Monday, May 14, 2012

Albion cafe, 12th May

The Albion cafe and bakery/deli is on the ground floor of the Boundary Project - Terence Conran's hotel and restaurant. It is the more affordable option if you want to eat in this establishment (my lunch came to a total of £15 including tip). My friend was in town and suggested meeting up for lunch, somewhere east and so I gave her a couple of options, including Albion. After researching it on her smartphone (what would we do without them) she said the Albion sounded good. We met at 12:30 and while I waited for them to arrive I had a look around the bakery/deli at the front of the cafe.

It was all so utterly tempting. They sell a lot of organic produce like all different kinds of muesli, fresh breads (rosemary and apricot particularly caught my eye) and jams etc. And then, behind the cash register, they sell freshly made sandwiches and pies and all kinds of wonderful-looking cakes and pastries. They do a cookie the same diameter as my head (or possibly larger), flapjakcs, salted caramel tarts - ooh, so much sugary, chocolatey goodness. 

But my friends arrived and we were there for a sit down meal and so I only looked at these before getting seated in the cafe. It was a nice day, and we could have sat outside, but the interior was very pleasant. It has high ceilings, is bright and airy and the kitchen is open so you can see them making all the delicious breads, which are then lined up on the counter.

We had a beverage while we decided - some pear juice for my friend, a hot chocolate for her boyfriend, and an apple juice for me. The hot chocolate, it was said by my companions, was top quality. I wanted to mention this because these guys know their hot chocolate. They do not simply have a jar of instant Options in their cupboard - they have a "collection" so you know if they say it's good, it really is top notch. 

And on to the food. I ordered a cheese omelette with beef dripping chips and my friend ordered one of the wonderful-looking savoury pastries we had seen in the store - a bacon and cheese fougasse. 

At first I wasn't sure about my omelette. It was just freshly cooked and the fat from the cheese inside was making it a bit liquidy. However, after a couple of minutes once the cheese had congealed a little and therefore turned more gooey instead of liquid, it was very nice. The cheese didn't just provide a pleasant chewy, stringiness to the omelette, it was also strong enough for the flavour to come through. The chips were also good - they were no Bull and Last titans, but as far as chips go, better than average.

Omelette, chips and real apple juice

The real star was the Fougasse. Not on the menu but they were happy for us to order anything we'd seen in the shop. My friend ordered the bacon and cheese version and it was excellent. The meat tasted bacony but wasn't exactly a slab of Danepak. It was more like crispy lardons in it's texture. They had clearly seasoned it with herbs or spices of some sort but we couldn't work out what, tasting it blind. Whatever it was, it worked.

I was too full to order any of the cakes I'd been eyeing up when we first got there, which is a bit of a regret. I suppose I can always go back! For a sunny Saturday early afternoon, it was very easy to get a space, which is reassuring, as they don't take bookings for fewer than six people.  

Albion at The Boundary Project on Urbanspoon

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