You guys seem to have been enjoying my more local posts at the moment, so I’m back with a foodie one today 🙂
Although you may find it odd that a travel blogger is writing about 1) her home county and 2) her favourite restaurants, most of my readers are from outside of Hertfordshire and let’s face it, the best part of most trips is in the eating. So without further waffle (no pun intended), let’s get to the good stuff!
I have been going to this family style Italian restaurant since it opened in Letchworth Garden City in 2003. It originally came to my attention because I went to the nearby girls school and it was a firm favourite with all of the students (mainly because of the waiters). Some places could be quite stuffy about 30 teenage girls in kilts descending upon them and demanding pizza, but this restaurant is just as welcoming and casual now as it was back then. Not only is it very family friendly and good value for money, its reputation has meant that despite a dreaded Prezzo opening up around the corner, it remains just as busy night after night.
Even after all these years, it’s still one of my favourite places to eat in Hertfordshire, simply because the quality of the food is so good. You can really tell that everything is prepared freshly on site, with fresh ingredients and an authentic style.
My recommendations would be the garlic pizza bread and literally any of the delicious pastas on offer. Their pizza is also top notch… basically just get everything? For more info and a look at their extensive menu, you can find the link to L’artista’s website here.
2. Gangnam Stevenage
I was introduced to this fairly recent opener by my friend Ginny (who you may remember from my Berlin post). The idea of this place excited me before I had even tried it, because even though Stevenage is a great town for entertainment, we are surrounded by an awful lot of chain restaurants. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with the odd chain (such as my spiritual home, Nando’s), but there’s only so much Pizza Express you can take before you’re put off for a lifetime.
Gangnam is based in Stevenage town centre and aims to provide healthy and authentic Korean food to the people of Hertfordshire. This restaurant represented a wonderful new opportunity for me to enjoy a new type of cuisine without leaving the comfort of my locality.
My recommendations would definitely be the salmon kim bap (Korean style cooked salmon sushi) and the so bibimbap (minced beef cooked with chilli sauce, veggies and rice). This place really does bring something different to the dining scene in Hertfordshire and is probably the best place to find sushi and bubble tea in the area! For more information, you can find their website here.
3. The Groundworks
Opened in 2014 by two young guys (Tom Weller and Ben Hedley), this café is probably one of the most exciting things to happen to Hertfordshire in YEARS. Groundworks has brought the ‘hipster’ café culture of London to Hitchin, combining it with Nordic style interiors and seriously good cooking. It’s now the place I try to take every out-of-towner when they come to visit me, because it feels so representative of the best Hertfordshire has to offer.
I have been here more times than I care to mention and from following Groundworks on social media, I can see that it’s only growing from strength to strength. If you’re looking for a really good breakfast, brunch or lunch (or even just cake and great coffee), this is the place to go!
My recommendations would be the avocado smash on sourdough with poached eggs or the pancakes. For more information, you can find a link to their website here.
4. Mevan Ocackbasi & Bar
Sticking with Hitchin for the time being, we are travelling down the road to this popular Turkish restaurant. For quite a while, there was a serious lack of good Turkish food in Hertfordshire, but this restaurant seems to have sparked the trend for the rest of the county. However despite other competing restaurants opening, this has remained one of the best in terms of the quality of the food, the range of dishes on offer, the price point and the service.
I would definitely encourage booking here as it does tend to get very busy, but this only tends to add to the vibrant atmosphere and lively buzz of the place.
My recommendations for Mevan would be the platters. I would say that one mezze platter, one meat platter and one dessert platter is enough to easily feed 2-3 people (depending on how hungry you are) and it also means that you get to taste a bit of everything. If you’re worried about our animal friends or just about getting the meat sweats, there are also plenty of vegetarian options. To find out more, you can find a link to their website here.
5. Old Siam
We end our culinary journey in the town of Hertford. It was 2013 and I was just starting to find my feet in my new job, when I came across a Thai restaurant called Old Siam with my colleague (and now close friend) Ratty.
As we grew to love the different dishes, the tranquil atmosphere and each other, Old Siam really became a safe haven for us over a tumultuous couple of years. The restaurant has a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere (think elephants and pan pipes), the food is incredible and the service is just lovely.
My recommendations would be the prawn spring rolls, the prawn Pad Thai and the chicken red curry. You do usually need to book in advance and it can end up being a pricier night out, but it’s more than worth it for the dining experience. Pro tip – if you go at lunch time, the dishes are a lot cheaper but still have the same generous portion size! For more information, you can check out their website here.
That brings my round up of my top 5 places to eat in Hertfordshire to a close but as always, if you have any recommendations of your own, feel free to leave me a comment below.
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Thanks for reading,
P.S. If you’d like further information on which of these eateries offer halal meat, just leave a comment below!