After the fantastic first impression at Albert Hall Tavern on Friday, Mike was raring to try it and I couldn’t wait to go back and have a full meal. We didn’t have dinner plans for Sunday night, so we set a date to check out their dinner menu.
The staff said to choose our seat, so I picked the table next to the shelf of books in the corner. We enjoyed checking out the titles on the shelf throughout the meal, most of which were cookbooks.
The decor inside is cool, but completely unidentifiable. They have old pages of books (or catalogs?) glued to the wall in a pretty cool way (the shelves with the books was all old cookbooks). Then there are Victorian looking pictures of women (mostly) on the wall.
It looks pretty eclectic and interesting, and I enjoy the black and red motif.
The menu is quite eclectic, and I have trouble putting my finger on how to describe it. Our waiter went with “avante-garde gastro pub.” I’ll go with it.
They actually didn’t have many things on the menu, including some of the things I was dying to try (from the Bar and Pasta section). They were also OUT of the hamburger, much to Mike’s dismay. Turns out they had a run of people from the Javitz Center and were plum out of burgers, and many of the beers we were hoping to try. Oh well! Can’t blame them since they have only been open one week!
When we asked about the interesting “specials” section, the waiter informed us that they would actually be doing all-day breakfast since this neighborhood is lacking in that (You can say that again!) I guess this is all a work in progress. I look forward to seeing how it changes and what they add!
We decided to split a number of things to try as much as possible.
First we tried the tuna tartare with a quail egg. This was a great combo of flavors, however, I found it a bit over peppered. It distracted from the mild flavors of the tuna.
I did enjoy the quail egg, however, and wished there were more than one.
Our next order was by recommendation of our awesome waiter, James. (If you go, ask for him. He’s awesome and you can tell he really loves food). He told us that the mussels with charred rosemary and black garlic was really great. He explained that black garlic is grown in caves so it doesn’t turn white and that the rosemary was charred and then steamed to release the flavors. (I really appreciated his passion for talking about food).
The moment I tried these ridiculously fresh tasting mussels, I was sold. The broth was absolutely FANTASTIC. We had one full clove of the black garlic and it was insanely good. I honestly wanted to bathe in the broth. We made no hesitation of asking for crusty bread (which, smartly, comes from Amy’s Bread) to soak up as much of the sauce as possible. I wish it came with and we didn’t have to ask for it, but these are the little kinks that I’m sure they will figure out very soon. The cook later told us that people threatened to chop off arms if the bussers tried to take the empty dish away before it was cleaned of all its sauce.
Next up, the chef brought out duck rillettes with figs. This was delish.
The fig was a perfect foil for the duck, which was almost like pulled duck that then got packed back together. When we asked the chef about it, he said he wanted to go back to the French basics, had some extra duck, so brought it to us off the menu. (A FANTASTIC chef that sees the opportunity in doing this… and delivers a great dish).
We opted to split the 12 ounce Ribeye. The car was delicious, and I like that they put nice sauteed onions on top.
It came with 3 sauces. The white sauce tasted like a bernaise, the dark brown like an au jus, and the light brown one was delicious, yet I couldn’t put my finger on it. The waiter informed us that it was an au poivre. I always think of an au poivre as being overly spicy, so much so that it distracts from all over flavors. This, on the other hand, had a perfect sweetness to it that brought out everything that is fantastic about steak.
We also ordered a side of barrel roasted winter vegetables. Who knew vegetables could taste THAT good? (And I love veggies) These were just perfect. Incredibly flavorful. I had to wonder where this guy buys his veggies.
After this incredible meal, I couldn’t wait to try dessert. This, however, was where the magic ended. Since the chef is making everything himself, he hasn’t gotten to desserts yet. I was thisclose to offering to bring over some confections for the next few weeks because… seriously… dessert is IMPORTANT! (Note: if anyone from Albert Hall is reading, the offer still stands. I make a mean meringue.)
I am THRILLED to have this place right around the corner. There are no go-to places in this neighborhood and I love that they have a great draft beer selection. Mike and I have already discussed about heading there once a week. From start to finish, it just felt comfortable and homey there.
Beyond the fantastic food, the staff is wonderful. Our bartender on Friday took great care of us and our waiter was impressively informative (even if it was steering us away from the food that wasn’t stellar) and we really enjoyed chatting with him. We even chatted with a chef for a bit on the way out and found out that he sources his food from all the great local butchers and farm stands in the area. We also agreed with his statement that he was surprised that there aren’t more restaurants in this area with all the fantastic ingredients available so close. He even commented about how much he enjoys getting meat from my favorite butcher on the corner, Esposito’s Pork Shop.
Overall, this place has been fantastic from top to bottom so far. I look forward to their expanding menu, when they open up the private room in the back for suckling pig roasts, and eating and drinking here much more often.
Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10