The Boot

Best Part: Just being there in our comfortable old shoe!

Mr Midweek Lunch had a morning off work and we decided to drop into the Horn Public House for a few games of pool and a nice lunch. They didn’t open until 12 and we had time constraints so we decided to try to new Billiards club in town. Alas, they were also shut. The commercial world clearly believes that the denizens of St Albans don’t want to play pool before noon and I dare say in most cases they’re right. All was not lost, though, as we got to look around a tile shop instead.


We were so eager to enter the Boot that the barman hadn’t finished opening all the doors. Keys in hand he was rather surprised to see us. However there were many others hot on our heels and what a range of customers too, businessmen, musician types, friends and lovers. This popularity is not surprising. The Boot is my favourite pub in the city centre. They have some wonderful Ales on tap, a cosy traditional pub feel, good food, good toilets and a really cute pub sign. Pub signs are important to me. The Boot is also in a good central location. Easy to meet your friends at the Clock tower, have lunch and be close to Christopher Place or the Maltings for post lunch shopping.

 

THE MENU


Phew, the Menu was pretty extensive for a standard pub. They claim to do the best Ploughmans in town and I decided to put this to the test. Mr Midweek lunch was still sad about the tile/pool incident and wanted to share a deep fried Camembert for a starter. The problem was that all the Vegetarian options were cheese intensive. This is a good thing, I love cheese but I didn’t really think I could stomach half a gooey Camembert and a Cheese Ploughmans/Macaroni Cheese/Cheese tart at midday. In the end I didn’t want him to be depressed so relented on the Camembert with the idea of having a fish finger sandwich. I didn’t want the fish finger sandwich but compromise is what a marriage is all about. Somehow though I still ended up having the Ploughmans and he didn’t get the Camembert. Which proves that what marriage is really all about is the wife getting her way at all times. The Cheddar and Stilton were out of this world, the Cheddar being rich and slightly sweet. I couldn’t eat it all so sneaked it out in a napkin. To throw that in the peely bin would be a crime. The accompanying Ploughmans bits were great too. Crusy baguette, a jazzy salad and suberb beetroot chutney. They also served me with a great pot of tea with a jug of milk and cup and saucer. Full marks.


My companion had the ‘Fire Engine’ Chili, which disappointingly was served neither with nor in a fire engine. It was however a more than generous helping of chili, which overwhelmed the modest potato. Luckily he was able to barter some of his excess butter for my surplus baguette and all were happy. The chili was spicy without being super-flavoursome, but did go very well with the beer. Speaking of which…

 

BEER

Having seen Breakaway Theatre’s wonderful WWI poetry performance the previous night (well done Breakaway), I was in a patriotic mood and chose “Remembrance” Ale. It was flavoursome without being overpowering. My husband had every other type of beer on tap and had a slightly glazed smile by the end of proceedings.

 

DECOR

This is a warm, woody, comfortable  English Pub. Nothing fancy but everything it should be. I love the Boot. The Toilet was I think cream themed rather than grey, with fake books to disguise it’s true disgusting purpose.


Mr Midweek Lunch left the Boot feeling cheerful again, yay! The food, beer, ambience and situation were perfect. Thank you Boot.

8.4/10

http://www.thebootstalbans.com/

The Breakfast Club

Best Part: The Extensive Menu!
IMG_1260
So, we went to the Breakfast Club. I know what you’re thinking. First these guys went to Las Iguanas in Brighton, then they went to the St Albans Food and Drink Festival that was clearly held on a weekend, now the so-called ‘St Albans Midweek Lunch’ website appear to be abandoning the third and most integral part of their USP and are talking about their breakfast. Is nothing sacred? Well, whoa there hombre, because despite their name the Breakfast Club are perfectly prepared to serve you lunch as well. Not dinner, that would be pretty freaky, but they’ll give you food until 3pm if you require it. Anyone who has tried to visit The Breakfast Club during their peak hours of Brunch time at the weekend will know of the long queues and excessive waiting that is rivalled only by the Waffle House in St Albans, but Midweek lunchtime finds a choice of tables and attentive waiting staff.
IMG_1263-0
THE MENU 

To say the menu is extensive is akin to saying that ‘Mysterious Cities of Gold’ goes on a bit. This wouldn’t matter so much if there weren’t so many enticing options on the double sided A3 menu. The combinations of Egg, Bacon and Carbohydrates are enough to keep a student of permutation groups happy until they found a seat on a Sunday. I dithered, I prevaricated, I was sure I knew what I wanted then doubt began to creep in again. Eventually I settled on something from their 9 item long ‘Rarebit’ menu (catchphrase = ‘A Little Bit More Than Just Posh Cheese on Toast’. I’ll say).

IMG_1265

I went for their Trademark (literally) ‘Black Magic Rarebit’, which consisted of fat potato cakes mixed with smoky bacon, topped with slabs of black pudding, further topped with rare bit sauce, then if that wasn’t enough they chucked a fried egg on. It was thick and stodgy, but in the most wonderful way, and each mouthful gave a little jolt of pleasure from the wonderful inter-mingling of flavours. It was a pity I had visited a world food buffet the day before and still felt quite full. In fact I probably didn’t need the side order of chips I ordered, which came in a super generous portion, though at the end of the day it was a large quantity of fairly standard chips. Luckily, during my long period of wandering around the menu I had at the last minute talked myself out of the cheese and bacon topped chips. Some sanity was still to be found.

IMG_1264

My partner in buffeting had a similarly superfluous but damnably tasty veggie breakfast burrito, accompanied by bubble & squeak bites. They certainly bubbled and squeaked but not this occasion didn’t have quite enough bite. She would have preferred a bit more onion or pepper. However the burrito surpassed expectation. It was a super exciting combination of robust flavours with a crunchy yet creamy texture. What a wonderful achievement. Mrs Midweek Lunch also expressed some regret that her greed at the World Food Buffet the previous day stopped her from finishing the burrito. Hey, we all make mistakes and one feels less foolish making them with someone else.

IMG_1261

To drink I had a Nuttella Milkshake from the specials board, my wife had a healthier juice smoothie. These were once again presented in large enough quantities for no-one but the most Mid-Westerly of Americans to feel short-changed by. Even better, the foam on top was so thick I was able to amuse myself whilst we waited crafting it into a sort of nuttella foam mountain (see below).

IMG_1262
THE DECOR

IMG_1266

The Breakfast is a cosy establishment with warm wooden tones and a mismatched chair/table theme going on. It is not slick and grey but homely. This must help its popularity amongst people with thick heads after a night of drinking – they serve Berocca to perk you up too!

IMG_1267

To summarise, very pleasant food, very agreeable portion sizes, more than fair pricing and very friendly and welcoming staff. You can understand why this place is the popular St Albans weekend institution it has become. My advice, take a day of work, have a lie-in then head here for a superb brunch. Though possibly don’t do it with a belly still full of all-you-can-eat Dim Sum and Waffles.

8/10