Working in Shoreditch in the past month, I have finally discovered Albion. While the restaurant/café/grocer in Shoreditch’s Boundary building (refurbished by Prescott & Conran Ltd and opened in 2008) may be old news to people who already live or work in East London, it was a bit of a revelation to me. My workplace for the past year and a half has been a business estate not far from Gatwick where the sum total of places to eat was…zero. (I got very adept at preparing some sort of lunch around a packet of Nairns oatcakes – having found it was much quicker to throw a load of food into a lunchbox than actually prepare things.) So, it is in that context that I was introduced to Albion one lunch break. My slightly perplexed reaction on walking in there the first time; eyes wide open and mouth agog was, I agree, a bit country mouse meets city living. But, try the backwaters of Crawley for a workplace and you’ll understand.
Probably the first thing that struck me was the counter down one side, on which was laid row upon row of freshly baked loaves, buns and cakes, all on cooling racks much like the one my mum uses at home. I have a bit of a thing about bread. Namely, I think there is a vast difference in flavour and nutrition between your average loaf of sliced bread with its hidden army of additives and enhancers and the simply-made, fresh bread that we were all eating long before Hovis and Co. turned up. To see cooks at work behind that counter making fresh bread therefore boded well for the sandwiches I later started picking up for lunch on a regular basis.
In the café downstairs the menu consists of old-fashioned British favourites; pies, Welsh Rabbit, Kedgeree, crumbles, puddings and great, thick doorstopper sandwiches. There are plenty of tables to sit and eat, but by far my favourite way to enjoy Albion has been to work my way through the table of cakes and pastries laid out when you walk in the door. What is really and truly exciting though are the prices. We’re talking a flap jack for 55p or slice of lemon drizzle cake for far less than you would pay at Pret, Costa or the like.
The sad thing about my newfound love for Albion is that after about a week or so of “tasting my way through the range”, I realised that either I start running a hell of a lot more regularly or ease up on the cake-eating. Sad but true. The results so far? The Danish pastries topped with fresh fruit can’t be beaten.
2-4 Boundary Street,
London E2 7DD Tel: 020 7729 1051