Darcy’s Brasserie, Best Western Plus Mosborough Hall Hotel, Sheffield – Restaurant Review
By Richard Jones
Nestled in a picturesque village on the fringes of the Peak District, the Best Western Plus Mosborough Hall Hotel oozes historic charm and is a perfect setting for a romantic meal or a wedding.
However, the 12th-century manor house has not always had the best track record when it comes to affairs of the heart. During the 1500s, the original Mosborough Hall was owned by William Carey, who was married to Mary Boleyn, the sister of future Queen, Anne.
Rumour had it that Mary and King Henry VIII had a long affair and her eldest son, Henry, who was born in the hall, was allegedly the King’s illegitimate son, and thus Elizabeth I’s half brother. The sisters’ intriguing story went on to inspire the 2008 hit film The Other Boleyn Girl, starring Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson as the pair.
And it isn’t just royal scandal that haunted Mosborough Hall over the centuries – the building has been associated with some rather grisly and ghostly tales. The most famous story attached to the building is that of the White Lady, who is still said to be stalking its rooms and hallways.
“Charm and tradition”
In the late 1600s, the woman reportedly fell pregnant while working as a governess after having an affair with a married local squire. Despite pledging to provide monies and a small cottage, the squire failed to deliver, and the governess threatened to tell the man’s wife about their affair. A bitter argument ensued and he slit her throat. Legend also has it that the ghost of the murdered governess’s dog, which pined for her after her brutal death, can also be heard howling.
At the turn of the 20th century, a medic, Dr Pilcher, was determined to prove the supernatural rumours at Mosborough were just legend and volunteered to spend the night alone in the room where the White Lady died. Having survived the night unscathed, it is said that he woke the next morning with his bedclothes dripping with blood and splattered all over the polished floor.
The incident reduced Dr Pilcher to a quivering wreck and he promptly resigned from his post and never set foot in Mosborough Hall again. Of course, that dark history is all in the past, and nowadays Mosborough Hall Hotel is a modern venue offering a perfect blend of charm, tradition and sophistication.
The Chatsworth Suite is popular with couples getting married, and, as my wife Rachel and I discovered, the sophisticated Darcy’s Brasserie restaurant is also something special.
We arrived at Mosborough Hall on a sultry summer Saturday night, making our way from the carefully tended gardens, through the ancient doorway into the stunning oak bar and lounge which features full height glass walls and old stone windows.
The atmosphere in the Brasserie was a perfect blend of refined and relaxed, with the elegant grandeur of a stately manor house complemented by stylish, contemporary interiors.
Browsing the menu, we were immediately taken by the imagination of the dishes and the chef’s clear goal to utilise fresh, locally sourced and seasonal ingredients to create British, Continental and classic cuisine.
For my appetiser, I opted for the Seafood Cracker. Served with crab mayonnaise and brown shrimp, the sweetness of the fresh sugar snap peas, perfectly complimented the tart seafood.
Rachel, meanwhile, went for the pulled ham, which was accompanied by spring pickles, piccalilli puree and sourdough. Although I was tempted by the Gressingham duck and the seabass, I eventually chose the 8oz sirloin steak for my main course.
Served with rosemary salted fat chips, and a watercress, shallot and parmesan salad, the meat was just how I like it – slightly charred on the outside and melt-in-the-mouth on the inside – in short: cooked to perfection.
Rachel went for one of her favourite dishes, pan-roasted chicken breast, which came with mashed potato in roasting juices, asparagus and sweet potato veloute. Although the portions were generous, we still had room for dessert.
The dark chocolate tart, with caramel popcorn and pistachio ice cream immediately caught my eye and didn’t disappoint, while Rachel opted for the peaches and cream, accompanied by cannelloni cheesecake, peach melba biscuit crumbled on vanilla ice cream.
The sumptuous food was washed down with a chilled bottle of pinot grigio from the Brasserie’s affordable fine wine list. It is easy to see how and why the restaurant consistently maintains its Rosette award-winning standard.
The food was exciting and tasty, while the server achieved that perfect balance of a ‘not-wanting-to-pester’ attitude and making sure everything was to our satisfaction. And all this hospitality came against the backdrop of one of South Yorkshire’s most spectacular and historic manor houses.
One of the most recent families to own the estate, the Spaffords, apparently engaged the services of the local vicar Montague Holmes and renowned psychic researcher Harry Price to exorcise the Hall. Perhaps that was why we personally didn’t spot any creepy goings during our peaceful summer’s evening at Mosborough Hall.
But regardless of whether the place is haunted by a royal scandal, a murdered White Lady, a spectral dog, or other ghostly phenomena, it was an amazing place to dine and spend time. Mosborough Hall may once have been a heartbreak hotel, but now appears to be hotel happiness.
Best Western Plus Mosborough Hall Hotel, High Street, Mosborough, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S20 5EA