Alfresco dining in Hertfordshire: 19 of the best pubs and restaurants with outdoor gardens and terraces

PUBLISHED: 13:17 11 September 2020 | UPDATED: 13:47 11 September 2020

Dining at The Grove (Chris Tubbs Photography)

Dining at The Grove (Chris Tubbs Photography)

All rights Chris Tubbs Photography

Brits love nothing more than getting outside on a sunny day, so we have picked 19 great restaurants with pretty alfresco gardens and terraces in Hertfordshire to enjoy your food

The Grove Chandler’s Cross: There’s 300 acres of countryside and outdoor terraces overlooking magnificent grounds at The Grove hotel (below). With dishes from award-winning chefs, dine on The Glasshouse terrace with views of the formal gardens and enjoy the Estate to Plate a la carte menu; or overlook the golf course with a light bite and a refreshing cocktail on The Stables terrace. Alternatively find a place in the acres of grounds and relax in a sunny spot with one of the hotel’s picnic baskets. Afterwards walk off a few of the calories with a wander through the formal gardens, woodlands and kitchen garden.

Dine on seafood in The Stables at The Grove (Chris Tubbs Photography)Dine on seafood in The Stables at The Grove (Chris Tubbs Photography)

The Fox & Hounds Hunsdon: The Fox and Hounds is the only Michelin BIB Gourmand restaurant in Herts and it was a runner-up for best Sunday lunch in the UK in the 2019 Observer Food Monthly Awards. The stylish pub-restaurant in the pretty village of Hunsdon has an attractive garden in which to relax with a drink and a large terrace to enjoy al fresco dining. Crab tacos, Cornish native lobster and steaks from the Josper oven are all popular choices from the seasonal menu. The heated and sheltered patio garden means it stays warm into the evenings. There are lots of great walks in the vicinity or take a visit to the excellent nearby Henry Moore Foundation which has reopened post-lockdown.

The Fox & Hound (photo: Bianca Rix)The Fox & Hound (photo: Bianca Rix)

The Jolly Waggoner Ardeley, near Stevenage: Ingredients for the menu don’t travel far at this village pub, it’s part of Church Farm which grows more than 100 different fruit, vegetables and herbs. It also traditionally rears animals with a butchery on-site. Park yourselves under umbrella-shaded benches in the pretty pub garden (children and dogs are welcome but tables are currently limited to six people, there are gazebos and marquees in case of bad weather), listen to the sounds of the countryside and enjoy simple and incredibly fresh food complemented with a glass of real ale or artisan wine. A draw on summer Saturday afternoons is the hog roast. Afterwards, take a wander round the not-for-profit farm. There’s a woodland fairy trail and farm shop, open seven days a week, to buy seasonal veggies and more to take home.

Relax in the countryside garden at The Jolly Waggoner, Ardeley (photo courtesy of venue)Relax in the countryside garden at The Jolly Waggoner, Ardeley (photo courtesy of venue)

George IV Great Amwell: This traditional pub tucked away in the charming village of Great Amwell is one of those places you would rather keep secret. Here you can enjoy table service from the pretty garden terrace area and spacious courtyard. There’s an a la carte menu or try the popular small plates with friends. Marinated halloumi, butter milk fried hot wings and home-made Scotch eggs will have you wishing you had not agreed to share. The pub is hosting a tapas evening on September 25.

The outdoor dining area at George IV in Amwell (photo courtesy of venue)The outdoor dining area at George IV in Amwell (photo courtesy of venue)

The Cricketers of Redbourn Redbourn: Overlooking the very large village common, The Cricketers is ranked among the best in Herts in The Good Pub Guide. The garden has a mix of benches and bang-on-trend rattan seating where you can enjoy a range of freshly cooked dishes including pub classics and daily specials. The barbecue sticky beef short ribs with potato and lovage cakes and slaw has our vote. Plan a stop-off as part of the many cycling and walking routes around the area including the Nicky Line and Ver Valley.

The Cricketers at Redbourne (photo courtesy of venue)The Cricketers at Redbourne (photo courtesy of venue)

The Grandison Bramfield: There’s not one but two sunny terraces to choose from at this pub-restaurant in the picturesque village of Bramfield. The menu is diverse with the homemade full puff pastry pies a popular dish, but be sure to save room for the salted caramel or double chocolate waffle. You could try one of the numerous walking routes through woodland connecting to neighbouring villages and finish with a meal on the terrace. With large gardens it’s a beautiful outdoor space (and a stylish restaurant to boot). One reviewer called it ‘a little gem in the countryside’.

Enjoy afternoon tea in the gardens of Sopwell House (Art Is Life Photography)Enjoy afternoon tea in the gardens of Sopwell House (Art Is Life Photography)

Sopwell House St Albans: Secluded in 12 acres of Herts countryside on the edge of St Albans, Sopwell House is an ideal spot for dining al fresco. Take advantage of the gardens with afternoon tea served on the terrace or front lawn. There’s an option with a chilled glass of Taittinger Champagne. You can enjoy lunch or dinner from The Brasserie on the terrace. Take in the relaxing views of the gardens and pond while enjoying delicious dishes such as a light summer salad starter with asparagus and French beans or seed crusted Scottish salmon.

The Boat, Berkhamsted (photo courtesy of venue)The Boat, Berkhamsted (photo courtesy of venue)

The Boat Berkhamsted: This attractive pub in Berkhamsted has a commanding position right next to the Grand Union Canal and in summer the raised outdoor space becomes a hub for both locals and visitors. It promises a fresh take on pub food, with real ales ‘served with a smile’. Try the Chalcroft Farm beef burger, vegan chilli and roasts on a Sunday with cauliflower cheese and sticky red cabbage, all freshly made. Climb aboard with friends and family and watch towpath life pass by.

