Alba

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Alba operates in a different time zone to most restaurants. The time to go there is for lunch. I’ve walked past it at nighttime and it looks pretty empty but lunchtime is when Alba is packed with all the local suits who want to go somewhere that serves safe but good quality Italian food. Reflecting this focus, unlike most restaurants which do set price lunch specials and evening a la carte, Alba has an a la carte lunch menu and set price in the evening.

Set in two narrow rooms that look out onto an uninspiring view of Whitecross street Alba’s look is somewhat dull and restrained. Still there are welcoming signs such as crisp white tablecloths and gleaming cutlery. Service is speedy as Alba is aware that lunch is generally a brief respite for its clientele and they need to get back to their desks. I ordered the tortino di granchio which was a crab cake flavoured with ginger and chilli to start. The crab cake was small and squat with a crumbed exterior which contrasted with the excellent fleshy crab meat. It was served with a splodge of avocado and a few scattered salad leaves. The seafood based entrees seemed to be the best and the seafood salad of scallops, prawns and octopus looked sensational. Sadly since I visted Alba with work colleagues I couldn’t steal anyone elses food to try it.

From the mains on offer it is difficult to go past the pasta dishes. My ravioli di cervo comprised six large envelopes of ravioli filled with minced venison and was served in a thin venison gravy topped with some shaved parmesan. The ravioli is indicative of Alba’s unfussy approach while still demonstrating accomplished cooking. Pappardelle al ragu was similar in its simplicity of thick ribbons of pappardelle pasta dripping with a rich veal and beef ragu.

The high calibre food is accompanied by a decent wine list with (unsurprisingly) Italian slant. It would have been nice to linger longer but the office was calling so we declined the dessert menu and returned to our desks pleasantly sated. Their lunch time peak over the Alba chefs must look forward to the quieter evening times.

Details: 107 Whitecross Street, London EC1Y 8JH (Ph 020 7588 1798)
Damage: Pricey
7/10

If you enjoyed this you may want to read about the brilliant food market that is on Whitecross street every Thursday and Friday or if you are looking for Italian food in London why not try Jamie Oliver’s restaurant Fifteen you will be pleasantly surprised. Alba on Urbanspoon

7 comments

  1. An asparagus risotto for £13.70 ? eeeek!

    That would have to be a seriously good risotto.

  2. It looks like you’re going for a post a day. You must be exhausted! I like the token, almost filmic, almost obligatory Vespa in shot.

  3. Fantastic – another place I often amble past on my lunchtime jaunts to Whitecross Market and wonder about.

  4. Neil – Yes it is pricey but the food is good and they have a clientele that is prepared to pay (maybe not for much longer)

    Douglas – not quite – weekends off! Yes the vespa is always there and does seem to be mainly for decorative purpose.

    Dan – there is a cheaper/takeway style cafe attached as well that offers toasted ciabattas and a dish of the day such as lasagna for £4 which is a good way to get some decent Italian food without the price tag of the restaurant proper.

  5. Hmm, I’d quite like to try this place. I’ve read some other good things about it.

  6. Anyone reading this, the restaurant has a cafe attached open during the week only (unfortunately), the coffee and croissants are streets ahead of anything else in the vicinity

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