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SquareMeal Review of The Cabinet at Reed

The Cabinet is a stunningly converted, 16th-century watering hole that shows admirable attention to detail in every aspect of its operation, from the fine ales & interesting range of wines on offer at the bar to the food served in the simply elegant dining room. Daily changing menus are dotted with carefully sourced ingredients, which are put to imaginative use in dishes such as braised local rabbit with chorizo hotpot, bacon & English cabbage or baked sea bass with rosemary sautéed potatoes & garlic aïoli. For afters, consider warm chocolate brownie with cookie-dough ice cream. An all-out gem that’s well worth the drive from London.

Good to know about The Cabinet at Reed

Average Price
££££ - £30 - £49
Cuisines
Modern European

Location for The Cabinet at Reed

High Street, Reed, Near Royston, Buntingford, Hertfordshire, SG8 8AH

01763 848 366

Website

Opening Times of The Cabinet at Reed

Mon-Sun 12N-3pm 6-11pm (Sun -10pm)

Reviews of The Cabinet at Reed

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10 Reviews 
Food/Drink
Service
Atmosphere
Value

Mr. Richard C

21 April 2011  
OK, a curate's egg if ever there was one. Some background. My wife and I moved to the Knebworth area of Hertfordshire around 7 years ago. We have tried most new, existing and recommended restaurants. We dine out at least once a week and have travelled as far as L'Enclume in the Lakes for their awesome taster menu, Jamie's 15 in Cornwall for lunch and trawled most of London for quality and value, not necessarily mutually exclusive. Maybe 4 years ago we ate here one evening – and were very very impressed. It would appear that the restaurant has changed hands. On the surface – and having called ahead to confirm the experience we were looking for – the menu and conversations were promising. However we were looking for something similar to that which we had received some 4 years ago – journeying 24 miles for my father's 75th birthday. We didn't receive it. Unfortunately I have had to score as above and I'll explain why. Food&drink. With 3 of us having 3 courses I allocate 1 point for each of the 9 plus an additional point discretionary for drink. Starters – mushroom risotto, baked egg & smoked salmon and tomato soup. Only the soup failed. 2 points. Mains – venison pie, chicken&mush pie and beef goulash with chorizo. Nil points Deserts – 2 peach melba specials and a baked apple and creme freche crepe. NIL points Discretionary point – had to walk to bar to ask for drinks twice – and on the bill had added extra tonics and bits that hadnt been used. Additional order of chips – not crispy, damp, lifeless and nearer to McCains wedges. So food 2. Detailed reasons soup – clearly not home made – no attempt at garnish. tasteless other 2 starters really very tasty indeed – the highlights pies – over priced, underfilled, poor pastry, too dry. goulash – meat very tasty – but no evidence of ANY chorizo within the stew. Queried this – and the evr helpfyul waitress took the pot to the kitchen where cold chorizo was sliced and added to my dish with gay abandon. chips seriously rubbish. Service. A new lady on her first evening or week – and she could not have been more helpful. On at least 5 occasions something was queried or requested – and she could not have been more accommodating or more pleasant. Very well done there. However you ARE usually asked if you fancy a drink within sy 10 minutes(?) of sitting down. This elapsed so i had to go seek out the bar myself. There were only 3 tables occupied I should add… Atmosphere. Again for a Saturday evening – half empty, minimal atmosphere. Significant “noise” coming from a table of 4 50-something couples – but they just worsened the experience. Shreiks of “the best ever chips I have tasted” were clearly fuelled by wine and not gastronomic knowledge. I am truly fearful of turning out like them in 10 years time. All in all a lovely setting and building of charm, with a supporting cast of interesting, local drinkers – let down by a kitchen that either didnt care or was going through a difficult transition. The toilets appear to have remained untouched since our last visit – apart from daily cleaning that is – and they are truly a plus! However I cannot recommend when coming in at around £40 per head – which was only 2 drinks each. A great shame.
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Ms/Mrs. Charlotte J

