The revamped Albany on Great Portland Street is definitely a pub of two halves. The street level bar is all newly decked out in blues and greys with huge chandeliers, and has a relaxing vibe with lots of after-work types enjoying one of the rotating guest beers on offer.
This dish was so good it required the whole post to be named after it. But onto that later..
Nestled between Moorgate and Old Street, Finch’s pub is relatively unassuming from the outside, but once you’re in it opens out into a tardis-like expanse of pale wood, mismatched furniture, birdcages and lots of quirky little details that make it feel like a unique oasis in a desert of chains. As it’s part of pub giant Young’s, of patterned carpets and brass handrails, this is a pretty epic achievement.
I will have to attempt to curb my enthusiasm for my starter or this will turn into a novel. Perfectly boiled runny egg, soft, creamy pasta, and a crisp, crunchy coating equals… yes, it’s the MACARONI CHEESE SCOTCH EGG. Whilst it does admittedly hover on the edge of the deep-fried Mars bar/Oreo-filled doughnut category, it hits all my weaknesses in one cheesy go. The hot mustard is the perfect accompaniment It’s roughly the size of a head, and portioned as a starter so best to share, especially if you want to indulge in mains and dessert.
We also had coffee-smoked salmon on toast with vanilla and caramel nuts; delicious fish, enhanced by the hint of coffee but I did question the vanilla with the salmon – Heston may have pulled it off at The Fat Duck, but something here didn’t 100% work. The salmon was delicious, lightly smokey, not greasy, cut to the perfect thickness – leave it alone I say.
Mains were meaty, generous and delicious – tender, rare duck breast with a light orange sauce and fondant potato, and perfectly cooked steak with chunky, spot-on chips. Dessert came in the form of a chocolate salami – a rich, dark log of chocolate, biscuit and pistachios, served with chocolate sauce. We gilded the lily with salted caramel ice cream; it didn’t need it but it was lovely.
Everything was reasonably priced, the service was attentive and friendly, the food delicious and although it was very quiet (Monday) I imagine later in the week it’s much more buzzy – overall a near-enough triumph for Young’s.
*A version of this post was first published on Foodepedia