It's not fancy, it's not big and it's not clever, but the scrag end is delicious. For simple, honest opinions on restaurants, recipes, supper clubs and what not, you've come to the right place.

Monday, 28 February 2011

York & Albany, 127-129 Parkway, Regents Park

What’s the difference between a chef renowned for great skill and another known for great swearing? One’s a cordon bleu chef, and the other’s a blue Gordon chef.

No? Nothing? Come on, I spent thirty seconds of my life coming up with that.

Fine, let’s just forget about it.

Anyway, I recently went to a Gordon Ramsay restaurant for the first time. I don’t mean he cooks there – that would be ridiculous – but his name is on the menu and the website, so it counts. And I say it was my first time at Gordo's, but that ignores the trip I made to Plane Food (geddit?) in Heathrow a year or so ago - a trip best ignored. So, more accurately, this was my first trip to a restaurant that bears Gordon Ramsay’s name but at which he doesn’t cook, apart from the other trip I made to such a restaurant, which I won’t talk about because it wasn’t very good.

The York & Albany is a charming pub-come-restaurant at the apex of busy streets in that nowhereland north of the Marylebone Road but south of Camden. It’s a lovely looking place, with glinting mirrors, lustrous carpets and a perfectly decent bar to sit alongside the restaurant.

Four of us went for Sunday lunch, and ordered relatively unimaginatively I’m afraid. There’s an excellent value three-course menu for £21, available every day of the week, which increases by a fiver if you include a Sunday roast. It looked pretty good, and when my chicken liver and foie gras parfait with quince chutney arrived, it felt like it too. This was delicious, sweet and rich, though the texture was rather too glossy for my taste, even if the dish was lifted by excellent, crunchy croutons.

Everyone else went for smoked haddock and horseradish scotch eggs with tartare sauce. These were good too, with an oozing yolk counterpointing the sharpness of the fish and crunchy fried breadcrumbs giving a reminder that, just because something has healthy ingredients, it isn’t necessarily good for you. 

For mains, we all went for the roast beef sirloin. This was fine, but not spectacular. Beautifully cooked and nicely fatted, it looked the part but suffered from an odd lack of flavour, like an imitation of excellent beef rather than the real thing. Accompanying Yorkshire puddings were a treat, and far better than the equivalent chez Blumenthal. Vegetables were basic and decent, though there is a balance to be stuck between presenting vegetables so they look rustic and earthy, and just not peeling carrots. I’d err towards over-elegance in this instance, not least because unpeeled carrots often taste a little bitter. A bottle of Puglian Primitivo made an excellent accompaniment, predictably, for about £25. 

We were pretty full after this lot, so only one of us (me, obviously) managed dessert - a wonderful dark chocolate ganache with caramelised bananas and honeycomb. This dish was a joyful array of sweet and crunch – a comforting, childish dessert for grown-ups. 

I enjoyed the York & Albany immensely. Head chef Colin Buchan is doing a fine job in the enormous shadow of his boss. But there was something slightly unsatisfying about it. It’s extremely competent, but not quite brilliant – lots of style but not quite enough substance. Still, it’s well worth a visit.

Phil Lett’s take: 7/10

York & Albany on Urbanspoon

No comments:

Post a Comment