20 of the best restaurants in Hertfordshire
- Credit: Chris Tubbs
From Italian-style bistros to modern Turkish eateries and classic British spots, Hertfordshire has a plethora of innovative restaurants. Here, Herts Life picks 20 of the best places to eat in the county
Words: Victoria Purcell & Samuel Matthewson
1. The Greyhound, Tring
Visit The Greyhound in the village of Wigginton for pub classics and daily specials that reflect a diverse selection of seasonally available ingredients. With a pleasant beer garden in the back, this is also a popular spot for a Sunday roast to be enjoyed al fresco with a pint of beer. There is a children’s menu, plenty of gluten free options and tempting desserts too. Booking is advised as there are limited tables available during busy times.
Chesham Road, Wigginton, Tring HP23 6EH; greyhoundtring.co.uk
2. THOMPSON, St Albans
Winner of Restaurant of the Year and Chef of the Year at the 2016 Hertfordshire Life Food & Drink Awards, THOMPSON in St Albans is an exceptional fine dining restaurant with three AA Rosettes. THOMPSON offers an a la carte menu, a fixed price lunch and evening menu, plus a tasting menu, all of which reflect the changing seasons' bounties. Expect tempting creations such as starters of smoked pork jowl, mains including loin of lamb with aubergine with smoked lamb’s heart gnocchi and desserts such as the Granny Smith apple parfait with honey ice cream.
2-8 Hatfield Road, St Albans AL1 3RP; thompsonstalbans.co.uk
3. Lussmanns, various locations
With many accolades and high praise in the press, Lussmanns is a fish and grill restaurant with five locations across the county. A modern menu of fresh, responsibly sourced fish and meat (and a couple of vegetarian options) changes with the seasons to reflect the best of British produce. Keeping a strong relationship with trusted suppliers is an important part of the ethics at Lussmanns.
Hitchin, Hertford, Harpenden, St Albans & Tring; lussmanns.com
4. St James Restaurant, Bushey
St James is a modern British restaurant with some European-inspired dishes, located in the town of Bushey. Customers praise the good service, friendly staff and not forgetting, the creative menu of simple, elegant food. Expect starters such as mackerel fillet with grapefruit and fennel salad; mains of calves liver with creamy mash, crispy bacon, red onion jam and a red wine jus; and desserts including homemade tiramisu with a zabaglione ice cream. Vegetarians will also be well looked after with equally enticing options.
30 High Street, Bushey WD23 3HL; stjamesbushey.co.uk
5. Los Reyes, Hitchin
Spanish tapas restaurant Los Reyes in Hitchin combines locally sourced ingredients with real Spanish ingredients to create its tapas selection. The substantial wine list is made of exclusively Spanish wines to perfectly complement a table full of tapas. Order from an extensive selection of small dishes including king prawns with garlic butter, pork and beef meatballs with an almond and pepper sauce and three Spanish cheese fondue.
16 Bucklersbury, Hitchin SG5 1BB; losreyes.co.uk
6. Tabure, various locations
Stylish Turkish restaurant Tabure, meaning footstool in Turkish, is the brainchild of husband-and-wife team Hulya and Mark. Having travelled around Turkey collecting inspiration for recipes, the couple opened their restaurant in St Albans, followed by venues in Berkhamsted and Harpenden. Expect fragranced creations perfect for sharing, including steak shish, miso-marinated sea bass and changing specials too. There is a brunch menu for the weekends too.
St Albans, Berkhamsted & Harpenden; tabure.co.uk
7. Sopwell House, St Albans
Previously a Georgian manor house, Sopwell House is now a luxurious 128-room hotel and spa with restaurants, all set in stunning Hertfordshire countryside. The main restaurant has two 2 AA Rosettes, and you can also opt to dine in The Brasserie, with its vibrant open-plan kitchen, or opt for the Conservatory bar menu. You can even enjoy afternoon tea on the terrace or front lawn. Sopwell House also has a spa, so why not treat yourself to a day of pampering?
