Alice’s restaurant review: Ye Olde Nags Head (Castleton, UK)

Reviewed by Alice Letts

It was as if the four of us had fallen from the skies and blasted through the doors into the restaurant.  Faces from every person seated at tables throughout the room had their eyes fixed on us, almost piercing with their glare, and their mouths had opened into oval shapes.  I skimmed the room and realized all the tables were taken except for one that a waitress was in the middle of cleaning up.  She said “Can I help?”, so I asked “May we have a table for four please?”.  I was a little hesitant, as we hadn’t reserved a table.   I was relieved when the waitress said “Yes if you can wait two minutes for me to finish clearing this table and getting it ready for you.”  What a relief that was, as I was absolutely famished by that time.  It was almost 2pm on Saturday afternoon, and we had already spent roughly two hours in the car travelling from Derby. 


To get to Ye Olde Nags Head you first need to be in England.  Then you can drive to Sheffield and go south from there.  Otherwise from Derby you go north, through Ashbourne, Matlock, Bakewell, until you get to Castleton.  Or you could do what we did and take the long way round by driving to Chesterfield first before side hopping cross country.  Our GPS got the blame of course for the fact that we arrived so late in the day.  Of course it could not have anything to do with the fact that a sleep could not be dispensed with.  I don’t know why, but I am certain that the Satnav took us the long way around.  I think it must be down to the debate between country roads and highways, and the shortest route against the fastest route, and whatever distinctions they have.  We did at long last arrive to Castleton. 

The plan had been to go to the caves first, but I’m afraid my high maintenance stomach was too demanding and far too impatient to wait any longer.  So there we were, sitting around a lovely big rectangular wooden table inside Ye Olde Nags Head.  The sun had finally come out and the rain subsided.  It was still warm outside, so the restaurant with its cool climate (not sure if it was due to the air conditioning) was the perfect refuge. 

rest 1

I was still puzzled however why everyone else in the restaurant seemed startled by our entrance.  So I studied the door that we came through.  Then I noticed there was what appeared to be a mezzanine section across from us.  Could it be that if one goes up to the mezzanine, that you will find more?  Could it be that the main entrance is actually on the other side of the building leading out to another road?  But then why would they leave the door unlocked if we were not supposed to come through it?  Yes I know the door was closed and not open, but if they did not want us walking through it they would have locked it surely?  Well I could not take the suspense and so I excused myself from the table and went for a little stroll through the premises.  It was an interesting discovery.  It appears that the main entrance is not from the other side of the building, but on the same side of the building, but further down the road.  So what we had done was we actually walked past the main entrance and then come through their second door, he he.  The main entrance had the appearance of a traditional English pub, with the bar and tables.  But when you go through from the main entrance to the other room where we were seated, the interiors change completely, and you walk into a very modern and contemporary setting.  So from the outside we had assumed the two places were different, and had not realized it was the same premises.  Well, we all agreed it was very clever what they had done, decorating the rooms in different styles to appeal to a wider audience.

 food 1

The waitresses were friendly and efficient.  We were incredibly impressed most of all with the quality of the food and the generous portion sizes.  One of my friends ordered a beef steak pie.  The other two ordered fish and chips, and I ordered the beef with yorkshire pudding.  The chips were chunky and almost bigger than what you would expect for wedges, and cooked perfectly.  The pastry was good told, so I heard.  The beef was rare in places, exactly how I like it.

food 3

For drinks we had a jug of iced water, and the others ordered Orange Juice.  Naturally I was the odd one out again and ordered a latte.  It was my special treat to myself.  Recently I have started having oat milk with my drinks, including making my own caffe latte with oat milk.  But today I thought I would have the usual dairy milk for a change.  The coffee was Illy, and it was just beautiful.

From where we sat we had a fabulous view outside across the street and could observe holiday makers and hikers and walkers as they struggled to cross the road and the cars came to a standstill waiting impatiently for the pedestrians to get out of their way!  I hadn’t noticed but my husband made the comment that he had seen a lot of very expensive cars go past.  Then later he pointed out a Lamborghini as it approached us and then went by, after which trailed a Bentley.

food 2

The cost was very reasonable.  They had specials in which main meals between 12pm and 6pm would cost £5.95.  The also offered a set menu where you could get two courses for £7.95, and you could choose between the Appetisers, Mains, and Dessert.  We were out to celebrate the birthday of our friend, so we thought we may as well make a day of it.  So we ordered the dessert too.  I wasn’t too impressed with the dessert though.  My sticky toffee pudding that is usually a favourite was a little too dry and the custard it came with was far too lacking.  I had barely had a quarter of my pudding when my custard was already gone.  The fact the pudding was so dry made it even harder to eat after the custard was gone.  It occurred to me that some cream or ice cream would have been useful too.  I thought maybe I should have asked the waiter to bring me some more custard but the staff seemed to have vanished momentarily.   The brownie was very nice though, so I was told. 

I most definitely recommend you dine at Ye Olde Nags Head.  The food is scrumptions and the portions are very generous.  However I would suggest you do not have dessert there.  But do stay on for coffee.  I can definitely vouch for the caffe latte, it was just perfect.  So good in fact that I could have done with another one.

Ye Olde Nags Head, Cross Street, Castleton, Derbyshire, S33 8WH Tel. +44(0)1433 620248.


Food:    9 out of 10
Dessert: 6 out of 10
Presentation: 10 out of 10
Ambience:            10 out of 10
Service: 8 out of 10
Environment: 9 out of 10
Toilets: Unknown
Child Friendly: Yes

Copyright © Alice Letts 2009

Published by Alice Letts

Online training for parents and children. Online piano and music tutoring. Online tutoring for English as a Second Language (ESOL) with an emphasis on pronunciation. Online meditation coaching for parents and how to incorporate meditation into daily family life.

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