Review by Ria Amber Tesia, Food Writer
One of the things I love about dining out is eating in a different place. Yes I love my home, but sometimes it is nice to enjoy food in a different setting – especially if the establishment is as elegant as The European Derby.
The mercurial hospitality industry in Derby continues to be in flux with the arrival of new kids on the restaurant block and surprise closures. This is why it is heartening to see stalwart establishments such as The European Derby stand the test of time with over two decades’ service under its belt.
Taking residence in one of Derby’s oldest buildings is just the cocoa icing on the tiramisu cake for this independent, family run restaurant. Specialising in traditional Italian cuisine with an avant garde twist, owner and chef Gian Carlo Slaviero offers diners both formal and informal dining options.
The evening of the review was a double-whammy special occasion – a friend’s special birthday and the monthly occurrence of my book and cake club. I have dined at The European Derby numerous times, however a few people from my party hadn’t dined here before.
I am always curious to know people’s reactions towards a place I hold in high regard, which is why I watched their expressions keenly. Easy smiles aplenty, we skipped up the stairs, were greeted by an efficient front-of-house, and were promptly shown to our table.
There are various menus including lunch, à la carte and Early Diner, the latter being our menu of choice for our 7:00pm reservation. At only £11.50 for two courses, this menu has great appeal. Not only is it pocket-friendly, it also eliminates procrastination due to its compact nature (all food items were aptly described using only one sheet of A4 paper).
With the option of having either a creamy lemon or herby tomato sauce, I thought it was a nice touch to be able to choose the accompanying sauce with the fish of the day.
My main of tilapia fish in lemon and garlic sauce was beautiful. Soft flakes of meaty yet delicate fish were delicious, whilst the garlicky goodness in the luxurious lemon sauce rendered the whole dish highly moreish. The side of steamed vegetables was generous and nicely seasoned too.
My dessert of tiramisu did not disappoint. Layers of light-as-air sponge, some soaked in potent espresso and topped with whipped cream made for a heady combination.
I sipped a bellini, my go-to cocktail, which I also thoroughly enjoyed. Now, The European Derby is one of the rare places in Derby that makes a proper bellini using proper peach purée (none of that peach liqueur nonsense).
Not only did The European Derby excel on the food front, but in the bar area too.
One of the talking points of the evening was the view afforded by our elevated position on the first floor. We had glorious views of the cathedral and it made the evening feel all the more special.
Some dishes ordered by our party included chicken liver pâté with onion marmalade and crispy ciabatta, spinach and ricotta tortelli and panna cotta. It is a great menu and I for one will definitely be returning (again).
From the charming front of house (Giacamo is a secret superstar and will sometimes burst into song should the mood take him) to excellent food, The European Derby is the place to be.
- Food: 9.5
- Ambience: 9
- Service: 9
For more information about The European Derby, or to make a reservation, please visit their website.