Restaurant review: The Tudors at The White Hart Hotel (St Albans)


As promised here is a review of The Tudors where the boy and I went for our pre-fireworks meal.

As mentioned in my previous post we decided on the restaurant online so that we could book a table in advance, expecting the restaurants of St Albans to be very busy considering the fireworks. However, when we arrived we were slightly surprised to see only two other couples in the room. It was a quaint, nicely decorated, softly-lit restaurant with some slightly tacky Halloween decorations dotted around. We were showed to our seats and started browsing the menu.

First impressions of the menu were that it was full of delicious-sounding dishes that we struggled to choose between! After much deliberation I went for the Scottish salmon and haddock fish cake with a soft poached egg, rocket salad, warm pea puree and carrot oil whilst the boy chose pan-seared king scallops with aubergine caviar, cauliflower puree and watercress salad. For my main I chose the corn fed chicken supreme, puy lentils with smoked bacon and jus. Unsurprisingly my pork-loving boy couldn’t resist the slow cooked pork belly with streaky bacon-wrapped pork mince, savoy cabbage and scrumpy jus. To drink it had to be a bottle of rosé – the 2010 Chateau d’Astros Rosé Cotes de Provence.

The wine came soon after ordering and was kept chilled by our own wine bucket. The wine was very nice and had a great flavour, we had to stop ourselves from guzzling it down too quickly! Even more so as we unfortunately had to wait over half an hour for our starters. Considering there were still only two other couples in the restaurant and one of these were eating dessert, I found the wait a little disappointing.

When the starters arrived they were presented quite well. Apologies for the poor photos – it was pretty dim in there and I didn’t want to blind everyone with a flash! My egg was perfectly poached and my rocket salad was well-dressed however thats where the positives end. The egg and the puree (despite being specified as “warm” on the menu) were barely lukewarm and until writing this review and looking at the menu again, I’d forgotten the oil was meant to be a carrot one as there wasn’t the slightest hint of carrotyness. And then for the fish cake – I’d say it was at least 80-90% potato. I prefer my fish cakes to have at least some texture of fish to them – all this had was flecks of salmon pureed amongst the potato and no haddock in sight. As for the boy’s starter he seemed to quite enjoy it, although we both agreed that at £8.95, the most expensive starter on the menu, we’d expected more than two measly scallops – especially as aubergine, cauliflower and watercress aren’t exactly expensive ingredients.


Salmon and haddock fish cake, poached egg, rocket salad and carrot oil


Scallops with aubergine caviar, cauliflower puree and watercress salad

The wait for our mains was slightly more acceptable at around 20 minutes. I liked the look of my chicken and lentils and couldn’t wait to tuck in. However after one mouthful of the lentils blew my head off, I didn’t know if I could go on eating it. Unfortunately it seemed as though the chef had inadvertently included some rather large chunks of chilli amongst the lentils. Also, it appeared that the chilli was the only heat in the dish – it was barely warm when I started so by the time I was eating my last few mouthfuls it was stone cold. The chicken was well cooked though and was nice and moist, with a good flavour to it.

The boy adored his porky main and gave me a few bits of it. The pork mince wrapped in bacon was delicious and I could have eaten a whole plate of just that! He loved the slow cooked pork belly but all I could taste was the slimy fat sitting on top of the meat. I just wish they’d finished it off under a grill just to crisp up the surface to make it a bit more palatable.


Chicken supreme with lentils and bacon. Note the chilli in the top right – I didn’t!


Slow-cooked pork belly, bacon-wrapped pork mince and cabbage

By the time we’d finished eating our mains there wasn’t time for dessert before we had to head off the fireworks. Not that anything on the menu particularly inspired me! The service throughout was friendly and relatively efficient. The bill came to around £75 for two starters, two mains and one bottle of wine, plus the 12.5% service charge.

