Restaurant Review: Buon Amici, St Albans
With cathedral views and Italian charm, Clare Bourke finds a peaceful location in the middle of St Albans
Buon Amici17 Heritage CloseSt Albans AL3 4EB01727 863705http://www.buonamici.co.uk/
About the restaurantBuon Amici is nestled in the shadow of the magnificent St Albans Cathedral. The restaurant and bar prides itself on offering a flavour of Italy in sophisticated surroundings and is fairly new, having only opened in May.
First impressionsBeing tucked away in a small mall of shops, I did think on seeing it from the outside that Buon Amici would be very small but once through the door it was surprisingly spacious and welcoming, if a little quiet on a Tuesday lunchtime. The menu offers a good selection of dishes with pasta, meat and fish and there is a special lunch menu offering two courses plus coffee for �9.50.
Atmosphere and d�corThe restaurant has quite a dark interior with windows off to one side giving views of the cathedral. The traditional red tablecloths, vases of flowers and candles are offset by cutlery and glassware that is thoroughly modern.
ServiceThere was just one waiter doing the lunchtime service and he was charming, friendly and happy to advise on any aspects of the menu, letting us peruse the separate dessert menu before taking our orders. The downside was that he did not suggest we choose vegetables or salads to go with our main courses and we wrongly assumed they would come with more.
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To startStarters on offer include traditional dishes such as Parma ham and Minestrone soup as well as some delightful sounding fish dishes, including the deep fried mixed seafood, but, keen to sample the desserts, we skipped the starters and enjoyed the complimentary olives and bread instead.
For mainThere are all the traditional pasta dishes you would expect at an Italian restaurant plus a few more exciting choices. The description of the Pollo Cavour got my tastebuds going - oven baked supreme of chicken filled with pt�, mozzarella di buffalo, white wine and fresh rosemary served with roast sweet potato (�11.95). The pt� was not too strong and complimented the delicate chicken well. My companion opted for the Costolette d'agnello - lamb cutlets in organic honey sesame seeds served on a bed of fresh steamed mange tout (�14.95) - which were cooked just as she wanted them and full of flavour.
To finishMy companion had hoped to sample the honeycomb and raspberry semi freddo but this was not available so she instead chose the raspberry cheesecake (�4.50) which was very rich and creamy. I opted for the oranges in caramel sauce and Grand Marnier (�4.50) which came with Grand Marnier in a separate dish so I could decide how much I wanted. A good light dessert for lunchtime.
Our experienceOverall, Buon Amici proved a pleasant location to enjoy a business lunch. The food was very tasty, well cooked and presented beautifully. The d�cor feels a little old-fashioned in places but gives the restaurant Italian charm.The cost of a two-course lunch for two was �44.40 including two glasses of house white wine and a bottle of sparkling water. Service is not included