I’m surprised they let us in. Almost alone among the lunchers and brunchers at the oddly named Hathersage Social Club we were the only ones without a dog. Some customers had two or even three.
It must have been the Sunday sun which encouraged people to bring their pets because most of those eating were in the garden and on a terrace outside. Inside the place was almost empty but that’s how it works here: there were enough tables to accommodate people should the heavens open and dampen their Caesar salads or halloumi burgers.
We’d fancied Sunday lunch but not roast beef. Something quirky would be good and this place fits the bill.
The Social Club, not quite a full-blown restaurant but rather more (and classier) than your average café is now in its fourth year of being run by founders Simon Couth and Lucy Wurstlin. They converted a former flower shop and gave Hathersage its first heady taste of guacamole bruschetta.
We first went two years ago and were intrigued by their story and the enterprise. Both were journalists living in Hathersage but commuting to London until they opened for business. They have an international background. Lucy is the daughter of a man she describes as a Bavarian Brian Blessed while Simon’s great grandfather ate kedgeree on a houseboat in Kashmir. Simon started life as a chef in Sidmouth, cooked at the Montreux Palace Hotel on Lake Geneva, then turned to digital media before going back to the kitchen.
The Social Club has a cinema upstairs, themed food evenings and guest chefs so the place is, like the menu, an eclectic mix.
Eclectic is the word here. The menu is pasted inside old Sixties’ LP covers (with records still in). My wife gets Jane Fonda’s Workout Record, which is a hint not to overdo the calories, so she swaps with my Chicago album.
We’ve booked and find our table in the sun on the decking alongside the little Hood Brook. The place is busy and we’re warned it might take some time to get our food but we’re in no hurry and are happy to people (and dog) watch. “I like the demographic we get here, from the young trendies to villagers,” says Lucy later.
I order Paris-cut steak but it has sold out. Steak hache (£11), French for a posh burger, is impressive, thick and juicy inside a foccacia ‘bun,’ topped with caramelised onion and pungent, salty Roquefort. The salad is rocket, of course, with oven-roasted tomatoes and the chips come triple fried. The quality of the ingredients and the contrast in flavours knocked a ‘normal’ burger into a cocked at. My wife’s Caesar salad (£14) is equally good, with chicken, bacon and great hunks of sourdough croutons.
For dessert, people ask for a ‘naughty waffle,’ says Lucy, so I do, too: My Freiburg (£5) is topped with mascarpone and mulled fruits, simple but good. A brownie is fine but would have been even better warm.
The weather is, though, and it’s been a relaxing and slightly quirky Sunday afternoon, which is just what you want sometimes.
Station Road, Hathersage, Hope Valley S32 1DD. Tel: 01433 650 203