Overall the meal with nice (despite some rather major flaws) but quite overpriced for the food that was delivered. I don’t think I would recommend this restaurant until they are able to go back to basics and improve the execution of their dishes, or change their prices accordingly. It’s a shame the food didn’t taste as good as the menu made it sound as they have some really delicious dishes on there, I just hope they can sort themselves out before it’s too late – having only 6 covers on a potentially very very busy night isn’t a good sign.


A Perfect Weekend


The title sums it up exactly: this has been a perfect weekend.

It began after I arrived home after finishing an hour late at work and then getting stuck in traffic on the drive back, to find the boy waiting for me with a selection of cheese, crackers, chutneys and bottle of wine. He then pulled out two new cookbooks for me too! I’m a very lucky girl🙂

He's a keeper!!

He’s a keeper!!


We didn’t have any room for the cheese and biscuits after our dinner of leftover coq au vin but they made a perfect brunch on Saturday (along with some toasted buttered crumpets), and lunch on Sunday with some still left for me to nibble on during the week! I can definitely recommend the Pinot Grigio Rose (that interestingly looked more like white wine!) – it had a nice delicate taste and was very drinkable, and I’m afraid I can comment no further as I know nothing about wine!

On Saturday we were at a bit of a loss about how to spend the day. I’d suggested wandering around St Albans so we had a look on the info website and I spotted an advert for their annual fireworks display that happened to be that night. As fireworks are my favourite thing in the world this pretty much made the decision for us!

So we hopped on a train to St Albans and had a wander around the market and some of my favourite shops I persuaded the boy to let me go in! I managed to find some pretty new dresses and a blouse for work which is handy as I’m always on the lookout for new work clothes.

A bit later on we headed to the restaurant that we’d picked online before we’d left. I’m not a big fan of choosing restaurants online but as the firework display was happening we expected it to be pretty busy in St Albans! We chose a restaurant called Tudors Restaurant in The White Hart Hotel – I’ll do a proper review of it in a separate post so for now all I’ll say is that it filled our bellies well!

By the time we’d finished eating it was perfect timing to head to the grounds of the cathedral for the fireworks display. I’d been lured into a false sense of security with the weather when leaving home as it was so warm and sunny. However by the time the sun went down it was much less so and I started to get a bit chilly! But as soon as the fireworks started I forgot about being cold and just admired them – I was grinning ear to ear, they really make me so happy!

IMG_2388 IMG_2395

On Sunday after a lovely much-needed lie-in we scoured my many cookery books and decided what to cook. After much deliberation we chose chicken with chestnut and garlic stuffing from my Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course book. The only (minor) issue with choosing this recipe was that it required a deboned chicken. Neither the boy nor I had ever even considered deboning a chicken before. However after watching a few youtube videos, we figured we should give it a go. It turned out to be quite fiddly but not impossible, although I nearly did lose a finger in the process! In fact it was more difficult trying to roll and tie the joint without losing all of the stuffing out of the ends. It probably didn’t help that we just had run-of-the-mill string as my local tesco doesn’t sell butcher’s string!

Not the neatest of debonings but once it was stuffed and rolled, no one could tell!

Not the neatest of debonings but once it was stuffed and rolled, no one could tell!


A bit of stuffing, rolling, rustic tying, drizzle of olive oil and some seasoning and it’s oven-ready!


The finished article.

We had the chicken with the parsley dressing that’s also in the recipe plus some rosemary and garlic roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings, pigs in blankets and brussel sprouts with smoky bacon. If I made this again I think I’d leave out the parsley dressing and have gravy instead – it was definitely missing some luscious thick gravy to soak into everything.

If anyone wants the recipe it’s available online here:

I have a LOT of leftovers, some of which have been packed up for lunch tomorrow to make all of my colleagues jealous. I’ve also got a good amount of stock that I made from the bones, which will sit nicely in the freezer until I decide what to do with it.

