017The Most Entertaining Proprietor
Robin Mitchell of Soul Average rate: 5.0

30 Green Lane, Derby, Derbyshire DE1 1RP
01332 346989

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If you approach Derby along the country roads of the Peak District - and you should - you may well encounter Robin Mitchell in his tiny white Piaggio van. On many days he goes trundling off around the countryside, visiting farms to pick up ingredients to cook and serve at his deli-restaurant in Derby, an act of almost eccentric dedication that sums up this energetic, food-loving man who inspires tremendous respect from Peak District farmers, several of whom he has singlehandedly kept in business. Some people travel the world to find the best food for their restaurant, but Mitchell scours Derbyshire for his menus: herb-crusted loin of Derbyshire lamb with roasted courgettes; goats cheese from the Peak District Dairy with a salad of pea, broad bean and apricot; butter-fried Panettone with strawberries and thick Derbyshire cream… the list goes on. Through his presence in Soul most nights, Mitchell has become something of a local legend. Tall and slim, he is a streak of manic, endearing enthusiasm, keen to have his customers enjoy their food and share his passion. In some ways he is like a cross between Basil Fawlty and Giorgio Locatelli, a proprietor who, if you ask where your steak is from, will tell you the name of the cow. His popularity is attested to by expansion plans that will see Soul (currently able to serve just short of 50 for breakfast, lunch or an evening meal) opening a new floor.

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