Food has a very nostalgic characteristic. It invokes feelings in you that remind you of places you’ve been to, people you’ve met or even takes you back in time. For someone who moves to another country, that relationship with food of your home becomes even more sacred. You crave it, you dream about it (err…right?) and you try to find any where locally you can eat the very same dish you ate X years ago. If you’re lucky enough to have traveled around the world and tried different cuisines, sampling the same food locally brings back memories of the amazing time you had, the people you shared that moment with and there’s nothing else (that I can think of) that has the power to do that other than food.
When I was invited to come check out Rodells by the lovely Rose Rouse, I wasn’t expecting it to be in Watford. Living in London, it’s very easy to assume the food scene doesn’t get better than here. So I was curious to find out, what this place in the outskirts of London (apologies to anyone from Watford!) was all about.
Rodells is a 3 minute walk from Watford Junction station and it’s hard to miss this well lit up, white building. I was welcomed by their friendly staff and finally got to meet Mario Tavares- the man behind this eclectic establishment. Food is a very special subject for me. It’s very rare to come across people who are genuinely passionate about food. And you can tell when you enter a restaurant whether people who own/run it are passionate about what they do or not. On a cold winter night, Rodells was full of warmth and the ambience immediately relaxed me. It has a very nice bar area and the dining place is upstairs that’s split into two rooms. You can sit any where you like, I preferred the room with the sofas and the projector playing a random movie. This place has an eccentric charm and it is full of character!
With all the restaurants desperate to box and categorise themselves as Korean, Japanese, Thai, Indian bla bla. It’s very refreshing to meet someone who’s making a conscious effort to stay away from this ‘trend’. At Rodells, you will get a taste of the world!
The menu changes every day as you can see from the date on the menu and it’s always full of surprises. Mario is a well traveled man and everything he puts on the menu has been well thought out. It is all the dishes he’s grown up with, eaten while traveling and what makes him happy serving it up to his customers. One thing I loved about what he said was, they make a conscious effort to not waste any food. In this day and age, when everything is consumed in excess it’s good to come across people who don’t want to bow to it. SO! Coming to food. Usually Mario would’ve presented the world food platter and I have heard some amazing things about it. But unfortunately due to a personal matter Mario couldn’t make it. But lucky for me, I had a free reign over the main menu. So I went a little crazy! 😉
I ordered the Nonya Chicken Curry, Crispy Duck Wraps, West Indian Mutton aka curry goat, Dry Cajun Ribs, Caribbean Jerk Chicken, Fiery Gambas Al Pil Pil, Macanese Minchee AND a portion of rice and beans. Don’t worry there were two of us eating. I’m a pig when it comes to food but I do have my limits too! 😛
As you can see from the spread, I did not need any encouragement. The first thing I wanted to try was the rice and beans. THANK HEAVENS, they used basmati rice. The taste was lovely, rice was fluffy and did not feel stodgy at all. I tried the West Indian Mutton with it and my taste buds were singing. I love mutton and there’s not enough mutton being sold and made in London! And I don’t know why… Reminds me of my mum’s homemade mutton biryani- yummy!
I wanted to get the curries out of the way so tried the Nonya Chicken Curry. It’s amazing how it was not very different from a Pakistani curry but it definitely had a more richer and creamier texture. The seasoning was just right! If you want to sell curry then make it with gusto. Don’t by shy with the seasoning and spices and that’s exactly how Rodells served it up. I would definitely order this dish on my next visit.
I took a bit of a breather and moved onto the Crispy Duck Wrap. The portion size was just right considering the amount of food we had ordered! The duck, true to it’s name, was crispy and it was covered with a sweet and aromatic sauce. The salad was also crunchy which beautifully complimented the texture and taste on the whole.
