Herts best food and drink recommendations June 2022

City of St Albans, England. Ye Olde Fighting Cocks Inn located near Verulamium Park is record

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, St Albans - Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

Hot news from Herts' food and drink scene, compiled by Richard Cawthorne

Fighting Cocks win

St Albans’ most iconic pub, Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, reputed to be the oldest in England, has been saved from the brink of closure after being sold to former staff.

The business, which moved to its current site overlooking the river Ver in the 1500s after being established in the eighth century, went into administration in February but has been taken over by its new owners including former manager Martin Robinson, who is the new landlord, and head chef Ian Baulsh.

New signs showing two cocks fighting, an echo of the Grade II listed building’s previous life, have been installed as part of renovations which also include a new and extensive barbecue area and new menus which change daily and include regular specials.

Typical starters are chicory and pear or goat’s cheese and beetroot salads, while mains include burgers, Thai red curry or beef onglet with pomme purée and mushrooms. There's also a children’s menu, while live music and summer festivals are among other plans for the site, which overlooks Verulamium Park. 

Landlord Martin said, ‘I worked at The Fighting Cocks for 12 years as the manager, which has given me a clear vision of how to ensure its future success. Ian has been head chef for the past eight years and is excited to be sharing his menus and a new food strategy.’ 

Proove Neapolitan pizza 

Proove Neapolitan pizza - Credit: Proove pizza 

Proove pizzas 

Already an award winner, a Hertford pizza restaurant was finally able to celebrate its opening with an official launch party. Proove serves bottomless brunch, lunch, Neapolitan pizza and small plates, with vegan options, inside or out in Parliament Square. 

The event also saw the opening of a new cocktail bar above the restaurant. Called The Barber Shop, it's 'an exclusive speakeasy-style lounge' with mixologists serving original concoctions. 

Sticky toffee pud at The Kite at The Red Hart

Sticky toffee pud at The Kite at The Red Hart - Credit: The Kite at The Red Hart

Kite's midweek specials

Hitchin's Kite at the Red Hart has introduced a 'midweek pick-me-up'. The fixed menu costs £19 for two courses and £25 for three and features two of the restaurant’s ‘best-ever desserts’ – sticky toffee pudding with miso caramel, clotted cream ice cream and a brandy snap, and a Snickers bar with dulce de leche ice cream.

Starters include Lincolnshire Poacher cheese and leek croquettes with black garlic and truffle aioli, while mains feature a beef and bone marrow burger with an optional glazed beef short rib. Available Wednesdays to Fridays midday to 3pm and 6pm to 6.45pm. 

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Ask for Clive

A second nationwide Pub Pride event organised by St Albans based charity Ask For Clive (AFC) is under way this month following its inaugural success last year. The charity was set up to combat LGBTQ+ discrimination in the community and signs up entertainment venues to become safer, welcome spaces.

This year's event encourages participants to keep AFC flags and bunting up throughout Pride Month (June). Backers this year include Herts based Farr Brew and Oakman Inns. 

Digital Duck

The Fox and Duck at Therfield, near Royston, has been named Digital Pub of the Year at a leading industry awards ceremony for its ‘innovative use of engaging social media’.

Judges at the Greene King Pub Partners’ Night of Excellence ceremony praised the business for its use of social media to promote menus and events - including a burger eating competition. 

Licensee Ivan Titmuss said: ‘We pride ourselves on engaging our customers through social media, so we are delighted.’ 

Rosey Lea at Henry Moore

The café at the Henry Moore Studios and Gardens at the sculptor’s former home, Hoglands, in Perry Green has relaunched with a new caterer, Rosey Lea, owned by Leanne Gregory.

A new all-day dining offer includes brunch and coffees from 11am and tea and light lunches throughout the day. Leanne runs the popular Rosey Lea independent cafe and tea rooms in Market Square and Wickham Hall in Bishop's Stortford. The new cafe is open Wednesdays to Sundays and bank holidays from 11am-4.30pm.