Celebrate a new era for Harpenden's The Old Cock Inn

PUBLISHED: 12:03 28 May 2019 | UPDATED: 12:03 28 May 2019

The Old Cock Inn in Harpenden.

The Old Cock Inn in Harpenden.

Archant

Harpenden seems to be having a bit of a moment - I wait years for new places to open, and then lots come along at once! I had never been in The Old Cock Inn right on the High Street, even though it's been there since the 16th century - have you?

The Old Cock Inn in Harpenden.The Old Cock Inn in Harpenden.

I'm not sure what the regulars make of it, but it is now all very swish, with a huge new extension making the most of the beautiful views of St Nicholas Church to the back. Inside is now bright and spacious with red and blue Sanderson wallpaper, funky lampshades and a lot of chicken-themed artworks. We went for lunch on a sunny day and the terrace is lovely - some of the tables are reserved for those eating, but there is an area outside if you just want a drink too. I noticed a real fire in the main rooms, so I am sure it will be cosy in winter too.

Owned by the Charles Wells group, the beers on tap come from them, of course, such as Echo Beach Red Ale, Bombardier and Sharp's Altlantic. Appropriately for Harpenden there is an extensive gin, wine and cocktail list. The pub is open all day, and they have a decent coffee machine and brunch menu for the weekends. There are six boutique bedrooms (we had a peak, very smart), so they will be feeding guests too. Brunch seems pretty reasonable for the area, with poached eggs and avocado for £7, a veggie cooked for £8, as well as meaty options.

Lunch has many options, with a sandwich menu, set menu and all the pub classics you might expect. For around a tenner you can choose fishfinger sandwiches, crayfish and chilli and minute steak sandwiches; I spotted one on a nearby table and it looked a little small, but nicely toasty.

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I liked the look of the set menu, with two courses for £13.50. My roasted red pepper and sweetcorn croquettes with wild garlic cream was a nice starter; I couldn't really taste the garlic, but that is probably a good thing at lunch. A few fresh garlic flowers would have made it more cheffy, as they are in season.

The Malaysian-style vegetable and lime leaf curry with coconut rice (also on the main menu) was a little bland, although perfectly OK - a few lentils would have upped the protein for a more useful lunch, and it could have been a larger portion. I couldn't taste the coconut in the rice. I noticed that on the main menu you could pay extra to add chicken, prawns or halloumi - I'm sure the chicken and prawns would work well, but halloumi seems a bit odd.

My pal chose the Thai Edamame bean burger with vegan aioli and fries, which was more successful; there were whole edamame beans in the burger and it had a nice crunchy coating.

The pub classics might be safer choices: they do cod and chips, roasted pork with Jersey royals, chicken pie, steak, bass with mushroom and pak choi and much more. With main courses from £13.50 to £25, it is quite expensive for a chain pub, but I imagine they think Harpenden can handle it. You are really paying for the lovely location, and for that I think it is well worth a visit. And if you have visiting relations and pals who need a room, then this is a good option. Parking is very limited, but it is the town centre, and reflects the history of the building.

A funky new addition to Harpenden!

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