Get ready to vote!

Last week I went to the launch of the Food and Drink Festival in the Town Hall, St Albans. The highlight was hearing the shortlists for the awards announced at last! There were over 400 nominations, and Charles Baker, Tourism and Cultural Hub Manager explained that shortlisting was very challenging, particularly in areas such as best cafe, restaurant and pub when we have so many excellent ones in our local area. It is now up to you to vote for your favourite, and decide the winners.


I was very pleased to see The Holly Bush and The Plough shortlisted in the best pub category. They are both excellent pubs with loyal regulars, but are perhaps less well-known than the city centre pubs. Likewise The Three Horseshoes between Harpenden and St Albans, which is set in the most beautiful location near the cricket pitch. The Six Bells and White Lion also made the shortlist. It is well worth visiting every pub to see which is your favourite.


The Local Gem shortlist is going to be a battle of the bakers. We obviously like our sweet treats, and I won’t argue with that. I am really pleased with this category as The Pudding Stop, The Village Flapjack Co, Dixies Cupcakery and Heaven is a Cupcake are all local entrepeneurs who have recently established their own businesses. It is a brave step to give up the day job and start a business, so well done to them all.

Sycamore Foods is the heathy choice. You will know them, even if you don’t know the name. Look out for their market stall at the top of St Peter’s Street near the church. They sell great value healthy ingredients such as meusli mixes, dried fruit, interesting teas and cereals. They also have a shop on Hatfield Road. I love the fact that some of our market stalls are being recognised for the good work they do.


Places that you can take your children and feel welcome are very important in our area. We had many strong entries in the Family Friendly category. Our local businesses know that if you want to do well around here, you have to cater for families! Inn on the Park does an excellent job all year round, with good quality and affordable food, served with a smile. The Nectar House at Butterfly World is very popular, and what a wonderful location! Lussmanns is always good with children, and this year launched an affordable junior menu which appeals to smaller appetites or young teens too. This is a welcome step for parents taking more grown-up children out! There is a pub on the list too, The Blackberry Jack, as well as a pretty cafe near the Abbey, The Secret Garden cafe. A tough choice, as all are good at what they do.


You can also nominate your favourite waiter, bartender, shop assistant, market trader or anyone working in local food that offers exceptional service for the Kate D’Arcy award. Good service is essential for happy customers, and keeps people returning regularly so is vital for business. Charlie Powell at Soko coffee won last year for selling great coffee to busy commuters at St Albans City Station.

We were able to sample beer from Tring Brewery at the launch, as well as delicious canapes from last year’s winning restaurant Lussmanns. I was very pleased to see local ingredients in use, including Wobbly Bottom cheese, rabbit and mackerel from the south coast.

We are very lucky to have such a range of good foodie businesses within our local area, so do go online to vote and show them your support. Online voting is now open on


Best bar

Bar 62


Slug and Lettuce

The Peahen

The Snug Bar

Best cafe


Lily Lounge

Okka Cafe Brasserie

Secret garden cafe

Soko coffee

Best pub

The Holly Bush

The Plough, Tyttenhanger

The Six Bells

The White Lion

The Three Horseshoes

Best restaurant

Belvedere Restaurant



Okka Cafe Brasserie

Veer Dhara

Family Friendly

Inn on the park


Secret garden cafe

The Blackberry Jack

The Nectar House, Butterfly World

Local Gem

Dixies Cupcakery

Heaven is a cupcake

Sycamore Foods

The Pudding Stop

The Village Flapjack Co

Local Producer

Carpenters Nursery

Chidwickbury Goats Cheese


Redbournbury Mill

That Little Brewery



About thelocalfoodie

Food writer for The Herts Advertiser.
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