The Urban Guide to the Countryside
Edition

Brilliant new place for a burger

29 Oct 2014

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Let me get this out on the table before we start: I’m not a big fan of the burger. But even though my eldest barely eats meat, and never really has done, he’s still been thoroughly seduced by the idea that a burger is really the only food that a wannabe teenager should ever want.

So the idea of a new restaurant that just serves burgers left me, dare I say it, a teensy bit cold. I’m too old – and much too grumpy – for another ‘team member’ in an odd hat asking if I want fries with that, or whether it’s ‘eat in or to go.’

Now, though, I’ve found the perfect place to keep both me and number one son happy. The Meating Room (yes, with an ‘a’) tucked away down Catherine Street in St Albans is a real find, and I know it’s rapidly going to become a favourite . It’s only been open since May, and it’s already building up a dedicated clientele.

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First off, it’s tiny  – with space to seat just 22 people. Definitely book if you want to be sure of a table in the evenings. It’s beautifully decorated, all very tasteful and low key industrial chic, and I love the little booths in the middle. The kitchen is right there, but it manages not to dominate while still giving the very real (and accurate) impression that you’re right where the action is, food-wise .

The burgers? Oh me oh my. Clearly I’ve got some catching up to do, as I’m apparently the last person in the world to be asked whether I want my burger rare, medium or well-done. My medium rare Classic was just that: medium rare, with a lovely just-the-right-pink middle, and it was a classic, no-nonsense burger. And yes, I would like fries with that – the rosemary salted fries are about as crispy and delicious as a fry could possibly be.

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The buns are toasty, and are baked at an independent bakery in St Albans to a recipe that no doubt took some serious fine tuning to perfect.   All the salad – juicy tomatoes, crisp lettuce – are nice enough you’d want to eat them on their own, and the meat is clearly some serious beef.  (Well, except the chicken, of course.) There’s a veggie choice, too, which looks like a real delight, rather than the usual afterthought.

The Little Dudes menu offers smaller versions of the grown-up burgers – as well as ice cream to top it all off. With all the attention that’s going into the ingredients, you can feel good about taking your children there and letting them loose on the menu. Feed them burgers and still feel like a good mum? Result.

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Even the drinks are gorgeous – I’m not much of a fizzy drink fan either, but their ‘Posh Pop’ is lovely. Definitely try the strawberry and rhubarb. And they make their own milkshakes, too.  If you’re after a glass of something stronger, though, you’ll have to plan ahead – with no licence as yet, it’s BYO.

At the heart of the business is Al – founder, partner, front-of-house, the lot. He and his business partner  Jamal, as well as wife Raihaanah, are determined to root The Meating Room firmly in the community. Born and raised in St Albans, all three are filled with a real passion for all things local – using only local suppliers and tradespeople, and supporting local schools and charities. That commitment and determination comes across in the food and the attention to detail. It’s off to a great start, and it’s just a shame that they’ve not got more space. Still, they’ll pack it up for you too if you fancy a takeaway in front of Strictly.

There’s a thought – a takeaway and a tango. I wonder if they do salsa dressing….

22 Catherine Street, St Albans, AL3 5BX.  01727 833707.  meating-room.co.uk

 

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside -
Hertfordshire Edition