It’s gone 11pm and I should probably be heading off to sleep now. Tomorrow is going to be a longgg stressful day. On Friday we discharged over 1/3 of our relatively large ward, which is always a recipe for disaster as we’ll spend Monday getting to know all of the new patients. And as if that wasn’t enough tomorrow evening we’re having our crazy landlord come round for an inspection. Unfortunately our hoover decided to give up the ghost during our last minute power clean this evening so the house will be far from perfect but I’m sure even if it was pristine the landlord would find something wrong with it.

The only positive spin I can put on it is that, after tomorrow, I’ll only have to work Tuesday and then I have two whole days of annual leave! I booked them off specially as it’s November the 5th so I can travel to stay with the boy and his family and see some more fireworks!!

Farewell for now,


Finally some time for cooking!


So for my day off I’d planned to spend it doing a reasonable amount of cooking. However, by the time I’d watched a deliciously cheesy film with my housemate and fought the traffic to get to the supermarket and back, I’d run out of time. Especially as I’d chosen quite a labour-intensive meal to cook for dinner: coq au vin. Stupidly I didn’t read the recipe properly so didn’t note the “marinate for several hours; ideally overnight” line in advance. My chicken got a grand total of about half an hour i.e. the time it took me to peel a bag of shallots. If anyone knows of a speedy way to peel those little buggers then please tell me!! Despite the meagre amount of chicken marinating time the finished article actually turned out pretty tasty, AND as it’s another Hairy Dieters recipe, it was pretty trim on calories too – bonus!


All ready to be simmered! Think I need a bigger pot…

All ready to munch

Ready to munch

It's a little on the saucy side! Perfect with some nice bread to mop it all up

It’s a little on the saucy side! Perfect with some nice bread to mop it all up

Packaged up to keep me going for the week!

Packaged up to keep me going for the week!

One of the other recipes I’d planned to make on Monday was an aubergine tagine with bulgur wheat pilaf to last me for a couple of lunches. As I ran out of time I made it on Tuesday instead, with some slight adjustment of the recipe as I’m not a fan of fruit in savoury meals…so I essentially made it not a tagine! I love having a yummy lunch to look forward to when I’m having a busy morning, or even if I’m not! I had been running out of lunch ideas recently so I invested in a cookbook I’d read about in my Good Food magazine: Liven Up Your Lunchbox by James Ramsden. This is another book I can definitely recommend – it’s got a great variety of recipes from novel sandwich ideas to ones using Sunday roast leftovers to noodles with flavour “shot pots” that just require pouring over boiling water and dinner ideas that can be turned into a delicious lunch for the next day. I’ve also cooked the sweet potato and lentil curry from the book so far and it was delicious!


The third recipe I’d decided on for Monday was some ginger biscuits (also from the new Hairy Dieters book – are you seeing I’m a bit of a creature of habit yet?!) but they’re still waiting patiently to be made…

Tonight I made one of my favourite meals – pasta with anything and everything I have chucked in. Tonight I needed to use the half can of chopped tomatoes I had leftover from the tagine, so I simmered that down with some red wine I had for the coq au vin (the only reason there’s spare wine is because I’m a white wine drinker, otherwise it’d have been guzzled up long before today), added some frozen prawns and edamame beans from the freezer, chopped red pepper, fresh thyme (also from the coq) and a load of dried herbs too – and voila I had myself a yummy pasta dish! I topped it with some red leicester (yes I know cheese and seafood aren’t meant to go but this is why I could never be a chef!) and olive oil, and then had to pace myself so I didn’t hoover it up too quickly!

Mish mash worked out ok!

Mish mash worked out ok!

Only one more day at work until the weekend which I couldn’t be more glad about – this week feels like it’s gone on FOREVER despite me having Monday off. Maybe it’s because the boy is coming to visit and I’ll be able to just relax for 2 whole days. Tomorrow is going to be stressful though – Fridays are always busy plus we’re down two doctors on the ward so it will be manic but we’ll muddle through I’m sure! I hope everyone has a great weekend and happy halloween if that’s something you celebrate.


