It is also a destination site for those seeking luxury accommodation.
The pub was honoured with three AA Rosettes at the AA Hospitality Awards ceremony last month hosted by Claudia Winkleman.
Here, Aisthorpe tells The Morning Advertiser about the site, its events and team ethics that push this pub beyond the ordinary.
Facts ’n’ stats
Name: The Bulls Head
Chef-patron: Mark Aisthorpe
Address: New Rd, Holymoorside, Chesterfield, S42 7EW.
Phone: 01246 569999
The Bulls Head is set in a traditional village pub, nestled on the edge of the Peak District, in the picturesque hideaway village of Holymoorside, halfway between Chatsworth House and Chesterfield.
The fine-dining restaurant has been awarded 2 AA Rosettes for culinary excellence, and its recently renovated rooms scored 5 AA stars.
The Bulls Head has roots dating back to 1881 and great care has been taken during recent renovation of the rooms to preserve the building’s original features, such as stone walls and wooden beams.
I’m Mark Aisthorpe, patron, aged 31, and I shot to fame in 2022 after appearing on hit BBC show Great British Menu, proudly reaching the regional final.
I took over the Bulls Head in 2016 and have transformed it into a flourishing business with real charm and a growing reputation for exquisite food and luxurious rooms.
I learned the tricks of the trade working for the likes of Gordon Ramsay and Marcus Wareing at the then double Michelin-starred Pétrus and a spell at Cliveden House, before fulfilling my lifelong dream of running my own kitchen.
Currently 60% of customer spend is on food, although the vast majority of the drink spend is by customers who are eating with us. We estimate that 95% of customers are visiting primarily for food. Many customers are local but also have repeat visitors from all over the UK.
The Bulls Head now has a reputation as one of the go-to fine-dining restaurants in the north Midlands. We are well known for our exceptional food, friendly/attentive service and cosy and inviting atmosphere.
We offer a very different experience from our competitors – from showing off our ingredients in a raw state (many customers have never seen fresh truffles, for example), to chefs taking canapes to diners and engaging talks with them throughout their evening, allowing us to really explain where our idea of each dish comes from, to how it has been cooked and what techniques have been used to achieve the textures and flavours.
We also take out our entire pre-dessert table side using liquid nitrogen to make ice cream in front of the diner, again a very unusual experience not seen by many diners before. This attention to detail is even fetched out with petit fours, being served on live edge oak boards made by one of our chefs from a tree felled in the local village.
Our experienced front-of-house team prides itself on excellent customer service and in-depth knowledge of the menus offered.
The team consists of a restaurant manager, an assistant manager, sommelier, and four front-of-house support staff.
In the kitchen, there's me and a small team of chefs and kitchen hands.
Our accommodation has a housekeeper and is managed through our social media/back office manager, supported on a daily basis by the front-of-house team. We have a current rating of 9.1 'superb' on booking.com and 9.5 on TripAdvisor.
We believe we have an excellent choice of drink offerings, and feel it caters for a variety of tastes and preferences.
We stock a range of international products as well as working closely with local breweries like Thornbridge to provide some of the best draught beer locally.
We also have a great working relationship with Nyetimber (we serve its entire range of English sparkling wines). We have an extensive range of biodynamic, wild fermented wines, organic wines and from countries less known for wine, such as Lebanon and Japan.
We also work with a local distillery (Cuckoostone) and have developed our own Bulls Head branded gin (organic spirit) – it is a contemporary style London gin that has a great balance of flavours developed by myself and the team with Cuckoostone. Some of the botanics featured are elderflower, coriander and wild juniper foraged locally by the team.
The pub offers a diverse menu that features locally sourced and seasonal ingredients, the dishes are expertly prepared and beautifully presented. We like to offer our guests an opportunity to broaden their culinary taste buds through our creative, delicious dishes.
We offer a range of tasting menus from a five-course menu served at lunchtime and early evening, to a nine-course menu with option of a wine flight, which has been expertly paired to complement each course by our in-house wine sommelier.
These are our “signature offerings”, but are adapted and constantly change ensuring the freshest ingredients, highest quality and local availability.
Depending on the complexity of the individual dish, it can take several weeks to get from an initial idea through testing cooking methods and evaluating how different ingredients interact with each other, to get to the point where we are happy to put it on the menu.
Events that happen throughout the year are often in collaboration with local suppliers. The Bulls Head is currently offering a Christmas Canape Cooking demonstration where customers are able to learn new skills through our in-house chefs.
We have also just launched our Christmas Day Menu.
Discounts are offered throughout the year and we have a 'stay and dine' deal where customers can stay with us and sample our Signature Tasting menu at a discounted rate.
Since the pandemic ended, we have invested throughout the business and have plans for more investment.
We now have three luxury bedrooms (awarded 5 stars by the AA), which have been highly successful. Apart from the room income, they have driven additional income for the restaurant and helped to attract function bookings, such as wedding receptions.
The restaurant and bar areas have all been refreshed. The kitchen has been reorganised and decorated and recently received a 5-star rating from Environmental Health again.
Future plans include induction and to rearrange the kitchen and make it open plan with an additional ‘Chef’s Table’.
Sample of choice of dishes on the signature tasting menu - £80
Canapes. 1, Duck - Brioche - Spiced Pear. 2, Cheese & Walnut. 3, Chicken - BBQ
Bread. Homemade Sourdough - Butter
Potato. Dulse – Leeks
Hand Dived King Scallop. Pumpkin - Ginger - Coconut – Kale
“Ham & Egg 2.0”. Truffle - Brioche - Hendersons - Smoked Bacon
West Coast Turbot. Carrot – Fennel – Chervil – Sea Vegetable
Spring Lamb. Loin & Belly. Girolles - Pea - Cabbage - Wild Garlic
Ice Cream Sundae. Blackberry - Vanilla – Beetroot
Chocolate. Hazelnut - Caramel - Malt
Petit Fours. Fruit - Chocolate - Fudge
Drinks flight - £50
Each course is expertly paired with one wine and the Bulls Head ensures there is a great range as well, so there will always be some classical wines on there (2010 Vintage Haut-Médoc Cru – Bordeaux) but it also has more unusual wines perhaps not seen before, such as a Lebanese High Altitude using obeidy grapes and not forgetting some amazing English wine too.