Below are some of the reviews we have received from our diners, we love to receive feedback so please feel free to leave us a review
Below are some of the reviews we have received from our diners, we love to receive feedback so please feel free to leave us a review
Facebook review by Paul Wheatley - January 2017 (5* rating)
"I can't help but feel like I have an odd relationship with food when I'm on the move and travelling around the UK on business. Some people see only perks and reimbursed restaurant bills. Sounds a bit trite, but some even think it's glamorous.
The reality is that it's overkill, and you're unreceptive to food. Elaborate "breakfasts" that no one makes at 8am at home, neurotically over-labelled fridge cold sandwich lunches, and anodyne 'all things to everyone' chain-hotel menus guaranteed to feature a Thai green curry and a goats cheese & red onion tartlet.
It's no wonder that I occasionally crave some of the disarmingly sincere comfort food that the generation before us enjoyed, long before today's culinary landscape, where every other menu features pulled pork or samphire.
4 Nations Restaurant to the rescue. Difficult to take Trip Advisor seriously when so many people only ever award 1 star or 5 stars, but it's a good place to start. At the time of writing, 4 Nations Restaurant enjoys the number 1 slot. I visited to eat, not to critique the place, but naturally wondered if it deserved its 258 reviews without a single "terrible" rating. It certainly does.
I had genuinely more or less decided to cattle prod myself out of the hotel room to this restaurant, when I thought I'd see what was on the Tastecard site, and 4N was on there too. Even better! I called them and booked a Tuesday evening table for 1. They answered right away.
I've never been to St Albans, and found the restaurant easily enough. It's very centrally located, and is at the back of a small courtyard on the first floor. Note there were no lifts in the 15th Century though.
I was greeted with a seemingly unforced smile by Sam, one of the front of house team, and he took my coat while I stood mesmerised at the cavernous ceiling with its original timber beams providing an immediate ambience of authenticity to the proceedings.
You could go right the way back to the 15th Century and not find a politer waiter than Sam. I should have asked for a saliva sample so one day I could clone him for 3/4 of the restaurants back home in Manchester, but drawing on previous lessons, I asked for a menu instead.
There's diverse wine menu with a few reds and whites by the glass, and an above average range of good quality spirits. None of that "house" rubbish that tastes like it was brewed in a secluded lockup unit near Wigan.
The menu is very simple and coherent, but manages to satisfy the "England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland" brief. Whatever you order is a complete dish - no side dishes required. I'd stop short of saying there's something for everyone. This is soothing traditional heavy brasserie cooking, and they do it brilliantly.
There are different offers on different week days, which makes it competitive. Walking through the city most restaurants were 100% empty on this frosty January evening. 4N had a healthy number by the time I left.
I ordered a few drinks, which arrived at lightening speed, in the correct glasses, and big chunks of ice... none of those pervasive silly little chips that dissolve in nanoseconds. A bottle of tap water was spontaneously brought over which many people appreciate. Did I mention the good service?
I had a smoked salmon and cream cheese roll with rocket and a herb salsa (from memory). The smoked salmon was fresh, and there was lots of it. It enrobed some reasonable quality soft cheese - far superior to that Philadelphia stuff everyone's using that's so white it technically doesn't exist, and has the texture of congealed Dulux vinyl silk.
For me, the roll to rocket/salsa ratio was too high, and I'd have gladly sacrificed some of the former for more of the delicious plant based components. I thoroughly enjoyed it as it was though.
By that point I had heard half a dozen songs, and begrudgingly admitted that I quite liked the choice of music. It's such a personal thing that'll never please everyone, but for me it was nice to hear those well thought out soul ballads again.
I enjoyed a couple of Pendryn whiskeys (from Wales, no less), a mini-bottle of Diet Coke (none of those post-mix machines that are cleaned every leap year), and some orange juice. The OJ was in a bottle from one of those juice companies you find in good sandwich bars and is a triumph seeing as the UK favours cartons of it, best before 2088 in a cool dry place.
For my main I picked out a lamb shank, braised for 6 hours, and with a root vegetable sauce. There were a couple of things on the menu that appealed, such as the hake, and the steak, but I think I chose well. I can't recall having that sauce before, but it all worked well. It was hot, the lamb had been cooked perfectly (and in abundance), and it rested on some perfectly smooth mash with the sauce, which was like a light gravy of sorts.
On the side was a small but adequate carrot / other root vegetable assortment. As is the problem with carrots, the thin ends were much more cooked than the thick ends, but none was unacceptably over or under done. The lamb was topped with what looked like cress, which I put to one side. I wouldn't have minded trying it with mint or rosemary to add another dimension. Lovely dish as it was and the price was fair for the quality and quantity.
Did I mention the service? It was great and didn't diminish, even when the restaurant became busier.
If I get any fatter I'll end up in a documentary on More 4, but true to form I had to enjoy a pudding. By this point I was content discussing Brexit via a smart phone and watching the world go by.
I've never been good at doing as I'm told, so I selected a chocolate fondant but asked to swap the mint-choc chip ice cream for plain old vanilla. That was agreed without a moment's hesitation and it emerged from the kitchen soon after.
