Restaurant review: Two hour wait for a kebab just isn’t worth it...

Open "posh" chicken kebab after it had endured a journey home.

Open "posh" chicken kebab after it had endured a journey home. - Credit: Archant

Megan’s at the Old Bell restaurant in St Albans doesn’t deliver on expectations.

Piri piri cauliflower.

Piri piri cauliflower. - Credit: Archant

It all started off so well...

After initial confusion over the time of our booking, St Albans’ newest restaurant Megan’s contacted me to say they’d managed to “fit us in” at an earlier slot. With our nine month old daughter in tow, eating late wasn’t an option, so we were grateful to be slotted in at 6pm for a two hour reservation.

Surprisingly, the restaurant was pretty empty, and we were escorted to one of the individual booths decorated with fairy lights - definitely the preferred dining location! The former Jamie’s Italian has undergone a complete makeover, and is all the better for it, with a warm and inviting atmosphere which immediately set you at ease.

The serving staff were young, smart and immediately attentive, offering us detailed advice on any allergens, which was particularly important as both my partner and daughter are dairy and egg intolerant.

Inside Megan's in St Albans.

Inside Megan's in St Albans. - Credit: Archant

Although there was some confusion about the ingredients of the hummas (no there wasn’t any tomato!), it was swiftly resolved following discussion with the kitchen, and our orders were taken shortly after we had negotiated the online menus.

Then the waiting game began.

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Our daughter’s mini mezze of falafel, hummus, flatbread, crudités and tenderstem broccoli arrived about 20 minutes later, and she tucked in with relish while we waited for our starters. The falafel was exceptionally good, crunchy on the outside with a soft, flavoursome centre, and my partner and I shared a couple between us.

Time passed. We ordered some more wine and watched as the restaurant gradually filled up around us.

After an hour, our starters of garlic flatbread (as basic as it sounds) and piri piri roasted cauliflower wings (florets in a sauce) eventually arrived, and were polished off with fervent gusto! The piri piri sauce was exceptionally good, with a warmth and depth of flavour that lifted the vegetables, but really shouldn’t have taken so long to prepare.

Time passed. More wine. No food. A dog weed on the floor and we watched with bemusement while the staff rushed around to clear it up.

Our daughter had long since finished eating, and was growing increasingly restless. We had been in the restaurant for an hour and 45 minutes.

My open “posh” chicken kebab finally arrived, served on a flatbread with harissa hummus (somewhat overpowering), picked veg, smoked aubergine and picked red cabbage.

My partner’s order of shaksouka kebab - plant-based “chckn” with piri piri and coconut yoghurt - did not.

Instead she was presented with a completely different dish (another so-called “posh” kebab), and the subsequent heartfelt promise that this would be replaced with the correct meal in due course.

Unfortunately after almost two hours, the thought of waiting even longer for her meal, and then having to eat separately while our daughter grew increasingly more frustrated, just didn’t appeal.

My meal was boxed up to take away, but by the time we got home it was little more than a cold stodgy mess, so I reluctantly clicked on the JustEat app on my phone.

So what were the positives? A beautiful, welcoming environment, exceptional waiting staff, and plenty of apologies for the problems with the kitchen.

Unfortunately the inexplicable delays and mistakes with what should have been relatively simple food far outweighed those elements. At the end of the day, if you remove the fancy garnishes and concentrate on the basics, there was little here which couldn’t have been picked up from your average kebab shop

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