One of the things I miss about living in London is the option to try out a new restaurant on an almost daily basis. Turning up and having absolutely no expectations about the decor, food or service but just the anticipation of tasting something new. So I was very excited to visit The Abbey on Tuesday night to discover what Executive Chef Cat Ashton has in store! Having previously worked at the very well established Petersham Nurseries I was intrigued to see what she was bringing to the table (quite literally)!
You can’t possibly enter the restaurant without commenting on the beautiful flower wall surrounding an antique mirror that feels right at home in St Albans. With a skylight roof, I really can’t wait to return in the sunshine to see the restaurant in daylight as it’s truly instagrammable. The restaurant has a lovely ambience and is dimly lit with candles on each table to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The menu is simple – four starters, four mains and four desserts as well as a couple of appetisers and side dishes. Starters are priced at £8, mains at £15 and desserts at £7. The locally sourced produce is seasonal so the menu will be refreshed every few weeks based on what is available.
My husband chose the salt cod and chickpea fritters with burnt cauliflower, chilli and lemon aioli to start. He tucked into it so quickly I didn’t get a photo but I did get picture of mine – the ricotta and grilled pear bruschetta with celeriac, pumpkin seeds and fig infused balsamic to start. I absolutely loved it – there wasn’t a crumb left on the plate. The dish had a sweetness to it because of the fruity balsamic and it went perfectly with the creamiest ricotta ever.
For our main courses we were both tempted by the spiced lamb shoulder but as we tend to share most of our meals I opted for the Guinea Fowl. It came with the most incredible hazelnuts on a bed of cauliflower puree.
We also got a side winter greens which were the most vibrant colour. Really does make me excited that spring is on its way!
The lamb shoulder just melted in my mouth and my husband’s eyes even closed as he took the first bite (which is always a very good sign.) The carrot puree tasted amazing. It definitely won our favourite dish of the night!
I’m a pudding girl and will always opt for a main and pudding over a starter and main. I have a particular weakness for anything with chocolate so I was delighted to see a chocolate mousse and blood orange caramel cream on the menu –it didn’t disappoint. There were segments of orange in the dish which worked so well with the tastiest of creams. I’d quite happily have that dessert every day.
The other half opted for the Sticky Medjool pudding which came with butterscotch cream and ice cream. The warmness of the date pudding was making the ice cream melt, so he delved in as I quickly captured a photo.
Our visit to The Abbey certainly surpassed our expectations. It’s clear to see that the owners have put a lot of thought into the decor and design of the restaurant. With a mixture of modern and antique touches they have created a lovely ambience. We were also lucky enough to meet Chef Cat at the end of our meal. She described the menu and produce that The Abbey are using with so much enthusiasm. Her passion for food is truly infectious and the waiting staff were also listing their favourite dishes throughout the night. Cat has lots of ambitions for the restaurant from breakfasts through to tasting menus. There are also two private rooms that are due to open shortly upstairs, and one will have a view of St Albans Abbey perfect for celebrating a special occasion.
I’m really excited to see what is next for The Abby. The food and service were great value for money and I’m sure it will become a favourite on the restaurant scene in St. Albans.