The Falcon, Hertfordshire: restaurant review
We try Suffolk ham terrine, crispy confit duck leg with white bean stew, and sticky toffee pudding with honeycomb ice cream at this country restaurant in the Hertfordshire town of Buntingford
Looking for restaurants in Hertfordshire? Read our review of seasonal British restaurant, The Falcon
The Flacon in a nutshell: A British comfort-food focussed restaurant making the most of seasonal Hertfordshire produce.
Who’s cooking? Kieren Steinborn-Busse (having trained at Quo Vadis under Marco Pierre White) worked as executive chef at the Swan, Shakespeare’s Globe before opening The Falcon with his wife, Natasha, running front of house.
What’s the vibe?
Nestled on Buntingford High Street (a small market town in Hertfordshire), The Falcon, housed in a chocolate-box Grade-II listed building, wouldn’t look out of place in The Holiday. With original beams and exposed brick fireplaces, the cosy 28-cover restaurant is split into three sections by stained glass partitions. Wooden tables are peppered with delicate silverware salt pots, butter dishes and napkin holders, while sepia antique mirrors warm up white walls, and olive-green leather pews hug the walls.
Tucked away upstairs are two private dining rooms with striking banqueting tables strewn with candles, foliage and the same dainty silverware as downstairs.
What’s the food like at The Falcon?
Hearty, comforting dishes that take home cooking to a whole new level. Split into starters, mains and desserts, the easy-to-follow menu offers five to six options for each.
Meat comes from local farms, while fish is smoked in-house and ice cream sourced from the last remaining dairy farm in the county. Start with the well-salted Suffolk ham terrine, a slab with just the right amount of jelly weaved throughout, and which comes with a satisfyingly crisp croquette filled with smooth, gently spiced black pudding. Spread the terrine onto warm sourdough and mop up the dregs with the tangy mayonnaise.
If scotch eggs are your thing, order the pheasant and partridge one (the yolk oozes out perfectly) sat on a nest of creamy fennel remoulade.
No country restaurant is complete without a pie on its menu, but The Falcon pulls out all the stops, where individual oval dishes come filled with chunks of pheasant and bacon, and an imposing shell of golden buttery pastry tops it off. A perfect mound of mashed potato (that’s been strained, sieved and beaten with generous amounts of butter) melts in the mouth.
While light dishes might not be the style here, the crispy confit of Gressingham duck leg sits on a white bean stew has slow-cooked carrots (cut brunoise-style) and fresh citrus notes that break through the succulent red meat.
Crumbles, sponge puddings and parfaits are where it’s at with dessert. While the hot chocolate fondant wasn’t as molten as we’d like, the sweet Milky Bar-style white chocolate ice cream swam in the melted chocolate filling, creating puddles of sugary joy. A moist, sticky toffee pudding had the perfect balance of sweetness, with a scoop of honeycomb ice cream sat to the side.
And the drinks?
European wines are the focus, with whites, reds and sparklings coming mainly from France, Spain and Italy. Wash down your meal with a glass of the dry and slightly woody Castezo rioja from the Spanish Bodegas Najerilla winery. The dinky upstairs bar can whip up negronis and kir royales, too, served in vintage-style rocks glasses and coupettes.
Written by Ellie Edwards