Herts best food and drink recommendations May 2022

Pan-Asian dining at Omboo, Sopwell House, St Albans

Pan-Asian dining at Omboo, Sopwell House, St Albans - Credit: Luke Albert Photography

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

Omboo at Sopwell

'Serving up mouthfuls of fragrant pan-Asian flavours,' a new restaurant concept at Sopwell House is a fresh and bold move for the four-star Georgian country mansion on the edge of St Albans.  

Served in an opulent and exotic reimagining of the former fine dining restaurant, Omboo offers a selection of small plates and sharing platters delivered to tables fresh from the kitchen. With no starters or mains, the service philosophy is 'simply when ready'. The driving idea is for diners to come and experience different flavour combinations. 

A cocktail and beverage list has been curated to complement the chefs' creations 'without getting lost in the punchy flavours that run throughout the menu,' says Sopwell House head of marketing David Pettit. 

He adds: 'Omboo is the place to go when you want to try something a little different, when dining out requires more than just a meal, when it involves new flavours, new experiences, laughter and a cup of sake shared with good friends. So sit back and relax, we’ll keep the drinks flowing and the plates coming.'

The opening date has yet to be finalised but we are told it will be very soon. 

JOMO non-alcoholic cocktail subscription service 

JOMO Club non-alcoholic cocktail subscription service - Credit: JOMO Club

JOMO award 

Just seven months after launching in lockdown, Hitchin-based non-booze alternative cocktail subscription service JOMO (Joy Of Missing Out) Club has landed a major accolade, collecting bronze in the Best New Business of Year category at the 2022 Business Champion Awards.

Its mission is to normalise not drinking and make non-alcoholic drinks high in flavour and quality. Delighted founder Gemma Mills says: ‘We have seen significant growth towards mindful drinking and sober curiosity and are looking forward to driving that movement.’ 

Whiskey galore in St Albans

The world’s finest whisky producers are coming to St Albans for the second annual Summerton Whisky Festival.

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Held at Lower Red Lion on Fishpool Street on Saturday May 28, ‘it’s an ideal environment for whisky exploration for both enthusiasts and those new to this diverse world,’ says Summerton Whisky Club founder Daniel Humphrey.

A food menu paired with many of the whiskeys, masterclass tasting and unlimited samples are on offer at both an afternoon and evening session.
Tickets: £39.50, summertonclub.com/summerton-whisky-festival

Long table feasts 

Open air dinners by visiting guest chefs served at a long table against a backdrop of woods and countryside are part of this year’s At Home Farm summer festival opening this month  on the Aldenham Estate.

The Long Table Feasts are organised by Woodfired Canteen each day from May 8-12. The first is hosted by Sam and Samantha Clark, founders of London's Moro Restaurant. Others include Ivan Tisdall-Downes and Imogen Davis, founders of sustainable food restaurant Native at Brown’s Hotel, and Stevie Parle of Marylebone’s Anglo-Italian outlet Joy.  

Ashridge Sundays

Majestic Ashridge House near Berkhamsted is taking bookings for Sunday lunch after the refurbishment of one of its grand rooms. The menu at the new Acres restaurant has been curated by executive head chef Paul Patterson and 'reflects the rich history of Ashridge House with dishes inspired by locally grown heritage foods, served up with a modern flourish'. Dishes include snow crab and crevette cocktail, honey baked ham with cider apples, and bitter chocolate and praline truffle tart. 

Letchworth Food Festival

Letchworth Food Festival - Credit: Sharon Struckam

Food & drink festival 

With live cooking demos by celeb chefs and more than 70 stalls offering everything from world cuisine to local brews, Letchworth's annual celebration of food and drink is back on May 26-27. Taking place in the town centre from 10am-4pm each day, there will also be street entertainment, theatre performances and children's activities.  

Pubs relaunched

The latest Herts pub refurb showed its new colours in April with the reopening of The Chequers at Woolmer Green by Bedford brewer Wells & Co. The new look includes a newly configured dining space and bar area plus a new and extensive outdoor eating area. It comes close behind a similar project at Greene King’s historic Baldock pub the George IV where customers also have extended outdoor seating for 200, a revitalised bar area and new menu. 

Al fresco at Down Hall 

A new 120-cover al fresco dining terrace is set to open this month at Down Hall country house hotel at Hatfield Heath as part of a continuing £2.8m investment in the property. 

The terrace is an extension of the hotel’s Garden Room restaurant which was refurbished last year and is headed up by executive chef Graham Noonan-Chatham. Other elements include a one-acre kitchen garden and apple tree orchard and a new landscaped wedding garden. 

Ask for Clive

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

This year's event will be on Friday May 27, with partners encouraged to keep flags and bunting up throughout Pride Month in June. Backers this year include Herts based Farr Brew and Oakman Inns.