Win­ter walk­ers

The Jewish Chronicle - - JC SPECIAL - BYJANEHOWARD

F THE RAIN abates long enough for a brac­ing win­ter walk, you’ll be need­ing a stop to re­fuel and warm up at a coun­try pub. Or you could just skip the walk and hun­ker down to some com­fort food.

Plenty of pubs with a suit­ably ru­ral feel are within easy reach of north west Lon­don. Alden­ham’s Three Com­passes (

has such a re­laxed vibe that you feel laid­back the minute you step through the door. Re­fur­bished by small chain — The As­pi­ra­tional Pub Co — in March last year, it has a bou­tique, coun­try ho­tel feel, with dark grey walls, dark wood floor­boards, an­tique books lined up on shelves hung with a horse stir­rup at ei­ther end, a dis­play of old fash­ioned cloches and plenty of 19th cen­tury-style por­traits on the walls.

Thaw your toot­sies in comfy chairs, clad in plaid fab­rics, in front of open log fires. The menu of­fers shar­ing plat­ters in­clud­ing the Med board of mezze dishes and whole-baked Camem­bert with truf­fle oil, roasted gar­lic and ar­ti­san bread.

All was calm, ef­fi­cient and friendly at Fri­day lunchtime. Hal­loumi chips with grilled veg­gies and a sweet, chilli dip­ping sauce were eas­ily pol­ished off and a pile of warm pitta with hum­mus went down sim­i­larly well.

My kedgeree with a poached egg and pop­padom bal­anced on top (a spe­cial that day) was per­fect warm­ing fare and too big a por­tion for me to fin­ish. My school­mum chum’s veg­etable pie was pip­ing hot, slathered in mash and molten cheese and filled with a mix­ture of dif­fer­ent veg.

Puds in­clude a dif­fer­ent daily crum­ble, bread and but­ter pud, sticky tof­fee pud­ding with Lon­don stout tof­fee sauce, as well as a range of ice creams schlepped in from Calle­stick Farm Corn­wall and an English-cen­tric cheese­board.

You’ll need to go for an­other walk af­ter­wards to burn off your meal.

Travel just a lit­tler fur­ther north east and have a mo­sey around the shops of Harpen­den, Herts, then lunch at The Fox (

which is a fiveminute drive up the road to­wards Lu­ton.

Do book — as when we vis­ited for a late Sun­day lunch, the place was packed and the car park over­flow­ing.

The menu is con­tem­po­rary — there are shar­ing plat­ters of all the usual sus­pects, in­clud­ing ar­ti­san breads, mezze and a crisp gar­lic pizzette.

Starters in­clude a Crox­ton Manor ched­dar and Bram­ley ap­ple tart and mush­rooms baked in a white wine and black gar­lic cream sau.

Mains might be pizza — su­per-thin, Ital­ian style — or dishes rang­ing from the su­per-in­dul­gent (bat­tered hal­loumi or cod with chunky chips) to the hearty but whole­some (pan­fried sea bass with ten­der­stem broc­coli, Ro­mano pep­pers, Por­to­bello mush­rooms, feta and a pineap­ple and sesame dress­ing, or roasted veg­etable and olive tart).

You could even go for the detox­wor­thy whole­food salad, to which you can add a hunk of salmon, grilled hal­loumi or goat’s cheese.

As well as the usual se­lec­tion of puds (trea­cle tart, crème brûlée, crum­ble and ice cream...) there is a tempt­ing “house sharer”, which al­lows you all to en­joy a whole range of puds, in­clud­ing the rum and raisin crème brûlée, a choco­late brownie,

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