This masterpiece above is the Macanese Minchee. It was a recommendation from Mario and I was told it was a very moorish dish and one you can’t stop eating! Quite intrigued, I wanted to try it out. Now, if you’ve been to a Pakistani or Indian restaurant you must’ve come across the dish “Aloo Keema” which is mince meat with potatoes (one of my favourites!!) and traditionally you can either have it with steamed white rice or roti/chappati. Macanese Minchee reminded me of that. Again, it’s just amazing how some dishes from different regions are so similar and influenced by each other. But of course this particular dish had its own distinct taste and the mince was cooked differently. The smoky flavour of meat and diced potatoes on top of a bed of steamed rice was just perfect! And true to what Mario had said, it was definitely moorish. Despite eating everything else, this was one dish I fully wiped out! Ha
Yes, I still had space to devour more food. Hang on, I’m not done yet 😛 These fiery gambas al pil oil (above) were staring at me while I was eating and cooing over all the other dishes. I couldn’t ignore them any more. The prawns were big and juicy and you could just tell, one bite of it and there’s no going back!
The sauce was spicy but I can take more spice so not spicy enough for me! But that’s me. For people who eat normal amounts of spice, this would be perfect. You can tell when you eat something how fresh the ingredients are and this was as fresh as it gets. If I hadn’t ordered so much food, a slice of bread with these fiery gambas would’ve been sooo good! Soaking up all the spicy juices and wrapping up the rocket giving a perfect peppery taste to it all.
The final dish I tried was the Caribbean Jerk Chicken. I LOVE Caribbean food but after eating all the delicious dishes, this one was a bit of a downer. The skin was a little burnt and it just wasn’t juicy enough. Even the glaze on top couldn’t save it. So it didn’t leave quite an impression on me. But hey, doesn’t mean it’s not going be amazing next time you try it!
Sooooo, would you like some dessert?! 😉 Yes, I was KO’d but there’s always space for some teeny weeny dessert. This trio of desserts (below) was the perfect end to an amazing meal and evening.
I didn’t think I could eat anything more but when the desserts arrived they were just so cute and perfect that I couldn’t NOT eat them. So I started with the lemon cheesecake which for once had a good amount of lemon zest. Usually, there’s never enough lemon zest in these cheesecakes. But not this one! If you’re a fan of cheesecakes then definitely order this one. Next one up was a carrot cake. Personally, I don’t eat carrot cakes but the frosting on top definitely helped. The sponge was fluffy, soft and I could actually taste the carrots.
I have a special love affair with chocolate. I don’t eat a lot of it but I always love a chocolate cake. So saved this baby for last. This cake was made with dark chocolate and topped with peanut butter frosting-HEAVEN!!! The cake wasn’t heavy at all and it literally melted in my mouth. The peanut butter topping wasn’t too sweet which helped calm the taste down and did not make it too sweet. It was the perfect way to end a splendid evening.
I can’t praise Mario and his team enough. They’ve created such a special place in Watford and more people should know about this place. I can see myself hanging out here when I come visit my friends in Watford. It’s cool, calm, eccentric, has great vibes and the food isn’t too bad either! 😉 For all the organic food buffs, this is the only place in Hertfordshire that sells organic wine and what’s more? They’ve got White and Pink Prosecco on tap too. The young boys at the bar are always rustling up some new cocktails so definitely one place you don’t want to miss. I’ve been told their Sunday lunches are extra special and are always fully booked. It’s quite a full on affair at Rodells. And most importantly, everyone seems to be having a good time. A big group of youngsters took over the room next to us and they were wining and dining, having a jolly good time!
A special shout out to whoever did the ladies’ room. It’s sooo pretty! 😛
All in all, so worth it! Having never really been to Watford, and not really heard any outstanding things about this place- Rodells is such a pleasant surprise. It has changed my impression of the place and this will definitely be my place of choice next time I’m up in Watford.
Their website is under construction but there is some basic information on there so have a look: Rodells
Their contact details are as follows:
Address: 1A St John’s Rd, Watford, Hertfordshire WD17 1PU
I heartily encourage you to go visit Rodells. Trust me, you will like and it and it’s such a relief to get out of London sometimes. Thanks Rodells! You’ve made Watford worth coming to! xx