The Albany, Great Portland Street
It’s not often I find myself in Fitzrovia, but a recent trip to The Albany promised to change that. The airy gastro pub occupies a blue-painted corner of Great Portland Street, nestled right by Regent’s Park – ideal for a post-date park stroll.
It’s Saturday morning, and L and I need something to take the edge off our respective hangovers. There are some welcome surprises on The Albany’s brunch menu, such as cinnamon sourdough toast and a delicious-sounding chorizo hash, although the monster hangovers dictate we opt for the Proper Breakfast and Vegetarian Breakfast respectively. No dainty portions here – our plates are barely visible beneath the bounteous helpings of breakfast fodder. Notable mentions go to the Cherry Orchard sausages and their veggie counterparts, as well as the ingenious additions of potato rosti and sourdough bread. Forget Alka-Seltzer – this is the cure.
Inside, it’s refreshingly pared-back, devoid of trendy taxidermy or ubiquitous mid-century furniture. There are twinkling chandeliers, a generous number of dark wood tables, and a general sense that you’re in a lovely London pub that’s neither posh nor pretentious. Downstairs, in the pub’s basement bar The Other Place, things get a little more hipster – but not off-puttingly so. There’s live music, burgers and something called Ukulele Wednesday – where lovers of the four-stringed instruments can play along in unison (beginners welcome).
It’s a little quiet on a Saturday morning, but my throbbing head was glad for it. And I have it on good authority that it’s decidedly abuzz on weekdays.
3. The Albany is excellent first date territory, the kind that comes before mumbling about whether you’re going north or south on the northern line and then a kiss that’s mistakenly planted somewhere between lips and cheek. This is the stuff of writ-about London romances that form the basis of Richard Curtis films. If you’re more Michael Cera than Hugh Grant, do try Uke Wednesdays; strumming along to The Ronettes’ Be My Baby with your musical lover might just be impossibly cute enough to elicit spontaneous combustion.