Restaurant review - Lussmanns Tring
PUBLISHED: 00:00 01 April 2020
The Herts-based fish and grill restaurant continues to grow, showing the sustainable approach to its whole operation is a winning formula.
NOTE: Due to the coronavirus, Lussmanns have launched a new delivery service of ready-made meals so that you can enjoy a touch of Lussmanns from the comfort of your own home. www.lussmanns.com/lussmanns-to-go
There’s a lot to say about the Herts success story called Lussmanns but let’s talk about the food first. Andrei Lussmann has had a thing about sustainability long before it became fashionable. He works at it, maintaining links with the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA), Marine Stewardship Council and the like. The result is a menu that looks simple, with a few exceptions, and delivers what it promises. My visit to Tring yielded a monkfish puttanesca dish with lemon mash (£20.95) that could hold its own anywhere, while my fellow critic was even more voluble about the free range duck leg with sticky red cabbage (£14.95), which she rated the best she had ever had.
Andrei may have been an early believer in sustainability but he had his own ideas about what the term should involve. Backed by a hospitality and business degree from Birmingham Polytechnic and an early successful career encompassing Pizza Express and Corney and Barrow among others, he began introducing elements of it after setting out on his own with café-style eateries in London before moving to Herts and opening the first Lussmanns Fish and Grill in 2004 in Hertford.
His approach, as expressed on his website, was straightforward: ‘I set up Lussmanns with the simple view that you can enjoy good ethically sourced food, served in an attractive and timely manner at terrific value for money prices.’
But it wasn’t just about the food. As Andrei explained in a 2018 interview, ‘When we started, sustainability was originally all about the provenance of where the food came from, but with the SRA’s help we now look at the way we manage our staff and support them and our waste and therefore have a far more holistic approach to what we do.’
It obviously worked. The Hertford restaurant was a success and more ‘fish and grills’ followed in St Albans, Tring, Harpenden and Hitchin. Last month, the company branched out of county with a new venue in Oxford. Along the way, Lussmanns picked up a string of awards and, in 2011, a significant pat on the back from The Times restaurant critic Giles Coren. Lussmanns, he said, is ‘everything a modern local restaurant should be’. Andrei liked the quote so much it still appears on all Lussmanns menus and the company website. Giles liked it a lot too, returning to the subject in a 2018 article co-authored with his colleague Marina O’Loughlin in which Lussmanns was rated one of the 100 best places to eat in the UK.
As a fan of historic buildings as well as food and drink, and given the menu is common to all branches, I chose Tring, where Lussmanns occupies the former HSBC bank building in the High Street, dating from 1922. Managed by Michal Balaj, with Birame Seye as head chef, it has lots of Art Deco influence, a spacious ground floor dining area with a view of the kitchen, a mezzanine level, and a wood-panelled private dining room – once the bank manager’s office. Light and airy and satisfyingly busy on a Thursday evening, it houses 65 covers in a friendly and comfortable atmosphere.
Along with the mains mentioned above, the menu, along with feel-good messages about the origins of the food, offered as starters a standard but satisfying leek and potato soup (£5.50, above) and one of the unexpected touches, a spiced aubergine bruschetta with chimichurri dressing and oat fraîche tzatziki (£6.95), served cold to preserve the aubergine’s firmness but with the right amount of spice to offset it. We added house chips (diners have a choice of fat or thin), a glass of Whale Point sauv blanc (£5.85) and a Classic Ale from 3 Brewers in St Albans (£5.50) – one of several local beers listed.
The only misstep was the non-availability of three of the six desserts listed on the menu. This included what I would rate as a favourite, Grand Marnier crème brûlée, which is what we would have ordered given the chance. Also missing was another favourite, poached pear, and coconut and date cheesecake. It was a small point in an otherwise enjoyable evening. We can always return for pudding.
As ever, check the website for specials including a set menu at £14.95 for two courses or £17.95 for three, served daily from midday to 7pm; private dining and other events.
The cost of this meal for two was £70.43, including a 12.5 per cent discretionary service charge, a glass of wine and a St Albans 3 Brewers Classic Ale. This is an independent review by our food and drink editor. The restaurant was not told it was being reviewed.
Lussmanns Tring, 21 High Street, Tring HP23 5AR, 01442 502250