Saturday, 18 April 2009

albion at the boundary

the entrance to the albion is through an organic produce-cum-deli. shelves of biscuits, loaves of fresh bread, stands with cake and slices of fruit and sweet and pastry and most of all, fresh fruit and vegetable. pink rhubarb with small streaks of green. spinach and kale and other leafy greens. the usual suspects like potatoes and carrots were present too. the shop extends onto a long rectangular space that has a warm custard glow. an oven and kitchen run to one side.

the albion serves up some quintessential british food. pies, mash, all day breakfast and kippers. i and i settle down to a comfy evening of girl chats and comfort food. i order kedgeree and i the chicken pie. a bread basket comes along with a side of butter to get us started. there were two slices of white bread and two of brown – it is truly remarkable bread and has the taste of an old farmhouse loaf pulled fresh from the oven and sliced with difficulty because it was so fresh.

i’s chicken pie looks like a picture from an old british cookbook, held in an oval shaped terracotta dish and capped with a pie crust that lets of steam through a criss-cross in its centre. my kedgeree is crowned with a boiled egg, quartered and arranged in a circle. The yolks of the egg are firm and yet soft, a rather dark yellow rather than a light one that comes from hard-boiling an egg. there is a sprinkling of green herb. the rice is held in a sauce that is essentially a curried cream, a muted turmeric in colour. there are large flakes of haddock in every forkful. it is the perfect antidote to a cold rainy night. 

full to the brim, i and i summon the tea menu only to be tempted further by the rhubarb crumble. it takes it time in arriving but we are pleasantly occupied with our tea and teapots that are dressed in tiny tea-cosies with different patterns. the crumble sticks tentatively to the sides, owing to the oozing sweetened rhubarb which is just right – not too sweet and not too tart. however, i still maintain that my mum’s crumble is the best. somehow no crumble i have had has been able to measure up to the crunch and crisp of mum’s. the trick is to let the top brown ever so slightly and that takes patience [and perhaps more time than a restaurant can allow]. the custard is thin and tastes distinctly of vanilla bean. 
i loved the albion. i loved its dim lighting and the constant but yet blurry chatter of people eating. i loved the smell of comfort and familiarity and i will definitely be going back.