U.K. – In January, 2009, I wound up my annual trip to London to visit my mother with dinner at Gordon Ramsay’s newest restaurant York & Albany located at 127-129 Parkway in my favourite neighborhood, Camden Town.
After lack-lustre meals at longstanding vegetarian eatery Manna – bland fare that cried out for seasoning and meat – and the newish Market – bland modern British fare that cried out for salt and oomph – it was a godsend to discover a place in this trendy, gritty part of the city that had all the elements needed for a wondrous meal out.
Our welcome by manager and hostess was warm. The ambience in the downstairs dining room (I highly recommend requesting this rather than the much noisier room upstairs) was womb-like with red tapestry walls, red velvet chairs and curtains, and red table-coverings under glass that exuded a retro coziness aptly described by one British reviewer as “early bordello.”
But it’s the food that takes the cake.
Ramsay’s partner and chief protege Angela Hartnett is in charge of the open kitchen, also downstairs.
She and her team have mastered the tricky task of creating food that’s packed with taste and texture, is unpretentious but imaginative, and is reasonably priced.
A starter of Pumpkin Risotto laced with melted gorgonzola is sublime. Likewise for entrees Roast Chicken with Bread Sauce and Sea Bream with Shrimp and Cucumbery Butter Sauce.
But the high point of our dinner was Rice Pudding with Prune and Armagnac Compote: a divine confection served warm that melded, sweet, smooth, tangy and tart in what is possibly the best dessert I’ve eaten.