Welcome to your new home, Porters!
There had been a load of speculation about who would end up in the glass-walled corner unit of the recent development on Berkhamsted High Street. After Costa and M&S took the other two units, it looked like another chain (yawn) might be on its way. Imagine the excitement, then, when Porters, an independent restaurant that had been cooking up deliciousness in the heart of London for more than 35 years, announced that it was relocating to the town. I grabbed my foodie friend Helen – who never seems to mind being grabbed for something like this – and we met up there to check it out.
It’s still all very new and lovely inside, of course – and they’ve done a gorgeous job of decking it out. Very classy. You could well believe you’re somewhere much more urban than leafy Berko. But the glass walls and the patio look out onto a quieter end of the High Street, with the Lamb pub opposite looking positively picturesque with its hanging baskets, so you’re getting the best of both worlds.
We both loved the food. It felt like a real treat, although with mains around £15 it wasn’t too naughty. We both had the Dressed Devon Crab to start, which was very pretty to look at as well as tasty to scoff.
The mains, of course, feature the Porters Pies for which they were renowned at the original site, as well as the choice of couple of steaks – fillet and ribeye – and three other dishes. Helen plumped for the Barnsley Chop, with came with a warm spring green and mint salad. I had the Roast Pollock, which came topped with gooey, toasty Welsh rarebit and perched atop a warm nicoise salad with lovely runny soft-boiled quails eggs.
My pud choice was the chocolate fondant with salted caramel ice cream – which you have to wait a little while for, but was so worth being patient. I’m a bit of a sucker for chocolate and salted caramel, but even Helen – whom I oh-so-generously allowed to have the tiniest of tiny tastes – thought it was brilliant.
I sneaked some of her cheese, too, and it was an interesting selection and there was lots of it on the board.
It was a great night, all in all. There’s something quite lovely about all that light coming through the glass – and then the sparkly lights of the patio and beyond that, the High Street, once it gets dark. Feels all sophisticated and city-like, without being pretentious. Will definitely be back, and I hope Berkhamsted proves a good choice as a new home.
The Muddy Verdict
Great for: grown-up dinners, date nights, catching up with friends, pretending you’re in London (only without the London prices).
Not so great for: I’d probably take the children there, although I’m not sure it’d be the best place for that sort of malarkey.
££: none the starters are more than £7, all the mains are between £12 and 15 – apart from the steaks, which are between £22 and £25. Puds are around £6, and the cheese board comes in at just under a tenner. Wine is about what you’d expect in relation to that, too, and the one we had was great for the price.