Finally the enhancements to the top of town are nearing completion and you can see across from one side of The Parade to the other.

Nestled in amongst the nitespots and stores in this neck of the Watford woods is an unassuming restaurant Bread, Butter and Grill, which faces onto the renewed Pond area.  Despite its prime position, this bistro-style eatery has had its trials and tribulations – a burst watermain led to a flood on the night of its first fine dining evening and the council improvements outside have rendered it practically invisible since it opened last summer. Nevertheless, Bread, Butter and Grill’s reputation for offering good quality food and interesting wines at reasonable prices has grown steadily through word of mouth. This is a testament to head chef Mark Read, formerly of the Michelin-starred Oak Rooms at Le Meridian, who has a talent for pairing meat and fish with vegetables to create surprising combinations.  On our visit we sampled a five-course set menu matched with wines from the Marques de Riscal vinyard in northern Spain. The cod and parsley mousseline with shredded vegetables and a shallot soubise was enlivened by the crunch and tang of carrot and raw onion, but not so much that it overwhelmed the creamy and salty base of the dish – its partner wine Blanco Rueda is a credit to the white Rioja varietals – a fennel-tinged peachy, floral number made from 100 per cent native Verdejo grapes. The next course of scallop and spiced black pudding broth was a little thin for my taste, but it was cooked well.  Since the room was quite busy, I did feel the timings were slightly off as food arrived less than piping hot, but getting so many plates out in one go is quite a tall order, especially when the accompanying wines are being introduced with each course. The highlight of the night was the main of roast Hertfordshire partidge breast with celeriac horseradish mash – a robust, hearty dish which was a perfect match for the glass of damson and berry infused 2008 Rioja Reserva that it was paired with. Desserts included a heavenly dark chocolate fondant with vanilla bean ice cream and a chef’s cheese selection including an invigorating Irish cashel blue and a smooth Somerset brie and with fig chutney, which were married with NV PX Jerez – a dessert wine dripping in raisins, dates and honey and a plummy, molasses-edged 2008 Rioja Crianza, respectively. Apart from the quality, locally sourced food, you’re in for a double treat here as it’s both somewhere to have a good value lunch (two courses for under £10) or for a high quality dinner where you can dress up and still have enough for a taxi home.  The next wine dinner (£49.95 a head) is in April.

Bread, Butter and Grill, The Parade. Open: 11.30am-3.30pm and 6.30pm-11pm. Details: 01923 232223,     

Melanie Dakin