19 April 2010  
Having heard good reviews from friends we decided to travel from London to dine here a short while ago. Having arrived at around 7:30 on a Friday night we expected a busy and lively atmosphere, unfortunately this was not the case and we were seated in an almost empty restaurant. The bar out the front had a better atmosphere due to the locals drinking there, something the waitress seemed to realise as she spent all her time at the bar chatting. Despite the fact there was practically no one else in the restaurant we had to go to the bar to order drinks twice, a critical error in a restaurant trying to market itself as fine dining. The frustrating thing is the food was entirely acceptable, if a little expensive, just ruined by the atmosphere. The wine list was also very disappointing with the only half decent wines being hideously over-priced. Although we found the food to be well crafted (if a little gastropub!) I certainly would not visit again. The lack of atmosphere in the restaurant completely ruined our experience, teemed with an inattentive, and sometimes bordering on rude ,service. Despite the fact that our experience may have been improved had the Cabinet been busier I feel that the poor service we received would have been even worse should it have been busier- the uninterested front of house organising a busy Friday night. I think we will give it a miss!!! On a final note if you do decide to visit this restaurant do not order a side dish, a very small bowl of rocket with olive oil was £4! And be aware if asked would you like bread that you will be charged for this £4 again!!!
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Mr. Paul E

07 December 2009  
I have read the reviews for the cabinet and am some what suprised by there content i do belive there are some gentlemen and ladies sadly that just like to moan about fire places and such like. i can only base my review on fact when we arrived at the cabinet we were met by a charming young man who was sweeping away the autum leaves we were half an hour early and the cabinet was not yet open. he told us it was no bother at all and he invited us in and lit a fire for us and poured us a large g&t and a pint of wherry both excellent he then informed us he had spoken to chef also one of the owners and he had said it was fine to order early if we wished we ordered smoked salmon cornets stuffed with crayfish (smoked on the premis) and veal chops with potato cake and sage butter both excellent we finished with a chocolate terrine with an illy coffee sauce during the meal the waiter was on the ball very hard to find today we will be back and recomend it to our friends
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Mr. David A

27 November 2009  
Well, reading some other positive reviews of this place I think either I am living in cloud cuckoo land or some people are very easily pleased. We arrived at mid-day on a very cold November morning to a cold bar, with a log fire nicely LAID in the large hearth but not lighted. Pointed remarks did not result in any warming gestures from the staff.The pre-lunch drinks were mega-expensive for what after all is a country pub and the hoped-for bonhomie from mine hosts was conspicous by its absence.. We were a largish party and were ushered to our long table pretty quickly, I suspect to clear the bar in case other customers appeared. This resulted in a wait, whilst sitting, of at least half an hour for our starters, (pre-ordered) which arrived spasmodically and were handed across other lunchers with little or no ceremony. Some of us had therefore finished ours as others were just receiveing theirs! The main courses (also pre-ordered) arrived in similar fashion again after a longish wait. We were all loath to purchase more drinks, on principle against the silly prices more than because we could not afford them, and received the requested water twenty minutes after asking for it, it was never offered.. The rest of the food was only OK – pub-grub at best, nothing special and with the risotto swimming in sickly cream, which displeased one or two of us. At no stage were we asked if we had enjoyed our meal, if everything was alright etc. Probably just as well… On our way out, we noticed about six other lunchers in the restaurant and one chap in the bar – the fire remained obstinately unlit! We too found the service from the staff “tentative” as another reviewer has remarked elsewhere – although didn't they mean to say “attentive”?!…We shall not return…
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Ms/Mrs. Charlotte C

15 November 2009  
I first visited this restaurant for lunch in May of this year with my husband and we were pleasantly surprised at the quality and value of the set lunch (£10 for 2 courses for £15 for 3 courses). We had visited this restaurant a couple of times before and had found it pricey and poor value for money, (but we were tempted back by the price of the set lunch). However, it seems to have changed hands and be much improved. Our most recent visit was yesterday when we took a party of 17 people to the restaurant for lunch following our daughter's christening. We chose this restaurant based on our experience/visit in May, but as ever with a large party booking we had some concerns about whether the quality/service would be as good with a large party, and we had also seen a couple of negative reviews on this site. As it turns out we had a fabulous meal and a lovely time. From the first time we made contact the restaurant was very accommodating, e.g. arranging a special meal for the children that were in our group and warming up baby meals on the day. The staff were very attentive and the set menu (around 3-4 choices for each course) was very good (e.g. smoked makerel pate, bruschetta with mushrooms, green bean and brie risotto, steak & ale pie, mussels in cider and cream etc.). The main problem people had was choosing what to have as the menu was so good! Service was excellent and everybody had their meal within a few minutes of each other, which is great as so many restaurants seem to struggle with large parties. The atmosphere was very relaxed and we felt comfortable dining there with children, as the staff were clearly happy to accomodate children. The bill was very reasonable (again we had opted for the set lunch menu) and although service was added to the bill, this was clearly pointed out to me before I paid to ensure I was happy to have this included, which I was. This was a nice touch and made a change from some restaurants which add on a service charge without informing you, in the hope of any extra tip on top. All in all, we had a lovely afternoon and our guests were very happy with their meals. Having left North London five years ago where we were spoiled with good local restaurants, we are glad to have finally found a great local restaurant! We will be back and would recommend it to others.
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Ms/Mrs. Patricia M

