I’ve been for a meal at D’Parys in Bedford a couple of times over the last few years – ever since it opened, it’s been one of those places that ticks all the boxes for a ‘nice’ night out in Bedford without breaking the bank. It’s far enough off the High Street to be away from the, er, High Street, but close enough to walk to in your best shoes.
The hotel, or pub with rooms as it’s officially called, has always looked fantastic. It’s housed in a huge Victorian building with a grand central staircase, stained-glass windows and a gorgeous rustic-chic interior of exposed brick walls, lots of bare wood and a ceiling clad entirely in distressed shutters. It’s one of the best-looking places for dinner and drinks in Bedford. That’s why I was surprised to hear they were having a re-fit.
We popped in for lunch with the kids last Saturday (how times have changed) and, sure enough, they’ve refreshed the place just in time for Christmas. Thankfully, it still looks essentially the same – albeit with a much better layout. The bar area, the first bit you see when you come in, is now much bigger – there’s space for about 30 seats plus a roaring log fire and endless heaps of chopped wood.
I was gutted to see the little olde sweet shop area in the corner had gone, but I’m probably the only person in Bedford who bought sweets on a night out. Beyond that, there’s now a private dining area because: Christmas. We didn’t get to see this, but if it’s anything like the rest of the space it’ll be straight out of the pages of an interior design magazine.
Instead, we sat down to try out the new menu. D’Parys does pub grub well – it’s not fine dining and the service has been questionable when we’ve visited in the past (not this time – they were fantastic), but you can bank on a decent main for something in the region of £15-20. Thankfully, the new menu has stuck at a similar price-point and still features a section of burgers, although I’m an idiot and ordered the pulled pork burger thinking there would be both pulled pork and a burger in my bun (greedy? me?)
There wasn’t. So, don’t do that.
Burgers aside, the cheapest main on the menu was a quinoa and winter root vegetable stew at £11; the most expensive a rack of lamb at £24.50.
Our starters – a baked Camembert and Scotch eggs – were the best bit of the meal, and the kids’ menu included a main and a pudding for £8. They each wolfed down a proper burger followed by a chocolate cookie ice-cream sandwich which, as you can imagine, went down a storm.
D’Parys is a Charles Wells pub, and Charles Wells has been operating as a family brewery in Bedfordshire since 1876. Factor in a spot on Victorian D’Parys Avenue and this is a prime slice of Bedford’s history in more ways than one, so it’s great to see continual investment in the property. If the service we received on our visit is standard, this isn’t dropping off the list of Bedford’s best options for dinner and drinks any time soon.
Thanks to D’Parys for hosting us for lunch. To contact the pub, call 01234 340248 or visit www.dparys.co.uk.