I love the fact that I live in Watford as I have easy access to London if I want to go out for dinner but also to loads of surrounding areas which are just a short drive away. St Alban’s is an area I’ve spent a good chunk of time in over the year’s and I think it’s such a nice area full of plenty of independent restaurants as well as the chain’s you’ll find in most cities.
The Great Northern Pub is a fantastic example of an independent eatery which you won’t find anywhere else, located just a few minutes from St Albans mainline station it is in a prime location whether you’re London or Hertfordshire based. Sadly there’s no parking for the restaurant but it’s 2 minute’s from a car park which is free to use in the evenings so win-win.
We arrived for a 7 pm booking which is when the a la carte menu begins and the first thing we noticed was how small and cosy the pub was with a separate restaurant area off from the bar with just a handful of tables. Every single table had been booked which is a testament to the restaurant and of course, the food.
One thing that I quite liked about the set up was that there was no online menu beforehand as this changes all the time depending on what fresh, locally sourced ingredients are available although there’s always a vegetarian option present. The Head Chef in the restaurant is Harry Lumsdon who won Young Masterchef of the Year in 2016 which got me quite excited about the evening’s food choices.
After sitting down we decided to start with two Gin and Tonic’s and I was pretty impressed at the vast choice of Gin’s (about six from what I remember) which for a smallish pub is good going. We started with Beef Brisket which was cooked to absolute perfect pretty much melting in my mouth as soon as it entered.
For main’s we decided to go for Cheese Burger’s because when done well a burger can be an incredible meal and I wasn’t wrong. The chips were super chunky and while it didn’t look like there were many it was a perfect amount and crispy throughout, something which is quite hard to do with chunky chips. The burger itself was so tender and well seasoned with the cheese really gooey, this definitely wasn’t your run of the mill American Slice.
The only thing which I wasn’t as keen on was the lack of choice in dessert as with the starters and mains there was a choice of three things but dessert was a ‘one size fits all’ so we ended up with Honey and Amaretto Mousse. Although the dessert itself was refreshing with a lovely sweet taste it wasn’t what I’d have gone for with a choice, especially considering we’d seen a menu which showed two other options. But I guess that’s the difference between having the Set Menu which we had or ordering directly from the menu so it’s only a minor thing.
Throughout our meal the staff were so attentive so you never waited around for anything, I think that’s one of the nice things about a bit more of an intimate setting as the staff can really be there for you. Alongside various nominations, the restaurant recently won ‘Most Improved Pub’ in 2016 from South Herts CAMRA and ‘Best Restaurant for Everyday Dining’ in 2017 from the St Albans Food and Drinks Awards and it’s easy to see why.
Considering the quality of the food the two course set menu was only £15, with the three course menu sitting at £18 which for the incredible quality of the food is amazing value. I’ll pay about £15 in a generic burger restaurant for a burger and chips alone which wouldn’t be a fraction as good as the Great Northern’s Pubs.