At the top of Parkway, opposite Regents park, this imposing but previously neglected Nash building has been renovated and transformed into an up-market bar, restaurant and deli.
I was delighted to hear about the renaissance of this landmark and couldn’t wait to try it out. However, I have to admit that I’m not the greatest fan of Gordon Ramsay: although his smarter restaurants are slickly run, they lack the touch of magic or alchemy that really excites me and I find his approach leans towards the safe and commercial. That said, Ramsay has some great people working for him and his standards are high. Jason Atherton at Maze and Angela Hartnett are exceptional chefs who cook with real flair and it is the latter who oversees the kitchen at the York & Albany.
Anyway, on the wintry evening of our visit, we were struck by how elegant, warm and relaxed the place was and ordered cocktails at the bar from a varied and fairly priced list. (There is a particularly tempting ‘after dinner’ section including the delectable sounding ‘lemon meringue martini’.) As we were running a little late, we moved through to the restaurant and placed our order. The service was friendly, informative and efficient, and almost instantly a generous wooden platter of Italian meats and sausage appeared as an appetizer. To begin, my husband ordered game ‘mosaic’ (terrine) with toasted sourdough and I went for the fried duck’s egg with field mushrooms, Jerusalem artichoke and Parmesan. For the main course we settled on a shared roasted corn-fed chicken with bread sauce and seasonal root vegetables. The starters were excellent, particularly my duck’s egg, which was an inspired medley of autumn flavours with a generous drizzle of truffle oil. Our roast chicken was comforting and satisfying – simply prepared, allowing good, intense flavours to shine through. The menu as a whole was very tempting and offered lots of seasonal British ingredients, many prepared with a stylish Italian twist. The wine list has a reasonable selection of bottles under £30 and includes several wines available by the glass and 50cl carafes. Our carafe of ripe, yet supple Vin de Pays d’Oc Rouge was a versatile choice.
We thoroughly enjoyed our evening, finishing off our wine back in the bar in deep, comfy chairs. What’s more, we were pleasantly surprised when our bill for the two courses (including wine and cocktails) came in at under £100.
I have since been back twice for drinks and been equally impressed (and reassured seeing Hartnett herself at the helm in the kitchen). The place is ‘grown-up’ and combines a sense of occasion with sleek, relaxed professionalism – more Manhattan than London. Highly recommended.
(Visited November 2008)
127–129 Parkway, London NW1 7PS; tel 020 7388 3344 http://www.gordonramsay.com/yorkandalbany