Cottonmill Lane, St Albans AL1 2HQ; sopwellhouse.co.uk
8. Dylans at The Kings Arms, St Albans
Decorated in a homely style with quirky touches, Dylans at the Kings Arms in St Albans fuses fine food with the laid back appeal of a pub. A penchant for craft beer sees daily changing guest ales and plenty of firm real ale favourites – perfect to accompany your meal. Dylans won the Restaurant of the Year in the 2017 Hertfordshire Life Food & Drink Awards, for its 'local, seasonal menus and fabulous selection of craft beers and fine wines'. Chef Drew Knight also scooped the 2018 award for Chef of the Year.
7 George Street, St Albans AL3 4ER; dylanskingsarms.com
9. Kazoku, Hitchin
Something of a 'hidden gem', according to customers, Kazoku in Hitchin is 'an authentic Japanese restaurant tucked away with an unassuming shop front'. Kazoku, meaning family, offers plenty of Japanese delicacies including a selection of tempura with the choice of fried oysters, prawns, sweet potato and more. Expect sushi, katsu curries with pork, chicken, prawn or salmon, or donburi, large bowls of rice with your choice of topping that includes steak, salmon and grilled eel. Popular in Japanese izakayas (pub-like taverns), there are also grilled skewers such as yakitori (marinated chicken), or enoki beef (beef with mushrooms).
36 Bancroft, Hitchin SG5 1LA; facebook.com/kazoku.hitchin
10. The Tilbury, Datchworth
The Tilbury Pub & Dining Rooms is owned and run by Tom and James Bainbridge, two brothers who took on this venture to bring great British food in a relaxed pub environment. We love the sound of the lamb and chorizo hot pot with Padron peppers, chorizo and red pepper sauce or the Tilbury bacon cheese burger with fries, coleslaw and pickles from the pub mains menu.
Watton Road, Datchworth SG3 6TB; thetilbury.co.uk
11. The Waggoners, Welwyn
Straightforward but expertly prepared food awaits diners at The Waggoners. Nestled in the pretty village of Ayot Green, this is a country pub with historical charm, dating back over 400 years. For an indulgent experience, try the five-course tasting menu. We can highly recommend the Scottish mussels in white wine cream sauce or striploin of beef with stuffed Portobello mushroom, French fries and green peppercorn sauce.
Brickwall Close, Ayot Green, Welwyn AL6 9AA; thewaggoners.co.uk
12. Dining at The Grove, Watford
The Grove, a luxury hotel on a 300 acre estate with a golfing range, spa and three restaurants, has just undergone a substantial makeover and offers multiple dining options. The Grove’s signature restaurant, The Glasshouse, has been entirely reimagined with plush velvets and rich leathers to enhance the theatrical gourmet dining experience. The Grove’s much-loved Lounges have been revamped as three unique but cohesive spaces for cocktails or afternoon tea. The Grove’s Stables restaurant has also received a complete refresh, with warm tan leather seating and equine artwork as a nod to the late George Stubbs.
Chandler’s Cross, Watford WD3 4TG; thegrove.co.uk
13. Zaza, various locations
With four locations in Hertfordshire, Italian restaurant franchise Zaza focuses on authentically-prepared Italian cuisine made with fresh ingredients from sustainable producers. Each of the four restaurants has unique features but retain the philosophy of fresh, delicious food, friendly service and a good relationship with suppliers. Expect mains of traditional spaghetti carbonara with smoked pancetta, egg, parmesan and cream or a Mediterranean vegetable risotto made with roasted veg, in a tomato sauce with a hint of spice.
