Approximately 80% of working adults in St Albans commute into London. OK, I just made that number up, but if you're from around here, you believed it, right? The thing is, you can get a train into St Pancras in 20 minutes from St Albans City - less time than it takes to get from some parts of London to others - and as St Albans is a nice, safe, pretty town, it has a lot of allure.
The trains are also extortionate, which is why I'm happy to drive to my Hertfordshire office every day, but that's not the point I'm trying to make. The point is that commuters! There are many! And so the area around the station is starting to become quite bustling, with property developments and new restaurants and whatnot. That was quite a dull sentence, sorry.
If you hop off the train at St Albans on a weeknight, you might spot a little van waiting by the back entrance. That's The Pudding Stop. It sells puddings. Just puddings. It was set up by an ex-GBBO contestant who thought that people getting home after a long day working in London might like to pick up a pud on their way home, to have after dinner (or just on the walk back from the station - this is a no judgement zone. Now gimme a bite.). Mr Pud mans the van himself, advising you on the best way to prepare your pudding and what to have it with. He's ace.
The van's been so popular that he's expanded to a permanent space on Verulam Road. This shop/cafe/restaurant does what the van does - puddings, and bloody good ones, too. They also have an alcohol license, so it's a great place to dive into after dinner for dessert and a drink. I actually went there on my first date with Matt - I described it as somewhere that did puddings, cheese and booze (cheese is technically a pudding) and his response was 'HOW DID I NOT KNOW THIS PLACE EXISTED?' It was actually a great first date setting, as it was not too busy and we could bond over melted camembert whilst helping first date nerves with plenty of red wine. By the time we'd eaten their entire cheese menu and moved onto the ice cream, all nerves had subsided, and when we asked the staff what time they closed they said sweetly 'About twenty minutes ago.' Bless them. And we're still together now, because why wouldn't you stay with a girl who suggests cheese, cake and wine on your first date? I know, I'm a catch.
So obviously, it's got a special place in my heart, but it's a justified one. I've even spoken before about my love for it - by far one of my favourite spots in St Albans. The desserts are really, really good. Made from scratch and the perfect combo of "beautifully done classics" and "oooh, that's a bit different". Highlights include doughnuts - jam, rhubarb and custard, blackberry, chocolate - pecan pie, bakewell tart... not forgetting the salted caramel and peanut butter brownies of dreams. I highly recommend having them in the shop, warm, with a massive scoop of peanut butter ice cream. You will make some noises you won't be proud of, but they're used to it there. Ooh, and there's a brunch menu that I HAVE to try.
Convinced yet? The Waffle House gets all the press for puddings in St Albans, and it's good, but yeah - The Pudding Stop beats it hands down. Don't you just want to go for a dinner of cheese and puddings and wine now? Yes. Yes, you do.
In the future, I want to do more reviews about my favourite individual places in St Albans, to give a bit more insight into the fabulous independent places round here and hopefully encourage you all further to visit. I'm pretty sure I'm persuading you.
You can usually find The Pudmobile at St Albans station between 5-7pm, and The Pudding Stop is on Verulam Street, open late every day. I was not compensated for this review.