The Albert had a freshen up some time ago now, although I couldn’t tell you when. Before I noticed the signs of renovation, pale pastel paint on the Victorian brickwork, I’d always assumed it was average after work pub for hospital staff that was a bit dire.
Still, the fresh look to the place was niggling me to visit, and having been in hospital for a few weeks I was keen to eat out. So, with a stern ‘no drinking’ from the ward sister, I took an evening stroll with my parents to try it out.
It looks light and spacious on the inside, comfy armchairs in a high ceilinged room to the left of the bar reminded me of colonial rooms from movies. The dining area to the right of the bar vintage looking tables and chairs which all looked the part.
As a Young’s pub, I was fully prepared to see three of their standard ales on tap, I hadn’t expected to see three guest ales, one of which from Surrey Hills Brewery. Not that I could have any, more’s the pity, but a Fentiman’s Ginger Beer went down well.
The menu could do with a little clarity. Would “Smoked mackerel, lemon & dill pâté, horseradish” be a fillet of mackerel with lemon & dill pate and a horseradish condiment on the side? Or would it be a pâté made from the first three ingredients? It turned out to be a pâté made from all the ingredients which was a little too heavy on the horseradish. My mum was disappointed to get a single slice of indecisively toasted bread, not quite toast, not quite bread. It’s as if it was supposed to be bread that’s been left near the heat lamps, was her opinion.
My Dad went for the pie of the day which was chicken & mushroom, with a big puff pastry top. Side vegetables of beans, broccoli and mash were all finely cooked, and he couldn’t find a fault with it.
My wife had the carrot & butternut squash soup, which was nice enough but nothing special. tasting very much like a carrot & coriander soup from the Covent Garden soup range. Personally, I think the flavours of those two vegetables are too similar to include both in a soup.
I chose the fish & chips, the latter in a mini fryer basket which seems popular way of serving them. I find it quite charming. It was served with sides of mushy peas and tartare sauce. Alas, the batter was not quite crisp enough, neither were the chips.
We had two deserts, a raspberry creme brûlée and trifle. I thoroughly enjoyed the trifle, they used a nice combination of fresh fruits and flavoured jellies to great effect. Mum wasn’t happy with the brûlée, it lacked the crunchy caramel surface and was watery underneath.
I thought that for a fairly quiet Friday evening, with three to four tables two staff should be able to handle it, but service was slow. I saw three burgers sitting under heat lamps for a hood 6-10 minutes before we’d ordered our meals which didn’t fill me with confidence. That and soft drinks being forgotten during our meal, even though the order was written down is rather disappointing.
Overall, I’d certainly consider popping in for a drink with friends. For food though, the quality is below average for the cost. The kitchen should definitely take some tips from the excellent White Cross which is on the river in Richmond. Another Young’s pub, I was impressed with their fantastic salt & chilli squid and crisp, delightful fish & chips.
57 Kingston Hill
Tel: 020 8546 7669