Sunday Roast Review: The Albion

September 28, 2010

The Albion
Islington
Whole Roast Suckling Pig with trimmings (£300, 10 persons, 72 hours notice)
Pork Belly (£14), Roast Chicken (£15), Roast Beef (£17)
Roasting: 8.2/10

On Sunday, we ate a whole baby. Plucked from his mother’s teat when he was no older than six weeks, he weighed a little over nine kilograms when the cook at The Albion pub in Islington roasted him in an oven for many hours.

When he arrived ready to feed our hungry table of 18, his eyes were missing, his ears were black and shrivelled, and his skin was crisp like hard caramel on a crème brûlée.

The Romans called such a babe, porcellum lactantem, and around the world from China to the Philippines, across Europe and many Spanish-speaking nations, infants just like this are gleefully devoured for their tender, pale meat. We know them as suckling pigs, but that is something of a misnomer as they are really just sweet little piglets.

When the Roasted Sundays mob heard last year that The Albion was happy to roast one of the little darlings for tables over ten (£30 per head), we added it to the Soon To Be Roasted list and waited for an appropriate Sunday; little did we know that we would only get to sink our teeth into one during Crackles’ last supper as curator of this blog. A poignant goodbye, for a man who has spent the last year trying to find London’s best roast.

As waiters severed the head of our piglet in front of our table, there were gasps of delight and deliberation. For the true meat lovers – admittedly all men – it was a welcome chance to walk a little closer to the footsteps of our hunter-gatherer forefathers. For the more timid amongst us, it was a cut too far. Some had to look away. Personally, I felt it was nothing more than a good dose of truth (I’ve never understood people who eat meat from plastic containers in the supermarket only to express their disgust at TV shows that depict the realities of the slaughterhouse).

Each diner had different cuts of piglet as the waiters worked their way down the body, and some had separate servings of pork belly as there wasn’t enough of this little fella to go around.

We had heard that suckling pig can sometimes be quite gelatinous due to the high levels of collagen in a young pig, and unfortunately for us, it turned out to be true. There was a lot of fat, and some of it was gooey. However, when we did manage to dig up a chunk of meat, it was always beautifully tender and moist – well worth the forage and subsequent extraction.

For crackling connoisseurs, there was a mountain of crunch, bite and snap on the plate, although it required a lot of table salt to reach its usual, desired, heart-destroying level.

All in all it was one great big happy meat fest. Surprisingly though, it was the duck fat roast potatoes that ultimately stole the show. Perfectly crispy, richly golden, and luscious inside, they disappeared faster than a pheasant at the end of a shotgun. Every single one of them was perfect, a mighty achievement for the kitchen considering how many of us there were. They might just be London’s best roast potatoes.

Served alongside chunks of sweet carrot and crinkly kale, the whole lot was washed down with bottomless jugs of glorious gravy. I licked my plate clean.

The only downside of the meal came afterwards, when we ordered sticky toffee puddings. Cold and unimaginatively presented, it was clear they were just an expensive afterthought (£6 each), all the more frustrating, considering that The Albion used to serve a sticky toffee sundae that was probably the best desert I’d ever eaten in London. Bring that back, please?!

Pudding gripes aside, The Albion’s Sunday roast offering is truly one of the best in the capital. With a warm, homely pub interior (think wood paneling, candles, and good local brews on tap), and a lovely summer patio and garden, it feels more Home Counties then Streets of London.

And on thing’s for sure – when you leave The Albion, you’ll trot off into the night, happy as a little piggy.

PS: I hope you like our little video.

Meat ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8)
Potatoes ★★★★★★★★★★ (10)
Veg ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7)
Yorkshire (N/A)
Gravy ★★★★★★★★☆☆(8)
Serving Size ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8)
Menu Variety ★★★★★★★★★★ (10)
Service ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8)
Atmosphere ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (8)
Value for money ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7)

Total Roasting: (8.2/10)

Albion on Urbanspoon

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5 Responses to “Sunday Roast Review: The Albion”

  1. Chris Says:

    I thought I loved a good Sunday Roast until i found your blog. You guys are insane (in a good way). That video is very funny, I never thought I’d see a Sunday Roast session set to a techno soundtrack!!

  2. AishA Says:

    Amazing. I have always wondered how the suckling pig from The Albion fared against the standard sunday roast. Shall be bookmarking this!

  3. Cam Says:

    And they just keep coming. Another stirling review as usual. Great work.

    Also, I thought you might be interested to know you have some competition: http://www.bestsundayroast.co.uk/

  4. Crackles Says:

    Excellent review, Industry Boy. I have finally managed to getting around to watching the video (life’s tough when you’re travelling) – great stuff matey.

    Also get onto this ‘bestsundayroast’ lot as mentioned by Cam – how can they expect to be competition when they are reviewing Holiday Inns? Anyway. Good to know we have inspired others!


  5. […] The Old White Lion, The Fellow, The Scolts Head, The Prince, The Mucky Pup, The Charles Lamb, The Albion, The Alwyne, The Angelic, The Drapers Arms, The Red Lion and Sun, Public House, The Duke of […]


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