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Dinner at The Alpine, Bushey Heath

PUBLISHED: 19:03 08 February 2014 | UPDATED: 19:03 08 February 2014

Deep-fried scallops and calamari  with smoked chilli jelly

Deep-fried scallops and calamari with smoked chilli jelly

Archant

Given Hertfordshire’s fondness for Italian food, it’s no surprise to find a clutch of cosy family restaurants catering for the demand. Food and drink editor Richard Cawthorne explores a classic example in Bushey Heath

About the restaurant.

The Alpine inhabits a recently-renovated Tudor-style landmark building established as a restaurant in 1969 by Giacomo and Marisa Harkin, which is still going strong and still owned and run by the family. Son James, a familiar voice on BBC Radio 3’s Saturday Kitchen, is in charge of the cooking.

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Atmosphere and decor.

The renovation has left everything looking new, clean and bright, with an emphasis on light colours set off by an attractive stained-glass skylight. On a winter’s night, it’s warm and welcoming.

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Service.

Olives and bread arrived without asking, food and drink orders were taken promptly and our welfare monitored regularly. A textbook performance that lacked only a smile.

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The menu.

A good choice of intriguing starters including some to share was supported by a mains section with three fish and six meat dishes plus a sprinkling of puds. Good enough, but the stars are the pastas, nine or so, several new to me, as starters or mains. The menu notes it’s all fresh, handmade to traditional recipes and cooked to order, which means a15-minute wait, but it’s worth it.

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To start.

It was a good year for scallops, so my companion needed little persuasion. These were fried and garnished with calamari and smoked chilli jelly (£9.95). Verdict: Excellent, with extra points for imaginative accompaniments. My more-traditional buffalo mozzarella with plum tomatoes, avocado and basil (£7.95) was equally pleasing, fresh-tasting and enhanced by an aubergine crisp.

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Main courses.

Lured by the pasta selection, my partner chose the pennette with fresh prawns, Cornish crab and plum tomatoes, chilli and herbs (£14.75) and was rewarded with a heaped plate of what she described as creamy and delicious food. My vote went to pheasant ravioli with rosemary jus and autumn vegetables (£12.75), six juicy circles stuffed with flavourful meat, another good choice.

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Dessert.

Temptation abounded, especially for the panettone bread and butter pudding, but full stomachs meant we had to resist.

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The Experience.

High score – interesting and good food, careful service and a good-looking restaurant made this an enjoyable night out.

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The cost of this meal for two was £65.14, including wine and a 12.5 per cent service charge added automatically to the bill.

This is an independent review featuring a restaurant selected and experienced by our food and drink editor. The restaurant was not told it was being reviewed.

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BOOK A TABLE.

The Alpine Restaurant.

135 High Road.

Bushey Heath WD23 1JA.

020 8950 2024.

thealpinerestaurant.co.uk.

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