Monday, 27 August 2012

Hertford Food and Drink Festival


First Hertford Food and Drink Festival to be held in October
Local businesses, the Town Council and other local organisations are busy planning the first Hertford Food and Drink Festival to be held in the town during the week ending the 14th October. A wide range of activities are being arranged to appeal to all tastes, pockets and age groups.
The Festival programme includes a special market in the Bircherley Green Shopping Centre on Saturday 13th October which will complement the regular Farmers and Saturday markets. Cookery demonstrations are planned in the town centre on both Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th October.
Courtyards Arts will be holding an exhibition in the Hertford Theatre around a Food theme from the 25th September and there will be an exhibition of Recipes at the Hertford Library on loan from Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies during the Festival week.
Hertford Museum will be running a fun event on a gastronomic theme on Saturday 13thOctober.  Visitors will be able to taste food from the Roman period, sample Wartime delicacies, get a taste of  the Tudors and take part in fun food and drink trails!  The trails will be available all day. This event is being supported by Waitrose
A town centre Food Trail competition, also sponsored by Waitrose, will be held. Entrants will be asked to identify the fruits, vegetables and exotic products pictured on posters displayed in food outlets and shops throughout the town. 
Hertford brewer McMullens will be running a couple of tours of their Brewery in Old Cross during the Festival and wine tastings are planned by local businesses.
Individual businesses will be offering their own Festival Meal Deals, menus and in store promotions.
“The Festival will showcase the strong Food and Drink on offer in Hertford. I am pleased that the town centre businesses, especially the independents and local organisations are working together to attract more people into the town centre during the Festival. I am sure many will return once they have tasted what Hertford has to offer.” said Cllr Isabel Sigmac, Chair of the Development and Leisure Committee of Hertford Town Council.
Further information on the Festival will be posted on the www.gohertford.co.uk website.
by Melvin Caton

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Review: The Waggoners (Ayot Green, Welwyn)



Date of visit: 22nd August 2012


WOW, WOW and WOW again.  My first perfect score has finally arrived, for both service and food.  We had the pleasure of going to The Waggoners set in Ayot Green near Welwyn last night to celebrate David’s Birthday.   Once again we had taken advantage of the vouchers from 106 Jack FM, which allows you to pay £25 and you get £50 off your bill.  The Waggoners is a refurbished 17th century coaching Inn and is set between pretty houses and cottages around a beautiful English green.  Even though it is an English pub the cuisine is French.











On arrival we were greated by a lovely lady, wish I had got her name.  Our table was in the second room in the restaurant, the décor is lovely and really pub like.  Make sure you duck as you go through doorways as the English must have been very short in the good old days.  The service from the time of our arrival was very professional and yet not stuck up at all.  The staff was there when you needed them, but never in your face.  We started off with a lovely little canapé of battered prawns.  I unfortunately had to stick to soft drinks as it was David’s Birthday and it was only fair to let him have a couple of beers.  He had one of his favourites London Pride from Fullers



Danielle attempted for the first time, to eat frog’s legs.  She has a lot more guts than me, there is no way I would ever eat them.  It was a treat; it took a couple of minutes for her to pluck up the courage to take the first bite.  She managed to eat two of the four, but eventually put them on David’s plate.  She said all that was going through her mind was little green frogs jumping around.  Although she said it did taste very nice. Cuissesde grenouilles panes:  Breaded frog legs with a shitake and mouli cake served with a garlic and parsley mayonnaise, cost £8.20.  I had had and lovely cheese tart for my started, I don’t see it on their website menu.  It was absolutely divine.  David also had frogs legs as well as Danielle’s left overs.

My starter
For mains Danielle had Aile de canard sure pain d’epice a l’orange et porto:  Duck breast with ginger bread red onion and plum chutney, sautéed potato, orange and port sauce, cost £17.00.  She said it was mouth-watering, the best she had ever eaten. 


David had, Coeur de boeuf au vin rouge:  Rump of beef with croquette campagnard potato, melted leeks and red wine sauce Joue de boeuf a la Guardian, cost £18.50.  It was David who decided that the food at The Waggoners was going to be my first five stars.  Having lived in South Africa for most of his life, he knows his meat and until now he had not found a steak in the UK that could match South African meat.  He gave me a taste and it was out of this world.  Even though it had a red wine sauce that he normally hates, if he could lick his plate I am sure he would have.