It’s the weekend!! Not for me :(


It’s been a while!

Unsurprisingly I’ve been horrendously busy at work this week, getting home late and just grabbing the closest food in sight. My usual time to be a bit creative is at weekends. Last weekend I travelled home to my parents’ house to stay with my sisters while my parents went away. Unfortunately my sisters are the fussiest beings known to man, eating only bland boring foods and shirking away from anything with flavour in it – not particularly conducive to rustling up a storm in the kitchen!

Tonight was the closest I came to encountering anything marginally exciting food-wise. The other day in Tesco I came across vacuum-packed pouches of mussels. I’ve been meaning to try these for ages as I love mussels and these particular ones were flavoured with tomato and chorizo – I’m never one to turn down a bit of chorizo! 7 minutes boiled in the bag and they’re ready – so so simple. I paired them with some spaghetti (would have gone for linguine if I’d had any!), added a dash of wine and drizzled over olive oil and then started munching! However, unlike using a lovely bread such as ciabatta or baguette to mop up the juices, I’m slightly ashamed I had to make do with sliced white bread… It served the same purpose though!



As I sit here writing this on a chilled Friday evening watching David Attenborough’s new TV programme (watch it!!) with a cup of peppermint tea, I wish I could tell you about all the exciting plans I have for this weekend. Alas, I’m going to be spending 13 hours both Saturday and Sunday in work run ragged. When I get home at around 10:30pm tomorrow it’ll take all my energy to get to bed, dinner probably won’t even happen. However I do have the day off on Monday – if I can resist the urge to sleep for the entire day I’ll be cooking something nice for dinner. So I’d better start scouring the blogs and cookbooks and decide what to make!


A food-packed day

A little grey but nonetheless iconic view of London as I got off the train

A little grey but nonetheless iconic view of London as I got off the train

After another sleepless night (thanks, body clock!) I headed into London as planned. We started off by going to Camden Market for a browse around the many many stalls. Being that it was a Sunday and a complete tourist trap it was absolutely rammed but it didn’t matter too much.


Once we’d worked up an appetite we headed to the food stalls. After a few circuits trying to decide what to have I plumped for an Argentinian steak sandwich with potato cubes and the boy went for a duck confit brioche roll. They were both delicious – my steak was cooked lovely and rare like I requested and the potatoes were perfectly crisp and herby. My only complaint would be that there wasn’t enough garlic mayo in the roll but then anyone that knows me knows I’m a total garlic fiend and there wouldn’t be enough unless it was spilling out of the sides! Not only was the squidgy brioche roll stuffed full of duck confit and duck skin crackling and mustard AND onion chutney, there was also a grilled slice of Applewood smoked cheddar to top it all off – my favourite!! Basically it was food heaven in a roll and it was all I could do not to steal it and eat it all.

Argentinian steak sandwich with herby potatoes

Argentinian steak sandwich with herby potatoes

A master at work!

A master at work!

The boy with his duck confit roll

The boy with his duck confit roll

Lunch overlooking the canal

Lunch overlooking the canal

We then jumped on a tube and headed down to Covent Garden for a wander. We had a look around the market there (are you sensing a theme?!), passed the time watching some street performers and saw the floating building… A quick google search informs me the reason for this was that it’s a piece of art by Alex Chinneck. I think it’s pretty cool!

A building made to look like it's floating...

A building made to look like it’s floating…

By this point it was time to head back to start cooking dinner so we hopped on a bus to take us back East. I couldn’t resist getting off at Tower Bridge on the way though to have a look at the sea of poppies around the tower!


For dinner we made Transylvanian meatballs, so-called for the sheer amount of garlic they contained! The recipe came from my new cookbook that arrived a couple of days ago after I preordered it as soon as it appeared on Amazon – the new Hairy Bikers diet book. I have both of their other two diet books and knew this third one wouldn’t disappoint, and so far it hasn’t! The recipes look great and I know from previous experience they taste great despite being so low in calories.

