In our fast moving society where coffee shops and Ercol furnished Scandi-style cafes tempt you in with their modernity, isn’t it nice to know that in St. Albans there is one place you can go that is proper old fashioned yet every day English tea room? Not Kanuka with it’s trendy transparent cups of (brilliant) tea and not even the Bakehouse with its wonderful array of smart comfort food no, we are talking about a place that wouldn’t look out of place in “Dad’s Army”. In fact you almost expect people to wander in with gasmasks carelessly slung over a shoulder hoping to cash in a tea ration. There may well be a hat rack, I didn’t notice. The point is, it is a nostalgic sort of place and set in the village arcade you would expect nothing less as the walls are actually lined with marble from our city’s Lyon’s Corner House.


I am a big fan of this place because I like tea in a pot served in a cup with a saucer. I also like reasonably priced simple breakfast and lunch fare. Today we visited with our children who are also keen on straightforward cuisine. There was a slightly sticky moment when I had to explain to our animal loving son what a Welsh Rarebit was but that is as exotic as it gets and indeed you would expect it to. I had the aforementioned Welsh Rarebit and found it to be the perfectly sized portion of rich cheesy goodness on a thick piece of toast. My tea was simply just right.


We had to order twice because son two became overwhelmed about a ham sandwich. Anyway, he was delighted with it when it arrived. The other son joined Mr Midweek Lunch in Bacon & Eggs. There was something about the Wodehousean and though he wasn’t having them at 3 o’clock in the morning to recover from a spree around Piccadilly the notion was still a sound one. I disapproved of this thoroughly, as I do of so many of his actions, because they had already had breakfast but no amount of tutting would dissuade them from the bacon. I don’t like the smell and messiness of it at home so perhaps it worked out well for all of us. Husband found them entirely satisfactory. Eldest said the eggs were “very good.”


This very simple yet well prepared and served lunch for four set us back around £25. A small warning is that Abigail’s do not accept credit or debit cards. This may be because they didn’t have such things during WWII. They are not the only ones as “The Courtyard Café” for one operate the same system. It is surprising but not a deal breaker as long as you come prepared. It keeps their prices lower I suppose. So good value, good tasting food in a quaint setting overlooking the Cathedral. As a family we have given it a fond…


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