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Lincolnshire - culinary oasis or desert?


Helen
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I have just applied for a job in Lincolnshire, never having visited the county. Early days yet - I don't even know if I've got an interview - but I'm researching the place in hope. Does anyone know if there are good places for food and drink in and around Lincoln and its environs? I'm thinking of places to buy ingredients as much as restaurants, eg good butcher/fishmonger/grocer/deli/market. Though restaurant suggestions always handy as well.

In return I can tell you about a few places in Hertfordshire!

Look forward in hope to some recommendations....

Helen

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Friend and I had an excellent meal at Harry's Place in Great Gonerby, just outside Grantham a few weeks back. It has one michelin star, numerous AA rosettes and mentions in the GFG, and is also the tiniest michelin starred restaurant in the UK I think - only seats 10!

It's not cheap - but perfect for a treat ..

Yin

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Friend and I had an excellent meal at Harry's Place in Great Gonerby, just outside Grantham a few weeks back.  It has one michelin star, numerous AA rosettes and mentions in the GFG, and is also the tiniest michelin starred restaurant in the UK I think  - only seats 10!

It's not cheap - but perfect for a treat ..

Yin

X

Jan Moir really liked Harry's Place a few months back

David

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It's a big county, Helen. Where's your job?

I was taken to a pub-with-pretensions in a village outside Horncastle (sorry, can't be more specific) about a year ago and it was excellent, in a way that might be seen as slightly passe in more cosmopolitan environs. Of course, the best fish and chips in the world is to be found @ Grimsby (actually Cleethorpes) and Lincs is the home of pork products in general, sausages in particular, and might be awarded PGI status. The town of Louth, for example, has a population of under 20,000 served by no fewer than seven independent pork butchers, each of which claims their sausages to be 'award winning'.

Louth also boasts a half decent Thai restaurant (lousy Chinese and Indian) and I'm told that The Masons' Arms is recovering from the upheavals of recent years and returning to form (which wasn't half bad). The Woolpack also does decent, if plain, pub food. Both establishments serve Batemans ('Good Honest Ales') which is wonderful if you like real ale.

Louth has a monthly farmers' market where you can buy Lincolnshire Poacher cheese and yet more organic pork products (try Chine and Hazlit). Vegetables can be a bit hard to come by - unless you want half a dozen varieties of potato - but there's a strong gardening culture and people will sell their surplus (and eggs) from roadside stalls with honesty boxes.

Don't worry, you won't starve :raz:

Edited by camp_dick (log)
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It's a big county, Helen. Where's your job?

It is a big place, yes! The job would be based in Lincoln but would involve travelling across the whole county, so my interest is pretty wide. Louth sounds rather promising. I still don't know if I've been shortlisted but am hoping.....

Helen

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We lived in Lincoln (job related too) a few years back. The area in the old part of town, up the hill is really charming, and there were some decent but not cutting edge restaurants (which I think are still around). The Wig and Mitre did bistro type cooking, The Jews House was a little more formal and usually had game in season and The Pie Shop was a little treasure of comfort food pies (particularly the gamebird pie). There are a few good earthy CAMRA pubs, and there is a really good butcher (plenty of game, great sausages etc) up the hill too, on the side opposite the Wig. There was a fairly decent cheeseshop/deli called Comestibles and there was a veg shop which was OK, and must surely have improved since I was there.

Lincoln is the sort of place that is a bit off the radar, and you don't bump into it by accident. The cathedral, which dominates the hill is wonderful and there is a sense of being much further from London than you geographically are. There is a famous Christmas Market every year which attracts an enormous influx of people for the weekend... and quite a lot of tat too. It's a unique experience living here, and we enjoyed it.

Edited by Corinna Dunne (log)
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Louth sounds rather promising.

The tourist office does a guided walk around 'food loving Louth' (or some such) which I imagine involves a succession of butchers' shops: I'm going to stick my neck out here and declare that Trevor Fairburn's (in Mercer Row) extra sage is the best sausage in town. Jacksons and Lakings (at either end of Eastgate) have their fans and Chris Fenwick talks a good sausage, but is inconsistent. My all time favourite shop in Louth is Dales (on Eastgate, along from the cheese shop and Jacksons), the poulterer and fruiterer. I guess the idea was that, when game was out of season, they sold fresh fruit. I heard that they sold their yard in the middle of town for residential development and aren't too bothered these days, but it was the best place to buy pigeons and pheasant, which are so overstocked in Lincolnshire these days that they grow to quite a size, so are not necessarily sold by the brace. Of course, the poaching tradition continues (try the Boar's Head up by the cattle market) although the newer sport of roadkill is probably more popular :shock:

Many of those Lincs market towns - Horncastle, Woodhall, Alford - are similar: great butchers, a good fish and chip shop, some cracking pubs serving plain food in plentiful portions. All have weekly markets and have followed the vogue for monthly farmers' markets. There is a dearth of decent restaurants, however, outside the Lincoln establishments mentioned; plus Harry's and Wintringham Fields.

