Swanky Dinner at Hermitage Rd Restaurant and Bar

We have been wanting to go for ages. And seeing as I have to move away with work soon we needed to get down there pronto. So on Saturday we finally got round to booking a table for two at Hermitage Rd, Hitchin. This trendy, industrial-style restaurant and bar was awarded Michelin Bib Gourmand status this year and the food, drinks and service we experienced were top notch. We arrived slightly before the dinner menu began so took the opportunity to try out went straight to the cocktail bar! Firstly, the venue itself is phenomenal. It used to  be a ballroom, then a nightclub (I believe), before being turned into the bar and restaurant of today. There are super-high ceilings, enormous arched windows and plenty of metal - it has a slight feeling of being in an old warehouse? The zinc bar is a massive feature and above the bottles upon bottles of wine almost become art on the wall. The cocktail menu is extensive, I started with a French Martini - raspberry vodka, Chambord and fresh pineapple juice, whilst J chose the Marmalade Caipiroska - citrus, bitter and sweet although not sure of what actually went in! Both fresh and delicious and a good start so far...!

French Martini
Marmalade Caipiroska
Incredible bar and bar staff with SERIOUS cocktail skills
Stunning windows

We then sat down in the restaurant area, which is again vast, with high ceilings and two more of the incredible windows. It has a good mix of regular dining tables, cosy booths and slightly raised 'decking' areas all with a direct view straight into the kitchen, which sits completely open out onto the restaurant. It was brilliant seeing the chefs at work - contrary to what you see on TV where people are shouting and rushing and sweating, it had a controlled, serene feeling about it. The menu is ALL amazing - check it out here, but we decided to try a couple of oysters and the bruschetta to start (I had had these soda battered oysters before at a sister restaurant and they are to die for). J fancied trying a fresh oyster too, so he went for one prosecco & raspberry vinegar along with a soda battered with sweet chilli sauce. Apparently the fresh one 'tasted like the sea', but in a good way, whereas the soda battered we could eat a whole plate of they were so good. The bruschetta was fresh and tasty, highlight was the artichoke puree it was served on which was delicious!

J perusing the menu - you can see the open kitchen behind him
We were there early hence empty tables but it soon picked up! 
Our selection of starters - the oysters served in shell
Soda battered heaven! The sweet chilli sauce is cleverly underneath them in the shell.
Still not sure I could stomach a fresh one - here served with prosecco & raspberry vinegar
Like a pro!

So as to make an occasion of it (!), we went for a SECOND cocktail - this time I chose a Spritzer which had white wine, various actual sprigs of herbs and other leafy flavours and I guess some soda water and was refreshing and much nicer than I thought it would be when it arrived, and J had the Bergamot Gin Sour. This one was amazing, we both like Earl Grey tea, in which bergamot is obviously the flavour, and the aftertaste of this cocktail was just like that from Earl Grey - floral, citrus-y and with a slight bitterness. I could happily have tried the whole cocktail menu - all the more reason to go back!

Mine literally looked like a small garden in a glass. 

For our mains, I went for the ribs with sweet chilli, ginger and lime and J had the roast fillet of sea trout, broad bean, pea & lemon risotto with a caramelised scallop on top. The presentation at Hermitage Rd throughout was impeccable. J's fish was light with a tasty, crispy skin and the risotto underneath was perfectly summery with lots of mint and broad beans. It didn't last long, which is always a good thing! My ribs were incredibly tasty but - and I'll be honest because what's the point of this otherwise - we were disappointed with the amount of fat on there. I was able to cut off almost a centimetre of fat off all three of the ribs and wasn't left with all that much meat to enjoy. I know that there should be some fat on ribs - rightly so, but this was so much that I really wasn't able to enjoy them all that much which was a shame. The fries and salad that came with them were yum. I did mention to the waitress that I wasn't totally happy with my main though and this was where the really great service came in (n.b. the staff were all brilliant all night, but extra steps to make the customer happy = exceptional service). The waitress took my plate to the chef who explained that due to the cut of pork (belly) there would always be more fat but she/her manager recognised that it was not to my expectations and that I hadn't been able to eat a fair bit of it, so they kindly offered us a complimentary dessert. Much appreciated and I wasn't made to feel like I was moaning, they respected my opinion.

Sea trout with risotto - looks as good as it tastes!
Comparison to earlier - it was packed!

We therefore obviously had to have dessert! Both of us were getting prettyyy full so we shared the raspberry and vanilla crème brulee with pistachio biscotti which had an awesome, thick, crunchy sugar 'roof' and creamy, smooth custard underneath. The biscotti were also delicious!


All in all, we had a superb experience at Hermitage Road and would love to visit again. Amazing cocktails, delicious food and fantastic service - three out of three!


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