Berkhamsted, Rickmansworth, Harpenden & Bushey; zaza.co.uk
14. Lake Restaurant at St Michael’s Manor Hotel, St Albans
St Michael’s Manor Hotel in the centre of St Albans is a peaceful oasis in the city. Its multi-award winning Lake Restaurant is named for its views over the lake from the bright and airy orangery-style dining room. The restaurant is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and serves a great two or three-course Sunday lunch. Otherwise try a bar snack or one of the hotel's famous afternoon teas in the lounge.
Fishpool Street, St Albans AL3 4RY; stmichaelsmanor.com
15. The Gatsby, Berkhamsted
Find the glitz and glamour of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel at The Gatsby bar and restaurant in Berkhamsted. Located in a refurbished 1930s cinema, this art deco delight serves delicious modern European dishes that gained it a place in the 2017 Michelin Guide, accompanied by piano music playing. Try the roast supreme of chicken, guinea fowl and root vegetable pie or herb crusted rump of lamb. The lunch menu doubles as a pre-cinema two- or three-course feast and includes a glass of wine or half of beer.
97 High Street, Berkhamsted HP4 2DG; thegatsby.net
16. The Cowshed at Tewin Bury Farm Hotel, Welwyn
Elegant and imaginative food is created at the Cowshed at Tewin Bury Farm Hotel. Nestled in idyllic Hertfordshire countryside, this repurposed farm is a tranquil spot for some fine dining. The dishes change with the seasons, but you can expect starters such as a crayfish and avocado tortellini in a langoustine bisque and mains of pork belly with pork rillette and mashed potatoes with an apple jus. The Cowshed is also home to the hotel's critically acclaimed afternoon tea. There's also a new outdoor terrace.
Tewin Bury Farm Hotel, Hertford Road, nr Welwyn AL6 0JB; tewinbury.co.uk
17. The Verulam Arms, St Albans
The Verulam Arms serves good quality pub food like burgers, fish and chips and rib-eye steak, all elevated to restaurant quality in terms in ingredients, embellishments and presentation. Think steak with white pudding and Tenderstem broccoli, pan-fried calamari with Thai spices, sesame seeds and mango puree, and pan-fried seabass with potato croquettes, pak choi, samphire and creamy prawn, capers and parsley sauce. There's also a lovely festoon-lit beer garden to the rear.
41 Lower Dagnall Street, St Albans AL3 4QE; verulamarms.co.uk
18. Crockers Chef’s Table, Tring
Gather around the chef’s table at Crockers and see food prepared in front of your eyes. Head chef Scott Barnard, a finalist in Master Chef, creates a new menu every month to reflect great seasonal produce and crafts inventive dishes such as piglet belly with braised cheek, fennel, carrot and a spiced pig sauce. Choose from a three-course or seven-course tasting menu, or a daily changing vegetarian menu.
74 High Street, Tring HP23 4AF; crockersuk.com
19. Auberge du Lac, Hatfield
Beautifully peaceful views over the lake at Brocket Hall’s estate await diners at its former hunting lodge, the Auberge du Lac restaurant. Fine dining can be enjoyed al fresco, or in the sympathetically decorated dining room, both with views over the lake. Indulge in a three-course dinner with starters of ham hock and chicken terrine, mains including saddle back pork fillet with pancetta and a hazelnut praline parfait to finish.
Brocket Hall, Marford Road, Hatfield, Welwyn AL8 7XG; brocket-hall.co.uk/auberge-du-lac
20. The Elephant & Castle, Amwell
This lovely 18th century pub in leafy Amwell has oodles of character and truly picturesque views. The pub has a huge amount of space across its two beer gardens, with a wild flower area, kids play area and a heated giant Tipi to the front. The food is locally sourced and the menu features fine food such as pan-fried loin of cod on crushed new potatoes with sauteed spinach and a white wine caviar velouté, The Ele Beef Wellington with fondant potato and sautéed kale in a red wine jus, and a spring arborio risotto with broccoli, sundried tomatoes, peas and Parmesan crisp.
Amwell Lane, Wheathampstead AL4 8EA; theelephantandcastle.co.uk
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