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Food, Drink And History At The Silver Cup In Harpenden

Exploring the latest chapter of The Silver Cup, the Harpenden pub whose doors opened back in 1838

The Silver Cup has probably seen quite a lot since opening in the 19th century, but a global pandemic must be up there with earth-shattering experiences. While the UK hospitality came to a grinding halt, two life-long friends were taking the opportunity to move into the Harpenden local and prepare it for a new chapter.

“It gave us time to deal with some of the structural issues,” says The Silver Cup’s current co-owner Michael Singleton. “We also managed to run a takeaway burger offering, which built us a good reputation, and also being opposite the common meant people in the town came and had socially distanced picnics at the weekends, which was awesome. Whenever we were closed by the government, we changed our business model to try and make the most of our skillset.”

Matt Michael
Matthew Reeder and Michael Singleton, the men behind The Silver Cup’s transformation

That skillset certainly extends to the food offering at The Silver Cup, overseen by Singleton’s friend, co-owner and chef, Matthew Reeder. “We want to offer brilliant quality food and drink with fabulous service,” Reeder states. “Our food style is contemporary British cooking with a twist. We take pride in having a team that are passionate about what we are serving and can talk our guests through everything we offer.”

Whether serving up an open-air treat during lockdown, or back to welcoming guests into the building, the food is certainly causing a stir. “Seasonality plays a huge part in every dish,” Reeder says. “A large amount of this is driven by working closely with our suppliers. “We work closely with a few local farmers and game shooters, which means we can offer some amazing local produce. Our Game specials went down a storm last year. Our steak nights have also been a big success. We butcher a whole strip loin in house, which allows us to offer some awesome kilo sharing steaks”

That should whet the appetite to venture to The Silver Cup if you haven’t already done so, but expect more to come. “It is a surprisingly large building,” Singleton says. “After looking at it properly, we quickly realised there was lots of potential. We have already managed to complete the refurbishment of the downstairs. Next on the list is the beer garden, and then the hotel rooms. The long-term goal is to make the hotel rooms a little more boutique-like in the future. I think the business is in a great town – using it as a break from the city doesn’t seem like an awful idea.”

How have locals reacted to what the friends have done at The Silver Cup? “The local support has been amazing,” Singleton smiles. “Growing up in the town has certainly helped as we have quite good local networks, and once people tried Matt’s food they were hooked. The support through the [lockdown] closures was phenomenal and meant that we are still here today. We have managed to build a strong level of repeat business, which is brilliant, even if it does put the pressure on to keep things new and interesting.”

Mushroom A
The Silver Cup’s menu has proved a hit

So far, that pressure is being dealt with extremely well. They recently featured a Mexican pop-up menu – “It was fun to bring something different to the town for a short while,” says Reeder – and have more exciting news when it comes to the menu. “We are moving to a five-course set menu on Thursday-Saturday evenings, with Sundays still offering our fabulous roasts,” Reeder adds. “Before we took over together, I was offering a Supper Club to 12 people, three nights a week. It was a real success and we want to be able to deliver great seasonal British cooking consistently. By offering a set menu on reduced days, we can also give our current and future team a better work/life balance. It has been a roller coaster of a first year, the industry is facing real challenges. We have had to adapt to closures, stock shortages and now staff shortages. We believe that this is key for us to be able to continue to operate and still deliver on our vision of the business.”

“We want to grow a hospitality business that delivers brilliant food and drink with great service,” Singleton concludes. “We believe there is lots of scope for different concepts in the local area – our list of ideas for new businesses grow every time we see something interesting elsewhere. We love the idea of building our business locally.”

THE SILVER CUP

5 St Albans Road

Harpenden, Al5 2JF

01582 713095

thesilvercup.co.uk

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