The Boot is steeped in history. There has been an inn on this site, in the Derbyshire village of Repton, for several centuries, but this pub has a lot more going for it than timeworn character. New owner Heidi Taylor has transformed The Boot into an ambitious bar and restaurant, where respect for tradition is confidently reconciled with contemporary design flair. There is much to see and do locally – the Peak District, Calke Abbey, sailing on Foremark reservoir – if you can tear yourself away from the inn.
What to eat 21-year-old chef Robert Taylor has spent time as an intern with Michelin-star luminaries Simon Rogan and Sat Bains – and you can tell. Dishes such as roast Mallard, duck liver mousse, dark chocolate, celeriac and braised salsify, or red mullet with ‘scratching’ crumb, Savoy cabbage crisps, parsnips and romesco sauce, are imaginative and beautifully plated. This is still a pub, though. Service is friendly, the tables are left undressed, and comfort (check those balloon-backed Victorian dining chairs) is key.
The booze In the glossy bar, sitting at limed-oak tables under reclaimed wooden beams, regulars sup pints of The Boot’s own Clod Hopper pale ale and Tuffer’s Old porter, microbrewed on site.
Star suppliers Swadlincote bakers Buckley & Horne, traditional butcher Owen Taylor and the villagers who drop off excess vegetables they’ve grown.
The bed The pub’s nine individually designed rooms deploy original art, antique cast-iron radiators, and a mixture of modern and high-end reproduction furniture pieces. Room two features wall carvings that date to 1711, while room four overlooks Repton School’s cricket pitch, a quintessentially English view.
The breakfast There is homemade muesli, but O prefers the full English (own-recipe sausages, free-range eggs from Betty’s Farm), with a glass of Nicolas Feuillatte champagne.
The bill Double rooms from £90 b&b. Mains from £11.95. (thebootatrepton.co.uk)