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Restaurants & Bars 8

Two Gastropubs, London

limster | Jan 3, 2010 12:19 PM

• The Albion, Islington

Excellent smoked goose, tender, more meaty than smoky in flavour, pink and juicy, contrasting sharp rocket, with its bite of bitter nuttiness. Lovely acidity in the dressing and in small orange wedges that perk up the dish. A sweetness with gravitas in the form of chestnuts. Beautiful composition.

Fish pie was ordinary. Good kale and sprouting broccoli, glossy with butter. Nice crisp brown edges on the mashed potato top. But the salmon beneath was merely ok, and there wasn't as much cream as I would have liked. The other Albion (at the Boundary) was much more satisfying, more generous and roughly the same price (if one considers the addition of a sprouting broccoli side at the Albion at the Boundary).

Arctic roll recalled one of my childhood Bird's Eye favourites, and I couldn't resist. The sponge layer was a little thin but nicely coated in sugar, and the spiced plum a nice accompaniment.

• The Botanist, Sloane Square

Elegant, stylish, refined cooking that is perhaps more restaurant than pub.

Loved the light meaty flavour of the veal in the veal ravioli. The pasta itself was fine, giving off a little bite, but nothing extraordinary, served seemingly near room temperature, a minor issue that was rescued by the warmth of the sauce. Good saucing - a well rounded and smooth sauce, creamy, with a rich hint of meat. Enhanced further by the nutty quality of an equality smooth Jerusalem artichoke puree. Nice chunks of roast globe artichoke one the side.

A straightforward salmon fishcake, with a beautiful whiff of lemon in a beurre blanc beneath. Spinach worked as a nice foil against the crispy shell.

Impressive chestnut souffle, rising gorgeously, a perfect light moist texture, save for a bit of natural graininess from chestnuts which is to be expected. The delicate chestnut sweetness is somewhat overpowered by the chocolate sauce and chocolate ice cream, but they're served on the side.

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