Monday, 22 July 2013

Messing about on the river (but only after lunch)

The sky over Leeds may be as grey as grey can be this morning, but at least, if last weekend proved to be the last of the summer proper, I'll be safe in the knowledge that I actually got out and did something in the sunshine.
Friday saw me winging my way down to London to go to the open air theatre in Regent's Park to see a production of "Pride and Prejudice" which was absolutely fantastic.  The setting is utterly lovely as well though, the trees and trellises of the overpriced bar strung through with fairly lights, the fireflies zinging through the gathering dusk....oh, I came over all goosepimply.  Lovely stuff.  If you live down that way I heartily recommend it for an evening's entertainment.  One can dine there beforehand, or, you can do as we did and pop to M&S for a sandwich to enjoy on the grass outside the theatre.  That way you have more money for the overpriced bar.

On Saturday, boasting the kind of eye bags that can only be brought about by staying up drinking wine in a gay pub until four in the morning, we headed to York and Albany in Camden, with a view to nixing the hangover prior to a riverboat trip.  This is a Gordon Ramsay place that I can't say had been on my radar particularly but was very pleasant indeed.  We sat in the bar area which meant that the whole party had access to both the bar and restaurant menus - ideal if you are in a largeish group with varying tastes.  I, of course, got over excited at the sight of the a la carte and went ahead with that, but others opted for the stone baked pizzas (which looked gorgeous) and the bar burger, complete with a side of chips caused serious food envy when it arrived.

My choice of starter, after a restoratively spicy Bloody Mary, were some tasty but rather unphotogenic sweetbreads (top, right).  I was exceedingly happy that these arrived on toast (most things are improved this way) and loved the iron rich cream sauce.  Personally, if something on a menu is described as being served with broad beans and mint I would expect to a) taste mint and b) see more than three or four broad beans but hey ho. 

I followed that with a skate wing in burnt butter with capers and watercress (middle, right).  Such a simple dish but so delicious if done well, which this was, with no skimping on the butter or the punchy little capers.

Finally, it had to be done - profiteroles with elderflower cream.  Again, not the most photogenic of dishes, and  the elderflower taste was incredibly delicate and could have done with being taken up a notch so as to hold its own next to the rich chocolate.  Still, enjoyable stuff.

It was generally agreed that where York and Albany really excelled was its drink menu.  Between us we managed to sample a fair few cocktails including an amazing rhubarb and ginger mule that, as you can see from the picture, was served in a seriously cute little copper mug.  Cocktails were priced at £9.50 a pop for the most part, which is not ridiculously expensive for central London, and real care and attention was lavished on them by the bar staff.

Altogether a very enjoyable place to while away a Saturday lunchtime - and, I should add, that we took up residence on the largest bar table for a full three and a half hours with nary so much as an eyelid flicker from any of the lovely staff to indicate that they would quite like it back at some point - and then proceeded to split the bill across seven credit cards (differing amounts on each) which was met with smiles and cheeriness.  They earned their 12.5% I reckon.

Rolling, rather than walking, we arrived at Camden Lock.
Barges and bunting
The princely sum of £11.50 will get you a riverbus trip down to Little Venice and back which is an extremely pleasant way to digest a rather too big lunch.

So, as I said, this morning's grey skies are not going to get me down.  I've had a weekend of good times with good friends and there's a little boozy food baby to prove it.  Detox starts here... 


  1. I excitedly went to book tickets for Pride and Prejudice and am now limp with misery - it's ended! How did I miss it! There's a theme here: you tell me something is great, I try to book it ... and.... poof! it disappears. Bitter disappointment...


    1. Oh no! I'm so sorry, I didn't realise that we caught the end of the run or else I would have mentioned it. If it is any consolation, Mr Darcy was no Colin Firth and Mr Collins was slightly OTT. And the bar really is overpriced...