More foodie venues open for business during lockdown

The Portland Arms in Waddington Road.

The Portland Arms in Waddington Road. - Credit: Archant

After the shock of the lockdown, many of our local indies took time out to think, make plans and deal with the immediate issues facing them, such as income, wages and suppliers. I am very heartened this week to see that a few more places feel able to open again, although in a reduced capacity, while they trial safe distancing, delivery and collection.

Nonno's Pizza.

Nonno's Pizza. - Credit: Archant

I was really pleased to see our local Simmons shop reopen, although in a reduced way. The Hertfordshire-based company announced that they were opening 12 of their locations, including Chiswell Green and the Quadrant, although with shorter hours (8am-3pm), and with the cafés closed for now. Simmons have been baking from their base near Hatfield since 1838, making it one of our most established indie food companies, and they must have employed thousands of people in that time. I am glad to see it reopen, and have already been in for a loaf! My sourdough loaf was OK, but I prefer theirs!

I am sure I am not the only Herts resident really craving the seaside at the moment. The best I can offer you is fish and chips again! Fishy Plaice on Catherine Street is now open for collection and delivery, Tuesday to Saturday 1pm-8pm, Sunday 12 noon-7pm. They are busy on Fridays, as per usual, so my tip is to get your supper earlier in the week – a lovely midweek boost! Our local, the Ridgeway fish bar is open for delivery only, within three miles, Wednesday to Saturday and you need to pre-book your delivery slot (follow them on Facebook). They still do gluten-free on Wednesdays and I notice that they do not add vinegar and salt as it does not travel well! So, make sure you stock up on that first. Top tip!

One of my favourite cafes in St Albans is the George Street Canteen and they reopened this week for takeaway coffee and treats to enjoy on your state-allowed daily walk. They are even selling their homemade dog biscuits. Only two people are allowed into the café at a time.

Havin Turkish Kitchen opened just before the lockdown, in a lovely location opposite the Clock Tower. You can now call them for delivery 01727 843555 and see the menu on Mixed meze anyone?

Alloro Italian in St Albans has also just started delivery and collection. Order online at, and there is a 10 per cent discount for orders over £30.

Silver Palate in Harpenden is doing a set meze menu on Fridays and Saturdays, with a family size for £50, and £25 for two. This includes grilled chicken souvlaki, hand-cut Cyprus chips, grilled halloumi and all the salads and dips to go with.

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The Portland Arms is one of the new ‘community hubs’ which is being supported by the St Albans Hospitality and Retail Association. They have joined forces with Waddington Road café and are selling cakes, pastries, sausage rolls and more at their weekend stall. You will need to use contactless payment and observe the distancing rules when buying.

The Great Northern pub on London Road is running a community shop, alongside its pub classics menu, and is open Monday to Saturday 4pm-8pm, and Sunday 12 noon-4pm.

Oaklands College has a wonderful cookery school, and I do hope their students are doing OK at this strange time. I bet they can’t wait to get back to their kitchens. I noticed they are running an easy vegan cookery course which is open to all, and is free! Head over to for more information.

If you are very quick you may still be able to order a celebration picnic box from Inn on the Park for this weekend (deadline Thursday morning). For £21.50 for two people, you can enjoy pork and herb sausage rolls or leek and broccoli quiche, Victoria sponge cake, cupcakes, scones and a sparkling beverage. Ideal if you are celebrating VE Day.

Our family Takeaway Tuesday continues! Last week we ordered pizza from Nonno’s, which was delicious, as ever. It was delivered on time, and I popped them back in the oven for a few minutes to get piping hot. So lovely to have some of our favourites again.