Albannach Scottish bar and restaurant
66 Trafalgar Square
London WC2N 5DS
Reviewed Wednesday 8 April dinner time.
Albannach is a Scottish bar and restaurant wonderfully located in Trafalgar Square, next to the Admiralty Arch. You are on your way to The Mall but also to Downing Street and Westminster. It is a very touristic area.
When you get in, you are in the bar area which is fairly crowded and very noisy. After waiting there for a short time they take us to the restaurant located just above the bar. The design is nice with enough distance between the tables. The restaurant area is quite noisy from the bar underneath and you almost have to yell across the table to be heard, especially after they increased the music louder during the dinner! Still, I thought it was fun.
We ordered a Cullen skink (£6) and Quail legs with salad (£9) as starters. The Cullen skink is a soup with smoked fish, garlic and cream. It was yummy! The quail legs were excellent, and the salad had a very nice seasoning. I wish the quail was bigger but then it is not exactly what we call a large bird 😉 The bread, served with some butter, was good but they came only for one service.
- The two starters
The main courses were a Rib-eye of Buccleuch beef, dauphinois potatoes, cavalo nero and wild mushrooms (£24) and a Loin of Highland venison, thyme potato cake and parsnip purée (£23). The rib-eye was massive. It was overcooked, they did ruin it which was a shame. A kind of peppercorn sauce was needed to compensate it but the sauce was sweet. The mushrooms were nice. The dauphinois potatoes were good, perfectly cooked with a touch of garlic and hot. The loin of venison was also a little overcooked and not big at all. They were just 4 small slices of it, a little like the size of a duck magret. Considering the venison is a quite strong meat more sauce would have been welcome. The potato case and parsnip purée were very nice. For drink, we had a bottle of water (£3.5) and a bottle of Cabernet Merlot, Knappstein 2004 – Clare Valley, Australia ( £36). It was a good wine, easy to drink but way overpriced (see conclusion below).
- Loin of Highland venison
For desserts, we had a Cranachan with layered raspberries, whisky cream and raspberry liqueur and a Scottish shortbread (£7) and a border tart with whiskey cream(£7.50). The Cranachan was a little too simple. It was a nice mix of berries (although they said it was raspberries) and it was not too sweet. Beyond that it was just some alcohol flavoured cream with three or four bits of granola sprinkled on the top. Not unpleasant but a bit overly simplistic. The shortbread was excellent. The border tart was good. It was a little too sweet but I still had some red wine It would have been better to have more sauce. The espresso (£2.50) was very good, at the right temperature and not too hot or burnt as it happens too often.
Cost and conclusion: I took advantage of the London-Eating 50% off a la carte offer so the cost was limited to £95.06 (“12,5% service” included). They had that offer running from 1 April to 10 April and on the restaurant’s website they now advertise for 50% off a la carte offer only on Monday. The 50% off does not apply to the wine. The problem I have here is on the bill they show a subtotal of £80.25 plus a 12.5% service of £14.81 giving a total of £95.06… Well the presentation is misleading because the 12.5% service is based on the FULL price of £118.5 and yet that price is never mentioned. To be correct they should have said they added a 18% something service charge to the subtotal of £80.25. Also, the 2004 Knappstein Cabernet Merlot from Clare Valley was charged £36. I know it is common for restaurants to double, sometimes triple the retail price but in this case we can get the exact same bottle at Oddbins for £7.99 each when you get 12 and that is not even a merchant bulk rate so over 4 times the normal cost is quite exaggerated. In conclusion I would say this place is well overpriced. I do not believe the staff were Scots and they were dressed in an approximation of a kilt that embarrassed my guest who is from Scotland. The starters were good, but the rest did not really follow, except for the coffee.