I had Ballotine de poulet:   Chicken ballotine with cumin Savoy cabbage and butternut squash mash, light curry sauce, cost £15.00.  This requires another Wow, gorgeous are just a few of the words I can use. 

 I did surcome to the dessert menu and had Pithivier glace a la pistache:  Almond and cream pastry served with a pistachio ice cream, cost £6.50.

Overall Experience

A truly wonderful experience, but I think it will be a place for special occasions only as it is a bit on the pricey side, our total bill was £105 for the three of us, and that did not include my usual bottle of wine. If you are looking for perfection in a perfect setting The Waggoners is the place for you.

History of The Waggoners


The Waggoners has not changed its use for over 400 years, although when first built it is believed to have been housing for workers at Brocket Hall. It has always served drink and food but the custom that visits the area has changed as it was primarily used as a coaching inn, hence the name.
* * *
The Waggoners, along with The Shoulder of Mutton (The Red Lion) was the last pub at the top of the Mountain Slow. During its oldest period The Waggoners would have been the more dominant of pubs catering for commercial transport of the times. The Waggoners was built on level ground enabling waggon drivers not to labour their horses immediately after their rest by pulling loads up-hill from a standing start especially after still being worn out from the long drag up Mountain Slow.
* * *
Infamous brothers, the Fox twins would drink in The Waggoners, well remembered as poachers; they looked so alike their best friends could not tell them apart. The story told about the two characters is whenever one was summoned to appear at the police court the other would present himself to answer the charge. Needless to say they were invariably able to prove ones innocence every time and consistently made the prosecution look foolish.



Brickwall Close, Ayot Green, Welwyn, AL6 9AA

Tel: 01707 324241
The Waggoners on Urbanspoon

Rating Guide

5 Stars - Perfect
4.5 Stars - Exceptional
4 Stars - Excellent
3.5 Stars - Very good
3 Stars - Good
2.5 Stars - Average
2 Stars - Bad
1.5 Stars - Very bad
1 Star - Dire



Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Review: The Hatch (Basingstoke)



Date of visit: 11th August 2012


The Hatch part of the Chef and Brewer Pub Co, this has been my mother-in-laws best restaurant for years, well not anymore.  This is going to be my most scathing review to date.  I have eaten here before it was taken over by the Chef  and Brewer and it was brilliant, it was one of my late father-in-laws favourite restaurants.  It is my husband’s Birthday this month and we made the journey from Hertford to Basingstoke to celebrate with his Mum and his Sister.  Various suggestions where made of places to eat and my Mum-in-law’s only choice was The Hatch.  On arrival one was greeted by a tatty white Christmas tree with pamphlets trying to coax you into booking your Christmas functions there, it is August, why must I been faced with that.  The black board says wait to be seated, we waited and waited and eventually someone attended to us and said sit anywhere, really we waited for ever to be told that.  Strangely it was very empty, this was not usually the case with them, we were afraid that because we had not booked we would not get a table.  As in the past they used to  be overflowing at the seams.  Perhaps this should have been a warning!  We seated ourselves and made a note of all our orders and went to the bar to place our orders.  They were told that there would a thirty minute wait for the food.  Great no problem, and the bill was paid up front (something that really gets me going as you have no real recall and can’t just walk out as they have your money already).  By the time us girls wanted our second bottle I suddenly looked at my watch and asked the boys to check what time we had placed the order, it was placed at 14h18 and it was now 15h20, a whole hour since we had placed the order.  My husband went to ask the manager where our food was and was told that they were plating up.  Our table faced the kitchen doors and we should have realised something was wrong when the doors remained closed the time that we were seated except for a baby pram coming out of the kitchen.  Eventually food started to exit the kitchen, but not ours, it was going to the outside patrons.  Then the food was going back into the kitchen un touched.  It was now twenty minutes since the manger had said our food was being platted up, 15h40.  Starting to feel very hungry and in need of blotting paper as we had now finished our second bottle of wine.  By this time my usually mild tempered husband had started to get more and more vocal and asked once again to see the manager.  Who apologised and apologized and said that is was not normal and he had been let down by staff.  I stated that perhaps it would have been better that he should rather have  closed the kitchen and just served drinks, as it is a pub.   Upon my return home I did a google search on The Hatch and guess what, this was not a once off.  Tripadvisor has numerous complaints about them for the last couple of months.  The manager did give us our money back for the food, the least he could do.  We were at the point of leaving and rather getting a McDonalds, when our food finally arrived, time 16h00.  We were so hungry I did not even try and take photos, not that they would have been any good.  Danielle’s chips with her burger where ice cold and we sent them back, returned a few seconds later, must have been put in the microwave.  My sister-in-laws chicken salad came with a rock hld pitta bread that I had tapped on the table and tore, and handed in my hands to the waitresses hands.  This was also returned soggy on a side plate, and yes it was the same one.  The manger gave us desserts on the house and coffee’s, but sorry to say that they will never see us again.  The summer pudding did look good that my brother-in-law had. I suppose this is what happens when big chain groups buy our local pubs and put a manager, who has no real loyalty to a place in charge.




