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George Street Canteen, St Albans

Muddy says: this hidden gem is no longer a secret, it won Best Cafe in the Muddy Awards 2017. It’s family and also dog friendly, it’s cosy inside and Mediterranean (on a good day) outside.

George Street Canteen is on one of the oldest streets in St Albans, in a tranquil courtyard with great views of the Cathedral. The owners, Julie and Kevin, are committed to sourcing local and seasonal produce, and promote loads of local producers through their menu and also their pop-up shop.

Step into the courtyard, and you’ll feel that you’re in on a secret. The cafe is just a little bit hidden, yet so many people are now in the know because it’s hard to remain a secret when you won Best Cafe in the Muddy Awards 2017. You’ll get a warm welcome, and you’ll be well looked after.

This is very much a daytime place, and the food is colourful, abundant and creative. I’ve now tried most things here, from the full English to the Mediterranean breakfast: chorizo, roasted sweet potatoes and avocado. Try the beetroot salad with Wobbly Bottom (it was a healthy option, honest) goats cheese or yoghurt with berries or seasonal fruit and Dizzy B granola. Coffee is delish, thanks to Gentleman Baristas; the sourdough is baked by Dolce Forno and all the meat is from A & C Meats in St Albans. The halloumi and ice cream are made in Barnet. Hot chocolate is rich and indulgent and the cookies are always freshly baked. Oh, and three batches of dog biscuits are baked each week.

There’s an upstairs room that you can hire, and where midweek you might find a local group discussing books or speaking in French. Come the weekend, the courtyard comes alive with families and the professional brunch brigade.

Opening times: Mon – Fri 8.30-4pm; Sat 8.30-5pm; Sun 8.30-4pm

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Hertfordshire