Where to dine al fresco in Hertfordshire right now: 12 of the best places
- Credit: Sharon Struckman
Bursting with creative ideas, Herts' restaurants, pubs and hotels have been busy making the most of their outdoor spaces now that al fresco dining restrictions have eased
1. Hanbury Manor Marriott Hotel & Country Club, Ware
In 200 acres of countryside near Ware, Hanbury Manor Marriott Hotel & Country Club’s terrace space, Vardon’s, offers casual dining and spectacular views over the hotel’s championship 18-hole golf course - ideal for a moment of post-game reflection or a celebratory sundowner. But you don't have to be a golfer, it's open to all. The terrace menu includes classic Caesar salad, crispy squid and chorizo, and smoked salmon & cream cheese sandwiches. Open 8am-6pm daily and operates on a walk-in system.
2. Sopwell House, St Albans
With new al fresco dining options including lunches and afternoon tea on the front lawn for walk-in guests, and afternoon tea or bento box lunches in the spa gardens for those who book spa packages, Sopwell House in St Albans offers the chance to feel pampered again. The dining options and Cottonmill Spa reopened on April 12, with overnight stays in the Mews Suites available from April 26 (so stays can be booked before the main hotel opens on May 17). In case of showers, a marquee has been set up on the front lawn.
3. White Horse, Harpenden
With a hedged front garden and terrace to the rear, the picture postcard White Horse pub is well-placed to offer al fresco dining. A welcoming atmosphere has been created with a stretch tent covering the terrace, festooned with lights and dotted with heaters and log burners to keep things toasty. There are also rattan armchairs, fleecy blankets and even hot water bottles. A new spring menu offers dishes for lunch, dinner or for sharing with drinks. And check out the new arrivals on the drinks list including cocktails, gins and soft drinks - plenty of options to toast being back at the pub.
4. Lussmanns, Harpenden
The pretty and sheltered courtyard garden of Lussmanns in Harpenden, part of which has been covered and heated, is open for outside dining. The fish and grill restaurant has been 'putting the finishing touches' to its spring classics and set menus which offer sustainable, seasonal dishes with changing specials, vegetarian and vegan options. Enjoy responsibly sourced dishes in a walled country-style garden.
5. The Boat, Berkhamsted
Watch life pass by on the river at this Berkhamsted pub-restaurant with a raised terrace alongside the Grand Union Canal. With freshly made pub food and an ever-changing list of craft beers, try the Chalcroft Farm beef burger with secret recipe sauce and triple cooked chips or smaller plates such as Devonshire brown crab arancini or chorizo scotch egg. A marquee provides shelter and there are also open tables in the garden.
6. Ponsbourne Park Hotel, Newgate Street Village
The recently renovated 19th-century manor house in Newgate Street Village has a grand terrace with beautiful views across 200 acres of landscaped grounds. Guests can dine in the open air or in beautifully crafted dining pods, perfect for an intimate dinner or small party. Specialising in modern Indian cuisine, indulge in mahi mahi sarson salmon tikka marinated with ginger garlic, Dijon mustard, carom seeds and the chef's special blend of Indian spices.
7. Golden Fleece, Braughing
This lovely pub in the pretty village of Braughing has three raised outdoor terraces in the large garden which now have the added bonus of being covered. Check out the new menu and daily specials, and save space for renowned chef Jess Tatlow’s baked vanilla cheesecake with Nutella and bourbon biscuit. The garden has a large children’s climbing frame and dogs are welcome too.
8. The Cricketers of Redbourn, St Albans
This quintessential village pub overlooking Redbourn Common is run by owners passionate about food and drink – and they have the awards to prove it. The lovely garden offers a marquee area, or hire one of the three heated dining domes for up to six guests, they even come with Bluetooth speakers allowing you to play your own music. Work up an appetite on the walking and cycling routes along the Nickey Line and Ver Valley for the new season asparagus with Jersey royals and feta and watercress salad followed by roasted fillet of sea bream with baby spinach, potato pancake and langoustine bisque.
9. The Red Lion, Hemel Hempstead
Dating back to 1730, The Red Lion at Water End has transformed its pretty gardens and terrace to keep over 100 guests warm and dry. In addition to a heated open-sided stretch tent you can also enjoy a private dining experience in one of its six 'oak pods'. Each comes with heating controls, integrated music system, and a call for service button. The seasonal Mediterranean-inspired menu includes wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas and dishes cooked over charcoal. Try the new pork belly hash brown cake with rocket and basil pesto, and finish with baked cheesecake with summer berry compote and vanilla ice cream.
10. Fox & Hounds, Ware
This stylish award-winning pub-restaurant in the village of Hunsdon opened a pub shop during lockdown, serving ready meals for those that missed its excellent food. Now guests can enjoy the pretty garden with a heated sheltered area, new gazebo and outside bar. The Michelin BIB Gourmand restaurant is open for brunch, lunch and dinner. Steaks and lobster are favourites or try the twice-baked three cheese and hazelnut soufflé. The shop has become a fixture, so you can take home goodies too.
11. White Horse, Hertingfordbury
With a history going back to the 15th century, the White Horse in the village of Hertingfordbury is looking forward to welcoming people back with ‘good food, wine, beer, and laughter’. The pub has joined forces with two local companies to transform the terrace space into a covered al fresco dining area. The marquee is decorated beautifully. Try the fisherman’s basket with haddock, tiger prawns and crispy squid on the special al fresco menu.
12. Alford Arms, Hemel Hempstead
This pub-restaurant may be a bit hard to find, it's tucked away in a wooded valley on the edge of the Chiltern Hills in Frithsden, but we can assure you it is worth it. Recently awarded Hertfordshire Dining Pub of the Year for the 12th time by The Good Pub Guide, the Alford Arms is also a FreeFrom Eating Out Awards winner. Take a country stroll, then make the most of the heaters, umbrellas, rugs and windbreaks added to the outdoor terrace for lunch or dinner. Our pick is the Moroccan sweet potato, chickpea and spinach curry with roast garlic flatbread and tzatziki.
Do remember, guests must follow the rule of six or two households, check in on arrival, order, eat and drink at a table and wear a mask and social distance when not seated.
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