19 reviews of Albion in English
For the bakery, generally very fresh and good value for money. Bought a deliciously-spiced fruit stollen for Christmas and hot cross buns for Easter. Staff are not particularly welcoming but if its freshness and distinctive taste you are after with BYO ambience (at home), Albion fits the bill
I was so engrossed by the captivating array of fresh bread and then completely knocked sideways by the childhood memory evoking selection of old school biscuits, that I didn't even get as far as looking over the menu.
If you ever got bullied at the tuck shop for your Jammie Dodgers, well then you can lay those traumatic memories to rest here and grab yourself a therapeutic, king size cathartic Jammie Dodger. Or perhaps you always had a penchant for the prosaic Bourbon Cream? If so they also serve these in Willy Wonka sizes, where my adult body frame to Albion biscuit dimensions was reminiscent of my early thieving career raiding the biscuit jar, where a tiny hand grabs a huge treat. Just for the record, I paid in full here.
There were also huge cookies, moist flapjacks and a whole variety of other choice goods, and although a lot of the other items here seem to be leaning towards the quite pricey end of the market (I didn't really investigate that thoroughly mind, given as I was so enamoured with the above shenanigans), the selection of cakes and biscuits were all surprisingly good value.
Comment 1 comment on this review
twolandslady2000, 2 March 2011:
I'd heard about this place from a few people, and my boyfriend had been before with colleagues a couple of years back, and enjoyed it. So he suggested we go for Sunday lunch, on a particularly rainy Sunday - the sort which called for a pot of tea and a hearty meal. We braved the weather to get the cafe, only to find a massive queue. We decided to wait (who's in a hurry on a Sunday anyway?) and 35 minutes later we had a table. The dining room is one long, white bustle of tables, and the word to describe the style is "cool and Conrad". The service was decent enough, and the food was nice, but overall, it just didn't make me feel warm and fuzzy inside, as a Sunday lunch out should.
Personally I wasn't in the mood for heavy dripping, pastry or chips, so I opted for the aubergine, courgette and chedder bake. Which was quite nice, but mostly it was "meh". My boyfriend had the full breakfast which actually looked much more intriguing, and he really liked it, so perhaps that's the one to go for. But I reckon there are plenty of better breakfasts out there, especially for ten quid. Food orders aside, though, I think the overall atmosphere is what lets Albion down. By the time we laid down our cutlery there was still a huge queue standing and watching everyone eat with impatient longing. The room lacked the warmth and lanquidity of a mellow Sunday afternoon, instead feeling more like a post office with a kitchen. We spent more time in the queue for a table than we did at the actual table. We decided to skip the pot of tea and go somewhere else, where we could take our sweet time with it.
The bakery shop at the front of the cafe, with its amazing products, seems like the better, more enticing aspect of Albion. I wasn't really blown away by the sit down meal. To sum up, it was good, but it wasn't great.
I went to the Albion for a New Year's Eve lunch with my boyfriend - I had been once before and this was his first visit. I had the chicken salad sandwich (£6) and it was delicious! Lovely fresh bread and the chicken was delicious. You get two large sandwiches, so the only problem I had was that I couldn't finish everything!
Unlike some other reviewers, we didn't have any problems withe the service as we didn't have to wait long for a table, everyone was extremely polite and we didn't have any problems with ordering or getting the bill. It was quite busy so better than I had expected. I was tempted to start buying cakes in the shop but sadly I was so full after our lunch that I couldn't even begin to think about dessert.
Not the cheapest place to eat in shoreditch but definitely recommended!
A really nice idea, but quite poorly executed in terms of the food.
Pork crackling with apple sauce had an unpleasantly stale roast dinner taste and aroma. A chicken and ham pie was more air and pastry and than filling. And the beef dripping chips were way too thin and unsubstantial to support the crisped fat on the outside.
It was just 'okay'. But quite expensive for what it is.
I agree with some of the points made by other reviewers, the atmosphere is great, the location good but the food itself was just OK.
I came here on a cold afternoon and decided on sausage and mash to warm me up. My friend had a shepherds pie and we each had red wine to boot.
£9.25 and £11.00 respectively, well, alright the portion sizes were quite large, but still a bit pricey for somewhere that acknowledges they're a caff providing ''nothing challenging or complicated, just straightforward hearty ingredients and recipes''
We both found the restaurnt got quite hot where we were sitting and as soon as we finished eating, moved to a table outdoors to finish our drinks and breathe more easily. Perhaps the heat is due to the open kitchen or maybe it was just a particularly busy Sunday afternoon?
