Restaurant Review: The welcome arrival of Megan’s to St Albans
- Credit: Archant
A new restaurant opening in these weird times is a brave move, and is guaranteed to get a lot of interest. Megan’s has just opened in central St Albans where The Old Bell was, and given that the prominent site had been empty for years, I am very glad to have a new place occupying the space.
Megan’s is a small indie chain with branches in smart ‘village’ locations in London, and this is their first restaurant outside of the capital.
I went along on Thursday evening with three friends, who I have eaten out with many times in St Albans, to give it a good test while we are still allowed to. I love the spacious, bright feel of the interior, with fairy lights and wicker lampshades everywhere. Tiled tabletops, wooden benches and cosy booths give Megan’s a welcoming feel. It was cosy on a chilly evening, and although most tables were occupied, there was plenty of space between them and the restaurant had a calm, well-organised feel.
The idea is that you can go at any time of the day, whether just for a drink or a full meal. Menus change through the day from brunch to dinner, which you download on your phone or they will give you a paper menu if needed. There is soft chair seating near the front of the restaurant if you just want drinks, and tables outside overlooking The Maltings, which I am sure will be popular for coffees in the spring. Bringing your laptop in during the day is encouraged, and there were plugs in our booth. Brunch is served every day until 5pm, and I’ve heard good things about their pancakes and Turkish brunch feast.
The evening menu that we had is Turkish-inspired, with mezze, grills, open kebabs, shakshoukas and veg bowls. As D said: “This is just the sort of food I like; lots of picky things,” and I agree with her. It lends itself to sharing, is full of flavour and usually pretty good for vegetarians too. We chose a Mediterranean Board to share, which was nice but a little pricey for what we had (cheese filo parcels, chorizo, halloumi, harissa hummus and borani). We would have liked some calamari too, but those had sold out.
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My main course was one of the nicest vegetarian meals I have had locally, and I would definitely go back to have it again. Piping hot shakshouka with roast cauliflower and quinoa falafel was delicious, generous and well presented. At £12.50 I thought excellent value too. D chose the grilled halloumi which came with tabbouleh and a good side salad with avocado. It seemed a better combination than A’s halloumi open kebab with smoked aubergine on flatbread, possibly because easier to eat. K had been before and preferred the food this evening: “You have to choose carefully –my mezze bowl was really lovely, better than my grill last time.”
We had Prosecco while we downloaded the menus, and I loved the Champagne-saucer glasses. Our Domaine Teisserie Cinsault was a good, dry rose, and the waiter brought me some to try when I asked how dry it was, which was helpful. At almost £30 a bottle it was high price-wise for St Albans. I like that for £1 a person you could have unlimited sparkling water or still water, bottled on site, with 20% donated to a local charity. A good eco-option.
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Sadly, with the 10pm curfew we didn’t have time for pud, although the Turkish cheesecake sounds good for another time. I tried a piece of pumpkin cake when I popped in last week, and that was lovely, so do try a bake if you have time.
I like that Megan’s do an early bird menu (Mondays to Tuesdays all evening) and Wednesdays to Fridays 5pm-7pm, with mains for £9.50, which makes it affordable for more people. Combine that with happy hour (5pm-7pm) and you can have a lovely experience without the evening prices. Service was smiley and efficient throughout, and the service charge was added to the bill automatically.
I am glad Megan’s has come to St Albans, and I wish it well. Do go and support our local restaurants and cafés if you can, while you can – I think most of them are really hot on spacing, masks etc, and it is so nice to eat out and be looked after. I look forward to going again.