Friday 29 April 2011

The Six Bells Pub, St Albans - Restaurant Review

Last night the local Ladies Circle I attend held their annual AGM at the Six Bells in St Michaels, St Albans. Having been here a few times, I would say that this is a lovely pub for a quiet drink or intimate meal. The atmosphere is always pleasant and welcoming, with a cosy fire in the winter and reasonably priced drinks. However I intend to focus on the vegetarian element of the menu being served, rather than other factors.

My review will be slightly different to forthcoming reviews, as I was part of a large group for this dining experience, which can affect the quality of the food and service. The menu was pre-selected and offered one vegetarian choice. Having looked at their usual evening menu, the Six Bells offers a choice of four vegetarian starters out of seven starters and a single vegetarian choice out of eleven main courses. 

The vegetarian menu offered for the evening was:

Starter: (V) Grilled Mozzarella, Tomato & Basil Pesto Bruschetta served on warm 
Ciabatta bread

Main Course:  (V) Brie, Grape & Cranberry Tart served with chips and mixed leaves

Having begun our business meeting, the starters arrived and were served by very obliging staff.  If I were being slightly pedantic, it could be argued that the starter wasn’t strictly vegetarian, as the pesto contains Parmesan which is made from animal rennet, however, vegetarian food is defined differently by everyone and so I was happy to eat the starter. Unfortunately though, I wasn’t overawed. To be fair, I was being served as part of a large group, but by the time it was served, the bruschetta was more cold hard stale bread than warm ciabatta bread. The Mozzarella was also cold and had turned from grilled soft mozzarella to hard, stiff, stodgy cheese. The bruschetta was served layered in Balsamic vinegar which whilst tasty on its own, did nothing to add to the dish. The appearance of the dish wasn’t hugely appetising either.

My main course was the Brie, Grape and Cranberry Tart. When it arrived at the table, the chips and tart were completely cold.  However, this was quickly rectified by a member of staff when I let them know. Once the meal was returned, the temperature was much more satisfactory. The Tart was delicious and tasted very fresh. The cranberry jelly complimented the brie perfectly and the grapes added to the taste and texture. I would have preferred the tart to be served with new potatoes as the chips tasted quite stodgy next to the lightness of the tart and the salad.

Dinner was finished off with a sumptuous oozy chocolate pudding and ice cream which was absolutely delicious.

Verdict:  Perhaps worth a 2nd visit to test the food in a more intimate dining setting but 6/10 based on last night’s experience.

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