I thoroughly recommend this book!

I thoroughly recommend this book!

The meatballs were a perfect mix of beef, onion, pepper, breadcrumbs, paprika and natural yoghurt. We had them in flatbreads with some lettuce and, yep you’ve guessed it, a garlic sauce! They turned out really well and were super speedy to cook, requiring only 15 minutes in the oven.

The boy had also bought the ingredients for us to make salted caramel popcorn but sadly time ran out and before I knew it it was time to head home to get ready for work tomorrow. I’m back on my usual ward after 2 weeks away (due to a combination of life support training, annual leave and my night shifts) and if I’m honest, I’m dreading it. Recently some of the slightly more senior doctors changed around and the new ones, although being good doctors, just aren’t as fun to work with – they seem to be in work just to work. Mix that with me not knowing any of the patients having been off the ward for so long, plus the slowest consultant in the world doing a ward round, I’m in for a long, stressful day! At least I’ll have a great lunch of leftovers to look forward to all morning🙂

Farewell for now and keep your fingers crossed I get some sleep tonight!


The beginning…


Hello and welcome to anyone reading this!

As the name suggests I’d class myself as a bit of a foodie but nowadays this is somewhat held back by my insanely long work hours. I work as a doctor in a busy hospital in the South East and the last thing I feel like doing when I get home is cooking anything elaborate, if anything at all. Throw into the mix having to work a couple of weekends a month and trying to see loved ones once in a while, it’s no surprise my diet has become a bit of a shambles. Part of me longs for my student days when I’d have hours to spend hunting through cookbooks for recipe ideas and browsing the supermarket for ingredients before cooking up a storm. Saying that, a large part of me appreciates finally having an income, albeit if I don’t have any time to spend it (except for some cheeky online shopping!).

So I’ve decided to start a blog to try to encourage myself to keep up with creating yummy food and maybe share some stories of my crazy medical life along the way. I’m lucky to have a reasonably-sized kitchen to cook in and I’ve built up a reasonable supply of kitchen gizmos, it’s just our temperamental dodgy gas oven to contend with!

At the moment I’ve just finished a week of night shifts and my body clock is well and truly switched into nocturnalism. So much so that I didn’t sleep a wink last night, resulting in a very zombie-like state today (and the creation of a wedding pinterest board – I finally gave in!). Quite justifiably, I feel, the day was spent in my onesie watching chick flicks, but I still managed to cook up a few bits and pieces.

I went into the kitchen to make breakfast this morning and came across a slightly over-ripe avocado that I purchased way back before my night shifts started. So to use it up I threw together a simple but tasty (if I do say so myself) brekkie of a wholemeal bagel with avocado and a fried egg. I think presentation and food photography are definitely things I need to work on as you can see below!


For dinner I needed simplicity so it was a cheesy pasta bake that I could just bung in the oven whilst I made my malted chocolate chip cookies. Except they didn’t end up being malted since the powder was dried into one lump in the pot and was beyond salvage…so the malt powder was exchanged for cocoa powder and they became double chocolate cookies! The quantities were a bit out though as the recipe called for a brief knead of the dough and to roll it into balls – there was no way mine was kneadable or rollable, it ended up being dolloped onto the baking sheet. They turned out edible though (except the ones which were a bit burnt around the edges but shhh pretend you didn’t hear that!!), if a little uneven in shape. The recipe was adapted from the September issue of Good Food magazine and I can post it up if anyone wants it.



So that’s my first post done, I’m off to go watch X factor (shameful, I know but it’s just such easy viewing!) with a glass of wine before having an early night. Tomorrow I’m off to London to see the boy, have a wander probably around a food market, and cook him something nice for dinner. I shall report back with photos!

Over and out,



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