Edited by camp_dick (log)
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  • 8 months later...
You never did give us your Hertfordshire reccomendations Helen. Any chance you might post them before they're seriously out dated?

I admit to a vested interest. I live in the county.

Apologies, it's a long time since I posted this - didn't get the Lincs job but got a different one in Bedfordshire which I am really enjoying, so maybe it's as well...

Herts recommendations - well, I live in Harpenden, so they're focused around there and St Albans.

Most Saturdays I go to Codicote Butchers, funnily enough in the village of Codicote, which is between Welwyn and Hitchin. Fabulous beef, good bacon, own made sausages, nice lamb & pork, game in season, very obliging. Their chicken isn't free range though. Also in Codicote and a regular Saturday shop is Gemini the fishmonger, briefly famous for selling only in imperial - though I think as you tend to ask for fish by the trout (or whatever species) it really doesn't matter if it's weighed in pounds, kilos or grains. They often have oddities like samphire too.

Wheathampstead has a Real Meat Company, and next door to that a little sort of restaurant/bakery/cafe thing called Le Moulin (address Mill Walk...) - they do lunch all week (I think), private dinners Monday - Thursday and open on Friday nights with a set menu. Tiny - I'd be amazed if they can fit more than 15 covers in - but perfectly formed. No credit cards though (fortunately there is a cash point just up the road...).

Carpenters Nursery in Sandridge has a greengrocers which often sells their own produce - four varieties of courgette this Saturday, various salad leaves, soft fruit, plus all the usual stuff bought in.

St Albans and Harpenden are both heaving with perfectly ok places to eat and shop but surprisingly few of which stand out.

In St Albans, there's the Waffle House at Kingsbury Water Mill, St Michael's St - self explanatory really, wide range of sweet & savoury waffles served inside & outside an old watermill, now a museum. Friendly, often busy especially in nice weather. Cheap! Unlike St Michael's Manor just along the road which is a very swish family owned hotel & restaurant, much better in my opinion than the more widely known Sopwell House. The same family own Darcy's in the town centre, which does a really good value lunch/early evening menu, but is generally good anyway especially for special occasions, seems very child friendly (I haven't got any, I just observe - and approve).

St Albans Market (Wed & Sat) is really excellent, wide range of fruit & veg, two fish stalls, good french bread stall, cheese, olives, plus lots of non food items. Farmers market 2nd Sunday of the month (same stalls in Harpenden on the 4th Sunday). Regular Italian & French markets too. There's a little Italian deli on Lattimore Road quite near the station - Buongiorno Italia - can't be more than 10-12 ft square and all packed full of stuff - for some reaon some Polish produce too. For wine, Cellar Door Wines on London Road - independent wine merchant, stocks wines which are just that bit different and aimed at all pockets. They do a good range of tastings too - the last one I went to was a Spanish wine/language class, v entertaining. I believe lots of the pubs in St Albans are worth a visit too - CAMRA is based there - but wine is more my thing.

In Harpenden, I really rate the Bean Tree on Leyton Road. Delicious and beautifully presented food, extensive wine list (though can be overpriced, you have to pick & choose a bit), excellent service. Lovely courtyard for the summer, when you can sit under the eponymous tree. I had the best pudding I think I've ever had there, an orange souffle which was like eating a heavenly flavoured cloud. One birthday I had dinner there on Saturday and lunch at Brocket Hall when it was still Novelli's on the Sunday - Bean Tree was better. Speaking of Novelli, of course he has a gastropub in Harpenden - having read extremely mixed reviews of it I haven't tried it.

There is also a good (but quite expensive) deli in Harpenden - the Silver Palate. Extensive range of cheeses, also olives, antipasti etc, ready prepared dishes, and their wine is provided by the aforementioned Cellar Door Wines.

The Three Horseshoes on East Common describes itself as a gastropub but is really to my mind a restaurant which used to be a pub, can't imagine just going in for a drink. Their food is good but it's a bit out of the way - drive or cab. The Silver Cup, on Harpenden Common, describes itself as 'Harpenden's gastropub' - well, it's ok but the earth didn't move... I do like the Elephant & Castle in Amwell, a tiny village between Harpenden & Wheathampstead. The menu is limited and the food not that special, but it is homemade, it's consistent and it has a nice feel about the place, definitely a local - nice garden too. And they have a well in the middle of the bar floor. Back in Harpenden the Cross Keys has a great whisky selection.

Now that I'm working in Luton again I have been gently investigating its culinary delights, but I haven't found much yet... the indoor market good for asian and caribbean ingredients, and there's a Chinese supermarket on Union Street, but that's as far as it goes I think.

Hope this is enough to be going on with - if not strictly relevant to Lincolnshire!

Helen

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