Gorgeous grown-up gastro pub
I popped into Hitchin’s Radcliffe pub earlier in the year, but didn’t manage to eat last time I was there. This time, I made sure that I was just in time for dinner — oh, is that the time already? — and I’m jolly happy that I did.
It’s just such a stylish place to hang out. Seriously — I’m in love with the Sas & Yosh wallpaper, produced specially for the Radcliffe in just the right colour and resplendent with flamingos and bugs and so on. But it’s not intimidating-stylish. It’s just-right stylish — comfortable, welcoming, and gorgeous. Oh and there was a big sign about craft gin on the bar, which always helps.
The a la carte menu has just changed for Summer — and it’s definitely worth checking out. The lunch/early evening menu changes every couple of weeks, too, and the Sunday lunch menu is similar-but-not-the-same every week — roasts, veggie options, and some seriously delicious starters. Think, Aubergine, Mozzarella, Capers and Red Onion Parcel, or Smoked Haddock Filo Quiche. There’s also a Breakfast menu that is locally-sourced and had me drooling, breakfast being my favourite meal to eat out (is that odd?).
There are definitely some neatly unusual choices on the new Summer menu. We tried the … stay with me … Prawn and Fennel Focaccia for a starter. It’s prawns, pineapple, spring onion, chilli, nestled on a slice of fennel focaccia — and believe you me, it was delicious. I wasn’t sure that prawns and pineapple was going to be my bag, but honestly? I could have scoffed the lot — and another one — had I not been sharing and far too polite to elbow someone else’s fork out of the way.
There isn’t a children’s menu — no nuggets here — but they’re happily flexible about scaling down portions for smaller folk. My youngest was with me (love an INSET day…) and she was perfectly pleased to be troughing on a portion of proper fish in lovely light batter and thick-cut chips.
I had the butterflied grilled chicken — beautifully done — on top of coconut rice, which was gorgeous, and a lovely summery mango salsa. Yes, it was raining outside but I was eating Summer inside. Would have been even better, for sure, if I’d been outside in the Radcliffe’s new garden — which is more outdoor restaurant than typical pub garden.
Don’t know about you, but pud is really the making — or breaking of a place — for me, although I’m not always sure I want something enormous for afters. The Radcliffe’s chef — a French, classically-trained chap — is flexing his patisserie muscles with their Cafe Gourmand. The coffee of your choice (and a proper size cup, too) with a trio of teeny, bite-size goodies to sweeten you up. I had a sliver of Victoria Sponge, a little almondy-drizzle cake, and the gooiest chocolate truffle I’ve ever had in my life. And sighed a lot.
For my littlest, they produced a scoop of ice cream — she chose caramel from a quite unusual selection — and loved the sparkly-iced gingerbread bird that came with it. Even let me have a nibble of the tail.
Both of us came away happy, which is always a win. In fact, my little Mudlet gave it a staggering 100 out of 10. (Beat that!) But you know what? I’m looking forward to going back for a proper grown-up dinner (fancy it, Mr C?) or — better still — a long, lazy weekend breakfast. Or maybe Sunday lunch?
The Muddy Verdict:
Great for: grown-up dining, date nights, girls nights out, Sunday lunch, lazy breakfasts and — without a doubt — long Summer evenings (if the sun comes out).
Not so great for: well, they’re happy to have kids there during the day, but there’s defo a more sophisticated, let’s-book-a-sitter feel to the place.