Thursday, 20 August 2015

Eating Out and About #9 Meat & Beer in St Albans

There’s a new place in St Albans and they’re all about their low n’ slow cooked meat. Now, as you know, we live in Cheltenham, so we’d have had to be really, really keen to drive there for a meal; but add a weekend in London and a couple of friends we needed to catch up with (who just happen to live in St Albans) into the equation and we had the perfect excuse to book in.

Craft & Cleaver is an industrial style pub (and smokehouse – just to make it sound really cool) with a fabulous beer garden.

When we arrived, the barman was serving up the best looking gin I’ve ever laid my eyes on – served with a cucumber slice and rose petals. If we didn’t have a long drive ahead of us, I’d have happily got on the booze to accompany lunch.

Anyhow, the weather was kind to us and we sat out in the garden where we all took our time to choose carefully. It didn’t sound like the sort of place to serve up diddly little portions so we selected two starters between us: Crispy Calamari served with Garlic Aiolo & Hot Sauce and Halloumi & Sweetcorn Fritters with a Chilli Infused Honey. I don’t do calamari, but they polished it all off rather quickly and because of that, I got most of the fritters to myself.  Sweetcorn is my vegetable of choice, so put that with cheese and fry it all up together – you really can’t go wrong!

I would have usually gone for a burger in a place like this but I was lured in by the Blue Cheese Fondue that was served with the Chicken Breast Skewer (I was a bit disappointed when I saw the fondue was actually a small pot of melted cheese, call me greedy but I was expecting a full-on fondue!). It came with more corn – Chilli-butter Roasted Corn and 50/50 Fries. Chances are you’ve never heard of 50/50 fries before so allow me to explain; you know how lots of places give you the chance to upgrade to sweet potato fries? Well this place gives you the best of both worlds by serving normal fries with sweet potato fries, so you don’t have any difficult decisions to make.

The other dishes we chose all consisted of ribs, ribs, ribs and more ribs, oh and the boys also had Smoked Brisket with it. They got a choice of sides and chose the fries – obviously – and BBQ Pit Beans. I kid you not, they were the best beans ever; they have chunks of meat in and I have a feeling Kingsley might be requesting similar at home from now on!

The verdict? This place has all the right things: A great choice of the usual and more unusual drinks, a menu that makes your mouth water (it’s watering now just thinking about it) and it’s as if they decorated the place with me in mind. But, as the whole ‘low n’ slow’ thing is their selling point, we all commented that the meat was on the dry side and perhaps the ribs needed a little longer, as we like the meat to literally be falling off the bone.

That’s just us being fussy though, and if I lived nearer I would definitely go again, but next time I’d be trying out one of their burgers with a side portion of those BBQ Pit Beans!

Okay, must go get food now, it’s made me hungry just writing about it.

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