Lunch at: The Kings Arms, Berkhamsted

A new look pub-plus-food lures food and drink editor Richard Cawthorne to Berkhamsted...

About the restaurant

The Kings Arms has had a massive facelift courtesy of new owner Oakman Inns & Restaurants. The traditional high street frontage remains but the restaurant has been transformed into a light and airy space with large all-day menu and a trendy rustic form of charcoal grilling from Japan called robata.

Atmosphere and decor

Oakman has pledged to offer ‘a new concept of the modern public house’ but the emphasis is on the food, with a familiar-looking bar area contrasting with a contemporary restaurant. Large picture windows, white walls and light-wood furniture and floors abound. It all looks very clean and efficient.

Service

Young and cheerful staff scurry to serve and there’s a general air of can-do. However, they put us on a table directly under the (also trendy) glass ceiling and lunchtimes can become uncomfortably hot when the sun comes out.

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The menu

Plenty of temptation here, including solid appetisers, platters to share, salads and sandwiches, and fish and meat specials from the grill. Arty touches from the kitchen include feta cheese and marinated beetroot with the spring pea salad (�6.95) in the starters and lemon and chilli spatchcock chicken with roasted vegetable and rocket salad and chips (�14.95) as a main from the grill.

To start

Duck and orange pat� (�6.75) on a toasted brioche attracts my companion, possibly influenced by the clever use of sloe-gin vinaigrette on the accompanying spinach salad. Another nice touch is the addition of roasted pears to unusual potato and blue cheese flatbread (�6.50), which comes with celeriac remoulade and hazelnuts. Both dishes hit the spot.

Main courses

Determined to try the robata grill, I choose clementine and basil sea bass (�16.95) with baby gem lettuce, roasted tomatoes and chips – a good decision, the fish well presented and full of flavour. My more abstemious partner chooses a starter portion of risotto of the day (�5.95) with chicken and bacon, and seems well pleased. Heartier dishes include the Help for Heroes cottage pie (�11.50), with 50p from every sale going to the charity.

Desserts

Limoncello cr�me br�l�e with macerated raspberries is the star, plus double chocolate brownie or sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream, all at �5.95.

The experience

The Kings Arms is pleasant, offering middle-of-the-road food with artistic flourishes. I like the approach and the surroundings, but keep an eye on the prices.

The cost of this lunch was �48.45 plus service. This is an independent review featuring a restaurant selected and experienced by our food and drink editor. The restaurant was not told it was being reviewed.

The Kings Arms147 High StreetBerkhamsted, HP4 3HL01442 866 595

kingsarms@oakmaninns.co.uk

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