Nomansland Common, Wheathampstead, nr St Albans, AL4 8ELThe village common at Nomansland goes back over a hundred years and is notorious for sports such as cock fighting, cricket and horseracing. Awash with legends of the masked highwaywoman who haunted this location and dubbed the 'wicked lady', her real identity as Lady Ferrers of Markvate, became known only after her death. Today, the Ferrers Lane area and the surrounding commons are home to an attractive pub, named after her, offering tasty food and drinks complemented by warm hospitality. The real log fires, the comfortable furniture and the spacious dining area buzz with activity as diners enjoy carefully prepared dishes made from the freshest ingredients available locally. Contemporary pubs such as these usually share a number of characteristics.
The village common at Nomansland goes back over a hundred years and is notorious for sports such as cock fighting, cricket and horseracing. Awash with legends of the masked highwaywoman who haunted this location and dubbed the 'wicked lady', her real identity as Lady Ferrers of Markvate, became known only after her death. Today, the Ferrers Lane area and the surrounding commons are home to an attractive pub, named after her, offering tasty food and drinks complemented by warm hospitality. The real log fires, the comfortable furniture and the spacious dining area buzz with activity as diners enjoy carefully prepared dishes made from the freshest ingredients available locally.
Contemporary pubs such as these usually share a number of characteristics. An important feature is space, preferably a restaurant where you are comfortable, not over-awed, and not sharing elbow space with the next table, however sociable they may be. Good, too, to have a garden, optional al fresco eating out space, and by no means least a roomy and well stocked bar where you can actually get served without undue delay. After all, drinking should be taken seriously.
If a pub offers all of these, and is in a good location, there is little reason in today's economic climate why it should not flourish. But of course there are other factors, not least of which is the food and drink. The term 'gastropub' covers a multitude of blessings, and it is possible to see influences of brasserie, bistro, restaurant and even café at work within the great gastro umbrella. So expect to find no one single cuisine, but a blend designed to provide something for everybody, no matter what their treat may be.
To set the right note of fashionable sociability there are sharing plates, antipasti of Italian meats, dolcelatte, marinated vegetables and warm stone-baked flatbreads, or Mediterranean mezze of hummus, roasted vegetables, fregola, tzatziki, feta, spinach and ricotta pâté with flatbreads. Amongst the appetisers look for freshly made soup; lamb koftas with mint yoghurt, kohlrabi, cumin and carrot salad, or gambas with rocket, garlic aioli and rustic bread. Look, too, for scallops in the specials section.
The salads offer chargrilled chicken, courgette, fennel, apple, asparagus, hazelnut and balsamic dressing, and for the seafood fiends some prawn and avocado, pecans, mango, bacon with orange and pomegranate vinaigrette never fail to please. These days no self-respecting gastropub can afford to be without its pizza range; expect to find a classic margherita of pomodoro, mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and basil, the rustica with roasted Mediterranean vegetables, goats' cheese and cherry tomatoes, or the piccante with pepperoni, chorizo, tomato and jalapeños.
Pastas include linguini with tiger prawns, crab, chorizo, chilli, tomato and white wine; strozzapreti of tomato, goats' cheese, spinach, pine nuts and raisins, or tagliatelle with slow cooked Bolognaise and parmesan. For the big event there is always roast rump of lamb with sauce soubise, asparagus, pancetta, button onions and baby potatoes. The battered haddock with frites, tartare sauce and minted mushy peas is popular, a sign of the times and improving taste in eating, as is the blackened cod fillet with egg noodles, pak choi, mango and chilli salsa. For hearty eaters there are there are rib eye and fillet steaks or spit chicken with lemon, garlic, thyme and frites.
A wide range of supporting dishes includes carrot, cumin, orange and chilli salad, and cabbage, leeks and peas. For desserts choose between Eton mess or apple, blackcurrant crumble and vanilla custard. A worthy selection of cheeses in guaranteed to set the buffs alight.
Wicked Lady stocks a wide range of beers, both well loved draught ales and continental lagers bottled from further afield which includes Cabernet Shiraz Merlot from South Africa. The wine list covers plenty of territory from traditional clarets to Pinot Grigio, and champagne by the glass or bottle is always available. Service is cheerful, brisk and totally in keeping with the friendly nature of a good English gastropub.
More information, including full menus, is available on their Website. Please note that the E-Mail Contact is for enquiries only, not for bookings.
English, Gastropub, Modern British
: 12:00 - 22:00 (last orders)
: 12:00 - 22:30 (last orders)
: 12:00 - 21:00 (last orders)
Nomansland Common, Wheathampstead, nr St Albans, AL4 8EL [Map]
£12.50 (2 courses), Mon - Fri
£12.50 (2 courses), Mon - Fri, pre 7 pm
(Avg Price is the average cost per person for two courses, coffee, half a bottle of house wine and tip/service)
REVIEWS OF Wicked Lady
Gary Anthoney (7 July 2009)
I visited the Wicked Lady for the third time in two months. I didn't think a third visit could be better than the other two. How wrong was I? It was a Tuesday and the restaurant was busy but not full; staff were excellent, attentive but un-hurried and very helpful and pleasant. The food is sublime, I had fillet of salmon wrapped in pancetta with crushed garlic potatoes with grilled asparagus - divine. I didn't think garlic would 'marry' with delicate salmon but believe me it was dreamy. Whoever dreams up the menus is an artist. I can't wait to see what surprises are there on the menu for my next visit. My recommendation? Try it, if it's not available because it's sold out? So what? Visit again, its well worth the effort. I live in Brighton and to be honest we eat out a lot but there is little to compare.
Jon (20 April 2008)
We had lunch there on a Sunday. The restaurant is modern and in a nice location. The service was not upto the mark and they ran out of many items on the menu, which was disappointing. The items on the menu looked good and we wished they were available even though we found them on the pricey side.
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More Info for Wicked Lady
- Children welcome
- Air condition
- Groups allowed
- Outside seating
- Cover charge
Not included, 10% (optional) for 8 or more
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