Outside it is raining. Dark, wet and cold. The kind of weather that makes you glad that you’re curled up on the sofa inside, snuggled under a blanket.

BUT if you should happen to venture out, then the Snug Hertford – which I had the pleasure of venturing to on Friday night – is the kind of place that makes you feel warm and glowy, even if the outside is anything but. And this is achieved by use of a clever three step plan:

  1. Comfortable, cosy surroundings – well, it is called ‘the Snug’ after all…and then there’s the
  2. Tasty food and
  3. Welcoming and friendly staff

Plus, if you aren’t feeling rosy cheeked and happy after all that there is a dressing up box full of furry hats. And they are very warm – I know, because I tried one:

In any case, on to the food. If you like well flavoured, well thought out nibbles in bite-size-so-I-can-try-lots servings, then the nibbles menu will be right up your street. My favourite was the homemade scotch eggs, followed incredibly closely by the BBQ pork belly squares and the honey and mustard glazed sausages. Equally though I’d be very happy to eat the rest of the nibbles too – sausage and tomato rolls, rosemary and garlic roast potatoes, fish goujons with chips; and wholegrain pitta and humous. Can’t go wrong with any of those.

Then (if you have room left) there is the Christmas Menu to get stuck into. For me, breastfeeding has it’s benefits and one of those is the ability to eat, and eat, and eat…and so I was quite happy to try a bit of everything on each of the Festive Platters (potato skins topped with turkey, cheese and caramelised onions; bourbon and cherry glazed chicken wings, more mini sausages, wensleydale and cranberry skewers, a miniature prawn cocktail, bacon and brie quesadillas and a brie bruschetta or two on the meaty one – and mushrooms in a diane sauce with blue cheese sprinkle plus potato skins minus the turkey and quesadillas with roasted vegetables on the no meat option). My favourite has to be either the potato skins, bruschetta or mushrooms – I wasn’t sure about the blue cheese and diane sauce thing but actually it works really well, I could easily have eaten another bowlful! If you’re sharing a platter then there are some things that aren’t so shareable – the prawn cocktail for instance – but given the large selection of things to try, unless you have two people who really, REALLY want those prawns then I don’t think that’s a big issue anyway.

Next up (yes, there is more) is the Christmas burger. Not (as was suggested to me) crafted from elves, or even BY elves; but rather, involving ingredients of the traditional Christmas variety. Nestled on top of a 7oz beef burger you will find turkey, cheddar, smoked back bacon, bourbon and cherry sauce and some pickles in addition to the usual budger bun and salad you might expect to see. In addition, there is a little lidded pot of pulled pork smothered in a smokey barbecue sauce with a hint of coffee (apparently there’s a shot of espresso involved somewhere along the line). I didn’t know about that before I tried it and commented on the distinctive flavour – it’s not obviously coffee-ey (I am not a coffee drinker) but it does add an interesting kick that actually works really well with all the other fairly strong flavours involved.

After that I was finally feeling pretty full, so we moved onto drink instead – the Snug is offering some festive cocktail making classes and we had the opportunity to try our hand at creating the ‘Candy Cane’ and the ‘Mince Pie’.

In this instance, the breastfeeding thing did not work in my favour – they smelt exactly like a candy cane and a mince pie should and I’d have quite liked to indulge in more than the small sip of each that I was limited to. The mince pie in particular appeals to me – it’s served warm with an actual mince pie on the side, and the aroma coming off of it is exactly the smell that I associate with Christmas – warming, slightly spicy, with an undertone of apples and berries. Anyhow, in the end not to worry if, like me, you aren’t indulging in alcohol. There are lots of great ‘virgin’ cocktails on offer too, and I learnt how to make an English Fizz which was very light and refreshing – precisely what I needed after all that food.

Then, desserts were offered. I figured, on being told of the eggnog cheesecake and Terry’s Chocolate Orange Sundae that I could probably find a bit more room somewhere – and I did. The cheesecake is delicious – creamy and not too sweet, with a nice thick texture but not as solid or rich as a standard baked cheesecake would be. The sundae is also quite light, with the milk chocolate orange in just the right quantity to perfectly complement the ice cream and whipped cream surrounding it.

And THEN hot chocolate was offered. WITH MINI MARSHMALLOWS. How could I refuse that?

When it arrived I thought there were just three on top – but as it turned out they were hidden in the cream and underneath the cream too, bobbing around on a lovely warm and chocolatey base that was the perfect way to finish off the evening before heading back out into the cold.

All considered, the Snug in Hertford seems like the ideal place to pop into for a couple of drinks and some nibbles after work, or a bigger meal and a bigger night with cocktails and friends. Starting at £10 per person for the Festive Platters, and with nibbles from £2.95 it’s very reasonably priced given the quality, variety and taste of the food – and with the comfortable surroundings and friendly staff thrown in I’ve no doubt you’ll end up coming home happy and feeling warm.

So long, cold and rain. I know where the Snug is now, and I’m not afraid to go there.*

*it’s worth knowing that if you can’t go to Hertford, then there are five other venues you could head to instead: Cambridge (Grafton and Lensfield Road), High Wycombe, Hitching and St. Albans. I’ve not been to them (yet) but given that they serve the same menu I’m pretty sure I’ll like them just as much.