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As part of our visit to Derby (sponsored by Visit Derby), we visited the impressive The Cottonworks at Darley Abbey, a short ten minute drive outside of Derby city centre, nestled on the banks of the river Derwent. Find out all about our visit to The Cottonworks and how much we enjoyed our delicious Sunday roast.

The outside of The Cottonworks, Darley Abbey

The Cottonworks, Darley Abbey

Set within Darley Abbey Mills – the most complete of any of the cotton factory sites within the Derwent Valley – The Cottonworks have 80 covers spread out in the ‘nooks & crannies’ of a fascinating 18th century building – the oldest within this UNESCO heritage site.

Head Chef George and his team serve up a seasonal dishes from a fresh food kitchen, offering lunch and an evening time service.

During the summer, The Cottonworks cafe is a neighbourhood gathering place with barista-served speciality coffees and teas, pastries & cakes, offering superb views of the Derwent river.

The inside of The Cottonworks, Darley Abbey

Our visit

We visited in early February 2022 for Sunday lunch. It’s worth mentioning that during the weekends, it is essential to book, as The Cottonworks is extremely popular!

We were offered a three course Sunday lunch, which costs £28. Alternatively, you can choose two courses for £23.

The Food

The starter choices were:

  • Caramelised Shallot Pearl Barley ‘Risotto’
  • Chicken, Ham Hock & Leek Terrine
  • Baked Golden Beets (gf, veo)
  • Mushroom & Truffle Soup

I chose mushroom and truffle soup with sourdough bread and was not disappointed.

The starter - mushroom and truffle soup at The Cottonworks, Darley Abbey

The soup was thick, creamy and delicious and the accompanying sourdough tasted even better when dunked into the soup.

For the main course, the options were:

  • Dry Aged Topside Of Beef
  • Roasted Churchill Farm Chicken Breast
  • Braised Pork Shoulder
  • Salt Baked Celeriac

As a sucker for roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, I went with the Dry Aged Topside of Beef.

The beef was one of the most tender slices I have ever known, despite it’s thickness. The potatoes were super crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside and the gravy was lovely and thick, but not too overbearing.

The veggies that accompanied the dish were carrot, braised red cabbage and tenderstem broccoli, all of which were cooked to perfection. The Yorkshire too was perfectly cooked and finished off the meal in style!

The only thing that was missing was the offer of some horseradish sauce and with it being so busy, it was hard to get the attention of the server to request some.

The main course - topside of beef at The Cottonworks, Darley Abbey

For dessert, the options were:

  • Chocolate Delice
  • Cheese Board
  • Blood Orange Drizzle Cake
  • Sticky Toffee Pudding
  • Ice-Creams & Sorbets

Despite being stuffed from the first two courses, I knew I would be able to make room for the Chocolate Delice and boy, am I glad I did!

The Chocolate Delice was accompanied by Miso Caramel, Chocolate Soil and Crunchy Peanut Butter Ice Cream and all of the flavours together created a dessert that was truly decadent and has left me dreaming about it non-stop ever since.

chocolate delice dessert at The Cottonworks, Darley Abbey

The Atmosphere

The Cottonworks is tastefully decorated with many of the original features of the old Mill still visible, including gorgeous exposed bricks. It somehow is intimate, despite it being busy and the staff are all extremely friendly and happy to help.

The washrooms are pristine, although it’s worth noting that they’re upstairs and so are not easily accessible for those who have difficulty navigating steep steps.

The location of The Cottonworks is truly divine. The Darley Abbey village is well worth an explore as is the gorgeous riverside.

The river Derwent, just outside The Cottonworks, Darley Abbey

Overall Thoughts

Will I return to The Cottonworks, Darley Abbey? Absolutely! It is one of the best Sunday roasts that I have had in many years and the location makes it the perfect place to take the family and enjoy a explorative work afterward to work off all the calories!

Have you visited The Cottonworks, Darley Abbey? Let me know what you thoughts in the comments…

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