The Cricketers, Weston
Looking for a proper, cosy pub? Home-cooked food, real ale and log fires? A muddy walk before or after? Welcome to The Cricketers.
The Cricketers is in the village of Weston, north Herts, close to Hitchin, Baldock and Letchworth Garden City. The pub is very much at the heart of the village community and it lives up to the idea of the pub as a hub. The Cricketers happily bowls itself into all kinds of community activities, from organising fun family events, to raising money for charity, and working with local schools. In summer, there’ll be pop up cinema nights in the garden, and on Easter Sunday you can expect a magician, garden games (weather permitting) and lots of chocolate eggs.
There are stompy muddy walks aplenty, and the day I visited, I got chatting to two women – old friends – who live in St Albans and Cambridge. They meet here a couple of times a year and walk before or after lunch. They said that they’ve tried other places but always come back here because you can’t beat The Cricketers for friendliness and consistently good food. If you don’t know the area, there are maps in the pub and the team who work there are happy to give advice and directions about where to ramble.
The Cricketers has managed to create something refreshingly unique: an unpretentious contemporary pub with traditional values. The service is genuine, warm and friendly, and you sense that someone is thinking about what people actually want when they come to a country pub. It’s casual, laid back and very friendly. It’s a very attractive interior, with neutral colours, light floorboards, exposed bricks and comfy cushions in the bar. While it’s loved by the locals, I can confirm that it’s also extremely welcoming to blow-ins from Welwyn!
A Mediterranean bonus ball: the cricket-inspired, wood fired pizza oven.
The main dining room is open and light, with views of the garden – bring on the good weather – and a log burner for chilly days. Everyone who works here acts as if they are at home – there’s no standing on ceremony, and everyone is down to earth and real. You’re here to relax and enjoy yourself, and the home team at The Cricketers will do everything to make this happen.
Hearty, home-cooked and delicious. Deep filled Yorkshire puds with lashings of gravy. Standout pizzas, with sporting names, are thin, crispy and loaded with tastiness. You can order pizzas until 10pm, to eat in or take home. One thing that The Cricketers doesn’t shout about is that it wins awards for being a sustainable business with an emphasis on sourcing local produce. The pub is owned and run by the exemplary Nye family business Anglian Country Inns which owns pubs and restaurants in Hertfordshire and Norfolk. One of the businesses in this small group is the White Horse in Brancaster, Norfolk, and the family also has its own micro brewery, Brancaster Brewery. So at The Cricketers, in addition to Adnams and Doom Bar and the rest, you can also sample beers including Brancaster Best Bitter and Oyster Catcher. There is also a good selection of Norfolk cordials.
I had a prawn and chorizo pizza that was as thin and as crispy and delicious as can be. I was nursing a cold at the time so I stuck with hot ginger beer. My mum (who grew up in India and knows her spices) went for chicken tikka masala and a glass of wine. She absolutely loved the curry and said it was the real deal. All in the name of research we shared a sticky, saucy, pillowy chocolate sponge pudding. Yum. We lingered. The Cricketers is all too cosy. It would be the perfect place if you were to get snowed in. Yes we could have nipped in and out but there’s something about the make-yourself-at-home atmosphere that made us relax and stay a while. I love the fact that it’s not trying to be anything fancy but puts its energy into doing honest things really well.
Around and about
As well as walking, there are couple of wonderful independent businesses in the area that are a must for lovers of design. Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery is in Weston and the inspiring interiors and gift shop Staffy B is in Baldock. And close by you’ve got Hitchin Lavender and Standalone Farm.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Anyone who loves a down-to-earth and cosy pub with real food. Walkers, cyclists, families, dogs. People who appreciate tasty and authentic pizzas. Cricket fans. It’s an all-round winner!
Not for: People looking for a gastro pub with navy blue walls and antlers.
The damage: Very reasonable and excellent value. Roasts: £14.95. Puddings: £4.95. The Sticky Wicket pizza (Serrano, Parmesan and rocket): £9.95.
The Cricketers Damask Green Road, Weston, Hitchin, Herts SG4 7DA