CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Hertfordshire Life today CLICK HERE

Dinner review: George IV, Amwell

PUBLISHED: 12:52 03 April 2017 | UPDATED: 12:52 03 April 2017

George IV, Great Amwell

George IV, Great Amwell

brian arnopp

With a confident and innovative menu, a chef-run pub in Great Amwell attracts a happy throng. Photography Brian Arnopp

Chargrilled field mushrooms with goat’s cheese mousse, toasted pecans and appleChargrilled field mushrooms with goat’s cheese mousse, toasted pecans and apple

An American advertising campaign a few years ago featured a man who so admired a product he had purchased that he bought the company that made it. Chef Oliver D’Arcy probably knows just how he feels. As Hertfordshire Life recorded in January last year in a profile of Great Amwell, it was while working part-time at the George IV pub in the village near Ware that Oliver became interested in cooking and left a career in quantity surveying to pursue his passion. As of 18 months ago, he’s back at the George as chef/owner and fast giving the pub a foodie reputation. If the happy throng present on the evening I visited is any indication, the place is happy to have him.

In keeping with the current trend of such establishments, the pub side of things has been kept more or less intact while the food offering develops in a separate space at the back. A space is so far all it is, with none of the usual restaurant trimmings, but as the boss would no doubt say, the food comes first.

Between leaving the George and returning, Oliver was honing his skills, first at Westminster Kingsway College and then with executive chef Phil Thompson at Auberge du Lac in Welwyn before moving to Phil’s new venture, then called Thompson@D’Arcy’s, in St Albans. He credits Phil with teaching him about flavour combinations and sous chef Alex Bond for steering him from classic toward modern techniques, both much in evidence in his menus at the George. Again in the current fashion, these change regularly and sometimes rapidly, in my case in the day and a half between booking and turning up for the meal.

As I have mentioned before, Herts’ rising standards in cookery are not just evident in the quality of the main ingredients but in the accompaniments that lift them out of the everyday. The George menu was awash with the likes of compressed cucumber, monk’s beard and tarragon cream; even the North African spice mix ras el hanout put in an appearance. A hot chocolate fondant on the dessert line-up was garlanded with peanut brittle and peanut butter ice cream. It’s all a sure sign of confidence in the kitchen and a chef not afraid to try new things.

Poached salmon rillettes with compressed cucumber, radish and lemonPoached salmon rillettes with compressed cucumber, radish and lemon

The tone is set from the start with what used to be called nibbles but here are known as ‘Picky bits’. Marinated olives and a bread board are there for the traditionalists but then we are off into a world of salted padron peppers (also known as the tapas pepper), marinated halloumi fries and onion hummus, buttermilk hot wings with green chilli slaw and coriander, plus spiced venison koftas with pickled red cabbage and parsley mayonnaise.

From a similarly exotic list of starters, we began our meal with chargrilled field mushrooms with goat’s cheese mousse, toasted pecans and apple (£6.50, above) for me and poached salmon rillettes with compressed cucumber, radish and lemon (£5, opposite top) for my fellow critic. Both proved to be clever combinations of textures and tastes, with the mushrooms given particular depth by the grilling.

I also turned to salmon for my main course, in this case a pot roasted fillet of Loch Duart’s finest, served with confit fennel, monk’s beard and tarragon cream (£15.50) – light and lively with the chance to try a taste of Tuscany in the monk’s beard vegetable a bonus. Across the table, the pan fried breast and crispy leg of guinea fowl with potato and turnip gratin, cavolo nero and turnip (£16.50) was an even bigger hit, the meat light and moist and nicely set off by the earthy accompaniments. The delicacy of the first two courses even left us room for desserts, led by a strangely solid but satisfying vanilla panna cotta with poached Yorkshire rhubarb and jam (£6.50, left). My choice of the more traditional Bramley apple and blackberry crumble with vanilla ice cream (£6) gave no cause for complaint. Still in keeping with the D’Arcy approach, however, the panna cotta came in a miniature Kilner jar and the crumble in a small cast-iron pot, which as well as being ultra-trendy also kept the dish piping hot.

Vanilla panna cotta with poached Yorkshire rhubarb and jamVanilla panna cotta with poached Yorkshire rhubarb and jam

The cost of this dinner for two was £63.95 plus tip. This is an independent review featuring a restaurant selected and visited by our food and drink editor. The restaurant was not told it was being reviewed.

Book a table

George IV

Cautherley Lane, Great Amwell SG12 9SW

01920 870039

3 of a kind

Village gastro-pubs

The Fox at Willian

Willian Road, Letchworth SG6 2AE. 01462 480233

Multi-award winner with regularly changing menu created by head chef Sherwin Jones with ingredients sourced from local suppliers.

The Grandison

6 Bury Lane, Hertford SG14 2 QL. 01992 554077

Contemporary dining pub with historic touches offering a popular old-meets-new atmosphere. Welcoming open fire in winter, relaxing beer garden 
in summer.

The Artichoke

The Green, Green Lane, Croxley Green WD3 3HN. 01923 778677

A traditional country inn with a reputation for good food for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hertfordshire visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hertfordshire staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hertfordshire account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Food & Drink

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Indulge in the very best of pub classics every Wednesday night at The Black Horse.

Read more
Friday, November 2, 2018

It’s that time of year again and we have our special T-BONE steak offer!

Read more
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

A trailblazer nearly 30 years ago, this Hertford Thai restaurant is on the cusp of reinvention

Read more
November 2018
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

If you don’t fancy slaving over a hot fire this year, head to one of these restaurants for a festive feast on Christmas Day

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

A warming bonfire night snack, easy and delicious and full of autumn flavour

Read more
October 2018
Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Make the most out of autumn with these eight walking routes that take in a variety of Hertfordshire’s terrains and - most importantly – have a cosy pub along the way

Read more
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Pulled and rolled Jacob’s ladder with potato, carrot and leek cake, roasted baby leeks and veal jus

Read more
October 2018
Thursday, October 11, 2018

Auberge du Lac opened its doors in 1998 and we are inviting you to celebrate the restaurants fabulous history on Wednesday 28th November.

Read more
Monday, October 8, 2018

Buntingford gains a new 28-cover fine-dining restaurant with the opening of the Falcon

Read more
October 2018
Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Christmas at the Tilbury from 23rd November to 29th December.

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search