I took me a while to navigate it. There was a shy fondant hiding under a large amaretto biscuit that seemed to have chocolate sauce sandwiched between it and the fondant rather than the traditional runny centre. Also present was a large cylindrical chocolate waiter. It wasn't bad, but slightly ill conceived.
Too many elements on the plate, and for me the amaretto + mint ice cream would not have worked. A great fondant and reasonable ice cream can hold their own without the others but there was room for Although I've said it thrice now, I sincerely mean it when I say that I enjoyed this course very much.
There were a few other options including treacle sponge and apple. The next table were quite evangelical about the cheeseboard they chose. I'd have chosen a more unusual dish if they had one. Cranachan from Scotland for example.
Time travel isn't an iPhone feature just yet, however immersing yourself in a beautifully cared for ancient building like this is a great substitute. It was left very authentic. A couple of low beams lie between the entrance and rear of restaurant. If you're very tall say so on booking or just remember to duck under them. In Manchester that would be ruined by a sea of yellow and black tape by now.
Some signs of long-gone woodworm persist and make it even more organic and Earthy. The public areas I visited were immaculate and there wasn't so much as a finger print on the glassware I was served.
I settled my very reasonable bill (note that service isn't included) and reluctantly left. It's a majestic space to eat in, it does take inspiration from around the UK, and the menu mixes great easy-eating dishes and filling choices for the more peckish. I forgot to mention the service. Sam was a delight despite my initially jaded mood from my work head. He is not too professional to be friendly and not too over familiar it's awkward.
It's only fair that I rate the restaurant as if I'd visited and paid in full on a Saturday. So on that basis, even at full price, I still have to award an enthusiastic 5 out of 5.
The rest of my colleagues ate £15 cheese on toast in a chain restaurant, and I leave very happy that I chose well. 4 Nations Restaurant has put me off Thai green curry and rice for good, and I hope work brings me back here soon. Hell, I'd even make a special trip if I was in the area."
"Our first visit to 4 Nations"
We were delighted with an inspired menu, quality fresh food, excellent service, good wine list and a very reasonable bill. The Tuesday discount was automatically applied, we had no idea that this was a discount evening when we arrived. The building is lovely and simple, no fuss decoration and lighting is just right as the food is the star of the evening.
- Samantha G (March 2016) via TripAdvisor
"A very enjoyable meal"
Visited this restaurant with my Scottish/Irish family as we were intrigued by the 4 Nations theme. Everyone enjoyed their meal, and the standouts for us were the Beer Battered Halloumi with Chilli Jam (delicious!) and Chicken and Mushroom Vol au Vent (best ever pastry). All washed down with a lovely Chilean Merlot. The restaurant is tucked away from the main street and has loads of character. Tall people should beware of the low ceiling beams however!
- jrob242 (March 2016) via TripAdvisor
"A delight from start to finish"
Looking for a new place to meet our friends, I looked on TripAdvisor and found this establishment was highly rated. Now I know why. First of all, its old bricks and exposed timbers give the place a certain charm and the low crossbeams remind us how much shorter people must have been in the 15th century.
The menu is interesting - a good balance between the traditional favourites like steak or lamb shank and fashionable ox cheek. Their midweek offers knock about 20% off the bill. Our waitress, Jennifer, was friendly, patient and helpful. If she couldn't answer our questions, she went and found out.
We'd heard the portions were good, so missed starter and were glad we had. The lamb shank, venison steak and ox cheek were all excellent and it was good to be given a reasonable portion of vegetables with our main courses. Desserts were also generous. The treacle tart and chocolate fondant went down well, but the highlight was the cheeseboard - four decent portions, one from each country, accompanied by grapes, celery, chutney, butter and nine crackers! I have a good appetite but this time I needed help from my companions.
We enjoyed the wine, but next time I might try one of the extensive list of craft beers available at sensible prices.
The only real problem we had was choosing which dishes to have. We were spoiled for choice for every course. With a large glass of wine each and a hot drink but free desserts, we paid under £25 each, which was excellent value. We will return and return to work our way through that menu!
- foodrover (March 2016) via TripAdvisor
"Family Celebration of Big Birthdays 30th, 40th, 60th & 70th"
I found this restaurant on TripAdvisor, and decided to make a visit to St.Albans (on a Greenline bus from Heathrow) near to my home. I wanted somewhere where we could all meet up centrally to everyone. Our family party - 17 of us, travelled from West London, Bushey, Herts., Warminster, Wiltshire, and Ilkley, West Yorkshire. I consulted other reviews, and made a one day trip to the restaurant, where I had an appointment with Vincent Carroll, one of the owners, such a lovely guy, who was very friendly and very professional. We booked a few months ahead, and consulted together via email and phone. My family loved the premises, we received a warm welcome, nothing was too much trouble for them. The restaurant has a historic feel, and is very cosy. We received excellent service from the staff, courteous to a fault, and interested in what we were doing, and what we were eating. However the great attention we received was never intrusive. The food was superb, fine dining, beautifully cooked from a superbly thought-out menu. We were consulted about our choices, and the very personable waiter helped by advising guests who asked for it, in a very pleasant way, it was so relaxed and still ultimately professional. Sam (Vincent;s wife) was really lovely, with a warm, caring personality - felt we had known her for years, and she saw to it that the whole experience went smoothly. Paying the bill was made easy, as we wanted it to be separately allocated to individual groups of us per family, and this again was conducted smoothly without embarrassment. All in all, we had the most wonderful time, thanks to the wonderful, 4Nations food, and the superb owners/staff. Our only disappointment of the evening was that none of us live near enough to visit more often, as we certainly would do so, without hesitation.
