Celebrating a Harpenden institution - the Silver Palate

The Silver Palate in Harpenden

The Silver Palate in Harpenden - Credit: Archant

Tucked away on Vaughan Road, The Silver Palate is a Harpenden institution. It has seen other indie restaurants and cafés come and go, but it remains a busy favourite with the locals.

Lunch at The Silver Palate

Lunch at The Silver Palate - Credit: Archant

In true Italian style it sits right on the pavement so you can sit in the window or at one of the handful of outdoor tables and watch the world go by. The Loizou family have run the The Silver Palate since the early ‘90s and it is always busy; opening the deli next door has given the cafe some much-needed extra space.

I have been many times over the years; I popped in recently on a sunny autumn day and it was still warm enough to eat lunch outside. I chose the Greek dip platter which included hummus, taramasalata, tzatziki and kopanisti which I hadn’t tried before; it was a delicious mix of chopped roasted red peppers, chilli and feta. At £8.95 I thought this was a generous and tasty lunch; it came with plenty of pitta bread to scoop up the dips.

They also do a good range of toasted ciabatta and American-style deli sandwiches, as well as classic European hot dishes. You could choose stifado, mousaka, paella and souvlaki. I’m always a bit worried to see such a long menu and it is ambitious to cover all these styles of cooking, but The Silver Palate does seem to get away with it.

There is certainly plenty of choice and there is something for everyone, including veggie, vegan, gluten-free and meat-eater. The wine and beer list reflect the cafe’s Italian roots, with Peroni and Moretti beers, Chianti and a very good nero d’avola. My fresh orange juice with lunch was lovely.

Service at The Silver Palate has always been a little unpredictable. In the past if I have glanced in and seen it is busy I tended to go elsewhere; it used to be quite a chaotic space when full, with people trying to get to the counter and get past chairs and tables, but I think the new deli next door has improved this.

On my visit last week we were slightly forgotten sitting outside – I had to wave through the window eventually, but once we had ordered, lunch arrived quickly and with a smile.

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If you just want a coffee, are in a rush or just want a few groceries, head next door to the deli café. Bag a stool in the window while you drink your coffee; it is a lovely spot. The glass counter has a very good range of olives, cheese and meats including salamis and hams. You can usually get a main course such as lasagne to take away too, for an easy home supper, with a salad to go with it. Shelves are lined with biscuits, sauces and oils in beautiful packaging; I think you could make a lovely hamper from the products on display.

If you go to the deli café for lunch they do a shorter version of the menu from next door, so you can get toasted sandwiches, salads and pasta. There were also tempting cakes and cannolis on display; I regretted not buying some when I got home!

Brunch and breakfast is very popular in both spaces, especially at the weekends of course. I like that children are made welcome and there are usually a few prams parked outside – it is Harpenden after all. You can get a coffee and a pastry, or choose something more substantial.

I like the sound of the Mediterranean courgette omelette with olives and feta on top and also the Greek yoghurt with walnuts, almonds or granola (I’d want all three!) with Cypriot carob honey. The Mediterranean twist on the BLT sounds nice too, with bacon and roasted tomatoes in focaccia.

The Silver Palate is a nice mix of old favourites with modern touches; I am sure it will continue to thrive.