Saturday, 28 August 2010

The Albion review - Islington Georgian Pub with a decent cheeseburger


Address: 10 Thornhill Road, London N1 1HW
Tel: 020 7607 7450
Nearest Tube station: Angel

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: below £20 pp
Service charge: 10%
Taste: ***
Service: ****
Ambience: ***
I got a WhatsApp message from ZL the other day exclaiming that he is terrified of having any children after witnessing how we are literally confined to a kilometre radius of our home with the Little One in tow.

To be perfectly truthful, I am kind of glad as that restriction (if you prefer) allows us to explore the neighbourhood in earnest. Streets and more importantly, eating places (see Ottolenghi) that we probably would have never ventured into despite being in the area for the last couple of years.

A quick check online turns up The Albion – a Georgian styled pub in the heart of residential Barnsbury. Sounds like just the place for lunch. With the Little One strapped on, we were on our way.

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The Albion with a couple of outdoor seats out at the front looked pleasant. Like The Canonbury, it has a sizable outdoor seating area accessible through the pub itself. That’s where the similarities end. Even though the staff were moving quickly in and out of the kitchen (we learnt that there was a birthday party going on), we were warmly greeted by a member of the staff and was quickly ushered to a table.

Absent also are the tacky leather sofas and in their place solid wooden tables and ornate chairs, which coupled with the thick wooden roof beams, added to the dining experience. There’s even a dedicated baby changing room on the ground floor. Superb.

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The Albion cheeseburger (£12) that I ordered turned up exactly twelve minutes later. I started to grumble about how long a similar dish took at The Canonbury (an hour and fifteen minutes), Wife chipped that this might have been prepared beforehand. Brushing her scepticism aside, I tucked into my cheeseburger enthusiastically.

The thick patty was medium done with some pink still evident, which was perfectly fine by me. That with the melted cheese and a pickle was a treat. The triple cooked chips that I have selected as a side (you get to choose one with some mains) was crisp but not overcooked, a joy definitely.

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Wife’s lamb shank shepherd pie (£12) had an interesting potato mash puff at the top. However, its lamb shank stew was rather uninspiring though that beat mince meat hands down. Even with a side portion of boiled spring greens, I thought it was a tad overpriced.

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The sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream (£6) was decent. Its spongy interior was soaked with toffee syrup and this heavy concoction was well complemented by the vanilla ice cream, which was furiously melting.

For those of us who love our meat, The Albion serves 42 day aged Dexter cuts as well. A 12 ounce T-bone steak will set you back by £23 while a larger 23 ounce portion (for two) cost £40. Like St John’s, they do a whole suckling pig as well for a party of 10 at £300 (service charge exclusive). In fact, while waiting for our lunch, one of those was carted out of the kitchen. That caused quite a stir among the customers who managed to catch a glimpse of that.

Away from the busy Islington Upper Street, The Albion is the kind of family orientated pub that locals frequent and with good reasons too. A return visit is already in the books and I have proven ZL wrong – The Albion is well outside the one kilometre radius.

Albion on Urbanspoon

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