Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Restaurant Review: The Albion

Winner of the 2009 Observer Food Monthly Best Sunday Roast award Albion comes with a formidable reputation and a lot to live up to.  Having failed to have Sunday lunch at a reasonable hour I was particularly hoping for a good feed as I dragged my weakened body through (what must be some of the nicest) streets of London.  Hurdle number one, would such a popular place even have space, even at 9pm on a Sunday?  Answer; only just, but yes they did and the armchair I ended up in was massive in a sort of mediaval king with a serious evil ruler complex kind of way.  A good start that continued.  Service was good and efficient and the surroundings were comfortable and well presented in a very gentrified plush, countrified gastropub way.  Then my food arrived and I was ready to see if Albion had kept up with the pace or if it was 'totes noughties'.

I went for the salt marsh lamb, roasted with rosemary and all the trimmings - with a Yorkshire added for an extra 75p.  It came to £17.50 minus yorkshire, which puts it in the same pricerange as Hawksmoor which again piles the pressure on.  The first bite sadly was dissapointing, slightly bland meat and an an insipid feeling gravy.  I was deflated, I must admit.  And then I spotted it, the salt shaker, the roast's best friend.  Really that was all it needed, they had seemingly failed to season every element of the roast at all.  I don't understand this seeming trend, Hawksmoor did nearly the same, though not to the same extent.  Either way, annoying as this was the correctly seasoned dish was transformed.  The lamb was of really exceptional quality and perfeclty cooked, importantly allowed to retain a good ammount of fat, which gave it a wonderful complex flavour.  The carrots and whole roast onion were delicious.  The gravy nice and rich, though still not the best I've had.  The potatoes were decent and had a good goose fat flavour, but I prefer mine smaller with more edges so they get really crispy and very mushy in the middle.  The cabbage was also great, but they had seasoned it with white pepper.  This might be a personal thing, but white pepper is horrible and no substitute for the black stuff.  Any way a minor quibble.  What is more major was a dry and flavourless Yorkshire.  The lamb though was superb, I can't fault it.  I think it's the best quality of meat I've had in any roast in London. 

A dissapointing aside though was the treacle sponge pudding with custard.  It was dry and rubbery which was a real shame as this is one of my favourite things and something you don't see a lot.  In all then, the star of the show at the Albion was excellent, the surroundings ranged from good down to pretty average, though most admittedly were nearer the first and they need to learn to season.  Very good, but I don't think at that price it's quite hitting the mark, certainly not enough to make it a regular.  The quality of the produce though has certainly made me want to go back for a proper dinner and test them a bit further.

No comments:

Post a Comment