The Lamb Berkhamsted: 'A premium pub with fine-dining and contemporary drinks'
- Credit: Brian Arnopp
One of Berkhamsted's oldest inns, The Lamb is serving contemporary dishes and its inventive menu is proving a hit.
For anyone whose experience of ketchup is limited to the tomato variety, a visit to The Lamb in Berkhamsted is educational.
Reborn as a gastropub just ahead of Covid and having survived lockdowns and other restrictions, it has proved an early success story for the team in charge.
With head chef Richard Leskovsky masterminding a noticeably inventive menu, they are business owner Alex Legret, partner and head mixologist Daniel Twine and general manager Andy Povey.
Mushroom ketchup and pineapple ketchup are just the start. Other attention-grabbing accompaniments from Richard, who featured in Hertfordshire Life’s Chef’s Special feature in December, include pickled fennel, crispy sage, celeriac rémoulade and rhubarb dust.
These and more are used to enhance starters like lamb croquettes, mains including guinea fowl and desserts such as chocolate bread and butter pudding, all offering something a little different from the norm.
As Richard, the son of a chef, told the magazine in December, ‘My style is contemporary dishes. Food trends are always changing and it’s best to be open-minded and try new ideas and techniques.’
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It’s an approach that seems to be working. Unusually for such a comparatively new venture, The Lamb, one of Berkhamsted's oldest inns and renovated in 2019 as what owner Alex describes as ‘a premium pub with fine dining and contemporary drinks’, has been voted No 1 of 43 restaurants and No 1 of 11 bars in Berkhamsted and No 3 of its kind in Herts by TripAdvisor.
The rating is based on 126 reviews to date, of which 117 voted excellent, two very good and five average. A distant two entered a rating of poor. Herts native Alex, originally from Radlett and in the hospitality business for 17 years, is chuffed.
With more than half his life spent front of house serving food and drink of all kinds all over the UK and abroad, the TripAdvisor rating is the thing he says he is most proud of. ‘I’m just trying to champion food in the area and focusing on high-quality customer service, that being the thing that matters most to me as a business owner,’ he adds. ‘I’m just raving about TripAdvisor.’
A friend recommended I try The Lamb, an idea reinforced by reading Richard’s menu on the website. It was a wet and wintry Thursday but the popularity of the place was evident, crowded and cheerful with both bar area and eating space well on the way to being fully booked.
Keen to try chef’s special flourishes, we chose as starters a surf-and-turf variation in the form of pork and prawn Scotch egg (£9) and tiger prawns Provençal (£9.50).
For an example of the kitchen’s expertise, look no further than the egg dish, the centrepiece looking like any other of its kind but topped with the Spanish spreadable spicy sausage known as Nduja and surrounded by Brussels sprouts, edamame beans and garlic aioli, all artistically presented inside a ring of smooth and sweet house hummus.
The fleshy prawns proved an equal treat served in the aromatic tomato-based and herby Provençal sauce with added pickled fennel, coriander and focaccia.
Among the mains, more French influence surfaced with the hake (£21), a top ten fish for enthusiasts, presented here in cassoulet style with fluffy cannellini beans and tomato plus chorizo, green salsa, pickled fennel and, again, focaccia.
Across the table, guinea fowl (£19.50), sweeter and slightly gamier than chicken and served with confit potatoes, mushroom ketchup, house jus and sage oil, proved an equally rewarding choice, with a side dish of French green beans (£4.50) enhanced with crispy shallots and lemon vinaigrette.
Pear and raspberry crumble (£7) won the battle of the desserts against stiff competition from a chocolate bread and butter pudding, thanks to its accompaniments of vanilla ice cream, almonds and raspberry dust. It came complete with an authentic and generous chunky topping and a sprinkle of purple flower petals on the ice cream – a nice touch.
Also tempting was a Neal’s Yard cheese board (£15) featuring Stichelton blue, Cornish yarg and Dorstone, served with spiced pear and plum chutney, pickled celery, grapes, crackers and focaccia. One to bear in mind for next time, highly likely given this first experience.
Dinner for two at The Lamb cost £77.55 including service. This is an independent review featuring a restaurant chosen by our food and drink editor. The restaurant was not told it was being reviewed.
Address: 277 High Street, Berkhamsted HP4 1AJ
Phone: 03309 127522