Happy 4th Birthday THOMPSON St Albans
Wow I can’t believe it’s our 4th birthday! Mind you I am starting to see a few extra grey hairs every time I look in the mirror, or so my ‘lovely’ fiancée Marianne reminds me!
On November 1st 2013, with the help and support of family and friends, the good faith of Graham Oliver at HSBC (and an awesome business plan written by Marianne… she told me to write that bit), Lisa Bates at the St Albans Chamber of Commerce and June Cory from My Mustard, I opened my first restaurant, THOMPSON St Albans. I will be eternally grateful to everyone who has supported us along the way, for giving us the opportunity, for making us believe in ourselves and telling us we could do it!
It has been an emotional rollercoaster so far, with a lot of tears along the way, mostly mine! Marianne has wiped them from my face and told me to man up of course! It has taken blood, sweat and tears to get us where we are today and there is much more to come. There have been some incredible highs too. In our first year we achieved 2 AA Rosettes and an excellent score in the Waitrose Good Food Guide which was amazing. Being recommended by Michelin in our second year was, to say the least, flattering. Finally, being awarded our third AA Rosette in our fourth year has been a fantastic achievement. I could not be prouder of our team. We’ve come a long way since we first opened. Our guests and regular customers, who have all been on the journey with us, have enjoyed and complimented us on the changes we have made. We are constantly looking at ways to enhance their fine dining experience, including the look and feel of the restaurant, with exciting new dishes and flavour combinations, always encompassing fresh, seasonal ingredients and menus which are constantly evolving, along with our service, standards and staff training.
Four Years of Friendships
We’ve made some great friends over the last four years, from guests in the restaurant, to local businesses showing us great support and team members making THOMPSON St Albans what it is today. We ask a lot of our staff. They are a credit to the restaurant, always demonstrating excellence and professionalism of the highest standard. They should all be very proud of what they have achieved, and that as a team, we have made it as a 3 AA Rosette restaurant.
Since we opened in November 2013, we’ve been fortunate enough to have welcomed Michelin starred chefs to our restaurant. Tom Kerridge, Daniel Clifford and Phil Howard have co-hosted special Tasting Menu evenings with me. I am genuinely honoured and humbled that they gave up their time to help us establish and develop the restaurant. The hugely talented Paul Ainsworth will be hosting a special evening just after our 4th birthday, on Wednesday 8th November. We can’t wait and it’s going to be a wonderful evening. All these chefs started out once upon a time as complete unknowns in the culinary world, trying to set up and run their first restaurant. They all know only too well how tough an industry this is and, of course, how very rewarding it is when we get it right and give someone an amazing dining experience. When a guest talks to me and tells me how much they have enjoyed the experience, the food or their special occasion, it literally sets my heart on fire. It’s why I do what I do! We want so much to get it right every time. If on occasion we don’t, we do everything we can to learn from that, by constantly evaluating processes, procedures and training, to enhance the overall guest experience. I think the sign of a great owner and restaurant is one that is constantly looking to better themselves, giving more and more back to guests. And that’s exactly what we strive for here at THOMPSON St Albans.
Fantastic Food and Wine
During the past four years, we have hosted a number of special wine dinners at THOMPSON St Albans. These evenings are all about sharing flavours and taste sensations with our guests, paired with wonderful wines, carefully matched to enhance the flavours of the dishes. We are beyond passionate about great food and wine. To have a room full of happy customers, enjoying every flavour and taste is a fantastic feeling. I take great pleasure in designing menus for these evenings, matching each dish with complimentary wines, selected and deliberated over with our merchant, Duncan from Berkmann Wines. I have a 10-year relationship with Berkmann. Duncan has a WSET Diploma, making him qualified to the highest level in wine. He’s a true expert. During our wine dinners, all the wines are introduced by Duncan and our customers have the opportunity to taste new wines, learn about them and ask questions. Myself or one of my chefs will introduce each course, explaining flavours and cooking techniques, again willingly answering questions and engaging with our guests.
I have spent Christmas Days together with my guests, as well as countless birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions and we have loved them all. It means a great deal to me and the team if we are the chosen restaurant for a special occasion.
We couldn’t have done it without you and there’s still a lot more to come from THOMPSON St Albans.
Please join me from 1st November 2017 and for the remainder of that week in celebrating our 4th birthday with a piece of complimentary birthday cake which will be served after your dessert.