Albert's Table, Croydon, Surrey CR0 1BF - restaurant review

In recent years, Croydon has become a real culinary hotspot with something for all tastes. This month, however, restaurant critic JOHN HUGHES decided it was time for a bit of homegrown fare at modern British restaurant Albert’s Table

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine November 2009

Restaurant reviews: Albert’s Table, 49 South End, Croydon, Surrey CR0 1BF Tel: 0208 680 2010

***

Verdict

Food and drink 8 Service 9 Venue 9

What we ate

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Three-course dinner �27.50

Starters Woodpigeon Wellington, Lightly Truffled Cauliflower Soup

Main Courses Oven Baked Grey Mullet, Gloucester Old Spot Pork

Desserts Bread and Butter Pudding & Apricot Ice Cream, Glazed Chocolate & Pecan Nut Brownie

Drinks Muscadet le Pavilion 2003 (1/2 bottle) �10, Il sole di Corteforte 2003 dessert wine �5

***

Our review: Take a short stroll through South End in Croydon and it quickly becomes apparent that it is awash with eateries – you name it and you’ll find one somewhere along this busy street. However, clearly a cut above the average, apparent from the tasteful facade alone, is Albert’s Table, a stylish restaurant serving modern British food using quality, seasonal ingredients.

Inside, the dining area is neat and simple with photographs adorning the walls that reflect the natural ingredients served within – fishing boats, wheat fields etc – plus one magnificently huge mirror! Even the menus are tasteful, printed on quality paper and nicely bound.

The restaurant is a joint venture, with head chef Joby Wells, the powerhouse in the kitchen, and Jane Rawlings spearheading the front of house – and together they make a formidable team.

May contain shot… Looking at the starters, my eyes didn’t get beyond Woodpigeon Wellington, served with carrot puree and Cumberland dressing. ‘May contain shot,’ I was warned, but none did I find – just tender meat in perfect pastry. My daughter Helen chose the Lightly Truffled Cauliflower Soup, which was topped with Appleby’s Cheshire souffl� and a cheese straw.

To complement the richness of my starter, I settled on a seafood main – the Oven Baked Grey Mullet, which came with gratin and razor clams, leeks and chanterelle mushrooms. It was a pleasing blend of flavours and textures, the flakiness of the mullet (grey should be more common than red in my opinion), the slight fragrance of the mushrooms and the saltier clams all working together beautifully. Helen, meanwhile, tucked into the Gloucester Old Spot Pork – milk poached loin, confit belly and white pudding with potato gnocchi and sage meat juices. Equally delicious, but it has to be said that both dishes could have been hotter.

There was plenty of room for desserts; in my case a mouthwatering Bread and Butter Pudding and Apricot Ice Cream, accompanied indulgently by a glass of Il sole di Cortforte, a fine Italian dessert wine. Helen, who can rarely resist anything with the word chocolate in the title, was in seventh heaven as she contentedly munched her way through the Glazed Chocolate & Pecan Nut Brownie that came with griottine cherries (morello cherries soaked in kirsch), plus white chocolate mousse and nibbed chocolate ice cream.

A top tipple The wine menu is no less well presented than everything else at Albert’s Table with bottles at all price points, plus some half bottles from which I chose a rather splendid Muscadet le Pavilion 2008. Jane was very informative about wines, and in fact next time I will try her recommendation, the Picpoul de Pinet (available by the glass), or one of the various Lamborghini reds. Yes, they make wine as well as cars!

Albert’s Table most definitely raises the standards of dining out in Croydon. The food was excellent, the atmosphere appealing and the service, from a small team of waiters and waitresses, attentive and professional. Regrettably, I came away having entirely forgotten to ask the one question that sprang to mind just as soon as I had been recommended the restaurant. Who’s Albert?

***

3 other great British restaurants...

Kinghams Gomshall Lane, Shere GU5 9HE Tel: 01483 202168 Tucked away in the picturesque village of Shere, with views to the Surrey Hills, this enchanting little restaurant serves classic, imaginative cuisine in a 17th century setting.

Rocksons 17 High Street, Hampton Wick  Kingston Upon Thames KT1 4DA Tel: 0208 977 0402 Heading to Kingston or Richmond for a bit of shopping? Then why not pop over to Hampton Wick for a spot of lunch at this high quality British eatery.

The Oak Room at Great Fosters Stroude Road, Egham TW20 9UR Tel: 01784 433822 Specialising in modern English cuisine, head chef Simon Bolsover and his team work closely with local suppliers to take full advantage of local, seasonal produce.

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