Wednesday, 24 December 2008

york and albany

Well chronic bloggers-block has given way to pre-Christmas madness but here I am writing a few words about the strange experience that was the York and Albany. My block came out of an evening spent wondering how on earth the last century of (hard won) female emancipation had seemingly failed to touch any of the women in this restaurant. The uniform, regardless of age, was long blond hair, pancake make up, impossibly low cut obscenely short dresses and ridiculously high heels. I was so mesmerised by the stream of women tottering around that I failed to give the culinary dimension my full attention. I came away thinking, thank god my great companion, Ju, with whom I shared a most delicious treacle sponge pudding, is a woman after my own heart, for whom the height of stylishness, is a freshly cropped head of hair, a good trouser suit and a pair of black leather loafers.

Ok, so my cocktail was truly wonderful (York and Albany Champagne Cocktail) infused with lemon vodka and cinnamon. my starter of mackerel and beetroot, good but uninspired, and my main course, fish stew, was deep, hearty and thoroughly competent.

The food was on the whole rather good and is probably deserving of a 7 out of 10, but I find myself wanting to penalise the place and deduct a point for the poor service and the poor taste of our fellow female diners.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Ti's View

We were unpardonably late, but descending the long staircase to the basement dining room we were greeted with the welcoming sight of our great dining companions - Su & To seated at a round table right at the base of these stairs.
Dining out affords one the opportunity to view one's fellow species, and to marvel at it's variation. Our table gave us an excellent vantage point from which to see the almost de rigueur 4"- heels worn by most of the women present. In fact, it seemed that the dress code here was definitely 'flash-trash'; far more Hendon Broadway than the usual attire of Camden Town denizens. One of the benefits of writing a semi-anonymous blog is being able to be catty. Anyhow, our position at the base of said stairs gave us the unsettling feeling that we might at any point be the victims of a ch-avalanche.
Good strong cocktails settled our nerves, and my Vesper Martini made me feel very suave and bond-ish. As for the warm pate-mousse served in a kilner jar - this was gorgeous.
My starter of a 'mosaic' of foie gras and pork was one of the best terrines I've had, and the surround of pickled mushrooms a perfect foil. Top marks.
This was followed (at length) by red-leg partridge seved with truffle chips and some other vegetables (alright, I know I should have posted sooner, when everything was fresh in my mind) and again, the cooking was very good and delicious.
I sampled the fish stew that Ju & Su had and thought it excellent - gutsy, tasty and rustic.
Pud of chocolate parfait with hazelnut ice cream was nice but unmemorable.
The service: is JuTiSuTo ever going to find decent sevice? Far from being captious, we just want to be treated properly - is this so hard? A restaurant such as this is aiming high, with no expense spared on decor, etc, as well as serving very nice food. Why on earth can't they train the staff to do their job properly?
Enjoyable night out, high quality food ingredients, I'll have to go with 7/10.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Ju and Su shared a pu...dding !

Descending into the basement, my disappointment at being housed "beneath" gave way to joy at the sight of our dining companions; Su and To. This state of joy increased as I caught sight of an abundance of red heavy drappery and velvet banquette. Sadly our table was by the staircase which did put me in a slight draught which persisted throughout the meal. Nevertheless my apple and rhubarb champagne cocktail was a delight to behold as was the "amuse gueule" of liquid mousse of "foie ne sais pas trop quoi", although my pleasure was somewhat diminished by the long delay in the arrival of the aperitifs. I should say that butter on the table was delicious; so creamy with crystals of salt therein embedded and the water glasses seemed particularly elegant.

My starter was the deep fried lamb's tongue on a salad of lamb's lettuce; the smooth delicate texture of the meat contrasting rather fabulously with the the light, crispy exterior. Very satisfying. Sadly we had delayed ordering our wine because we all got caught up in a debate about the vilification of social workers by the tabloids. After a long delay, it turned out that that the red we'd chosen wasn't available and as a result I ended up drinking Sancerre with first course ! However, the wine was so delicious that I found I didn't mind at all. My main course, was the fish stew. A generous and tasty collection of fish and prawns in a red pepper based sauce with fennel and a hint of chilli. Most welcome. Then to crown it all, Susannah and I shared a treacle suet sponge pudding of unparalled lightness with vanilla custard. All in all, I thought the food was very good but my experience was marred by disorganised and indifferent service and ill-trained staff. Delays in the kitchen and a sense of chaos in the air are an anathema to good dining. All in all 7/10

Sunday, 7 December 2008

To's view of York & Albany

Once again the company was faultless, thought-provoking and a joy to behold. The venue certainly promised more that the previous location and though we were all a little disappointed not to be sitting upstairs the room was fine if a little drab. Lets start with cocktails: they were first-class particulaly Susanna's choice which was exotic and delicious. My Sidecar was delightful although it must be said that they took an age to come and this remained a theme for the entire evening. The menu promised much and provided us all with difficult decisions. My smoked duck salad was the least interesting of the starters I fancy and was ok but not great. The wines when they came were both good although the curse of JU-TI-SU-TO struck again when the first red we ordered was unavaalble. My main of ribeye was really good and juicy and perfectly cooked. My desert of plum tart was again perfectly ok but nothing exceptional. I thought the ambiance was a little flat and the clientele had a Chavtastic element and I would say the service was sloppy. All in all, very good food without being top class but excellent value. 7/10

The Bill