heartily recommend that you do. Ethically sourced food that is tasty and completely unpretentious. It is everything you would want in a pub menu.
Thanks to the team at the R&D for inviting us along and for providing such an awesome meal!