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Restaurant Review: Rodells in Watford

January 12, 2015

On a chilly pre-Christmas evening having battled traffic jams and dodgy directions (from me) Mr B and I visited Rodells in Watford. Situated on a corner near Watford Junction train station there was a lovely homely glow coming from the large windows of the downstairs bar area. Walking in, people were sat on bar stools around the edge chatting away – some with just drinks and some with drinks and pudding. It was a really cosy, homely setting to come into and the rooms upstairs are just like two rooms in a house but with more dining tables.

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We had:

Beef Brisket with Tendon Ho Fun. An interesting dish. Like a stew but with an oriental twist. I really liked the use of brisket and tendon as it gave a different texture to that which you’d normally find in beef stirfry. One minor down point – I really couldn’t understand why there was bread with it as well as noodles.

Buddha’s Veg (tofu, veg inc. lotus root and thick noodles) Top notch. This is the kind of food I love. It feels stodgy and filling yet light and healthy at the same time. The noodles were chewy and bouncy and the mix of veg was unusual which meant I didn’t feel like I could have just made it at home. I don’t know what was in the sauce but it was meaty and deep without feeling too salty or greasy and without actually containing any meat

Pork Baos The bun wasn’t what I expected from a Bao – much more like normal bread than the bouncy doughy descriptions I’ve been given. That said, the melt in the mouth soft pork and plum sauce made it much like eating peking duck and that can never be a bad thing.

Potstickers (2 shrimp, 2 veg, 2 pork) Tasting exactly as you’d expect potstickers to taste – full of flavour and with plenty of filling. Could maybe have been a bit more browned on the base.

Mac and Cheese Sushi Style A bit of a Rodells cliche but for very good reason – every review you read of this restaurant mentions this dish. They even laugh about it themselves because it’s become their calling card. I was fully expecting it to be alright but a bit of a gimmick. Not so. The clever thing here is how the discs hold together – the outside is crispy and yet when you cut into them you get a little ooze of cheese sauce. I’m planning to try to replicate this at home sometime.

Dora’s Deep Friend Icecream A great idea but let down by the fact that the cornflake coating soaked up too much oil so it tasted mainly of that. No need for squirty cream either Rodells – c’mon, you’re better than that!

An all encompassing menu

I always feel like a bit of an fraud – if a  very happy fraud – when asked to review places. a) I’m getting to dine for free and b) I’m no culinary master myself so how can I judge someone else?cSo, Mr B and I judge purely on how much joy the evening gave us and whether we would go back. If you wanted a perfectly curated and consistent culinary experience then Rodells is not what you are looking for. If you want a list of all the things that you’d quite like to eat from around the world, something for everyone  and a laid back unrushed evening then Rodells is exactly what you want. Not every dish is amazing but there are some crackers in there. I would say that their portions should be a bit more consistent on the small plates – one dish we ordered was a massive bowlful and another was just two items, so it’s hard to judge how much you want.

Before or after Christmas this restaurant is a great antidote. It perfectly serves those “I want something…something a bit different…but I don’t know what I want” moments. The owner of Rodells is a lovely guy and keen to talk about his sourcing (as local as possible – he even tries to buy off allotment holders) and his vision for the future (a classy men’s club style restaurant which Mr B is keen to visit with his bloke friends when it opens later in the year).

I’d recommend Rodells as a happy, homely and fun place to eat. The quirky but friendly personality of the owner comes through in the food and sends you away with a full belly and an amused grin on your face.

We paid for drinks but not the food. All opinionsn are my own and whilst I had pre-agreed to write a review was at full liverty to write what I liked. Thanks to Rodells for having us.

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