The York and Albany boutique hotel (a building designed by Regency architect John Nash) is at the end of Camden Parkway by Camden Park Villas, a smart residential area a long way in feel (though not geographically) from the busier and seamier part of Camden near the tube. The dining room is accessed through the bar area, and there is a small garden at the back. The wooden floor adds to the noise level, but tables are sufficiently spaced out it is far from deafening.
The menu was modern British, with starters priced at £9 - £12.50, main courses £17 to £24, vegetables at £3.50 and desserts at £6. There was a lunch (and early supper) menu at £21 for three courses. This is a Gordon Ramsay venture, the kitchen headed by Colin Buchan with guidance from executive chef Angela Hartnett (who actually cooks at Murano). There was a short four page wine list, with choices such as the pleasant Kim Crawford Pinot Gris at £31 for a wine that costs around a tenner, Domaine Pernot Puligny Montrachet 2007 ambitiously priced at £90 for a wine that costs around £21 in the shops, with a few pricier choices such as Tenuta San Guido Marchesi Incisa della Rocchetta Sassacaia 1998 for £300 compared to a retail price of around £140. We drank the Leeuwin Art Series Cabernet 2004 at £62, a wine that you can buy for around £22. Bread was from the generally excellent Boulangerie de Paris, in this case slices of white and brown bread, not the best I have had from them but nice enough (14/20).
A summer salad was nicely presented and consisted of a range of vegetables and salad components: green beans, peas, carrots, baby turnip, tomatoes, courgette and girolles, garnished with nasturtium leaves and a “pumpermickel (sic) emulsion” that I presume was somehow derived from pumpernickel flour. The vegetables were nicely cooked though I found the dressing to be over-sweet (14/20).
Ravioli of quail with truffle and shallot on a bed of spinach with confit of quail leg on one side tasted better than it looked, which was good as its appearance was as if it had been waiting around for considerable time. The quail meat was a little firmer than I expected but the texture of the pasta was actually fine (13/20).
Stone bass was seared and nicely timed, served with pleasant peas, a little garnish of crayfish and a few black trumpet mushrooms (14/20). I enjoyed my smoked pigeon, cabbage and a bed of spätzle (egg noodle), with glazed cherries adding a little acidic balance, the pigeon having good flavour (15/20).
My dessert of honey-baked peach soup had a ripe peach and a soup that did not have much peach flavour but topped with a pleasant Prosecco sorbet; blueberry madeleines on the side were a little dry (13/20). Better was a rich chocolate and coffee pavé, with good coffee ice cream (15/20).
Service was generally reasonable except for our first waitress, who managed to bring a dish including the one ingredient my dining companion had specifically asked her to check was not present (though they fixed this quickly enough and without fuss). Wine topping up was erratic, but service was friendly. The bill came to £82 a head, with a good quality wine.
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