Restaurant Review: The Merchant House, Hertford
PUBLISHED: 11:37 22 December 2010 | UPDATED: 15:40 20 February 2013
A challenger in the fine-dining stakes emerges in Hertford. Richard Cawthorne reports...
IF one of the things you look for in a restaurant is that it should stand out in a crowd, The Merchant House in Hertford would be a good candidate. The building, in a distinct shade of orange, commands its section of St Andrew Street, all the more obvious for being next to the local church and an equally-historic antiques centre.The Merchant House and another building behind which has been converted into flats are owned by David Hozier and his wife and parents, who came to it from the property business but were fired by an ambition to run a restaurant. Says David, 'The family always liked the idea while recognising our limitations imposed by lack of experience.' So far, so typical, but fortunately the Hoziers had a secret weapon in the shape of Geoff Mastro, whom they knew to be a talented chef, and his wife Sarah. The couple agreed to move to The Merchant House and all was ready for the grand opening last spring.
The business bills itself as Hertford's only fine-dining restaurant and set out from the start to set a standard. David unblushingly compares it to the mighty Auberge du Lac, which he says was the only option in the area until he and his family came along for people seeking somewhere to go for special occasions. 'We have always lived in or near Hertford,' he says. 'It is a lovely town and it has a lot of restaurants but most are chain operations of a certain level. That left only the Auberge but we wanted to have a slightly more casual side, somewhere that wouldn't alienate people who might feel like wearing a smart pair of jeans on a night out.'
The Merchant House, Hertford
51 St. Andrew Street
Hertford, SG14 1HZ
01992 504 504