You might have heard of a foul-mouthed chef named Gordon Ramsey. No? Just turn on the tv and you'll see him either swearing his head off at some poor sous chef or cosying to some celeb. I've heard his food is amazing but I'm too poor to eat at his restaurant at Claridges and I'm getting a bit bored with his hard man act. However, I'm not bored with his protégée Angela Hartnett. Oh no. And what makes her even more amazing is that she's opened a gastropub with affordable food smack bang in the middle of Camden Town just a bus ride away. It's casual, unpretentious and serves the most delicious food.
Let me explain. A couple of years ago we were scratching our heads at work trying to decide where to go for our Christmas lunch. My boss was a big fan of Hartnett's cooking and we'd heard she'd just opened a new place. We like exploring new joints and booked us a table at York & Albany. I'd read lots of reviews and they all went on and on about her pollock with chorizo and white beans and I was determined to try it. And it was divine.
Sadly, it's no longer on the menu, but this time we went to get ourselves a proper Sunday roast. Considering it's the most-loved national dish in Britain, it's surprisingly hard to find a really good roast. I've been meaning to write a post about roasts for ages, so I was really looking forward to this. At York & Albany, a three-course Sunday lunch will set you back £21 (which is extremely reasonable for a high-end restaurant). It's £5 extra for the roast and who was I to deny myself?
We started with lightly poached salmon in a corn froth with spring onions. I wasn't so sure about this as I'd never had this combination of flavours before but it was gorgeous. I couldn't believe how light and flavourful this dish was. It impressed me instantly.
One of my friends had poached Devon plaice on saffron risotto and pickled beetroot which she loved. She used to be a chef so she should know.
My other friend had pan-fried sea bass with vegetables which she also raved about. She likes her fish.
And I had the roast beef with Yorkshire pudding and roast veg.
Now I'd been looking forward to this for ages because the last time I had roast beef it came without Yorkshire pudding which made me want to explode (how dare they?!). You can almost say that roast beef without Yorkshire pudding isn't a real roast. However, the pud was delicious but the roast wasn't exactly right. I like my roast a little more roasted and cut slightly thinner in three slices. Am I being too fussy? And I had to ask for more gravy. I'm usually very low maintenance, except when it comes to Sunday roast. I ate the whole thing anyway, but next time I'd probably stick to the a la carte menu.
But the desserts were on another level altogether.
Chocolate and coffee pavé with coffee ice cream and macaron.
The coffee macaron had bits of coffee bean in it and was really good as was the ice cream. I was tempted to get this just for the coffee ice cream which is my favourite flavour. This was my friend's so I only got a small bite.
Créme caramel with raspberries.
Very thick and moreish. My friend's as well but she couldn't eat most of it so she made me eat it. Nice friend.
And finally my dessert: elderflower jelly with ginger ice cream, honeycomb and gooseberries.
I admit I chose this because I saw the word elderflower. Cannot resist. But it was amazing. The jelly was light and sweet and fizzled in the mouth which meant it was probably made with something fizzy. The gooseberries provided a nice tart contrast to the sweet ice cream. It was a wonderful combination of flavours and I LOVED it.
The menus seem to change seasonally so it's really exciting to see what we could try next time we visit. 'Coz we're most definitely going. And if you've got money to splash, you can even stay in one of their sumptuous hotel rooms.