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Thursday, 14 January 2010

London Restaurant Reviews - Albion @ The Boundary Project

Albion @ The Boundary Project

I had meant to come to Conran’s new eatery since Time Out awarded it 2009’s “Best Cheap Eats” in London but only made it with Dr G nearly a year later, for a late brunch last Saturday.

I was impressed by the understated elegance of the building and décor – as a former light industrial building, some of its interesting features were maintained (or sympathetically incorporated) like the refectory style cream tiles, the factory lights, and the large windows which let plenty of natural light into the Café.

I also loved their food shop and open plan kitchen – the large baskets of fresh bread, cleverly positioned at the entrance of the building, welcome you into the Café and help to draw in even the most reluctant of punters.

The menu is reassuringly simple with some British classics and “caff” style dishes that will appeal to anyone. Prices are not bad either with most dishes costing less than the £10 mark.

I was pleased to see Greenwich Meantime beers on their menu @ £3.75, one of my favourite brewers in the country. I was lucky to attend a private tasting by this fantastic,  independent beer house a couple of years ago, and was completely stunned by the quality of their beers and the passion of the founder/speaker. I always order GM beers whenever I see them available, my favourites being London Porter, Union and the coffee beer.

Dr G and I ordered a couple of staple dishes – I went for the “Full Albion Breakfast” @ £9.75 while Dr G had “Kedgeree” @ £9.50.

I would have liked to continue the complimentary tone of my review and say that our food was as great as the décor, food shop, and beers, but unfortunately both dishes were rather disappointing.

My breakfast looked great but did not taste it – the saving grace was the streaky bacon which was delicious, and the perfectly cooked eggs. With the exception of the baked beans, which were in fact not properly baked, and were very hard and nearly inedible, everything else was just passable.

discernible pieces of fish, be it smoked haddock or salmon - the fish had been I guess “pulverized” as there were no “flakes” to be seen. 
Dr G’s kedgeree was an interesting choice – I cook kedgeree at home sometimes (one of my favourite brunch dishes) but had never seen a version like Albion’s before. It was not a kedgeree, it was a risotto style dish made with basmati rice and cream. It had no

It was basically a fishy rice dish with cream, and was seriously lacking in seasoning. After the beautiful décor, the lovely bread, the charming service, expectations were high - I was gutted.

As I waited for my food to arrive, I envisaged bringing some of my overseas friends and relatives who normally visit me in London for a taste of British cuisine - but judging by these two dishes, I would rather take them elsewhere. 

Tom of TomEatsJenCooks recommends The Modern Pantry when entertaining visitors from outside London for both a good brunch and the wow factor, but I still have to try this Clerkenwell place. I will report back as soon as I do.

The total bill was £30 for two, including 12.5% service. This is not bad (£15 = main + beer) although for once I will have to disagree with Time Out as I can think of quite a few places where my 15 quid would be better spent.

Verdict – Another classic example of style over substance – great décor, efficient staff, gorgeous looking food shop but seriously mediocre food. A possible Shoreditch choice for tea, cakes, or Greenwich Meantime beer.

Albion at The Boundary Project on Urbanspoon


  1. What a shame - I've been really looking forward to going here, like you I'm disappointed it wasn't up to scratch.

    Oh, and beer with breakfast - good work.

  2. Hi Sasha- i heard their pork cracklings are really good and i think they would go well with the Greenwich Meantime beers. I also saw loads of people just having tea/coffee and cake so it might be a good choice for that sort of thing. The place looks great and is definitely worth a visit, although I would not be recommending their breakfast or kedgeree!

    Luiz @ The London Foodie

  3. I thnk a lot of Conran places are a bit style-over-substance (but it is some style!), although it's a shame about ALbion because I too had read TO's review and intended to try it out. But under-seasoned kedgeree with no fish flakes! There are some dishes you modify, and there are some dishes you leave alone... Ah well, there are too many other good places to try out to worry too much. Thanks for the review, it's saved a disapointment.

    I agree regarding Meantime - they are fantastic, have you tried the Smoked Bock? The only place I've seen it on tap is in the The Union (the MT pub) in Greeenwich. Unusal and very good - a lovely hoppy beer with a genuinely smoky undertone. Until I tasted Anastasia's Imperial Stout, I thought their London Porter was the best too, but the stout by Ascot Ales knocked it firmly into second place It really was an extraordinary pint. Worth checking out if you ever see it (very rare).

  4. Hi Aaron - Albion might not be a complete write-off as I hear their pork crackling is good and I would imagine a perfect accompanyment to GM beers.

    Gosh, you really know your beers! I don't recall trying the Smoked Bock but am very curious to try it now. The Anastasia's Imperial Stout sounds delish too but where can I find it? Not at Gunmakers as I recall one of your earlier tweets.

  5. I do like my beers ;-) The landlord only had a half-keg of the stout so it only lasted a day and a half (and that was a Tuesday and Wednesday!). It's pretty artisanal stuff, but if you google Ascot Ales and then look at their shop they do it by the bottle there.

    I follow The Gunmakers on Twitter (@thegunmakers) because they tweet what beers and food they have that night. Yesterday night it was Proper Job by St Austell Ales, Adnam's Old and Woodforde's Wherry. They seriously know their beers and only get them in very small batches so they're super fresh and well kept.

    Might try out the Albion for tea (or beer) and cakes - sounds like the thing to do.

  6. Very impressed with the serious review here; I will make sure just to order coffee there when I am in London!

  7. We ate at the Albion just before Christmas and had a very different experience. My husband went for steak and kidney pudding, with a side of tripe cooked chips, I had fish and chips with a side of mushy peas. Both dishes were fabulous. My husbands pudding was stuffed full of wonderful, melt in the mouth beef, with a lovely pot of gravy on the side. My fish was covered in a wonderful crisp batter and was moist and very tasty inside. My mushy peas were lovely, and both of us loved the chips. We washed everything down with a brown betty of tea rather than beer this time as we were both cold and wet!
    The fresh bread and butter was lovely as well.
    The only thing I didn't enjoy were their cupcakes. We bought two to take away and the frosting tasted of nothing but butter. Really wasn't impressed with them.
    I would definitely recommend the cafe though.

  8. @ Grubworm - thanks for the info on Ascot Ales and the Gunmakers. I had about this place but never realised they were that good. I will make sure to visit them in the very near future.

    @ Taste of Beirut - thanks for your comment, and do let me know if you need any good foodie recommendations when your are next visiting London!

    @ I Heart Cupcakes - it is interesting how people can have completely difference experiences at the same eatery, there is just so much at play like service and cooking staff, different menus/dishes, etc. I wish my experience had been a one off but by reading through other food blogs, the consensus is that their food isn't great. Maybe I should go back to try their fish and chips, and I will report back. Thanks for your commentary.

  9. I Heart Cupcakes. I love the idea of tripe cooked chips :)

  10. Agree entirely re. the fry-up. Had it twice in two years (yesterday was the 2nd time) and both times it was bland and unappetizing. Expect more from them: the centerpiece of a good caff should be a mean breakfast. The homemade baked beans are watery and tough, the tomato floury. Not going to waste another penny there - plenty of other places to enjoy a good Meantime.


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