Anyway, I enjoyed seeing the rest of the Boundary complex - Terrance Conran's boutique hotel - the roof terrace ia lovely for drinks with views over the East End and the 'posher' restaurant downstairs looks luxe.
We also liked the shop where you can buy deli items and fancy-schmancy stuff like overpriced oraganic milk and cordials while some of their baked-on-premises buns and flapjacks etc were pretty cheap by comparison.
I'd probably go back to Albion again - when I'm feeling flush.
This is a decent-enough place, seriously let down by totally mediocre service.
I have been four or five times always for breakfast/brunch but this morning's jaunt there was the first to propel me to put pen to paper, well, finger to keyboard.
It's a great setting and certainly has a vibe, and the food is OK (not fantastic), although have to say this morning's coffees (flat white) were really poor - the sort of thing you'd get in a chain restaurant and served way, way too hot, and weak. As it had taken an age to get them, and I was gagging for caffeine, so I slurped mine down rather than sending it back.
But it's just the general level of service that lets this place down. Lots of brown-jacketed wait staff running hither and thither, all studiously avoiding eye contact and looking miserable.
Trying to get the bill was another effort - had to ask for it 3 times from the same waitress. (It was a Sunday morning and yes they did get very busy, but I was there before the rush).
Will I go back? Yes, probably, because, hey I'm English and we whine a lot, and it's the kind of place you hope against hope that there will be a great experience the next time, and if everything came together it would be. I kind of fantasise about hanging out here, fab coffee, stack of papers, answering a few emails, sun streaming in....
But, I see there is a review here from Dec 09 also complaining about service so no one from the management has looked here and done anything about it.
So we'll see. I'm not holding my breath.
Vibe/atmosphere 4 stars; food/drink 3 stars; service 1 star.
Quite pricey compared to many local eateries around Shoreditch, which would be worth it if the food was excellent. I would describe it as better than average traditional British affair, with the staff fairly non-committal.
Such a shame as the interior is beautifully turned out and the counters display such reasonably priced and delicious looking breads and cakes to tease you beforehand.
There are plenty more interesting eateries nearby not selling themselves under the guise of a brand.
The Boundary Project<br />Pics The London Foodie
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.
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 discernable pieces of fish, be it smoked haddock or salmon - the fish had been I guess “pulverized” as there were no “flakes” to be seen.
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 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.
The only two things going for this place are the pastries which are gigantic and regularly priced, and the fact that the kitchen is open late.
On the multiple occasions I have been, I always ordered kedgeree. Of 5 times when i did so, the standard, quality and portion sizes varied wildly. I know this is a caff, but it purports to be much more.
Compared to other Shoreditch establishments such as the Rivington Bar & Grill, the Albion falls very short on quality and value for money.
As a concept, and as part of the Boundary project it works well, but it has to pick itself up, for sure!
I have been twice to this place and there is only one thing that seriously lets it down and that is the service. The food is excellent, menu nice and varied and everything cooked to perfection. The little details of the retro coffee pots, knitted tea cosies and the whole blocks of butter on the table are kitsch as well as a little 'nostalgic' in some ways.
But twice now I have felt very let down by bad service. The first time I went in November the waitress treated us like dirt. The place wasn't exactly busy either which I found a bit worrying. She took a long time to ask us what we wanted and seemed to have an edge of high arrogance about her.
On my second visit we were seated and then promptly ignored by the staff. No menus or offer of a drink. When we eventually did some to order a pot of tea it came with no tea cosy and again very grotty service. It felt like literally ordering some tea and a full English was asking the staff to go out in a field and milk a cow for our tea and then come bearing our breakfast on a gold leaf platter followed by them individually peeling each grape we might like.
That wasn't the case. I repeat my point but I do feel that literally asking for a pot of tea and a full English isn't asking too much as it is on the menu. My companion asked for some extra toast and you might have thought that we had asked her to do some performative dance or something along those lines. The face wasn't cheerful to say the least.
Albion has great stuff in there, but I am bitterly disappointed to go there for awful service. I know its Shoreditch but it really should drop the attitude as I feel it lets the place down. Living just 5 minutes from there I know full well there are places that are capable of being lovely as well as a little trendy, minus the attitude.
Ah yes, the Albion. Perfect for West Midlanders, or those who don’t mind being served up mouldy drizzle-cake with a contemptuous shrug by an indifferent waitress.
