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Restaurant review: Dinner at Lussmanns, Harpenden

PUBLISHED: 15:43 24 March 2014 | UPDATED: 12:58 25 March 2014

Wild black bream in a bag with chestnut mushrooms, parsley, thyme and garlic

Wild black bream in a bag with chestnut mushrooms, parsley, thyme and garlic

Archant

Harpenden has acquired a classy new restaurant with the arrival of a new branch of Lussmanns Food and Grill, writes food and drink editor Richard Cawthorne

Lussmanns, HarpendenLussmanns, Harpenden

About the restaurant.

The new Lussmanns occupies the former premises of the Bean Tree restaurant, an 18th century converted coach house overlooking Leyton Green, with the same emphasis as the other two branches in St Albans and Hertford on sustainable and local produce.

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Atmosphere and decor.

The modern interiorThe modern interior

Lots of bare brick and white-painted wood give a light and relaxed feel to the small-ish main room, supported by courtyard dining in warm weather and a further space upstairs. It was still early days when I visited but all was cosy and comfortable.

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Service.

Enthusiasm for the new venture was still running high, resulting in a crisp, efficient and cheerful performance from our chatty waitress. No probs here.

Shropshire blue cheese, pear and endive saladShropshire blue cheese, pear and endive salad

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The menu.

Eight good-looking starters head a list divided (naturally) into fish and grill sections backed up by three extra mains and seven desserts. Imaginative touches include hunter’s bruschetta with wild boar chorizo, Provencal bouillabaisse and onglet steak, a bistro favourite.

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To start.
From the specials list, a creamy celeriac soup with chives (£5.95) came close to stealing the show for my companion. My chilled salad of Shropshire Blue cheese, pear and endive was equally tasty and a refreshing blend of flavours.

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Main courses.

Wild black bream in a bag (£16.50) with chestnut mushrooms, parsley and thyme with garlic was a treat and good enough to steal the soup’s thunder thanks to a cooking method that preserves all the juices and fishiness of the main ingredient. Across the table, a meaty woodland-reared Sussex free-range Saddleback pork loin (£15.80) with mash, chestnut mushrooms, pancetta and rosemary sauce was also warmly praised as a similarly-clever combination.

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The Experience.

Lessons from St Albans and Hertford have clearly been learned in this carefully-planned and rehearsed expansion of the Lussmanns empire. Our evening went like clockwork – and the food was good too.

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The cost of this meal for two was £63.50 plus tip for two courses each and a bottle of wine.

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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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