CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Hertfordshire Life today CLICK HERE

Restaurant review: The Radcliffe, Hitchin

PUBLISHED: 18:01 28 November 2016 | UPDATED: 18:01 28 November 2016

crayfish pakora with mango dip

crayfish pakora with mango dip

brian arnopp

Food and drink editor Richard Cawthorne enjoys the garden setting and service at ‘Hitchin’s Gatrsopub’

Baked cod with pistachio crust, mango purée, spiced polenta chips and watercressBaked cod with pistachio crust, mango purée, spiced polenta chips and watercress

Early photographs of the Radcliffe Arms in Hitchin show an ordinary street-corner pub with little embellishment, handy first for the coach trade and, later, business brought in by the fledgling railway. Built in the 1850s and known first as the Nightingale before becoming the Radcliffe Arms in honour of a prominent local family, it looked what it was, a functional drinking house for a passing trade.

How times change. Several owners later, the ordinary little pub, now renamed the Radcliffe, has undergone a major transformation and marketing exercise to turn it into ‘Hitchin’s gastropub’. The building has been extended and rearranged to give more space, a large garden area has been added and there is serious work afoot on the menus. Drinkers still have their bar area and a range of good beers to sample there, but, as with many similar undertakings in Herts, the emphasis has shifted to the food.

Of all the little touches that make up the new Radcliffe, from efficiency in dealing with bookings to careful and friendly service, it’s the garden that stands out. Expertly landscaped, it’s a big space with a variety of cosy alcoves in which to enjoy your food and drink. Luckily for us, the evening we visited was still warm enough to allow us to eat al fresco; in case of doubt, our highly-professional waiter told us there were blankets available if we needed to ward off the chill. Eating outside is always a pleasure and if I were in charge of the Radcliffe, I would find a way to extend the times the garden is available. A little extra fencing, some patio heaters, possibly a covered area with the sides open – and, of course, those blankets – and many more customers could enjoy their meals in the relaxed atmosphere we found.

Given that service and surroundings are two-thirds of the trio of essentials that make up the ideal dining-out experience, the Radcliffe was off to a good start. Part III, the food, came via a wide-ranging menu starting with three good-looking sharing platters, through nine starters and on to mains and desserts. Starters on offer included brie croquette with red onion marmalade, smoked salmon with crème fraiche, or mozzarella crostini with rocket and pesto. Our choices were coconut prawns, large and lavish, with sweet chilli sauce, and tangy crayfish pakora with mango dip (both £6, below), each showing that little extra that makes a dish different.

The Radcliffe in HitchinThe Radcliffe in Hitchin

The large choice of mains – the nine, plus two steaks, one chicken and the ‘Radcliffe Wagyu burger’ listed under Grills – ran through the usual suspects plus a couple of surprises such as vegan cassoulet. We opted for butterflied chicken from the grill menu (£15), with roasted cherry tomatoes, flat-cap mushroom, hand-cut double-cooked fat chips and dressed mixed leaves, plus garlic butter (£2) as an extra; and baked cod (£18), with pistachio crust, mango purée, spiced polenta chips and watercress. Both did the job well without being too over-exciting and the chicken did not seem to be butterflied but a standard breast, but the flavour was good and we liked the fat chips and their trendy polenta cousins.

Puddings were tempting, including sticky toffee pudding with ice cream, lemon tart with blackberry sorbet, coffee crème brûlée with a chocolate biscotti and a triple-chocolate brownie with ice cream, but we resisted and treated ourselves instead to fresh (yes, fresh) mint tea in celebration of being in the great outdoors.

The Radcliffe is a good product with a momentum that deserves to be maintained. We had a good time, sampling good food served well in pleasant surroundings. And the garden really is a knockout. w

The cost of this meal for two was £60 80.

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.

BOOK A TABLE

The Radcliffe

31 Walworth Road, Hitchin SG4 9ST

01442 456111

theradcliffe.co.uk

3 OF A KIND

Great gastropubs

The Fox

Willian, nr Letchworth SG6 2AE

01462 480233

foxatwillian.co.uk

Stylish gastropub and comfy real ale bar with fine dining menu using locally-sourced produce.

The Rusty Gun

London Rd, nr St Ippolyts, SG4 7PG

01462 432653

therustygun.co.uk

Cosy inn serving locally-brewed beer, classic pub food and more adventurous cuisine, plus a beer garden.

The Hermit of Redcoats

Titmore Green, nr Stevenage SG4 7JR

01438 747333

thehermitofredcoats.com

Smart, rustic pub, with log fire and a modern take on English country cooking.

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