In the past, I’ve been disappointed by my meals at Conran restaurants (Pont de la Tour, Coq d’Argent and Skylon, for example, seemed much more about design than about food) but the Albion Cafe has won me over, serving simple dishes at good prices. In the past two months, I’ve been there twice for lunch and once for dinner. While the Cafe’s food isn’t destination dining, it’s a handy place to stop if you’ve got friends in town curious about English nursery classics, or if you’ve just spent a sunny morning at the Columbia Road flower market.
It’s annoying that you can’t make a reservation, and expect a queue on weekends for lunch. Luckily, there’s lots to snack on while you wait. The Albion Cafe’s entrance is a small grocery which, while not useful for stocking your refrigerator, sells many of the yummy baked goods on offer in the Cafe. Pastries, cakes, cupcakes, scones and cookies prettily lined up and calling out your name (and with most items costing well under a pound, why would you resist?).
With all the nibbles available while you queue, you run the danger of ruining your appetite, which would be a shame. The Cafe’s space is high-ceilinged, simple and welcoming. And the food is homey and tasty. Albion had me at hello with soft, pillowy-white slices of bread that’s baked on site. Eat your heart out, Wonderbread.
The Albion serves the kind of food you could easily make for yourself at home, but it’s cheap and tasty enough that you appreciate not having to do all that prep and cleanup. Fish and chips, cheese cauliflower, stews, Welsh rarebit, full English brekkies – all have been well-executed. TimeOut nailed it by comparing the Albion to Canteen – the Cafe is doing what now-fallen-from-grace-Canteen used to do in its heydey.
My meals there with a few shared starters, mains and drinks totaled about £20 a person. On my way out, I’ve always left carrying a loaf of that white bread. Now, if only Shoreditch were easier to reach via Tube . . . .
The Albion Cafe, 2-4 Boundary Street, E2 7JE; 0207 729 105; closest Tube stations: Liverpool Street or Old Street, but it’s still a healthy walk from both.