If you are a fan of the hog roast at the St Albans Farmers Market you will be delighted to hear that Kris and Gels Picciuto have now opened The SmokeHouse Deli. You can visit their stylish cafe for home-made pulled pork, slow-roasted beef ribs and salt beef, as well as buy locally sourced foodie supplies.
The SmokeHouse Deli has opened on Cell Barnes Lane on the site of the old Hulse’s greengrocer shop. With a school and lots of family housing nearby it is good news for the local community; when I popped in for breakfast on Saturday morning the café was full of people sharing the large tables and at the window seating. When the weather improves there will be tables outside between the fab retro-tiled pillars.
You can get a decent cup of coffee from their Gaggia machine – the café use London Calling blend, made from 100% arabica beans, which you can also buy in bags to take home. One wall is lined with interesting foodie treats – look out for excellent Humbers Preserves and Sinclair condiments – the Hot Banana Ketchup sounds a little quirky but is not dissimilar to tomato ketchup and is lovely with bacon sandwiches. You can also buy Dizzy Bee granola, Gnaw chocolate and Mr Fitzpatrick vintage cordials – apparently Mr Fitzpatrick are the company behind Britain’s last original Temperance Bar in Rawtenstall, Lancashire. If you haven’t seen these before, they are a grown-up range of cordials that make excellent squashes or mocktails – ideal if you are not drinking alcohol at the moment. You can also buy balsamic vinegars from the tap – take your own bottle along to buy the quantity you want.
There is a good cheese counter with over 20 varieties; Kris told me that the Brie de Meaux is the “best in the world” and has won countless awards – M&S sell it too, but it is much cheaper at The SmokeHouse Deli. They use the brie in the brie and bacon sandwiches. I spotted Wookey Hole cheddar and Colston Bassett Blue Stilton too, which are also huge award-winners. You can also pick up tasty olives and filled peppers.
But the main reason to go to The SmokeHouse Deli is for the home-cooked meats. The slow-roasted Jacobs ladder beef and pork ribs are cooked for 12 hours and you can buy them to eat in the café with winter slaw, or take home a box to heat up at home. The café makes its own salt beef, pulled pork and roasted pork loin and belly with fennel; you can buy it sliced from the deli counter or have it in a sandwich. The sausages are their own recipe and contain black pudding. Breakfast is already proving popular and prices are very reasonable from £3 for a bacon roll to £5.95 for six items.
There is a small, but good, selection of cakes if you want an afternoon pick-me-up – they make their own doughnuts and I can definitely recommend the rum and raisin version.
Kris has a background in hospitality, having trained as a pastry chef and worked as a private chef and Gels is well-known from Kashu and the Farmer’s Markets and Food Festivals (his brother Tony owns Bourngiorno Italia). The closure of Hulse’s shop after 50 years was a loss, but I am delighted to see a local family taking over the premises, and bringing such tasty food to the area.
205 Cell Barnes Lane, St Albans Al1 5PX
T: 01727 251040
Open Mon–Sat 8–5.