16 October 2009  
My husband and I visited Reed earlier this week, as my ancestors are from the area. We spent the afternoon in the village, including the church where we found information regarding the Cabinet. We decided we would go for a drink before returning home to Bedfordshire. What a wonderful surprise! We arrived at the Cabinet and received a warm welcome from the friendly young man behind the bar, with the smell of fresh bread baking, staying to eat was the only option! The menu was brought to us in the bar and when we had finished our drinks we were seated in the lovely restaurant. All I can say is ‘ I will remember this meal forever’, I had the scallops in sweet chilli sauce to start, melt in the mouth food, the most delicious starter I have ever eaten. My husband had crayfish bloody mary which he said was absolutely wonderful. I then had chicken and mushroom pie with mash and red cabbage, just to think of it makes me hungry again. My husband had the cassoulet of pork loin, chirizo, parsley and cannalini beans, again excellent. How I wanted the poached pears and cinnamon ice cream, but that will have to wait for a later date as I was too full to eat another mouthful. We spoke to the chef and he gave us some hints for cooking scallops, he was friendly and charming. All in all, one of the best eating experiences we have ever had. We will be returning and will recommend to all our friends. Oh, by the way, the wine was delicious too.
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Ms/Mrs. Tracey W

03 September 2009  
well what can i say it was the best night out i have had since leaving london the service was friendly and relaxed we had the steak tartar of the “special specials board” as a starter followed by daube of vension with roasted beetroot and dumplings we had the baked cheesecake with boozy cherry compote was the best keep up the good work
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Mr. angus M

01 September 2009  
whilst posting a review of the cabinet at reed i happened to read another reviewers comments and felt a little upset by the content!! My experience at the cabinet could not be further removed ,the staff were friendly and tentative, the food was excellent especially my wifes lemon sole and capers. we frequently vist the cabinet and have yet to be dissapointed with any aspect of the service or food we will be back and continue to recommened this establiment to our friends keep up the good work
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Ms/Mrs. Michelle W

16 August 2009  
On my third visit in five years to this restaurant, a Saturday night in August 2009, I was accompanied by 7 friends, two of whom were celebrating their 57th birthdays. I had told them to expect really good food based on my previous experience prior to this but the reality was very different. Two of us ordered lemon sole which, on arrival, we requested the chef to de-bone. It took rather a while and when the food arrived back, it was lukewarm and in one case, the bones had been piled up on the side of the plate (an unappetising sight) and in the other case, the deboning had only been partially completed, leaving the diner to munch through more bones – awful. Meanwhile, the mixed vegetables we had ordered for the whole table turned out to be four dishes of cabbage! Cabbage is something I rarely cook at home when broccoli, carrots, etc are a far tastier alternative so we were very disappointed at this. Nobody wanted to make a fuss as it was after all a birthday celebration but I couldn't keep my frustration in when I was asked by one of the staff as the plates were removed, if everything was OK? I replied that it wasn't OK for several of us at least and that bowl after bowl of cabbage was a far cry from what had been expected. I received no comment, merely a removal of dishes! We moved on to pudding hoping for the best. Strawberry meringue with shortbread at £8 per serving. The meringue was hard as rock and not soft inside and the shortbread very average.Disappointing in the extreme. When the bill arrived, all wine charges had been removed but no apology had been made at all for the poor dining experience. That's a disgrace. We shall not return.
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Ms/Mrs. Belinda C

28 June 2009  
This was the second time I had been to the Cabinet. First time, the kitchen lost my order and I left without eating. Second time my husband wanted to try it despite my past experience. We arrived, were seated and then the wait began… the starters took 45 mins to come and when I enquired as to when we might get some food I was told sharply that another table had come in before us and we would have to wait. Given that the place was less than half full this wasn't great. Starters were fine. Main courses were not. The yorkshire pudding had obviously been made many hours in advance and been kept in the oven. My children thought they could have been used for cricket. The gravy was the same for the beef and the chicken. The beetroot squares and limp oily beans combo as the vegetable offering was horrid. The cheesecake too was poor. £160 for 4 adults and 3 children and no wine… We will not be returning.
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