York & Albany, Camden. Pizza.


My speech-recognition dictation is sometimes not to be trusted. Having asked my secretary to die and rise again, I am wary of sending emails without triple checking. She duly did diarise again and we’ve never repeated that rather ambitious request.

Some still get through the net though. York anal bunny was one such.

It’s part of the Ramsay empire. What a woeful, corporate, soulless website it is. How unexpected.

And on that website, a picture of the restaurant area at the back, which gives you no idea about how this place actually feels and another of the bar which looks like it’s another place altogether. And there’s a bizarre, worrying deep red basement restaurant area, which looks like nothing like the cool, muted, understated upstairs. I have no idea what goes on there.

And as you walk into the converted former pub, on the ground floor, they appear to have retained the original bar, but this isn’t a pub. There are oversized and extremely tall armchairs dotted about, large, elegant windows, scrubbed wooden floors and decent lighting; gastropub-luxe. It’s the ideal place for a casual, gossipy, light dinner, ending in wrenching, soul-baring openness. Or maybe that’s just me.

We didn’t want to sit where we’d been allocated (quiet, now) and were given three choices. One looked poky, one was right next to the live music area and one looked very comfortable and private but we were told that would have to move from that one after an hour, because it had been booked. We chose the comfortable one, hoping for a no-show.

Live music? How had I missed that? Two words which send a shard of ice into my soul. I don’t even like background music, for pity’s sake, what was I going to do with live?

So me and my oldest friend, L, settled down for what we thought might turn out to be a fairly brief evening of therapy catching up.

And we looked at the menu. The restaurant has a totally different menu and I warn you now, this is mostly about pizza. Because really, when you see a two pizzas for £15 deal, you’re going to order it. Or them. Obviously, we had to order a starter as well. Salt and pepper squid with chilli and lime. We hunted for the chilli. I’d have liked some. But it was tasty enough and crisp and really, we were too busy gassing to notice. And we’d made serious inroads into the St Aubain.

And the pizzas were fine. Wood-fired, competent. Not the best I’ve ever had but certainly passable. Thin crust, chewy in the middle. Standard toppings.

I asked for chilli oil, for I am rather keen on the heat. Some murky oil was brought, without any discernible heat in it, in a dish. A dish. What were they thinking? It needs a bottle.

I was obviously wearing my *disappointed face* at this point, because the lovely waitress went away and came back with a plateful of chopped chillies. Result. Not quite the one I’d wanted, but they tried.

And then the music started. Maybe it was the fact that I was with L, in whose presence any moodiness immediately evaporates, or maybe it that it was just quite good, but I actually found myself enjoying it. There. I’ve said it. I know you’ll look at me differently now, but the Soul classics and soft 80s standards, went down a treat. Like the food. I think we may have even made a request, though I may have made that up.

We were duly moved to another table but we didn’t care. We’d had pizza, we’d had major gossip and we’d had wine. I did my best to try and dissuade L from covering every surface of her new, Victorian house in lace, but I’m not sure I succeeded. She’d asked her decorator husband what colour he’d like to paint the living room. Brown. Not some nice Farrow & Ball tasteful quirky brown, mind you. Just dark brown. Nice. Maybe she can cover it in lace.

And do you know, they do this wine/pizza combo every Tuesday. You might find me there.

York & Albany on Urbanspoon