Best Part: The Play Equipment!
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am very sad in writing this review. I wanted to withhold it but Mr Midweek Lunch said that we need to retain our professional integrity. We have lived in St. Albans for almost 10 years and have always been fond of the Hare and Hounds. They are friendly to dogs, children, members of the clergy and ordinary people. Only three weeks ago I have a super lunch here with a Canine and Human friend. I was so bowled over I would have rated that sandwich lunch 8.5/10. Elsa the dog really did knock her bowl over – a bowl of water that they provided for her several times (she kept knocking it over!) out of the goodness of their hearts. You see, what lovely people!
DESIGN AND FACILITIES
Their design is lovely. It strikes just the right balance between being en trend and traditional in cream and limewash green. There is a comfy sofa side and a smart dining area. The toilets and toiletries are of a very good standard. The beer on tap is superb. May I recommend their own ale? Their Menu is exciting too, it promises much and I will come to that shortly.
Anyhow, Mr Midweek Lunch, our two children and myself visited for a family friendly lunch. We were at that time the only patrons in the garden. This was great news for the boys who had free rein of the play equipment – yes, take note; you can drink while they play. Another sign of a thoughtful manager. They have a good menu and I believe it can even be ordered by texting so you don’t have to walk the short journey to the bar. I don’t really understand these things so walked there myself. It wasn’t a problem apart from walking back with a tray full of drinks when no members of my family came to my aid…as usual…
There is a marked slope to the garden, which I would imagine could be disconcerting if you have partaken too freely of their ale, but as we were in charge of small people and my husband had to return to work, this was easily navigated.
Initial signs were very encouraging, and there were almost too many potential options to go for. Also, can we take a moment here to congratulate the Hare & Hounds on the actual design of their menu. Too many pubs just think that by using a slightly curly font they have done enough to make their bill of fayre look enticing, but the first bite is not even with the eyes, it is with the menu. Not literally.
Having been thrilled with the cheddar and chutney sandwich last time I decided to be more adventurous and go for a burger. It had some interesting sides but not being keen on coleslaw I asked for the sauerkraut (now that’s different, isn’t it?) and sweet potato fries instead of standard. They kindly allowed this with no trouble. There is a good children’s menu. Elder boy went for sausages and chips and the smaller one opted for tomato pasta.
My husband chose the nacho dog (a hot dog with nachos, nachorally) with a side of skinny fries with sauerkraut. We had to wait rather a while for our food to come but the boys didn’t mind because of the climbing frames. Mr Midweek Lunch did, as he feared he might break something if he went climbing. When it did come the boys were fairly pleased with their food. The tomato pasta came (and was advertised) without cheese and the little fellow would have like some but he didn’t make a fuss, for him this is unusual. Boy 1 liked his chips very much and refused to share them with boy 2. On this matter Boy 2 did make a fuss. He was also keen on the sausages but “some baked beans would have been nice.” A small rant is coming… As parents I know we are not alone in explaining the importance of eating vegetables with all meals. Why then do pubs insist of just bringing the meat and potato option? A simple choice of peas, beans or crudités would be appreciated. Better still, why not have a “Mum knows best” option of carrot, cucumber and pepper sticks with hummus and pitta bread. I work with children and don’t know any who would refuse this option. However lettuce is another matter “Children don’t like salad” said Boy 1, giving me his lettuce. I don’t like it much either. The vegetable patty part of my Burger was very dull. However the bun and sides were flavoursome enough. Their sweet potato fries were good but not as good as the Smokehouse Deli’s.
The appearance of both the nacho dog and the fries were disappointing. I think the menu had probably set expectations a bit high, and the food when it eventually arrived seemed very pedestrian. Despite the exoticness of the combinations there was no flourish to the presentation. The Nacho dog was a hot dog with some smashed up Doritos and some unconvincing cheese sauce, the fries were literally a bowl of chips with a small amount of sauerkraut dolloped on top. I mean, we got exactly what we ordered, but the language of the menu had led to us wanting more. Not bad, just not inspiring.
Judging our lunch experience purely on this day I am afraid that we have to give it a 6.5/10. However, I am very sure that this was a one off bad day and sincerely encourage you all to give it a try some time. For all of our other visits it would have been nearer an 8. Sorry Hare and Hounds.