Spectacular views, seafood and champagne toasting a step nearer to normality in the Midlands and Yorkshire
Last week was a joyous week of 'firsts' after the tentative reopening of the hospitality industry and a few days during this pandemic which we will remember for a long time.
For months we've been unable to dine at a restaurant table, ever since the second wave of coronavirus swept over us with full force last autumn.
But while hotels remain shut for now, eating out has made a welcome return after a period when many restaurants have kept their businesses ticking over by providing services through takeaways and DIY food boxes.
Ok, it's 'al fresco only' at the moment and we have to rely on the weather being kind, but at least it's something we can now look forward to, talk about and enjoy once again.
But where have you picked as your first foodie destination since lockdown? For my wife and I it wasn't a decision to be taken lightly and after spending the majority of lockdown reminiscing about our last meal out back in November, we were keen to make sure the next outing would be just as memorable.
Our choice was the brand-new Laurent-Perrier Champagne and Seafood Terrace at the four-star Cavendish Hotel in Baslow, Derbyshire, an elegant garden pop-up restaurant with stunning open views of the beautiful Chatsworth Estate countryside.
The Cavendish is part of the Devonshire Hotels group, who we were already familiar with after a dog friendly stay at the Devonshire Arms in North Yorkshire and after tasting one of their delicious Duchess' Choice food boxes during lockdown.
After a quick browsing of the Met Office weather app we picked the sunniest day, threw on some nice clothes and off we set into the rolling hills of the Peak District, happily leaving the joggers and hoodies behind.
On arrival it was nice to be warmly greeted and escorted to our table, if not a little strange as it had been so long, but after that first sip of Laurent-Perrier Brut the happy memories of hospitality came flooding back and everything was alright with the world.
Of course, it's still early days and we were reminded of the pandemic as we perused disposable paper menus and addressed by a smart waiter donning a face mask, who politely asked us to sign in through 'track and trace' after sanitising our hands.
But aside from that it was all about sipping champagne underneath the stretch canvas while enjoying beautiful views with the mouthwatering aroma of freshly-caught seafood cooking a few metres away drifting under the nostrils.
There are several dishes you can choose as a starter or main course, or you could opt for the large sharing platter for two and pair it with a bottle of champagne. But If bubbles aren't your tipple, you can dabble in a gin or chilled Sauvignon Blanc.
Opting for the champers, we picked five dishes to share, starting with the Chatsworth Gin cured salmon, cucumber and seaweed and the 'daily special' fish soup, which was smooth, creamy and had all the wonderful tastes of the sea.
Next up were the succulent pan fried scallops with chestnut and miso purée and apple, and the beautiful linguini pasta which was tossed with the epic combinations of shrimp, chilli, garlic, lemon, capers and parsley. To complete the ultimate seafood feast it would have been rude not to order the half lobster, which was succulent, sweet and meaty and came with fresh lemon, salad and seasoned potatoes.
Afterwards there was enough room for dessert - an indulgent chocolate and hazelnut cheesecake and lemon posset with blueberry meringue and purée - and an after-dinner latte to round off proceedings.
It was a real treat and for a good few hours I couldn't think of a better place to toast the start of summer and the first steps of a return to life as we once knew it.
The Laurrent-Perrier Champagne and Seafood Terrace is operating at The Cavendish Hotel, Baslow and, Devonshire Arms, Bolton Abbey and will be available until mid-September seven days a week from 12noon-8pm. Bookings can be taken online or by phone - 01246 582311 (Cavendish) and 01756 718100 (Devonshire Arms). Prices vary with small plates starting at £8 and the large sharing platter for two priced at £70.