I discovered Battlers Green Farm Rural Shopping Village last year when I was searching for a good local fish shop, and I knew it was worth writing about in more detail. Foodies will love it, and it is well worth the short drive to just outside Radlett.
Set in pretty countryside, the Battlers Green shops are situated around a courtyard, and the fishmongers, butchers, farm shop and cafe are all excellent, with lots of high quality and locally sourced produce. Owner Paul Haworth’s mother first started selling eggs, milk and cream from her farm back door over 50 years ago to supplement the family income, and the farm shop has grown from there.
Last year, Paul and Gillian Haworth celebrated 50 years of the farm shop, with a music festival that drew thousands of people.
Gillian was managing the farm shop when I visited, and she explained that they try to source their products from small suppliers, with many of them local. Some of their fruit and vegetables come from an allotment in Radlett, honey comes from hives in Aldenham, cakes come from Philippa Michie in Leighton Buzzard, and Elsie, a local 17-year old, makes the fudge! You can also buy a very good range of British cheese, and all sorts of British jams, preserves, granolas, yoghurts and breads. I really enjoyed the gluten-free and regular carrot cake I tried; I do try to be thorough. At the back of the shop is the Cook range of frozen meals that also has a branch in Harpenden. The company started in 1997 and they cook using the same ingredients and techniques you would use at home, so everything “looks and tastes homemade”. I have to agree with them; I bought a vegetable and chickpea tagine (serves 1 £2.99) and a family size cottage pie, and it was all very good. Yes it is cheaper to make it yourself, but it is cheaper than eating out or a takeaway. A Red Thai Chicken Curry is £6.99 for two.
Bread, eggs, vegetables, yoghurt and other basics were all sold at very sensible prices, and you can find hundreds of items that you won’t find in supermarkets, so you can try something new.
The Bull Pen Cafe and Tea Room
The pretty outdoor terrace was very busy when I visited with lots of customers enjoying the Spring sunshine and good food at the Bull Pen cafe and tea room. Everything is made fresh to order, so you do need to be a little patient during busy weekends, but the quality is worth waiting for. Breakfasts, sandwiches, and light lunches are available as well as traditional afternoon tea, including savouries such as mushrooms on toast. All the cakes are made locally, and the soup that day, Carrot and Coriander (£4.40) was made in the cafe, like all the food. An immaculate interior, this is a very smart cafe. You do need to book for tables of 5 or more (01923 857505), or be prepared to queue a little.
Run by the very experienced Brian Willcock and Paul Moran, this is a gem of a butcher’s shop. Over 95% of the meat is free range, and every pie, pasty and sausage roll is hand-made on the premises. Brian used to run the butchers on Radlett High Street for 25 years before moving here six years ago so he knows many of the regular customers. Beef bred and raised on the farm by Paul Haworth is sold in the shop which is fantastic for food miles, and for excellent flavour. Brian and Paul were very proud of the quality of their meat, and they have visited every farm and supplier so they can be sure of its provenance. The poultry and pork come from Packington in Burton Upon Trent, and is free range and raised to the highest welfare standards. I bought some chicken kebabs, and the chicken really was juicy and delicious.
An immaculate fish shop, with everything presented beautifully, it is worth making a special journey for Weston’s fishmongers. Terry Hawley has been a fishmonger for 36 years and Peter Ralls says he has been fishing since he was three years old, when his father used to send him onto the cockle banks! They are very proud of the quality of their fish, and explained how much of it is from day boats from the Shetland Isles, including their cod, halibut, sole and turbot. They are now selling samphire and minced fish, which is ideal for gefilte balls or easy fishcakes. Westons have many loyal customers and they supply fish to local schools, pubs and restaurants, as well as to Watford training ground. The scallops and smoked salmon fillets also looked delicious. Do ask Peter about his father finding the Mary Rose at Portsmouth; I am not sure if it was a fisherman’s tale or not!
I don’t own an Aga, but a sign advertising cookery workshops drew me in. Open to anyone, but particularly useful to those who own an Aga or are curious to see how they work, the cookery classes are held in the welcoming showroom most fortnights, and they are ideal if you need new ideas. In May they are holding a Beginner’s Guide to Your Aga and a Simple Suppers and Delicious Desserts, with Pamela Cruse. Later in the summer you can try Summer Baking, Easy Canapes or Summer Buffets. There is an open day on 12th June, with cookery demonstrations all day, so you can just pop in.
Sugar to tea
For pretty retro homeware, cake stands, tea time china, tea cosies, and baking books, visit Sugar to Tea next to the farm shop.
Dancing Hens Craft Studio
Cake decorating classes are held in the pretty studio, as well as other craft classes. Pop in to ask what is coming up next.
Wine and the vine
This attractive wine shop has a very good local repuation. They sell over 400 wines and hosts regular wine tastings.
Battlers Green Farm, Common Lane. Radlett WD7 8PH
It is a 5 min drive from Radlett High Street. Free parking.
6 miles from St Albans.
Opening times vary a little but the main farm shop is open 8.30-5.45 Mon-Sat. 8.30-1 Sundays.
Farm shop: Owner Gillan Haworth with Camilla
Westons fishmongers: Terry Hawley and Peter Ralls
Brimarks Butchers: Brian Willcock and Paul Moran