Saturday, 17 September 2016
REVIEW: The Snug's new menu, St Albans
I hate it when someone asks me what my favourite food is, because I just can't answer that. It changes based on the day, my mood, how much wine I drank the day before... you know how it is. Some days my favourite food is chocolate, other days it's pizza and sometimes it's just anything with mayonnaise. Mmmm, mayonnaise. It's the same with restaurants - I just can't pick a favourite because I'm constantly changing what I fancy that day.
And some days, all I fancy is a good burger. There are lots of places in St Albans I'd go to for that, but more often than not, I end up at The Snug. The Snug have had a really good, extensive menu for a while now - remember their epic Christmas specials last year? - but lately they've stripped back and focused on what they do best, burgers. Oh, and cocktails. Their cocktails are really good.
They invited Matt and I along to sample some of their new menu and to check out their garden makeover, which I mentioned in my Al Fresco Dining post - it's got a whole circus theme, with cool booths and even dodgems. It wasn't really outside weather though, so we sat inside and enjoyed the buzzing Saturday night atmosphere.
We started with cocktails - I had the Captain Pugwash (Sailor Jerry's with lychee, elderflower, apple juice and ginger ale) - very tasty and refreshing. Matt had the Hendrick's Summer Garden (elderflower, cucumber, mint, apple and cranberry) - this was so nice that when it came to our second round of drinks, we both ordered this one again. Delicious.
I ordered the Pulled BBQ Brisket, and Matt had the New York Classic (which came with onions, cheese, dill pickles, mustard and mayo). My brisket was slow cooked, tender and tasty, and came with a sweet potato fries option which I'm always up for. It was a little bland, though, and would have benefitted from a drizzle of BBQ sauce or a chutney.
Matt's New York Classic looked amazing - a proper, drippy, messy burger - but he quickly realised there was something wrong. Instead of dill pickles, they'd used jalepenos! As soon as he let them know, they replaced his burger incredibly quickly, but, erm... there's quite a big difference between dill pickles and jalepenos.
The place was busy - it was a Saturday night, after all - and it made me wonder if doing food on a busy night was actually a good idea. I've found this a few times with blog reviews, that we've gone in during a busy period and felt like an inconvenience, and rather than being irritated by it, it frustrates me. Guys, it's fine if you want to limit blog reviews to your quieter periods. It means more space for paying customers, and it means that you have a bit more capacity to be the best you can be for reviews. I always feel that reviewing service is a little hollow (although I always mention it) because when the restaurant knows you're there to write about them, they're generally going to try and give you the best service they can. Everyone wants to look good, and that's fine. But don't make it difficult for yourself.
The dessert menu is really small these days - a Brownie Sundae, an Oreo Sundae or a Brownie Sundae to share. We opted for a Brownie and an Oreo one so we could trial both. They were very similar - soft whip ice cream, chocolate sauce and either brownies or Oreos. Nice, but not very exciting and I do like a bit more variety in my desserts (and as a rule, caramel). The brownies in particular were quite stodgy, and I know I shouldn't expect much for a £3.95 dessert, but I was 90% sure that they were the mini ones you get in little tubs from the supermarket.
Overall, I was a bit disappointed with our experience. I get the impression that The Snug have stripped back their menu to focus more heavily on cocktails, and it is always a heaving social spot at the weekends. But I'm a foodie at heart, and I missed the attention they used to pay to their food menu. I've reviewed The Snug twice before on here, and had an excellent meal and experience both times, so I was surprised by how much it has changed. Maybe it's a new chef, maybe it's a deliberate direction, but if it's the new way forward, then it makes me a little sad. I'd definitely continue to pop in here for cocktails, but for a meal? Probably not. Although if they bring out a Christmas menu again, all could be redeeemed.
The Snug is at The Fleur de Lys, 1 French Row, St Albans AL3 5DU. The team kindly paid for our meal in response for this honest review.
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