The country of Hertfordshire has a fantastic range of restaurants, from tandoori in Hemel Hempstead to gastropubs in Harpenden. There’s a wide variety of choice, in terms of value for money, standards of excellence and, of course, the quality of the service and deliciousness of the food. Whether you’re looking for a casual but cool Italian meal for a weekend dinner, or a Michelin starred lunch for a special occasion, you’ll find a venue for everything at one of the best restaurants in Hertfordshire listed below.
1. The Fox and Hounds Pub and Dining Room – Hunsdon (http://www.foxandhounds-hunsdon.co.uk)
The Fox and Hounds is a country gastropub with a mouthwatering menu and an excellent range of wines and beers. With mentions in both the Michelin Good Food Guide and the AA Good Food Guide, chef James Rix has built a stellar reputation on the basis of great food and comfortable, country club style dining. Dishes such as sauté of rabbit, fennel, chorizo, potatoes and thyme (£13.95) ensure the Fox and Hounds retains its traditional country feel, and there is also an impressive range of steaks on offer.
2. Terranova – Welwyn Garden City (http://www.terranovarestaurants.com)
With a crisp and simple ambiance and a menu of classic and modern Italian dishes, the Terranova restaurant is a popular choice with the locals in Welwyn Garden City. This fine Italian establishment offers the full range of pasta, pizza and antipasti, as well as meat, fish and poultry dishes cooked in a Mediterranean style. Try the Sicilian style baked aubergines (£5.95), followed by the veal scalopines sautéed in cream, sherry and mushroom sauce (£11.95) and finish with a deeply flavoured espresso.
3. The Wernher Restaurant at The Luton Hoo – Luton (http://www.lutonhoo.co.uk/luton-restaurants)
With 2 AA Rosettes and all the grandeur of an 18th Century manor house, The Wernher is a classically elegant choice for fine dining. Expect huge crystal chandeliers, starched white tablecloths, marble lined walls, fabulous views out over the gardens and a menu inspired by British, seasonal produce. Try the soft shell crab, chicory and radish salad with ginger beurre noisette to start, followed by grilled Dover sole for £47.50 (3 courses £52.50). Luton Hoo is also one of the best hotels in Hertfordshire, well worth extending your dining experience overnight!
4. The Bangkok Lounge – Harpenden (http://www.bangkoklounge.com)
This unassuming Thai restaurant was the winner of St Albans District best restaurant award in 2009 and continues to attract fans of delicately balanced, fragrant Thai food. The menu here is huge and varied, with everything from hot and sour soup with chicken and mushroom (£5.50) to mixed seafood salad with a spicy lime sauce (£10.50). The Bangkok House also does set menus for around £19 per person with a mix of starters and mains.
5. The Stables at The Grove – Chandler’s Cross (http://www.thegrove.co.uk/food/the_stables.aspx)
Located in an original stable block, this restaurant is one of several on The Grove estate and has a clean, bright feel with modern furnishings and a rustic New England design. Dine on delicious warm English asparagus, hollandaise and pea shoots (£8.70) to start with and then choose from a selection of British style mains including Dorset sea trout, marsh samphire and butter sauce (£18.80).
6. Tewin Bury Farm Restaurant – Welwyn (http://www.tewinbury.co.uk/restaurant)
The food at the Tewin Bury Farm restaurant takes inspiration from British dishes, with a Mediterranean twist. The restaurant has earned 2 AA Rosettes for its efforts that include warming winter roasts, festive dinners and light summer lunches. The warm and airy dining room provides the perfect setting for a low key but sophisticated meal and private dining is also available. Try the chef’s signature dish of scallop parfait, seared scallops with peas, pancetta and pea velouté with a crisp glass of white.
7. Nolita – Hatfield (http://www.nolitarestaurant.co.uk/)
Noilta is the sister restaurant of Bar Italia and Little Italy in Soho and as such it has quite a pedigree for turning out mouthwatering dishes of modern Italian food. There is delicious antipasti, such as deep fried squid and courgettes with home made tartare sauce (£12.50) and buffalo mozzarella with sun dried tomato and basil marmalade (£11.50), as well as mains of meat and fish, such as char grilled calf’s liver with crispy pancetta and caramelized onions (£25). After dinner, head to Nolita’s cocktail lounge for a martini or 2 to finish the night in style.
8. Restaurant 65 – Hemel Hempstead (http://www.restaurant65.com)
Modern British cuisine is the order of the day at this conveniently located restaurant in the heart of Hemel Hempstead. With recommendations from the Michelin guide since 2008 and from the Good Food Guide since 2010, Restaurant 65’s reputation has certainly travelled far and wide. The restaurant offers 2 courses for £21.95 and 3 courses for £26.95, with options such as oak smoked salmon or pressed ham hock to start with and fillet of hake or belly of pork to follow.
9. The Oak at Pendley Manor – Tring (http://www.pendley-manor.co.uk)
Located in the Pendley Manor hotel, which is set in 35 acres of beautiful parkland, The Oak is a scenic spot for afternoon tea or some serious fine dining. The restaurant has won 2 AA Rosettes for its contemporary, innovative dishes using only the freshest of ingredients and offers a 3-course menu from £25.50 with dishes including cauliflower soup with white truffle oil and seared seabass.
10. The Auberge Du Lac – Welwyn (http://www.aubergedulac.co.uk)
With a fabulous location in the parklands of Brocket Hall, the Auberge du Lac is a former hunting lodge with a romantic location next to the estate lake. Executive chef Phil Thompson overseas the menu of fine cuisine and the restaurant won a Michelin star in 2009. Dishes here are seasonal and British and include roast rump of English rose veal, braised shin, cep and butternut and roast Yorkshire grouse. The Auberge offers a 3-course ‘menu a la carte’ for £60.
There are many dining establishments vying for the crown of the best restaurants in Hertfordshire but these are undoubtedly head and shoulders above the rest. With the number of excellent restaurants in the county, the only way to really decide which one is your favourite is to gradually work your way through the list!