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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

TFD x

A Perfect Weekend

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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!!

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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!

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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!

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

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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: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/features/chicken-with-garlic-and-chestnut-stuffing-8198444.html

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,

TFD x