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AA rating

About this rating

Restaurants are awarded from 1 to 5 Rosettes for culinary excellence. One Rosette restaurants are highly recommended in a local area and five Rosettes have reached the pinnacle of culinary excellence at a world class level.

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Classy contemporary cooking with interesting combinations

AA Inspector

At a glance

Vegetarian menu
Tasting menu
Private dining
Wines by the glass
Wheelchair access
Service charge

Set in a row of four weatherboarded cottages in the town centre, Phil Thompson’s restaurant has put St Albans firmly on the gastronomic map. Now in his sixth year of running his own place (he was previously in the swish surrounds of the nearby Auberge du Lac) his cooking goes from strength to strength. Inside, it’s a notch or two up from your average eatery, the dining room looking the business in restrained shades of grey, with linen-clad tables, and local artworks adding class to the walls (for sale, if anything catches your eye). Thompson's output is nothing if not inclusive, appealing to the local constituency with veggie versions of the taster and à la carte, plus a kids' menu, a ‘Ladies that lunch’ formula, a Sunday roast special menu, and if you want a budget way in, mid-week set-lunch and dinner deals are an absolute steal. Whichever tempts you in, it’s all underpinned by sound classical technique and is all about sharply judged flavours, vivid combinations of on-trend ingredients and gorgeous presentation. Inspired starters might showcase yellowfin tuna loin, seared just so, with the lively flavours of pomelo, coriander, marinated turnip and crème fraîche bringing it all to life, or a dish involving the full-on savoury smack of oxtail cannelloni intensified by parmesan custard and nicely balanced with pickled celeriac and chestnut. Sure-footed and technically astute cooking is also a hallmark of main courses, bringing on the likes of pan-roasted fillet of sea bream with razor clam, cured lardo and curried squash, while meat-based ideas often revolve around a two-way presentation of the prime ingredient – treacle-cured fillet of Dedham Vale beef, say, served with braised short rib, calçot onions, black garlic and shiitake mushroom. Vegetarians will be delighted to see that meat-free dishes are no mere afterthought: ricotta and fine herb tortellini with toasted almond and caper and lemon butter might lead on to butter-roasted baby cauliflower with charred calçots, shiitake mushroom and crisp shallot rings. Desserts show the same feel for astute flavour and texture combinations with a well-conceived composition involving dark 70% chocolate fondant with salt burnt almond ice cream and chocolate liqueur-soaked golden raisins providing an interesting finisher, or there may be fromage frais pannacotta, its lush creaminess offset by the tart bite of Sauternes-poached Yorkshire rhubarb and rhubarb sorbet, plus warm pistachio madeleines. An intelligently complied wine list delivers a global spread of bottles at sensible prices.

Opening hours

  • Days closed: Monday
  • Closed for lunch: Tuesday
  • Closed for dinner: Sunday
  • Lunch served from: 12
  • Lunch served until: 2.30
  • Dinner served from: 6
  • Dinner served until: 9

Chef

  • Chef(s): Phil Thompson

Food and drink

  • Cuisine style: Modern British
  • Vegetarian menu
  • Wines under £30: 21
  • Wines over £30: 36
  • Wines by the glass: 15

Price guide

  • Starter from: £10.50
  • Main course from25
  • Dessert from: £9
  • 2-course lunch from: £18.50
  • 3-course lunch from: £23
  • 2-course dinner from: £21
  • 3-course dinner from: £25
  • Tasting menu from: £65
  • Service charge
  • Credit cards accepted

Accessibility

  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Accessible toilets
  • Assist dogs welcome

Additional information

  • Seats: 90
  • Private dining available
  • Private dining seats: 50
  • Off-site parking available: 0.25 miles away (signed)

Getting here

M25 junction 22, A1081 London Road to St Albans. At major crossroads right onto St Albans High Street, 2nd right onto Hatfield Road.

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Nearest train station

St Albans
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Three-course lunch from£23**Minimum price for a 3-course lunch *Minimum price for a 3-course lunch
*Minimum price for a 3-course lunch
*Minimum price for a 3-course lunch
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