Renna's Discoveries: Number 23 Restaurant in St Albans - UPDATE 2018 - THIS RESTAURANT HAS NOW CLOSED

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Number 23 Restaurant in St Albans - UPDATE 2018 - THIS RESTAURANT HAS NOW CLOSED

I took my friend out for a Tapas Lunch for her Birthday last weekend. The food was so good, I just have to share with you.

Number 23 - British Tapas
This restaurant has been on The List since it opened. Partly because I used to work with the owners many many years ago and you should always support who you know, and the fact that its tapas. However, this has not swayed my opinion in any way. We worked at a local Hotel, so I know that they know how to run a restaurant and how to cook good food. When you work in hospitality, it can make you quite fussy and spot things that others wouldn't, which can make dining out quite daunting at times. They knew I was coming, but I didn't mention how much I share on social media or that I have a blog or the fact that if there is a complaint, I will voice it. (Constructive feedback is what I call it though)
Number 23 is hidden away in George Street in St Albans, just a minute away from St Albans Cathedral. It is at the back of a shared courtyard in a building full of history. I believe it was built in the 1500's. It still has a lot of its original character which I really liked.
We love tapas and when dining with friends we actually think its one of the best ways of eating, as then there is no food envy and everyone gets to try everything. So this is a win win when it comes to food.
 These made me laugh, so I had to get a picture of them for you.
As you walk in through the front door, you are presented with two large Smeg fridges, which I was very tempted to open (because I'm super nosy) and then figured that it must hold the desserts. Then you walk through into another section, and then again into another room where the bar and more tables are. I liked this as you can have your own informal private area if you like. It did feel strange walking through the restaurant first, but then, it made me feel at home, like I had just walked through my front door into my own house. I have a funny feeling that they had a staff member at the front door in their busy times to welcome you though. There was only one waitress on duty this day, as it was near the end of their lunch rush so that's probably why she was by the bar. She was so lovely and very helpful and she made us feel very relaxed around her.
We asked for tap water and apple juice for the kids and myself and my friend Miss M had an adult drink, as it was a special occasion.
 As you can see from the menu the prices are very reasonable, and whilst we were going through it, we found it very difficult not to just order the lot !! Sounds perfect doesn't it. There is literally something for everyone so, although it may look like a small menu, its actually a perfect menu. I would be very happy with any of their choices.
We both loved the little quirky extras they had, like the cutlery holder was in fact a square teapot. We both wanted to take it home to put on our own kitchen tables. 

I would say that two people could easily (if forced) share one portion of tapas, so if you get 3 dishes and upwards, that would be a nice light bite. However, we are foodies, and we have three kids with us, so we just went for it.

Here's most of what we ordered:
 A good selection of breads with balsamic vinegar and oil. The bread was nice and fresh and I have to say, that this little plate was not allowed to leave the table  until I had completely finished it off.
 Five spiced chicken pieces with a chilli chutney. We ordered these for the kids and they loved them. So did we actually.
 Risotto balls (one of my favourites is Arancini, so we just Had to order these) I wish I took a photo of the inside, as they were perfectly moist and had a great texture. They had mushroom, pancetta and goats cheese and they just ooooozzzed with deliciousness. I would go back for these alone.
 Sticky sweet sausages. These were served with the sticky caramelised onion. Oh my..... these were so good too and there was plenty of it to go around the table,
Deep fried brie with cranberry jam. When we cut into ours, the cheese just melted out and oozzed like a cheesy river. It was just perfect. The chef's timings are just impeccable. 
 Here's more proof of perfection. The scotch egg ( this is after I knocked it so the yolk ran out a bit, but it was presented more neatly than this) was absolutely spot on, just how it should be.
Of course, they had my favourite cheese, Halloumi. Now, I have to admit I do generally worry when I order halloumi, as I know how I like it, and how my Greek family cook it. So I've grown up with it being cooked a certain way, BBQ'd or pan fried - if you deep fry it, I am no longer your friend. Well, I was pleasantly surprised, as it came Exactly as I like it. This is pan fried, and it was still hot and squidgy and I just tucked right in, I almost forgot to share it it was so good. 
My last one is Warm Goats Cheese served on top of baby beetroots. This is such a perfect combination. We loved it. 

 I missed photos of the chips and crackling, but they didnt last long, and .... how often can you go out and have a bowl of crackling at the table? You can't. Crackling is something most people would fight over (We still did, as one of the kids tried to eat it all to himself). Its a treat (sorry vegetarians, but it really is!)
Most of the dishes had a side salad garnish to go with it, which we also ate. In fact, I think most of the dishes were completely empty when the lovely waitress took them away at the end.
This really was an impeccable meal and certainly had the Wow factor. I would most definitely recommend it. It's a restaurant that is suitable for any occasion, a quick bite, a group, date night, parties on just on your own. We were so stuffed at the end, but we managed to force a dessert. Its a must !

Well actually, I had to order dessert as I wanted to surprise my friend with a little birthday treat.
This was the Malteaser and Baileys Cheesecake. We asked the waitress for one large portion for us to share. This is NOT for kids. It was just like drinking a glass of Baileys after dinner. It was very strong but delicious.
Our bill was presented in a lovely box which was full of sweets !! The kids went crazy and we all had to have a sweet or a lolly to walk off with.

I'd like to thank the Chef for an amazing lunch, you really are a true asset to the team with impeccable timings and food presentation.

Gutted that this restaurant has now closed, we really need to support the smaller establishments, especially as they come up with an idea that becomes their baby and without the public support, unfortunately the best chefs and their ideas have to end.