THIS pub opposite Nomansland Common, once a haunt of bikers and real ale buffs, is now aimed squarely at the family and restaurant corners of the trade.

The huge garden boasts swings with a soft landing area to cushion falls, there is a separate children's menu and they will even warm your baby food for you.

The rows of barrels behind the bar are long gone, but read on, beer lover there may have been only one hand pump in operation, but on my Wednesday lunchtime visit it offered one of the most unusual and refreshing pints you could hope for.

I've no idea who brews Grouse Beater, but it filled my mouth with a complex bouquet of fruit flavours, absolutely perfect for the spell of hot weather which will probably be just a memory by the time this appears in print.

Apparently the pub stocks a new guest beer every week, and I will be investigating again, even at £2.40 a pint. Lagers on offer are Carlsberg, Fosters and Kronenburg.

But from what I could see, most of the pub's customers were there for the food the conservatory-style restaurant that appears to have been added on to the original slate-roofed building was pretty much full.

The large menu, and more limited garden menu, offers three courses for £6.49, which can't be bad value.

I imagine the pub gets a lot of custom from the cricket ground opposite, and in many ways its setting, in a very attractive rural area but easily accessible from St Albans, Harpenden or Wheathampstead, is ideal. Perhaps the garden could do with a few more flowers, but I liked the trees a copper beech and a large oak. As for the interior, it is comfortable, and has plenty of wood on show, with not only exposed beams but a kind of frame for the steps leading down to the main bar area.

Verdict: probably excellent for a family meal, and definitely worth a try for a group of thirsty adults in the summer.