Wednesday, 2 November 2016
REVIEW: Freddie's Restaurant, St Albans
I’ve always thought of St Albans as being the place that all my friends live. For years, it was – we met when we all went to STAGs and Verulam, and even though we scattered to attend university, we made our way back every holiday, and when uni ended, most of us got jobs in the town centre and moved back in with our parents. Gradually a few people moved to London, then a few moved further afield, and then one day I looked up and realised that only one of my friends lived in the centre of St Albans now. Even I don’t live in the centre of St Albans any more, and in a couple of months, I won’t live in St Albans at all. I’m not going far, but it’s a little strange to move away from somewhere that I’ve lived pretty much my whole life.
I’m nostalgic, though, for the years we spent all living within a stone’s throw of each other. The flats that various friends shared at different times, when we’d just pop over when we felt like it, instead of calling first. So many epic parties. One such flat seemed to house most of my friends at some point or other, and it felt like I spent every evening there after work, watching films, eating pizza and drinking copious amounts of wine. We were always very amused that this flat was above a restaurant, but none of us ever made it there. I think we always felt it was a bit too nice for the likes of us. And now, around ten years later, I can say with utmost accuracy - it was definitely too nice for the likes of us. For today I am reviewing that very restaurant, and it's really, really, really nice.
I will hold my hands up and say that I had some preconceptions about Freddie's in St Albans, and that's probably why I've never been before. I thought it was going to be a bit old fashioned, with a nice but safe menu - meat, vegetables, potatoes... not much else. I was wrong in some ways - I really wouldn't call the menu 'safe' at all - but not in others. Freddie's is a little old fashioned, but in a lovely way - we were met by Freddie himself, who spends the evening mingling between the tables and chatting to his guests. The service is excellent - the food came quickly, and the staff were so attentive that we felt like total VIPs. The food is described as modern European influences, and that's a pretty good description, but I think it's quite hard to describe as the combinations are so unusual. You'll see.
After starting with a glass of prosecco each, we turned our attention to the menu and here's where I realised how wrong I was about the food - when I ordered a blue cheese mille feuille. You read that right. A blue cheese mille feuille, served with raspberries, figs and a side order of my dreams. My god, this was good. I'd never even consider having a mille feuille as a starter and not a dessert before, and it was amazing. The blue cheese mousse filling was creamy and delicious, and the figs and raspberries went perfectly.
Matt had a warm duck breast salad, with orange, red onion marmalade and a perfectly oozy egg, which I sneaked a bite of, and it was also really good. It wasn't quite as good as mine, because literally nothing in the world is, but it was a good salad. Also, it was presented really beautifully - everything was. They evidently have a chef who knows his stuff.
Main courses! Matt had the halibut - just for the halibut lolololol (don't worry, he didn't laugh either) - with white wine cream sauce, new potatoes and ratatouille. He said it was amazing, and it certainly looked incredible.
I was really torn with what to choose. I was tempted by the roast duck breast with cherries, red wine jus and potato gratin, and also the roast fillet of beef with oyster mushroom cream and pomme gratin - lots of my favourite flavours there - but I decided to go for the item that most intrigued me on the menu, which was grilled venison haunch steaks with glazed plums, sweet potato mash and chocolate oil. CHOCOLATE OIL. MEAT AND CHOCOLATE. How could I not order that?
It really was good. The venison was quite rich, and the bittersweet chocolate offset it perfectly, especially alongside the sweet potato mash. This was the kind of thing I imagined ordering in a super trendy London restaurant, not a friendly local restaurant - it was amazing.
Matt finished with layered chocolate mousse which was incredible - so rich that he couldn't finish it - and I had a chocolate and passionfruit bombe, which was filled with a delicious passionfruit cream. To be honest, we both struggled with our desserts because we were so full at this point, but it was worth it, because they were delicious.
Our evening at Freddie's was a joy. The service was incredible, and the food completely blew me away. It's excellent value for the quality with starters around the £7/8 mark and mains starting from £12.95 and going up to £22.95 (most are around the £16 mark). Freddie's has gone straight to the top of our list as our go-to destination for a special occasion, and we're already trying to find an excuse for another visit back (wait, we just got engaged - that counts, right?). I can't recommend it enough.
Freddie's is at 52-56 Adelaide St, St Albans AL3 5BG. The restaurant kindly paid for our meal in return for this honest review.
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