Wanting a waffle? Pining for a picnic? Whatever your culinary craving, there’s something for every appetite within the county’s restaurants – and we’ve rounded up 21 of the most delicious options.


Afternoon tea The Brewery Tea Rooms, Walkern

This charming little tearoom on the High Street upholds the British tradition of tea. Owners Sarah Parker and husband Nigel have preserved the building's history – once the home of Wrights Brewery. Afternoon tea, lunches and a variety of cakes are served on vintage china and there’s an extensive range of teas to choose from, including a Pina Colada fruit tea. Scones are still freshly baked each morning in the Brewery House kitchen by Sarah’s 91-year-old mother Mary. It has been voted Hertfordshire’s Best Independent Tea and Coffee Shop. brewerytearooms.co.uk

Waffley good The Waffle House, St Albans

It is not hard to guess what’s on the menu at this family-run restaurant in a converted 16th-century mill on the River Ver. The Waffle House on St Michael’s Street, St Albans has been making big fluffy waffles since 1978 and regularly has queues out the door. Breakfast waffles are served until midday with favourites like blueberry and bacon and smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. Savoury waffles include ham, cheese béchamel and mushrooms and hummus and avocado – a favourite with regulars. But leave room for the best-selling banoffee, it’s heavenly. Walk it all off with a wander round Verulamium Park. wafflehouse.co.uk

Great British Life: Fine dining but in a relaxed atmosphere Thompson, St Albans (c) Thompson, St AlbansFine dining but in a relaxed atmosphere Thompson, St Albans (c) Thompson, St Albans

Tasting menu Thompson, St Albans

Head chef and owner Phil Thompson has come a long way from washing pots in his uncle Mick's kitchen. At his restaurant Thompson he's built up an enviable reputation for fine dining that champions local produce, served in a relaxed atmosphere. The seven-course tasting menu comes beautifully presented and has an optional wine pairing; a sample menu includes Wye Valley asparagus tart, noisette-poached brill and lemon verbena parfait. It’s not surprising Phil has retained three AA Rosettes and that Thompson is listed in the Michelin guide. thompsonstalbans.co.uk

Outdoor dining with a difference Feast on Cloud 9, The Grove, Chandler's Cross

For an immersive and unique dining experience this summer, head to Feast on Cloud 9 at The Grove. Set outside by the beautiful water exhibit in the formal gardens, two rows of enchanting, hand-crafted hot-air balloons have vintage-style wicker dining baskets, home to tables that seat four to six people. The balloons will be available each day for either afternoon tea or a nine-course gourmet tasting menu and can be booked until September 3. Tart of Cornish crab and Exmore caviar, lobster en croute and Strawberry Pavlova Cloud will have your tastebuds soaring, without you having to leave the ground! thegrove.co.uk

Plush picnic Down Hall, Hatfield Heath

If it’s a picnic in style you’re after, you certainly won’t disappoint. Enjoy a quiet spot in the 110-acre estate and let the Down Hall team provide a luxury picnic hamper with all you could need. Complete with a picnic blanket, cutlery and crockery, it's packed with everything from finger sandwiches and salad to sweet treats and drinks. Priced at £30 for adults and with a children’s menu £15, orders should be placed before 10am on the day you wish to visit, or you could make a stay of it. The hotel, which also welcomes dogs, has ten patio rooms available to book and its luxury fine dining restaurant, Garden Room, was recently awarded 2 AA Rosettes. downhall.co.uk

Great British Life: Cheese lovers paradise... The Cheese Plate. Photo Sharon StruckmanCheese lovers paradise... The Cheese Plate. Photo Sharon Struckman

Cheese and wine The Cheese Plate, Buntingford

Two window seats make for the perfect place to enjoy a cheese-inspired lunch at this award-winning shop. Run by father and daughter Toby and Hope Archer, the menu includes fondue, croque monsieur, Welsh rarebit, or a personally selected cheese plate – the duo will guide you through the many varieties on offer. Cheese and wine nights include an evening of six cheeses and six wines, served in a fun and informal setting; dates include August 12, 18, and 26 and cost £40 per person. Eat-in or takeaway platters consisting of cheeses, charcuterie and accompaniments are also available - perfect for sharing or for celebrations at home. thecheeseplate.co.uk

Country house dining Acres, Ashridge House

Dine in high style, at Acres, the restaurant at beautiful grade 1-listed Ashridge House near Berkhampstead, today an events venue, once a royal residence to King Henry VIII and Princess Elizabeth I. Head chef Paul Pattison runs a sustainable kitchen, sourcing high quality meat and produce from local farmers. The team also harvest ingredients from the onsite herb and vegetable garden, and use woodchips from the gardens to smoke Ashridge Estate salmon. Sea trout, asparagus with grapefruit Hollandaise and citrus baked Alaska with poached strawberries and candied pistachios certainly get our culinary vote. ashridgehouse.org

