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

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