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10 of the most romantic restaurants in Hertfordshire

15:00 08 February 2017

Auberge du Lac, Welwyn (Ewan Munro, Flickr)

Auberge du Lac, Welwyn (Ewan Munro, Flickr)

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Whether you are impressing on an anniversary, looking for the perfect spot for a first date, or simply want to gather some friends up for a feast, we pick 10 of Hertfordshire’s best restaurants

Dylans at Kings Arms, St Albans

Finalists in the Hertfordshire Life Food and Drink Awards 2016 in both the Best Restaurant and Best Pub categories, Dylans at Kings Arms on George Street, St Albans boasts a menu of freshly made dishes comprised of locally sourced ingredients. Start by sharing something from the Snacking Menu which may feature creations such as halloumi fries with habanero jam and green harissa or a selection of British artisan cheese with oatcakes and chutney. The Bill of Fayre consists of two or three courses with starters such as crispy lamb croquettes with a pea and mint puree and blackberry vinaigrette; mains of char grilled onglet steak with butter fried hens egg and triple cooked chips with a red wine sauce. The dining area is sympathetically decorated, featuring dark wood furniture juxtaposed with quirky artwork, light walls and flowers on the tables.

Don’t miss: Desserts are equally as tantalising and the extensive wine list and ever-changing beer menu means drinks will be flowing all evening.

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The Spotted Dog, Flamstead

Eclectic, colourful interiors at The Spotted Dog on Flamstead’s High Street make for a comfortable surrounding for your romantic meal. Food is sourced as locally as possible with an aim to have a low carbon footprint. Specials have included poached smoked haddock with a butternut squash risotto with Eton mess to finish. They change often, so check the boards. Real ale from local breweries and wines sourced in neighbouring Bedfordshire are perfect for a pre-dinner drink. There is also a good selection of gins to try.

Don’t miss: Take a wander around the pretty village after your meal to continue the romance.

St. Villa Bar & Restaurant, St Albans

The fashionable, minimalist interior will elevate your gastronomic experience at St Villa on St Albans’ Marlborough Road. Start with a refreshing cocktail such as Mother Nature made with vodka, passion fruit, fresh ginger, honey, lime juice and topped with ginger beer. Once settled into your plush seats, starters of parsnip and pear soup, roast vegetables and halloumi or goats cheese salad will whet your appetite for mains such as pan fried monkfish wrapped in pancetta with a cauliflower puree with grilled asparagus and shrimp bisque sauce. Wines from around the world have been selected to complement your food in the best ways possible.

Don’t miss: Valentine’s dinner at St. Villa includes a special three course menu and a glass of bubbly for £39.95 per person. Details online.

Auberge du Lac, Welwyn

In the grounds of the striking Brocket Hall is the restaurant Auberge du Lac which provides stunning lakeside views for diners. With period features such as dark wood, exposed brick and fireplaces, there are elements of its hunting lodge past. The food could be summed up as modern twists on traditional British dishes. Enjoy three courses for £60 including starters such as lobster ravioli with endive, caviar, pea and coconut velouté and mains including loin of English lamb with sweet breads, baby leek, roast carrot, beets and smoked mash potato. Desserts have included blackberry and white chocolate delice with maple and pecan granola and clotted cream ice cream.

Don’t miss: An indulgent seven-course tasting menu with wines is available for Valentine’s Day, and let the romance continue with a special package that includes an overnight stay in the Melbourne Lodge and breakfast the following morning. Details online.

Chez Mumtaj, St Albans

Chez Mumtaj, the modern French-Asian restaurant on London Road, St Albans, takes its diners a world away from the historic city’s streets into a fusion of French and other cuisines such as Malaysian, Indian, and Middle Eastern. Romance could begin in the Saffron Lounge Champagne Bar, perfect for a pre-dinner drink, before sitting in the mood-lit restaurant for exciting dishes such as pan fried monk fish tail curry with saffron, mustard, cream of tarragon sauce, buttered nutmeg spinach and south Indian style tomato rice. Chef Chad Rahman was Food and Drink Hero of the Year at the Hertfordshire Life Food and Drink Awards 2016.

