Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Albion

There's always a reason for Red-Wine-O'Clock. This time it was to bring friends CL & M visiting from Adelaide to a cosy Sunday lunch. Erm, maybe dinner.

The Albion in Islington is buried amongst a leafy neighbourhood, surrounded by grand houses and away from the hoi polloi of Upper Street. A Georgian house, it's spacious and feels as if you're exploring a large abode as you walk through its chambers. There is a large enough outside area which in summer must be a treat to sit in. I was hoping we could have still caught the Sunday Roast menu but they stop at 4pm. So nevermind, the dinner menu was still delightful..

Roast Chicken with Girolles, New Potatoes in a Red Wine Jus: Chicken is always a debatable item on a menu, most think it's a cop-out from restaurants seeing as it's an ingredient which is easily obtained and can be cooked with kid gloves on. Au contraire. Something that is easily cooked is not necessarily well cooked. The chicken was well seasoned, moist, and comforting. Earthy mushrooms like girolles which are now in season are such a great partner to a juicy chicken leg. The red wine jus was of perfect consistency and depth.

Roast duck, Red Cabbage and Potato Fondant: Doesn't that duck leg just call your name over and over again? Fantastically crispy skin pulled aside so easily, to reveal dark meat that collapsed without any fuss. The red cabbage was sour, rich and slightly flavoured with cinnamon spice. Sadly, the dish was let down by an undercooked potato fondant. Where was my fluffy inside sealed by a crunchy coating? Alas, I had to pinch some triple-cooked chips from a friend!

Admittedly, slightly strange to include a random side dish but this beetroot salad was fresh and well flavoured by a parsley-herby-dressing. And did I say Red-Wine-O'Clock? Just about caught the medium Chianti we had with the meal in the piccie.

Sticky Toffee Pudding with Ice Cream: Dessert-O'Clock already! I was in a dilemma with this one. The pudding had a lovely, fluffy texture, but if the clue was in the name, sticky it was not. The sauce was a smooth and luxurious butterscotch which welcomed the ice cream and the little crumble underneath with open arms.

Cambridge Burnt Cream: hmmmm, not a fan I'm afraid. Loved the custardy taste, but overall I felt mislead. Surely the name suggests an English take on the archetypal French creme brulee? Creme brulee, Burnt Cream? And why attempt to caramelise the top when it's too soft, denying the customer the pleasure of cracking it?

Apple and Blackberry Sponge: Sumptuous. Spongy and soft fruity topping that gave way to a crusty bottom and nicely accompanied by custard.

Bakewell Tart: Now that was baked-extremely-well. It was almost like a frangipane with the biscuity bite from the almonds. Apologies for the slightly rampaged picture, always a sign of a popular dessert!

A super venue for an atmospheric drink with friends, and clearly a good British menu. However, perhaps let down by the details. On the upper scale for price for a gastropub though remembering that this is the restaurant bit, rather than the pub. A meal for four, 2 courses each, 1 bottle of red, a couple of pre-dinner drinks was £30 a head. I am curious to explore the actual Sunday Roast menu, and would love to find an occasion to do the whole Suckling Pig! Islington, anyone?

Albion on Urbanspoon

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