One of the reasons I'm a food blogger is I have an odd compulsion to document everything I eat, to the point that it occasionally detracts from the pleasures of the experience itself. The whole process can be a bit of a chore. Which is why sometimes, I go out and eat for the pure pleasure of eating without having to think about whether I've captured everything.
I've been to The Albion several times since it opened a couple of years ago, but never with the intention of cataloguing what I've eaten, but the last time I went I brought my camera and was in semi-blogger mode after a day at Spitalfields.
Okay, first things first. This is not the same formal and sleek dining experience you expect at Conran restaurant. That's because The Albion isn't a restaurant. It bills itself as a good, old fashioned British 'caff', cum bakery and food store. If you lived locally you can head here to pick up a loaf of bread, as well as enjoy some simple hearty British favourites such as devilled kidneys, fish and chips and Welsh rarebit all served at reasonable prices - you could comfortably eat here for about £15 per head.
Since opening its been incredibly popular with locals, so if there are more than two of you, you should be prepared to queue as the they only takes bookings for groups of seven or more. We arrived just after midday and waited about 15 minutes for a table.
The tables in the Albion are situated incredibly close together, so you could almost eavesdrop on people's conversations. And if there are two of you dining you'll probably be seated Parisien cafe style; side-by-side, giving you a great vantage point for people watching. The vibe of the restaurant is incredibly buzzy and it's a great place to catch up with a small group of friends. But if you were in a bigger group you'd probably find it hard to speak above all the noise.
We're quickly seated as soon as a table comes free. Order of the day is a warm plate of pork crackling with apple sauce; two plates of Portobello mushrooms on toast (£7.00) and cauliflower and cheese (£4.00).
We're happy with our order, the only problem is the second order of mushrooms on toast doesn't arrive until 15 minutes after the first is served, while the cauliflower and cheese never materialises. We get an apology from the manager for the delay and he is all to happy to bring out the missing dish, but we decide to cut our losses because believe it or not we're so full.
Verdict: True to being a traditional 'caff' the food at the Albion isn't gourmet, but what it lacks in finesse, it delivers with bag loads of simplicity and comfort.