Two places in Shoreditch, London
• Albion at the Boundary
A satisfying fish pie, with good chunks of white fish (cod? haddock?), hearty pieces of hard boiled egg (not overcooked) and the occasional mussel that swam in a well calibrated amount of cream. Pleasant mashed potato, somewhat smooth, with minimal graininess. The potato surface was nicely browned, with the edges on the patterned surface crisping well for a good textural variation.
Sides are a little pricey; a small bowl of sprouting broccoli, slicked with butter was around £3-4ish iirc.
I liked the hot berry and apple crumble, with a heart-warming custard sauce that rounded of the tangy fruit.
• Pizza East
Good crispness in the crust that was more or less the right thinness, blistered on the surface and breaking crisply. Suspect they have a seriously hot oven. But the crust, while good, is not exactly perfect -- a pinch more salt might have helped with the flavour of the crust, and there wasn't a satisfying (albeit brief) chewiness that one might find in some of the best.
The toppings were disappointing. The tomato sauce was overly concentrated, with the faintest possible hint of char (excessive reduction?) and seemed almost like tomato paste. Basil, while evident in reasonable scatter of thin green stripes, was muted, maybe because of the intensity of the sauce. Mozzarella was too chewy and some bites were rubbery rather than stringy, and lacked the clear milky flavour that characterise some of my favourites. But at least it was melted in pools, rather than chopped and scattered.
Dessert was very good -- hot light beignet-like donuts, fluttering with egg whites. They're dusted with cinnamon, a restrained amount of sugar, and I also tasted a nuanced touch of salt, that rounded everything nicely, even interacting well with the chocolate dipping sauce. the chocolate sauce was fine, less milk would have been preferrable for me, but that's a bit of a quibble. Not cheap at £6, but quite worthwhile.
What is wrong with pizza without tomato sauce? I thought it was quite common, the local pizza place in on our recent holiday in Italy had a whole section of their menu with this style, and Pizza Bianca is a famous variety of pizza from Rome. I find it works really well with ingredients whose taste can get swamped by tomatoes.
My husband and I went to the Albion on Wednesday for some food after a soggy late night's shopping at Columbia Road. I had fish and chips, with a side of mushy peas and he opted for steak and kidney pudding with a side of chips fried in beef dripping - and we shared a big brown betty of tea.
My fish and chips was fabulous - when you cut into the batter there was a satisfying crunch sound - the fish inside was moist and very well cooked. The chips were some of the best I tasted and the mushy peas were fabulous (I adore mushy peas and so rarely get good ones!). The tartare sauce was really nice as well and came in a lovely bird shaped container - very cute.
My husbands pudding was huge and very unlike those steak and kidney puddings you buy in shops - rather than being full of gravy his pudding was stuffed with melt in the mouth beef (reminded me of v.good salt beef from Katz in NY), the kidneys were just right with a hint of pink and he smothered it all in a side of gravy - he said it was one of the nicest things he ever ate!
The place is really nice and non-fancy and the service was great. It was slightly more than you'd pay for at a "caff" - however the food was outstanding and I'd highly recommend it!
We didn't have room for a pudding but took home a couple of cupcakes at 75p each for when we got home. I wouldn't bother again - the base was ok but the frosting tasted very much like pure butter. Next time I'd save my money and buy a loaf of their lovely own-made bread.