Lunch Review: The Chequers, Bragbury End
PUBLISHED: 11:52 13 May 2011 | UPDATED: 19:21 20 February 2013
Food and drink editor Richard Cawthorne checks out Vintage Inns' new 'premium dining' concept...
About the restaurant
Vintage Inns is boosting the food offering in its collection of country pubs and the Chequers is one of three in Hertfordshire that have recently undergone major refurbishment to bring in the premium dining concept.
Atmosphere and decor
Originally a farmhouse, the building dates from 1774 and its history is an integral part of the atmosphere. The refurb has been done sympathetically, with warm pastel colours on the historic print-bedecked walls, mood-enhancing lighting, new seating and a bigger dining area.
Things were quiet when we arrived on a Thursday lunchtime but warmed up quickly. After an initial greeting, we were left to ourselves to cope with the several menus on the table before it was explained that we ordered at the bar. Once we were in the swing of it, service was warm and friendly.
Take your reading glasses the main menu features six sharing plates, 10 starters, almost 30 mains sub-divided into pub classics; meat, game and poultry; grills and seafood, plus side dishes, nine puddings and a cheeseboard. Then there are the daily specials, the lunch and lite bites and the fixed-price menu. Its a something-for-everyone approach and its undeniably popular.
From the main menu, seared king scallops (6.45) and button and forest mushrooms au gratin (4.95) hit the spot, the scallops properly creamy and plenty of garlic to lift the mushrooms.
Wild Scottish venison steak (16.45) was almost a foregone conclusion for me and despite what must be an industrial-strength kitchen still carried a whiff of gaminess, as it should. It was also perfectly cooked and the chestnut mushroom and herb sauce was a good accompaniment. Roast guinea fowl with apricot stuffing (12.95) proved equally popular across the table and came with spiced sweet potato wedges.
A good choice at around 4.75 each included a host of familiar favourites, ranging from spiced poached pears, apple and blackcurrant crumble and banoffee cheesecake to plum and almond frangipane.
Vintage Inns is keeping a lot of people happy with a mid-market value-for-money product. The Chequers filled rapidly after our arrival and staff were enthusiastic about the refurbishment. The food was wholesome and quality control is clearly at work. Dont expect cordon bleu but go for a cheery, comfortable meal.
BOOK A TABLE
Stevenage SG2 8TH
The cost of this lunch for two was 60 including a bottle of wine and service.
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.
3 of a kind
The Crown in Broxbourne
Another member of the same family as the Chequers. Waterside setting off the beaten track in Broxbourne.
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The Colney Fox in London Colney
The third of the Hertfordshire Vintage Inns to be given a new look this year, the Fox is a favourite in the St Albans area.
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The Crooked Chimney
Originally a farmhouse, the popular Crooked Chimney, another Vintage Inn, has been an inn since 1756.
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