The garden at the Red Lion (photo courtesy of venue)The garden at the Red Lion (photo courtesy of venue)

The Black Horse Brent Pelham: Set among the deep winding country lanes of East Herts, this community-owned pub dates to 1866 but alongside its rustic charm you’ll find modern cuisine. The family-friendly pub garden has a children’s play area and there’s a charming horse box bar for the adults. Pub favourites include seafood linguine with king prawns, squid, chilli, garlic and spinach. On Sunday, roasts are cooked on the Argentinian barbecue and do try a glass from the noteable wine list. This great country pub was once in danger of closure, we’re very glad it was saved.

The Golden Fleece Braughing: This award-winning pub in one of Herts most charming villages has been run by Jess and Pete Tatlow for the past 10 years. Jess is a renowned chef – try her Golden Fleece Smokey with hot melted cheese, smoked haddock and toast on the side. The pub and dining rooms have a large raised terrace overlooking the garden which has a play frame for children. There’s a tapas night on August 26.

The Red Lion Water End: Serving food from breakfast ’til late The Red Lion at Water End is an 18th century pub with a very stylish feel. Outside is a spacious garden with comfortable seating and a lovely terrace. The Mediterranean-inspired menu has wood-fired pizzas, so good you will think you’re in Naples. A new dish – the Josper-grilled rosso prawns in the shell – has been described as ‘divine’. Accompany it with a chilled glass of rosé or a mocktail.

Saracens Head Ware: On the banks of the river Lea in the heart of Ware, this pub has been owned by Hertford brewing family McMullen since 1938. Here you can sit on the long waterside terrace and enjoy family-friendly small plates including halloumi fries, crispy duck wings and garlic mushrooms or try the favourite beer-battered cod fillet (McMullen’s ale of course) with chips and homemade mushy peas. Wash it down with a homegrown ale or one of the many speciality gins on the gin menu.

Rising Sun Berkhamsted: This traditional pub is accredited by CAMRA for its selection of real ales and ciders including locally brewed choices. But it really comes into its own in summer as it’s perched beside a lock on the Grand Union Canal. Take a walk along the canal then sit outside with a drink and views of narrowboats navigating the waterway. This no-frills pub also serves ‘proper food’.

Alford Arms Frithsden: Tucked away in a secluded wooded valley with the backdrop of the Chiltern Hills. This lovely little pub-restaurant with an immaculately hedged outdoor terrace has been awarded Hertfordshire Dining Pub of the Year for the 10th time by The Good Pub Guide. As a FreeFrom Award winner it’s a favourite of those with dietary requirements but just as good for those who eat everything. Try bubble and squeak with oak smoked bacon, free range poached egg and hollandaise sauce, or Bombay spiced roast cauliflower with coriander couscous, pea pakoras and mint yoghurt. Finish with homemade ice cream. It also offers ‘smaller plates for smaller people’. Take a stroll before or after in the beautiful Ashridge Forest. Once you’ve found this place, you’ll want to return, well if you can find it again...

Brocket Arms Ayot St Lawrence: You’ll find this charming village pub dating to the 14th century in the equally charming village of Ayot St Lawrence. Modern British cuisine is served at a safe social distance supplemented with a wide range of real ales and wines. Enjoy ribeye steak served with chips, mushroom, tomato and onion rings with a choice of sauces or go for the popular Brocket Arms fish and chips. The old building is lovely but what makes the place stand out in summer is the large orchard garden complete with aviary, the odd chicken strutting about and apple trees. It also has a play area for little’uns. Shaw’s Corner, home to playwright George Bernard Shaw and now a National Trust museum is just around the corner, as is the romantic ruin of the old church. It’s a special place.

The Tilbury Datchworth: The Tilbury serves pub classics and modern British cuisine; from freshly made fish and chips with a pint to a seven-course tasting menu with a hand-picked flight of wines. The village setting of the pub and surrounding fields and greenery make for an idyllic spot to enjoy your food and a few drinks in the pub garden.

Choppy’s Restaurant Great Amwell: Locally sourced ingredients comprise the food at Choppy’s Restaurant at The Waggon and Horses, from fresh fish to steak with green peppercorn sauce. The summer sees guests enjoying the sun in the gardens, whether shaded under the umbrellas on the grass or sipping a glass of something on the inviting decking area.

Craft & Cleaver St Albans: Drawing inspiration from the cookhouses of Brooklyn, New York, Craft & Cleaver is a meat-lover’s heaven. Meat is smoked in the onsite wood smokers before being turned into mouth-watering dishes such as the Black Angus beef brisket served with two sides of your choice - which include mac ‘n’ cheese, giant onion rings, barbecue pit beans and buttermilk slaw. During summer evenings, fairy lights are strung up overhead in the courtyard garden - an atmospheric backdrop to enjoy a cocktail or craft beer before tucking into a plate of tempting meat.

The Snug Hitchin, St Albans, Hertford & Ware: The Snug is a chain of restaurants serving ‘feel-good homemade comfort food’ and cocktails. Every day of the week sees a special boozy ‘sip ‘n’ snack’ with weekend bottomless brunches, ‘Tapas Tuesdays’ with two small plates and a Snug classic cocktail for £12 and ‘Wings & Whiskey Wednesdays’ featuring large wings and a Cherry Jack cocktail for £12. The Hitchin and Ware locations have a few outdoor tables but St Albans and Hertford have cosy suntrap gardens to enjoy your food (and cocktails) alfresco.

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