As usual, I’d like to start by saying that I’m not ‘reviewing’ these restaurants. I don’t see myself as any kind of food critic, we just love to eat out and share the experiences that we’ve had. We live quite near Berkhamsted: one of the prettiest towns in the Chilterns (if you’re in London, it’s literally half an hour from Euston and full of lovely places to eat – you should come!) and often visit the market (fruit and veg on Saturday is amazing) and for dinner at one of the fabulous restaurants.
If you’re thinking of visiting Berkhamsted and the surrounding Chilterns, or just generally heading to the south of England, do check this really useful interactive south of England travel map, complete with loads of ideas for attractions to see, activities to do, and more suggestions for places to eat too.
Here are our top five foodie experiences in Berkhamsted:
1. The Highwayman
The Highwayman is still within the Blanc ‘umbrella’ if you will, but a while ago the name was changed from Brasserie Blanc and it’s now a White Brasserie pub – definitely more relaxed and pubby in its vibe. The welcome is warm and the staff are friendly and attentive.
There’s a great wine list (we ordered an absolutely delicious bottle of Merlot called Blackstone – seek it out if you get the chance – wow), and there were so many nice things on the menu, we decided to share a couple of starters: the chilli and ginger squid came highly recommended by our waiter Albert, and rightly so – absolutely delicious, full of flavour and so tender, with a lovely salad of rocket, coriander, grilled courgette, aubergine and red pepper sauce. The potted Cromer crab, which was again very flavoursome – sat on a delicious coriander-scented guacamole and was served with thick slices of toast:
For mains, Mr E had the one of the specials: hake in saffron sauce with mussels and squid (that’s not the right name, but I can’t remember) which was really well presented and was, apparently, absolutely delicious. My steak was cooked to perfection, topped with a lovely herby butter and loads of hot, crispy chips. Sorry for the gore, but CHECK THIS BAD BOY OUT:
The desserts sounded incredible (one of the reasons we have to go back, plus the boys are now desperate to go after our descriptions!), but we were a bit stuffed, so we shared a very nice cheese platter, which was the perfect way to end the meal. The Highwayman is on the High Street in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire.
2. Here Café, Lower Kings Road, Berkhamsted
This lovely, bright, trendy café has become a bit of a brunch favourite. We went for my Dad’s birthday and had a variety of dishes from the full English (amazing home made hash browns apparently) to the poached eggs with guacamole and tomato salsa on toast and everything was fresh and delicious. Lots of ingredients are locally sourced and the staff are friendly and patient (especially faced with Charlie’s ‘can you take off the tomato and mushroom, but can I have some pancakes with it please?’ requests). We had a bottle of Prosecco which turned out to be £29 – bit of a shock but we should have checked and they did explain that they don’t serve Champagne, so chose to serve a very special, top quality DOCG Single Estate Prosecco) which is fair enough. I went again recently and had the huevos rancheros with delicious crispy eggs. Wowzers. Apparently the lobster and Prosecco wednesdays are amazing too. We’ll be back. Here Cafe is in Lower Kings Road, Berkhamsted.
3. Pizza Express
Okay, it might be a chain, but we’ve had consistently brilliant food and service from the Berkhamsted Pizza Express and it’s our favourite place to go for family dinners and celebrations. We recently visited for my birthday and had an absolutely fab time. It’s a big, airy space and can get a bit noisy, but for big, bustly family get togethers it’s the absolute best. Plus the pizzas are always absolutely delicious and the staff are lovely.
Pizza Express is on the High Street, Berkhamsted
4. Mario’s Espresso Bar and Gelateria
We can’t mention Berkhamsted without our favourite coffee place, Mario’s. Always friendly and lovely (and their Instagram feed is great too), Mr E and I often stop in for a coffee and one of their delicious, freshly baked cookies or cakes when we’re in town, and occasionally grab one of their fabulous home made gelato on a sunny day.
Mario’s is on the corner of the High Street and Lower Kings Road, Berkhamsted
5. I Love Food
A recent discovery for us – we’d headed to Berkhamsted on a Saturday evening on a whim and tried – and failed – to get into Zaza (which is also very good, actually). We thought we’d try next door instead and the lovely staff managed to find us a little spot upstairs. The decor is bright and kind of industrial chic with lots of white painted bare brickwork. The atmosphere is really buzzy and lively and – tellingly – the upstairs was full of Italian people eating!
The wine list is fab, and we shared a delicious, crisp and fruity Falanghina, plus a fritto misto starter, which was packed with loads of crispy-coated tiny whitebait, mussels and tender squid. For mains, my pistachio, pancetta and mascarpone pasta was stunning (but not very photogenic, sorry) as was Mr E’s slow cooked lamb – not a huge portion but he said it was rich and delicious. The cakes look incredible so I’m going to try and pop in for a coffee sometime soon as well.
I Love Food Kitchen is on Lower Kings Road, Berkhamsted.