Albion describes itself somewhat self-consciously as a ‘caff’, but no greasy spoon in London was ever designed and owned by Terence Conran, and certainly none has its own maître d’. But in spirit, at least, it is something approaching a café for 21st-century Shoreditch – a place where locals can drop in for a casual breakfast, lunch or dinner, or just a cup of tea and a slice of cake.
The numerous tables set up for solo diners in the long, narrow, bright room seem to back that up. Menu descriptions suggest dishes wouldn’t seem out of place in your average caff too – ham and mustard sandwich, devilled kidneys, sausage and mash, fish and chips, bacon and eggs on toast. They’re all prepared with top-quality ingredients, great care and an eye for presentation. Mackerel salad contained generous chunks of smoked fish, interestingly bitter salad leaves and a blob of fiery horseradish cream. There’s an equally posh ‘corner shop’ at the entrance, selling fruit, veg, groceries and baked goods – you can watch the tempting loaves being hauled out of the ovens in the open kitchen.
The Albion formula is obviously a hit – as evidenced by a new branch opening in summer 2013 just behind Tate Modern.