Website: The Hatch


London Road, Old Basing, Basingstoke, Hampshire, RG24 7JL

Tel:   01256 807617



Rating Guide


5 Stars - Perfect
4.5 Stars - Exceptional
4 Stars - Excellent
3.5 Stars - Very good
3 Stars - Good
2.5 Stars - Average
2 Stars - Bad
1.5 Stars - Very bad
1 Star - Dire

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Review: The Raj of Hertford




Date of visit: 9th August 2012


Oh happy days, I have found a replacement for my disappointment with The Viceroy.  The Raj of Hertford is totally unassuming from the outside, you might walk right past and not even realise that it is a restaurant.  The only reason we found out about it was from friends.  The décor is nothing to write home about looks like it is stuck in an eighties time warp; it is very small and is clean.  But don’t let that put you off.  The staff know their menu and also their regulars, our dinner guests being two of them.  They suggested an alternative for one of our guests, the Haryali Murogh Jalfreji, a fairly hot green chicken prepared with fresh green chillies mixed peppers and onions medium dry finish, he absolutely loved it.  Looked a bit on the hot side for my liking.  Another thing that I liked is that their menu has descriptions, as I like to try new things but just giving me an Indian name does not help.


Haryali Murogh Jalfreji
We never felt under any pressure to order and the staff where there when we needed them. Even though the restaurant is small you never feel like you are on top of the other dinners.   I also know that their kitchen is very clean as one of our guests has been in it and said yes it is a kitchen that is well used, you could eat off the floor.


I ordered the Chicken Malayan, a fruity dish prepared in a fairly mild delicate spice.  It was to die for.
Chicken Malayan


David ordered his usual Chicken Tikka, succulent pieces of Chicken marinated in yogurt and mild spices and baked in a Tandoor.  He had the same dish at The Viceroy and said that this one was one of the best he had ever eaten.  

Chicken Tikka


When it comes to Onion Bhaji, stop the boat, these were the best ever.  They were shaped like tennis balls and although they had been fried they were not oily and stodgy.

They offered a variety of beers and wine, the men went for their favourite Cobra and us ladies had a bottle of the house white, it was reasonably priced and refreshing.  For four of us with a couple of beers, soft drinks and one bottle of wine, our bill came to £95.

They are open seven days a week Monday to Saturday: 6pm till 11pm and Sunday: 12 noon till 3pm.

Overall Experience


The Raj has to be the best Indian restaurant within miles or even further. Food is excellent; staff & management are so accommodating.  The Raj doesn't generally attract the last orders crowd of drunken clients & that's what adds to its attraction.

On the menu you will get your usual favourites, but also the Raj has its own unique offerings which will never disappoint. Simply the best!

32 Ware Road, Hertford, Herts, SG13 7HH
Tel: (01992) 505044 / 505019



Rating Guide


5 Stars - Perfect
4.5 Stars - Exceptional
4 Stars - Excellent
3.5 Stars - Very good
3 Stars - Good
2.5 Stars - Average
2 Stars - Bad
1.5 Stars - Very bad
1 Star - Dire