Great British Life: Watch the chef's as each dish is prepared at the chef's table, Crockers Tring. Photo Matthew Bishop PhotographyWatch the chef's as each dish is prepared at the chef's table, Crockers Tring. Photo Matthew Bishop Photography

Chef’s table Crockers Tring, Tring

See if you can withstand the heat of the kitchen with a seat at the chef’s table, the centre stage of this elegant eatery, listed in the 2023 Michelin Guide. Diners can watch as each dish is prepared, learn more about the food’s origins and laugh with the kitchen team and head chef Scott Barnard. Scott is the mastermind behind the menu, which consists of several courses and features highlights such as line-caught mackerel, apple, kohlrabi, horseradish and Exmoor caviar. It’s a great opportunity for food lovers to discover more about Scott, who was a finalist in 2015's Masterchef - The Professionals. tring.crockersuk.com

Vegan delights with community conscience Vutie Beets, Letchworth

Known for their fresh, vibrant food and drinks, owners Paul Cranwell and Harry Williams are keen to introduce customers to the wonders of their plant-based brunch and coffee. The cafe holds regular supper evenings to raise money for local schools and uses rescued food from Best Before Café to reduce waste. Working with other companies, it also provides free cooking lessons for families, showing parents how to cook nutritious meals for under £1 a portion. Brunch favourites include their potato salad, hash brown bites and irresistible breakfast baps. They say, 'We serve up great food, it just happens to be vegan.' vutiebeets.co.uk

Tapas treats Anexo, Hertford

Holding the reins of Anexo’s kitchen is head chef Petko Sharakov, who has a background working in Michelin-star restaurants Tom Aikens and Fino. He’s curated a menu of classic tapas dishes, adding a few twists, to take guests on a tour of Spain and introduce them to new rich, smokey flavours with wood-fire cooking methods. Drinks writer and expert sommelier, Bert Blaize, has worked in tandem with the menu, designing a list of wines that add another layer to the dining experience. Located in the walls of a Grade II listed property, Anexo is a cosy spot for an evening of wining and dining. The Manchego and charcuterie boards are perfect for sharing. anexo.co.uk

Hanging kebabs and flowers The Florist, Watford

This pretty spot has taken inspiration from both the centuries-old Japanese art of arranging flowers, Ikebana, and English Gardens to create its dishes and invigorate diners’ senses. Guests can relax in this serene atmosphere, sampling botanical cocktails and culinary treats, surrounded by flower-covered walls, plant-decorated ceilings and blossom-hung trees. Always a delicious talking point, the restaurant is famous for its trademark savoury hanging kebabs - in February, for instance, mini pancake kebabs were created to celebrate Pancake Day. A sharing kebab is a great choice for friends wanting to take time over relaxed food after a busy day, while other delights on the menu include a grilled nduja chicken burger - savoury heaven. thefloristuk.com

Great British Life: Asian inspired sharing plates at Omboo. Photo Luke AlbertAsian inspired sharing plates at Omboo. Photo Luke Albert

Asian feast Omboo, Sopwell House, Asian

Sharing plates are a great way of bringing people together and at Omboo, Sopwell House, you’ll be sharing some of the county’s finest. You won’t get starters or main courses – instead, you’ll tuck into platters of imaginative Asian-inspired food, prepared and plated by chef Derrick Chen and his team and delivered to your table fresh from the kitchen. Omboo has an especially strong reputation for its sushi and sashimi, but consider, too, steamed seabass with black bean sauce, the finest wagyu cooked Japanese style on hot stone, shitake, shimeji, truffle spring rolls, or a salad made with green papaya. The wine and cocktail list has been carefully curated to complement the menu. sopwellhouse.co.uk

A taste of the Med – without the plane ticket Lavish, Stevenage

Even in high summer Stevenage may seem a long way away from the Costa Brava, but what you’ll find in Lavish Bar & Grill isn’t just a taste of food from warmer climes but an equally warm welcome – plus, in its décor, unabashed glamour: lavish by name, lavish by nature. Honey glazed goats cheese, monkfish kebab and rack of lamb are just some of the treats on offer, complemented by an imaginative wine list. Want more of that ‘on holiday’ feeling? Book at table on a Friday, where live music will leave you even more relaxed. lavishrestaurant.co.uk

Award-winning puds The Pudding Stop

Those with a weakness for sweets will love The Pudding Stop in St Albans, a café entirely dedicated to desserts, from sticky toffee pudding to cornflake pie. Sweet breakfasts are also available until midday, as are pastries and delicious doughnuts – see our feature also in this issue. Coffee is sourced from specialty company Climpson & Sons and goes down a treat after a sugar rush. Look out, too for the ‘Pudmobiles’, nicknamed Percy and Penelope, keeping the sweet-toothed satisfied throughout the St Albans area. Alternatively, order online for delivery country wide. thepuddingstop.com

