Albert Hall Tavern is quite possibly THE favorite restaurant of my friend and fellow foodie, Sara. She has raved and raved about it, so when I saw a LivingSocial deal for a prix fixe dinner for 2, I snagged it. I took my friend Kwame there before we saw a play.
We arrived on a seasonably warm afternoon and walked right in to the open area. We were seated immediately (we had a reservation) at a booth, nicely appointed with glassware and silverware and small floral.
Someone came and welcomed us—a manager? I’m not sure. I should have just asked for his name. He was nice, took our coupon without making a face (unlike Bocca!) and left to get our wine (included in said coupon).
I knew from Sara’s previous experiences that we had to order the artichoke dip and the mussels. Kwame ordered the dip, I got the mussels, and we sat back and waited. And waited. And waited some more. We even almost got the next party’s entrees..but no apps. About 30 minutes later, that same man came by and asked if we’d had our apps yet. No, we had not. He disappeared and about 10 minutes later we had our apps. Did I mention we were going to a show? Tick tock,people!
The artichoke dip was good, but I wasn’t over the moon for it. I guess I’m just an artichoke liker, not an artichoke lover. The potato chips on top gave it a good crunch. Kwame really liked this.
The mussels, however, shut me up for a good 15 minutes. Not a single bit of grit in there—always a plus for me. The broth was wicked peppery. My word was it peppery. Like, make you cough peppery. And yet, I kept going back for more. I told Kwame to share some, and he agreed—the broth was fantastic. We asked for more bread just to get more of the broth!
Entrees came a short while later—Fish & Chips for Kwame, Bangers & Mash for me. I was leaving in a few days for England to visit ABF, so I figured I’d get in the right frame of mind. Kwame really liked his fish and chips. I was starting to get really full, so I didn’t share any of his, but I was glad he liked it.
My bangers and mash were.. um.. different. I don’t know exactly why I wasn’t crazy about it. Maybe I wasn’t hungry enough. The mashed potatoes were almost whipped—I do prefer mine with a little more heft. Again, pepper OVERLOAD. What is with the pepper? I like some pepper, but they must have gotten it on special at Costco or something..it was all I could taste.
I don't normally bother writing about places that don't warrant a visit--why waste my time and yours? But I want to like this place, I really do. When we actually got people to come to our table, they were always friendly--they were just hard to find. We must have waited another 20 minutes for someone to bring us the check (after asking 2 people), and yet we watched them visiting with other patrons, making small talk, etc. And yes, we told the man at the beginning it was our first trip, and that we were visiting on friends' recommendations. Grrr. Overall, a very bad, flat, disappointing experience. But the mussels (presuming they go easier on the pepper next time) and Sara's insistence on the place's awesomeness might convince me to give Albert Hall a second chance.
Albert Hall Tavern
508 9th Avenue
New York, NY 10018