Don’t miss: Valentine’s Day meals start with pink Champagne and just get better with options such as a seafood platter to share as a starter; lamb with a peanut, onion and leek gravy with fondant potatoes, pak choi and saffron rice. What better to finish than with strawberries dipped in amaretto Chantilly cream and garnished with rose petals?

Sheene Mill, Melbourn nr Royston

The double AA Rosette-awarded restaurant at Sheene Mill, surrounded by greenery and overlooking the beautifully manicured gardens and pond, is a lovely setting for a romantic meal. The interiors have open fireplaces and shabby chic décor while food from the a la carte menu is raved about by critics and diners online.

Don’t miss: The Valentine’s Day meal - a six-course tasting menu packed with seasonal ingredients. The former mill house that dates back to the 1500s also has cosy yet luxurious rooms – so why not extend the night?

L’Italiana, St Albans

L’Italiana on French Row, St Albans serves a wide variety of fresh, simple Italian dishes. Browse the extensive wine menu packed with Italian reds, whites, and bubbles too, before ordering a sensibly-priced feast of rustic food. Local suppliers provide British meat and fish that are elevated with authentic Italian ingredients. Order spaghetti scoglio di Sorrento, a mixed seafood spaghetti with Napoli sauce; or a porcini mushroom risotto with white wine and garlic, complemented with the perfect Italian wine.

Don’t miss: L’Italiana also has steaks that are “rumoured to be the best in town.” Why not order a fillet, sirloin or T-bone?

St James, Bushey

Modern British food finds a home in Bushey at St James Restaurant on the high street. A pick of the starters is grilled scallops with roast butternut squash, pancetta, pickled shallots, toasted seeds and red wine glaze, while mains include roast rump of lamb with rosemary scented shepherd’s pie, pea puree, baby carrots, mint jelly and lamb jus. Vegetarians will be pleased with the selection that includes a main of spiced roast cauliflower with potato gnocchi, spinach, crisp onions and winter pesto dressing.

Don’t miss: Desserts come light, such as fresh fruit platters with lemon sorbet, or decadent – check out the warm cinnamon doughnuts with apple and sultanas, caramel sauce and a whisky cream.

The Lemon Tree, Bishop’s Stortford

In the historic market town of Bishop’s Stortford is The Lemon Tree, with over 20 years’ experience serving modern British cuisine. Head Chef Luke Fishpool creates inspired dishes such as Cromer crab ravioli with a crab and saffron nage; roasted baby beetroot, spiced pear, stilton and pecan nut salad; or fillet of halibut with fondant potato, wild mushrooms and a mushroom ketchup. There’s plenty to choose from for vegetarians and the kitchen is happy to alter a dish for dietary needs (please notify in advance).

Don’t miss: Afternoon teas at The Lemon Tree are £25 and include a selection of three sandwiches, three sweets with scones and a glass of Prosecco to top it all off.

THOMPSON, St Albans

Winner of Chef of the Year at the Hertfordshire Life Food and Drink Awards 2016, Phil Thompson of THOMPSON, St Albans, creates fine dining in his two AA Rosette-awarded restaurant. An eve- changing menu of seasonal dishes is offered for meat eaters and vegetarians alike. There is a seven-course vegetarian-friendly tasting menu alongside fish and meat dishes to suit all preferences. Before dining there is a relaxed lounge and bar area in which to enjoy fine wines or a refreshing cocktail.

Don’t miss: A Kitchen Master Class at Thompson is perfect for budding chefs or to try something new. For £185, one person can cook with the chefs and help in daily prep in the kitchen. After that, there is the chance to cook a three-course lunch for yourself and a guest, making a great gift for a loved one.

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