The Grand Old Duke of York
The title of Duke of York and Albany was first granted in the 18th century, often given to the second son of the British Monarch. The last person to hold it was Prince Frederick Augustus, second son of George III, better known as the Grand Old Duke of York who had 10.000 men whom he marched to the top of the hill and then down again. Strangely, all who held this title died without heirs. Maybe they were just too busy marching.
York & Albany is also the name of the Gordon Ramsay gastro pub by Regent’s Park, a Nash designed townhouse, which is also Ramsay’s first foray into the hotel business. Nine rooms are each individually designed by renowned fashion and furniture design team Russell Sage, who have used antiques and vintage objects to create a very smart, typically English home from home.
I have, myself, not visited the hotel side of things, but judging by the photos, it’s pretty darn impressive! I have, however, recently had the pleasure of eating in the restaurant. The Lovely Husband and I were in the company of friends whom we especially value. He, a top notch anaesthetist, whom the Lovely Husband, as a surgeon, used to work with frequently and she, the vivacious right hand to a VVIP. Both are interesting, knowledgeable and terrific fun, so a good evening is always guaranteed.
Inside the York & Albany looks, well, just like you want a gastro pub to look, homely, cosy, convivial. The walls are sage coloured with interesting paintings, the warm light emanates from enormous, pleasantly round and moonlike ceiling lamps, the floors are wooden, the tables and chairs simple but well arranged, and there’s a long bar on one side of the room. They must have done something clever with the acoustics here too, for although the restaurant is full, it is not particularly noisy. Or perhaps everyone is worshipping at the altar of the great Gordon Ramsay and not chatting? We certainly talk! Rapid-fire news and views are exchanged, until, after the second or third enquiry by our waitress, we realise that we really now do need to order.
The menu is full of a more sophisticated version of trad pub grub, and it is naturally just the right length. We’ve learnt on one of Ramsay’s many TV shows that that is the be all and end all of culinary success, alongside plain and unfancy plates, and that a lot of swearing makes you a gifted chef. I’ve tried the swearing bit, honestly, I am almost as good as the master himself, and I practise at every opportunity, but I’m still a lousy cook. Must try harder!
To start with, the anaesthetist and his missus choose a Y&Avocado Scotch Egg and a Salt and Pepper Squid with Sweet Chilli respectively, and the Lovely Husband and I also share the latter. Everybody looks well pleased with their choice. For mains, our friends go for a 300g British Dry Aged Rib Eye Steak, which comes with a couple of grilled cherry tomatoes and a Béarnaise Sauce, and a Salmon, Cod and Monkfish Pie. Lovely Husband also orders the fish pie but I make a bit of a mistake by ordering the Summer Vegetable Open Ravioli with Aubergine Puree. Mine lacks personality. Basically, it’s a plateful of ordinary veg with some anaemic looking strands of pasta. Boring. The others, however, enjoy their food. The Lovely Husband describes the fish pie as good but not in the same league as some of the best he has had.
The other two refrain from ordering pud, we, of course, cant resist and ask for a Lemon Meringue Pie to share. It looks pretty when it arrives, with a generous meringue swirl but part of the pastry base is still frozen. For my liking, it would also benefit from some tart fruit on the side to give it some balance of flavour.
Despite my unexciting open ravioli and the part frozen pie base, the food overall is good, some of it excellent even, but it’s not outstanding or particularly memorable. The atmosphere is very pleasant, the service friendly and efficient. I can quite understand why The York & Albany is a popular local for residents in the area. The bill comes to just under £200 for the four of us, including a bottle of wine, soft drinks, coffees, mint tea and Broccoli, Tomato Salad and Chips on the side, as well as service charge and VAT. At £50 a head that’s certainly good value, even though we didn’t have much alcohol.
Apologies for the low quality, fuzzy photography, partly due to low lighting and partly due to slight tiddlyness.
What I wore
Navy TopShop cigarette pants, blue and white checked Hobbs waisted jacket, patent navy Rupert Sanderson shoes, French navy quilted Miu Miu bag.
Dear Readers, I’d be delighted to find out more about you, so please feel invited to leave a comment below or just say ‘hello’. If you enjoy reading my blog, please like, share and follow it. Thank you!