-JanB7389 (October 2015) via Trip Advisor
"Delicious British Food"
Super tasty British food with excellent service and great ambience. Visited with family for the second time and standard is consistently high.
- Michael G (September 2015) via Trip Advisor
"One year on the Four Nations stakes a claim in the Top Dividsion"
Although open for over a year we have only recently visited this restaurant. Having made the discovery we realise that we have been missing out on yet another excellent dining venue in the City. A simple menu offers some very well prepared and presented dishes from around the UK. The liver dish was excellently cooked as was the Ox Cheek. Portion sizes are very generous not leaving much room for pudding although we managed to share a cheese plate which was the perfect finish.
- Mikey - G1 (August 2015) via Trip Advisor
- Julie Bryne (July 2015) via Facebook
Recently I visited a new restaurant in St Albans, on George street.
It's hidden away above Number 23. The family team were warm and welcoming, much like the restaurant itself. The food was traditional UK cuisine, well presented and most definitely appetising. I would regard this as a "unique dining experience" in a town with a large selection of restaurants. The food was great, service standards were high and my overall experience would lead to me to recommend highly this establishment. Well done.
- EasyJez (April 2015) via Trip Advisor
"Another fab meal!"
Visited 4 Nations again, this time for a family meal. We were a party of 15 and again they managed to deliver on all fronts. Such a lovely restaurant with great food and a really friendly atmosphere. Will certainly go again! Thank you 4 Nations.
- Karen G (March 2015) via Trip Advisor
"4 Nations - excellent!"
I've been to the 4 Nations three times now. Once with my wife, once with my wife and daughter, and once for a large family gathering. The building is hundreds of years old and is situated near the Abbey in the old part of St. Albans. Just mind your head when walking through to the far end of the restaurant! They serve traditional English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish food, which is what attracted me in the first place. The quality of the food is really good, and it's beautifully presented without being pretentious. The staff are very welcoming as soon as you arrive which sets the scene. They are also attentive and helpful, even when I kept requesting more butter (I'm on an LCHF diet). This is now my favourite restaurant - try it!
- Clive P (February 2015) via Trip Advisor
"Great e food is the 4 Nations!"
The Four Nation's is a great place to eat as it offers that something different from your normal choice of restaurants. The menu is made up of traditional dishes from the four nation's of the UK and the service is great. Love eating here as it reminds me of places I have visited through out the UK as well as having a great night out. Watch out for special events such as Burn's night which I went to last month. I was amongst a party of six and everyone commented on how great an evening they had. If you looking for something different from your normal run of high street restaurants the 4 Nation's Restaurant I would highly recommend.
- FraserMcQueen (February 2015) via Trip Advisor
"Definitely recommend to a Friend!"
Thank you for a fabulous meal this evening! Genuinely the best food we have had out for a long time!! Fabulous atmosphere, food, service and excellent friendly staff. Definitely recommend to a friend!!! Merry Christmas!! :)
- Clare, Ireland (December 2014) via Trip Advisor
"Great Meal Out"
This is a really great restaurant concept serving traditional food from our home nations. The building is amazing and the food is very filling. I had the steak which was perfectly cooked and my partner had the halibut which was really good too. The sticky toffee pudding was the best I ever had. Service was excellent too, a really good addition to St. Albans.
- Tommy E (October 2014) via Trip Advisor
Had a meal at the 4 nations of Saturday after seeing some promising reviews, and were not disappointed. The setting is great and the welcome warm. Water to the table without having to ask, a nice touch. It was a very busy night and being a new restaurant there were a few challenges but Sam and Vince dealt with them admirably. The food's of a high standard and presented nicely. All produce sourced locally where possible
Made for a pleasant evening in a restaurant run by real people and not a corporation. We'll definitely be back and all the best to the Carolls for the future.
- Grubhound (September 2014) via Tripadvisor
"How proud our nations should be" I took my family and in-laws to this newly opened restaurant. The Tudor decor is beautiful, charming and homely with oak beams dating back hundreds of years. They have a great selection of unusual beer to tease your taste buds before embarking on a menu that would make our 4 Nations proud. Suffice to say the food is sensational, we are a family who enjoy our food and even with generous portions there were 6 empty plates. This can only be equalled by the service, which was welcoming and passionate about the whole experience they were going to provide you with. My recommendation would be to book quickly, I can see this restaurant becoming very busy, very soon. I for one will be going again.
- Alan (August 2014) Tripadvisor