Albert Hall Brings Gastropub Fare To Hell’s Kitchen

There is this new group in town, called [Exploration] Dining that, for a fee, allows you to pay half price at a number of restaurants around town. They also do excursions with dining groups, where people eat at either brand new restaurants that are under the radar, or old restaurants people have forgotten about. The whole point is to, literally, explore your own city. I mean, we do live in NYC…it totally makes sense to have this company here! I was invited to a press dinner at Royal Albert Tavern, so of course I am more inclined to like this company, but really…it’s kind of a simple but awesome idea!
Albert Hall Tavern is a new gastropub in Hell’s Kitchen…
HALLELUJAH!
Hell’s Kitchen has awesome Thai food and some great bakeries, but – with the exception of Danji – very few nicer places that I have not tried already. This eclectic, cheeky restaurant with a relaxed but upscale vibe seemed like it might be a welcome addition.

Sometimes you CAN judge a book by its cover.
Oysters - Malpagues and Blue Points.
These were absolutely perfect oysters. Briney, salty, fresh and tender, with just a slight bit of shallot to accentuate the natural oceanic taste. Oysters are always the perfect start to a meal – light but complex in flavor, they just whet my appetite!
Screaming Oysters from Hell-Fried oysters with a Sriracha relish, served over grilled pineapple.
FABULOUS! I don’t think these were from Hell, per se, but they were definitely from a a very sassy place. The oysters were those same fresh beauties as before, this time crispy breaded in a grease-less, albeit a touch thick, fried-chicken like coating. The garlicky, vinegary, spicy sauce added that hit of heat to the oyster that makes any dish more vibrant and interesting. The warm, slightly charred pineapple brought a sweet note that really completed the dish. A stand out dish.
Tuna Tartare with Quail Egg
Not innovative, but delicious. Fresh, buttery tuna melded with the rich, yolky quail egg and a bit of jalapeno peppers for a flawless rendition of tuna tartare. A little spicy, very fresh, on a fantastically buttery crostini.
Deviled Braised Short Rib with Horseradish and Mustard Seed.
Extremely tender beef, gently braised into a sort of meat jam…it sounds disgusting but tasted AMAZING. It was literally so tender that it actually did melt in my mouth. The mustard gave it a tangy edge, and the horseradish-tomato jam cut through the beef’s fat perfectly with its spicy-sweet taste. If this is what happens when you braise beef for 30 minutes longer than I normally do…I will have to give it a try!!
Pickled Sardines with Fennel Pollen and Meyer Lemon Cream.
My least favorite dish of the night. I just thought the sardines were too damn fishy. The fennel was a nice vegetal addition to the dish, bu the vinegary, fishy taste just overwhelmed the Meyer lemon. And this is form someone who really does like sardines.
Grilled Radicchio with Trifoline Cheese and Butternut Squash Carpaccio.
WOW! Why don’t I ever grill radicchio at home!!! This took all the bitterness out of the lettuce and imparted a smoky, almost meaty taste to the leaf. Wilted but not without some crunch, it paired so well with the cheese – somewhere between Roquefert, Tallegio and Guryere cheeses – this was for a lover of stinky cheeses! The squash underneath was a smooth and sweet component that really rounded out the dish, along with the delicious fatty snap of some slivered almonds. This was just an awesome combination of flavors and textures that I MUST recreate at home!

Stemed Mussels with charred rosemary and black garlic.

These were good if not great. The mussels themselves were delicious – plump and sweet with nary a grain of sand or a bad one in there. But, while the garlic was too subtle to detect, the rosemary was WAY too strong. It’s woodsy, earthy aroma totally overpowered the delicate mussels. This dish was prepared well, just was not to my liking – someone who likes meat more than fish might actually quite like this dish.
Roasted Suckling Pig with maple rum.
How have I never had suckling pig before? Suckling pig is to pork what Catherine Zeta Jones is to me.
One just blows the other clear out of the water.
This meat was so tender, so sweet, so fatty, so moist…I really have no words. It was the most intense explosion of porcine flavor next to the simplest, softest texture imaginable…it was a totally bizarre and wonderful experience. Though the skin was a bit tough to cut (okay, I’ll admit it…I just used my hands), it’s sweetness played perfectly with the sweetness of the meat. I loved how un-seasoned the pork was. No herbs, no sauces, very restricted use of salt…just total pork taste dominating my palate. Awesome.
This meal was excellent. The service was great, the atmosphere is nice enough for a date but relaxed enough to show up in jeans and a t-shirt and the food was sensational. The price point was very reasonable and the beer list was AWESOME…try the Estrella Galica or the Gavroche French Red Ale if you think you don’t like beer! [Exploration] Dining definitely peaked my interest in their group AND in Albert Hall Tavern.
And…in suckling pig.

*Note: My meal was paid for by the restaurant.  I was not paid or required to write a review, and my opinions are my own and, I feel, impartial.*





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Comments

  1. Hungry says:

    what's the address?

  2. Chris says:

    The address is 508 9th Avenue, NY, NY.

    Amazing review, Sarah. It was such an extreme pleasure meeting you that evening, and realizing the fervor and passion for which you have for food and dining. It really is inspiring. I am glad to just have witnessed it.

    Speaking of Catherine Zeta Jones, I was having brunch a few weekends ago at a restaurant in the UWS, and I totally saw her, Michael and the family enjoying a casual brunch. She walked right by me…reminded me of a suckling pig, in fact. haha. just kidding!

    Hope to see you again soon.

  3. Fritos and Foie Gras says:

    @Hungry – it's near 37th. PLEASE try that Gavroche red ale…really blew my mind!
    @Chris – the pleasure was all mine!!!

  4. sweetsbysillianah says:

    oh how funny… i was there too! i thought i would hop on over to your blog to introduce myself -(Lillian aka sweetsillianah on twitter) and then i scrolled and said hey… that food looks familiar! lol! i was sitting over at the table by the suckling pig. ;) i am still thinking about those oysters though…

    i'm looking forward to meeting up with you to hopefully help plan the Food Blogger Bake Sale! =)

  5. Fritos and Foie Gras says:

    @sweetsbysillianah-oh my gosh what a small world! Yes, let's PLEASE get together to plan the bake sale!!! I am so into helping out :)

  6. Tasty Trekker says:

    Ha! I was planning to try this place out next week. Looks fabulous! Now I'll make the trip for sure. Thanks!

  7. Fritos and Foie Gras says:

    @Tasty Trekker – Yes, and PLEASE try those oysters from hell! They were sooo fab!

  8. Chef of Hell Kitchen 2011 says:

    @Fritos and Foie Gras, those are mussels and not oysters. Thumbs up with that tasty mussels

  9. Anonymous says:

    Royal Albert Tavern? Seriously?
    I mean you're a food blogger and you can't even get the name of the place right…wow

  10. Fritos and Foie Gras says:

    @Anonymous-hey, when you're right, you're right – good call. Thanks for the heads up – I fixed it.

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