Bella Italia L'Olivo Ristorante Italiano, Wheathampstead

At this time of year you can enjoy la dolce vita at one of L’Olivo’s outdoor tables; come winter, there’s a warming fire to keep guests cosy. The wealth of traditional, homemade dishes on the menu includes tomato bruschetta and ragu salsiccia – pasta served with homemade spicy Italian pork and fennel seed sausages – plus satlimboccca, seafood, and calves liver. Kick off your evening with cocktails from negronis to bellini, then move on to the wine list that of course makes the most of classic favourites such as chianti and valpolicella. All served in a bustling but relaxed environment that’s redolent of downtown Italy – no wonder L’Olivo, going strong for over ten years, is beloved by locals and Italians: football legend Gianfranco Zola was a recent visitor. lolivo-restaurant.com

Great British Life: Fresh fish is served Lussmans Sustainable Kitchen. Photo Matthew Bishop PhotographyFresh fish is served Lussmans Sustainable Kitchen. Photo Matthew Bishop Photography

Sustainable seafood Lussmans Sustainable Kitchen, Hertford

Known for its sustainability credentials, Lussmans Sustainable Kitchen also has restaurants in Hitchin, Berkhamsted, St Albans and Harpenden. Its aim is to bring relaxed ethical dining to the High Street. If you are a fish and seafood aficionado then you can’t go wrong here. Starters on the menu include scallops of king oyster mushrooms as well as Devon white crab linguine. Mains to choose from to tempt the tastebuds include traditional fish and chips (on Friday’s only) and mouthwatering whole Cornish sole. It’s no wonder Giles Coren has branded Lussmans as ‘everything a modern, local restaurant should be.’ lussmanns.com

Great pub grub Fox and Duck Therfield

When it comes to good old fashioned, hearty pub grub this rustic, village pub, which dates back to 1700, is a cosy setting to head to. When diners walk through the doors of they’re greeted by the comforting aroma, décor and welcome reminiscent of what a local pub should be. All food is cooked from fresh. The only thing that’s frozen here is the ice cream. Whether it’s the lamb duo or butter roasted monkfish or rhubarb and custard tart that you opt for, or if you just want to pop in for a club ciabatta filled with chicken, bacon, tomato, lettuce, basil and spring onion mayo, you’ll be leaving here with a satisfying feeling. thefoxandduck.co.uk

Sunday brunch Hermitage Rd, Hitchin

Located in a former ballroom, Hermitage Rd. is the bar and restaurant offering casual dining throughout the day and its Sunday brunch is perfect for enjoying with friends or family . Kick off the brunch with Bloody Mary’s with tomato juice made from handpicked Isle of Wight vine ripened tomatoes. Then it’s on to the eggs Florentine, the smashed avocado or try truffled scrambled eggs. Of course, if you prefer you could fill up on the steak and eggs or go healthy with a British berry cold pressed juice. Everything is on the menu here. hermitagerd.co.uk

Great British Life: Taiwanese chicken one of the many sharing plates on offer at The George IV in Great Amwell. Photo The George IVTaiwanese chicken one of the many sharing plates on offer at The George IV in Great Amwell. Photo The George IV

Plates to share The George IV, Great Amwell

With the kitchen led by owner and head chef, Oliver D’Arcy, the exceptional George IV pub and restaurant has a warm and relaxed atmosphere. Oliver has created an ever-evolving menu combining his passion for beautiful food with the best produce, which changes with the seasons. Small and large sharing plates are a specialty here…all with a European influence. Enjoy padron peppers, trout with cucumber and samphire and Taiwanese fried chicken, as well as delicious dessert options, with the menu changing regularly. The top tip is to order several plates to be shared for the table. There's a function room with a private courtyard, too. georgeivpub.co.uk

Sunday lunch The Tilbury

Owned and run by brothers Tom and James Bainbridge, the Tilbury has a cosy atmosphere. The Sunday lunch menu has a good selection of meats - roast beef, chicken and pork ribeye served with generous Yorkshire puddings and all the trimmings. For non-meat eaters try the falafel stuffed courgette with courgette hummus, sumac roasted radish and tahini and yogurt and there's fish options too. Puddings including chocolate brownie with rhubarb fool will have you rolling out the door. The pubs Sunday lunches have been described as ‘sensational’. thetilbury.co.uk

From farm to folk Birch

If you don’t want your food to have travelled too far then look no further than Birch. Many of the ingredients are grown on-site and produce is made in-house. At Valeries, meat and fish is cooked on the grill or for something a bit more special the a la carte menu of The Zebra Riding Club has offers of wild garlic raviolo with nettle sauce from the garden or Birch pork chop, pitone beans, wood fired loquats. Whether it’s grown, raised or foraged from the grounds, it will be tasty. birchcommunity.com