ALBION: NO PERFIDY IN THE 'DITCH
In truth December is not a great time for visiting restaurants. The presence of big parties of loud-mouthed diners wearing funny hats palls somewhat and when it’s not French tourists then one has to contend with the British Office Party Outing. Why, in heaven’s name, would anyone spend an evening in the company of people they've spent a whole year avoiding in any sort of social setting ? Beats me.
Luckily, before our visit to new gaff Albion, HS had the wizard idea of popping in to Lounge Bohemia, an oasis of sanity in our nabe and bereft of any bad behaviour (shouting, being an arse, putting feet on the table - that sort of thing). After some inventive and pleasingly strong cocktails we pimp-walked our way up to Redchurch Street - currently the hippest street in London (and hence the known World).
I’m not sure how much Tel, sorry Sir Terence Conran, still owns of the D&D group to which he sold his restaurant portfolio, but the manager at Albion was very keen to emphasise that this was wholly a Conran operation. It’s an ambitious mix of restaurants, deli and hotel of which only the ground floor canteen and shop are up and running.
Of course all this matters naught to Dos Hemanos (that’s us) who are just looking for a good meal and despite mixed experiences at Conran joints in the past we were pretty impressed with our meal.
Albion has an uncomplicated menu of what is essentially British short-order cooking but what initially stood out for us were the reasonable prices – there’s nothing over a tenner. This could have translated into cost cutting in the quality of the ingredients, poor cooking or miniscule portions. It could have but didn’t.
Bread was homemade and good and yeasty. Over a bottle of Meantime Pale Ale we munched on a plate of excellent Pork Crackling. So excellent in fact that we had to have another.
Welsh Rabbit was probably the weakest dish. It needed a bit more Cheese and perhaps some extra mustard to give it some oomph. However, a salad of Beets and Goats Curd was perfectly judged: nicely dressed, tasty beets and a superior mix of interesting leaves.
Devilled Kidneys was a decent pile of the organ which had that slight whiff of the farmyard, ma non troppo. They were nice and pink inside and came in a good gravy that had us engaged in an unseemly scrap to mop up the juices (it was ever thus).
I was even more impressed with my Skirt Steak and Chips. The portion was a little petit for avowed carnivores like ourselves but the taste was great: Offaly and requiring a little extra effort to chew - a much underrated virtue and a good contrast when much food seems to be designed for people without teeth.
Chips were proper.
The fact that the cooking was pretty clean and non-greasy meant we could indulge in a couple of puds (ok – we would have had them anyway). HS’s crumble was the winner here. A bowl of Apple and Blackberry crumble was textbook stuff and came with a big spoon of clotted cream. Homemade Chocolate and Vanilla Ice Cream was not the best I’d ever had but did the job (of fulfilling my daily ice cream quota). Coffee was (like everything else) sensibly priced and much better than the tepid, brown, swill that’s usually dished up.
With friendly and efficient service and bottles of HP Sauce on the table we couldn’t really find anything to quibble about and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I really can’t say any more so I’ll just shut up now and let you enjoy the pics.