YORK AND ALBANY: STAND AND DELIVER
After we’d finished our meal at the new Gordon Ramsay/Angela Hartnett gaff York and Albany, a box of popcorn appeared with the bill. We tried a few found, they were pretty good and hungrily burrowed down into the box. All of a sudden, HS gave a Richard Pryoresque start (Heeeyyy…)*. They’d padded the box out – what a swizz. Just like our meal HS harrumphed.
Apart from Plane Food we’ve been to all the London restaurants in the Gordon Ramsay empire and this was our most disappointing experience to date (although a very bad one at GR@Claridges when it opened still makes us shiver with dread) . Even more so when we found out Ms Hartnett was in the kitchen: she’d made a table-side appearance to apologise for some chips we sent back. We weren’t expecting the quality of ingredients and level of refinement that we’d found with our recent meal at Murano but we were expecting something more than the average, expensive gastropub experience we got.
An amuse of a quite liquid Chicken Liver mousse served with some melba toast was a decent start, although, as we found with a few dishes at Murano it was salted a bit too enthusiastically.
I thougt my Deep Fried Lambs Tongues ok – better at least than HS liked his grilled Mackerel. He thought the fish overcooked and a bit mushy. My lamb had been deep fried then sliced so you got a bit of the crunch of the breadcrumbs without too much oiliness and the salad worked quite well with it. Lamb Tongues seem quite expensive these days though.
We’d added in an extra starter (naturally) of Pumpkin Risotto which they’d kindly split for us. Coming after a textbook example at Murano what we got was a very poor facsimile. The texture was way too thick and stodgy and while the gorgonzola was good it dominated the other flavours in the dish. Even worse, there were unshelled pumpkin seeds scattered over the dish. They had been roasted, but were not edible – believe me I tried – an odd way to get texture into the dish.
Moving on to the main courses felt more akin to doing something out of duty rather than any sense of pleasure or anticipation.
I loathe it when a piece of steak is mucked about with. There isn’t anything you should do to it other than cook it and leave it. My rib-eye had been cooked slightly over the requested rare but then had been sliced into quarters then doused in an over-reduced jus which just obliterated what little taste the steak had. The roasted onion and little mushroom and marrow toast weren’t bad but the wilted watercress tasted as if it had been dressed in seawater.
HS’s underhung partridge just elicited a shrug from the great man of letters. The chips showed scant signs or taste of truffle and were undercooked so they went back.
We battled on for a rather prosaic Manzanilla trifle which HS, after a few bites, gave up on and wondered why they would use such a sherry for a trifle. A mystery we were totally unconcerned about solving. A bigger mystery, though, is how someone so obviously talented (in our view) as Angela Harnett could be associated with somewhere so totally underwhelming.
*See Richard Pryor - Live in Concert