Best Part: Dipping things in other things!
So the concluding entry in the battle of the Peachickens. The Peahen has ruled the Pea family roost for a number of years, but will the newly greyified Peacock regain the crown with it’s long nachos? Based on our slightly disappointed review it seems unlikely, but we go in with open minds, as always.
In fact, I don’t have a completely open mind as I still bear the Peahen a slight grudge from the time they refused to serve me solely because I was dressed as an old man as part of a fancy dress pub crawl. This strikes me as ageist, because if I had been an actual old man dressed as an old man then they would surely have no problem supplying me with Jagerbombs. It seems like their high standards for entry have continued as on our visit they almost immediately turned away another party due to the presence of some small, inoffensive and sleeping babies.
However, I possess an almost supernatural capacity for forgiveness, and actually being allowed to stay there gave us a nice little buzz of exclusivity. In addition, having visited a few times in the last few months I was gratified to see that they had a new menu. Very new, as our waiter explained to us, having only come on in the last couple of days. So new, in fact, that apparently half the ingredients had failed to turn up.
This caused some problems for my meat-eschewing mistress, as pretty much all of the vegetarian main courses were off. However, we had already been considering sharing a selection of the starters, mainly on the promise of the awesome sounding cheese and beer croquettes. However, and you might be ahead of me on this one, these were also out of stock.
Luckily there were enough options left to fill our table and faces, mainly along the theme of dipping one thing into another thing, an action I am entirely comfortable with. Firstly, to ensure pea-pub comparability we went for the nachos. These have always been a speciality of the Peahan, but in their newest incarnation they have been widened but shortened (though they are still substantial), and arranged artfully around what can only be described as a big pile of melty cheese and beans. This works so much better than the usual cheese on doritos affair, and spares you the final bites where everything is squished up and the chips are welded together.
Next we went for some red pepper hummus served with flat-bread. I came slightly late to hummus appreciation following some traumatic early experiences with my parent’s attempts at home-made chick-pea boiling, but this managed to banish all of these memories. It had a lovely olive-oil flavour, and was surprisingly probably my second favourite dish.
Next came the pork crackling. Now, long-time readers may be aware of my need to have at least some meat on the table but actually I could have quite happily done without these. They weren’t unpleasant but suffered in comparison to the other dishes, being a bit too crunchy for my taste and lacking that lovely salty tang. However, we were very grateful for the red onion marmalade it came with, for reasons that will become clear.
We finished off with a whole baked camembert. This was super as only a big lump of melted cheese can be, however the only accompaniment was bread. Luckily we had our afore-mentioned marmalade but we both felt that some redcurrant jam would have elevated proceedings.
The pub has a range of beers that in most surroundings would be impressive but felt slightly lacking in St Albans. They also had some interesting fruit juice combinations, and the tea was loose leaf and presented as it should be (see pictures) We were served by an impressively bearded and deliberately spoken bar-man/waiter, who explained the menu situation and the remaining options very clearly and even ended up giving us IT support. Mrs Midweek lunch was impressed that he really cared about our experience of the food to the extent that he asked if there was any space to improve the new menu.
So the Peahen maintains it’s crown. It has a classy demeanour that predates the recent rush to gentrification, and it feels more authentic for that. The food is interesting and a cut-above most pub dining, and the service is more that just pouring you pints. We were very happy to be one of the first groups to try out the fantastic new menu and will certainly return when their suppliers have provided more ingredients. Long may the Peahan continue to strut it’s stuff.