I am ashamed to say that in my four years working at the Guardian I have never visited Creswell Crags.
So for my final ‘Gourmet’ review before I leave to start a new job, I ventured into the Stone Age unknown...
Creswell Crags is an ancient limestone gorge situated just between Creswell and Worksop.
Caves adorned with carvings where primitive men and beasts once lived surround a tranquil lake dotted with ducks.
Strolling the path around the perimeter I was struck by the historic significance of the place.
Stone tools and remains of animals have been found in the caves by archaeologists.
You can even go on a tour led by experienced guides who tell the fascinating story of life at Creswell Crags during the last Ice Age - between 50,000 and 10,000 years ago.
Back at the visitor centre we perused the interesting exhibitions and gift shop before heading hungrily to the Crags Edge Cafe.
Perched at the foot of the gorge the bright and airy cafe has panoramic views over the tree line and an outside seating area.
Inside, the modern Scandinavian style furniture invites families to eat together at round tables and long communal benches.
A counter packed with scrummy looking sandwiches and cakes captured our attention and a blackboard menu boasted further offerings of salads, sweet treats and drinks.
I chose a chicken, green pesto and mozzarella panini a slice of lime, white chocolate and meringue pie and a pot of tea.
My dining partner Liam chose a cheddar cheese and chorizo panini, a slice of chocolate Daim cake and also opted for a refreshing tea.
We placed our orders with a pleasant waitress at the counter before picking a seat outside.
It was a lovely sunny day and lots of people were sat out on the raised decking area overlooking the scenery.
It was a good spot to sit and watch the little birds who cheekily flitted between the tables.
And as a fledgling birdwatcher myself I got plenty of use out of my new binoculars as we waited for our food.
After a few minutes our lunch was brought to our table.
The paninis were piping hot, as was the tea.
My panini was melt-in-the-mouth good. The bread was toasted and crunchy on the outside and soft and fluffy in the middle.
The chicken was tasty and moist, bathing in the zesty pesto and creamy melted mozzarella cheese.
For the sake of being able to write an accurate review (and also so I could sample someone else’s food) I persuaded Liam to swap half of his panini for half of mine.
The half and half technique works well in many dining situations for those, like myself, cursed with food envy.
The cheddar cheese in the panini was rich and mature which combined perfectly with the salty, spicy chorizo.
Food envy struck again when it came to pudding. While I normally love the zingy flavour of lime, my pie was a bit sickly sweet and sloppy for my liking. It did not taste homemade and I suspected it was a defrosted dessert.
Liam’s Daim cake, however, while also a formerly frozen dish, was much more pleasing on the palate with its crunchy Daim pieces smothered in layers of chocolate.
I would heartily recommend a visit. And next time I go I’ll be sampling one of the other delicious looking homemade cakes from the cabinet.
By Hayley Gallimore
Star rating HHHH