The premise would appear to be a sound one, and I’d looked forward to visiting the cafe - but following my friend’s treatment there (seriously, there’s a big difference, whatever the waitress might tell you, between lemon zest and mould) the only visit they’re going to be receiving on our account is one from a Shoreditch Council EHO.
Comment 2 comments on this review
dahokolomoki, 11 September 2009:
hmm… bad review heard secondhand, and the first post by a user from an account that was specifically set-up to write it. I wouldn’t trust this review at all!
jimmy_ike, 11 September 2009:
You’re free to believe what you like, of course - but to be honest, I’d recommend you take the comments of “dahokolomoki” (who doesn’t really appear to have properly read my review) with a pinch of salt.
Sure I set the account up to write this review - the dismissive attitude of staff on the day made it pretty clear that our opinions weren’t going to be taken seriously on the day, so I thought it a reasonable idea to share my thoughts on a public forum.
It should be noted that the sale of food which is unfit for consumption is a public health issue - to this end, we have already notified Shoreditch Council of our concerns - and with this in mind, it’s no less than my responsibility to inform others.
Poor service can, to an extent, be viewed subjectively. Rotten food makes people ill. That is all.
One of my favourite places to go in East London for breakfast, the Albion is a large, upmarket cafe set in The Boundary building. Conceived as a bit of a Shoreditch House but without the membership code, it’s usual to expect a 10 - 15 minute queue for a table if you go at any peak eating times.
On my first visit I had a full breakfast which I didn’t think was that great, but I’ve since discovered their breakfast baps. Bacon, egg and sausage is crammed into a freshly cooked bap which will fill you up completely for the tasty sum of £4.50. Much better value than the breakfast.
I’ve also tried their chicken rolls and smoked salmon & cream cheese sandwiches. Both are massive and very yum.
I’ve had a lot of conversations with friends from foreign climes recently about the quality of British food, and they all seem to be of the same opinion- that it’s horrible. The French ones guffaw at our battered sausage, the Spanish hoot about the greasy fry-ups, and don’t get the Italians started on the greying pies they’ve spotted at their local chippy. They’ll be eating their words once I introduce them to Albion, the latest Conran venture.
The setting is fantastic, a little corner of Shoreditch with striped canopies and massive windows making this place look like a Parisian cafe. Inside there’s a well stocked deli selling all sorts of cakes, sandwiches, groceries, cold meats and pates that had us drooling before we’d even sat down. Upon entering the main dining area we ordered a couple of pots of tea- which come with with knitted tea cosies, very in keeping with the current trend for war-time style knick-knacks and activities- and scanned the menu. It reads like a list of every great British dish, with gammon, egg and chips, whitebait, cauliflower cheese and much more to choose from. We both plumped for the Albion English Breakfast- It was a Sunday afternoon after all- and were greeted with a fantastic plate of eggs, bacon, sausage, black pudding, home-made baked beans, mushrooms and tomato. Every ingredient was top quality and perfectly cooked, and was served with home-baked bread and the saltiest butter I’ve ever had the pleasure of ingesting. Looking at other tables I caught glimpses of other dishes which looked fabulous and were being shovelled into contented looking faces at a rate of knots. Definitely one to take our foreign friends to to show that, when it’s done well, British food is bang on.
Recently opened, the Albion is Terence Conran’s cafeteria styled restaurant on the ground floor of his Boundary hotel project in Shoreditch. The front of the restaurant is a food market/bakery, with open air kitchen and dining area tucked behind. Three of us dropped in on a Saturday night, between various pubs and lounges, and only had to wait about 10 minutes for a table. They do not accept reservations, strictly first come first serve. We were more than happy to wile away the time by getting drinks at the bar attached to the fancy French restaurant downstairs. The staff were all very friendly and accommodating. We enjoyed our killer cocktails (well mixed and tasty) in the lush, though small, basement bar and were seated back upstairs in the Albion in no time.
The Albion has a very warm, relaxed and unpretentious feel to it. The space is anything but claustrophobic with high ceilings and huge windows. There are some touches of the old character of the building remaining, including exposed brick walls and some elements added that respect its industrial heritage such as the lighting and floors.
The food was simple and delicious. I had Welsh rabbit and a chicken pie; both exceeded my expectations. The chicken pie was quite large and they were very generous with the chicken. The baked crust was perfectly flaky. The breakfast menu looked excellent as well; we’re already planning a return visit for a long lazy brunch.
I wouldn’t recommend it as an über romantic spot (try the restaurant downstairs for that!), but it’s a fantastic place for a relaxing meal and conversation with friends.
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