Part of the Chowzter's best pastry of 2014, Albion offered the jam-fried croissant which won took first place. Albion is located on the same street as The Owl and Pussycat, which I reviewed already, and close enough to Story Deli. Occupying a street corner with vegetables displayed on the sidewalk, I was not sure this is the place I was searching for.
Albion is a cafe and small shop, with an in-house bakery and cake counter, where the vast majority of the food and drink products are British. Located within the Boundary building on the ground floor, Albion provides an everyday resource for the local community and guests staying at the adjoining hotel. The dining area seats sixty people inside and, when the weather is good, a further thirty outside. As you enter, you are welcomed by a selection of pastries, all displayed to make you mouth water. A grocery shop it is, high shelves stacked with goods and food for sure, of which many are produced in-house. A fresh ambiance with a nice aroma invites you to sit in and start eating. I was so excited to taste everything, but I first wanted to try croissant, the eggs, the red velvet cake... I didn't know where to start.
Look around my mouth started to water start: Croissants, pain au chocolat, almond croissants, breakfast buns, pain au raisins, fruit Danishes, fried croissants, chocolate and mint buns, while on the wooden table are cakes, cookies, colored macarons, Danish pastries and large cakes, to name a few. The place is wide, well lit and enjoyable for breakfast. A high ceiling decorated with a dozen grey lights hanging from above, square white tables, two benches of red leather, light wood and a real wood parquet with an English style decoration of bricks covering the walls.
It took me more than 15 minutes before deciding to sit down. Mouthwatering cakes displayed one next to the other, large chocolate rolls, muffins, sausage rolls and an eye catching item: the almond croissant. The menu is bizarre. It was the first time I see kidneys on a breakfast menu or duck eggs. So why not try them?
Some items from the bizarre menu:
- Albion Breakfast
- Kidney on toast
- Fried duck eggs on toast
- Rose water fruit salad
- Soya, banana, green tea, vanilla and coconut smoothie £4.75: A tasty smoothie where the banana flavor is strongly felt while the other ingredients blend together into a generous drink that's good in everything it has. Just correct and good.
- Fried duck eggs on toast £8.00: Two fried eggs, served on a slice of bread, each look good but honestly don't taste any different. Heavier than normal eggs, harder in consistency but nothing extraordinary about them. I'll stick to chicken eggs next time
- Scrambled eggs and smoked salmon £11.75: Served on a simple white plate, clean and clear with no sophistication, the scrambled eggs come next to some smoked salmon and a large piece of toasted bread. Nothing extraordinary to look at until you taste it. A very tasty scrambled egg mix that was so juicy and full of flavor. Add to that a bite of smoked salmon that's tender, not greedy and adequately salty, creating a mouthwatering bite that's a great way to start your day. The bread is good as well, fluffy, tender in the middle and toasted on the sides.
Let's move to some sweet delights now. All of the breads and baked goods that you see at Albion are made on the premises from scratch. The choice of breads range from classic sour dough, in several sizes and shapes, to English bloomers and French baguettes. There are seed and herb breads, multi-grains, fruit breads, Mediterranean-style breads and many more. Alongside the extensive range of breads, each day the team bakes croissants, pain au chocolat, pain aux raisin, Danish pastries and various other Viennoiserie.
So, what we came for today is the fried croissant, so let's have it.
- The Fried Jam Croissant £3.00: I had to eat four bites to understand it: A bizarre new taste. The croissant is covered with sugar, fried in oil and filled with raspberry jam. What a mix! A combination of sweetness, saltiness, juiciness, extreme crunchiness, oiliness and fine jams that leaves an interesting aftertaste for some time. At maybe a thousand Kcal, it’s not a breakfast for the faint hearted. Prepare to be get dirty: bite into this croissant from either end, where more sugar is concentrated, and here the symphony starts. The extreme crunch is music to your ears, while your teeth start breaking one layer after the other. Tricking your mind, that understands croissant as a baked item, your taste buds face hard work and might ignite a headache. Almost like a croissant, maybe an English Cronut perhaps, this is a croissant fried as is and filled with fine raspberry jam. When the orchestra in your mouth takes a break a hint of saltiness erupts, adding a touch of finesse and style. I'm not going to say that I loved this creation, but it’s something you definitely have to try.
This calorie bomb will take your breath away – the flaky croissant, the fruity jam, the crunch of crystalized sugar and what surely must be an entire stick of butter.
Almond and Chocolate Cake £3.75: Wow! Exceptionally extravagant. We received a small piece of dark chocolate cake decorated with lines of black and white. I thought at first it was one of those commercial, sweet desserts. Prepare yourself to be amazed: A melted heart of dark chocolate, a lightly crunchy envelope and a strong aftertaste of almonds that's just awesome. Combining dark chocolate with almonds in such a fine and subtle way is really extraordinary. There are fewer details to describe than the croissant above, but this is a fine piece of innovation. Bravo.
This is one of those food discoveries everyone should try. I was happy I came, happy to eat the best pastry item on the planet and surely very happy to try this chocolate cake, which I'll try to reproduce back home.