Counter Albion, Shoreditch
At 42 Redchurch Street in Shoreditch lives the Counter Albion. Sister to the Albion Café, and the Albion Grill, this smaller branch of the three is a refreshing and artistic coffee cave perfect for its health-conscious clientèle. Along with its siblings, the company focuses on good quality, fresh, organic products that cater to London's expanding health-food community. They even have six different types of butter for their bread!
The café was almost full, which was expected for a Saturday on Redchurch Street and I was pleased to find that despite the crowd, it was not very noisy. This was good for me as I hoped to cram in a bit of work along with my routine coffee. The ambiance inside was relaxed and cheerful; a great place to read a book or work on your laptop. Within seconds of stepping inside, I was greeted by a smile from one of the waiters who informed me that I could order from the counter and that there was also a room to sit in through the back.
The café extends down a corridor where all the foodie finesse is displayed. At lunch time, the café offers a selection of salads with frittata for £9 or £5.95 for the frittata alone. There were several home-made cakes and freshly-prepared salads that I spent way too long hovering and drooling over.
After paying, I chose to sit in the back room on a long, sleek bench surrounded by Shoreditch's young and trendy twenty-somethings who had also chosen to spend their sunny Saturday afternoon committed to important technological affairs or mastering the art of 'gossiping' and 'catching up'; two things that I can now profess to being a full-time professional at. With my chequered tartan shirt, black thick rim glasses, Mac laptop, intimidatingly large camera; all I was missing now to complete my amateur hipster persona was a fully-fluffed beard.
It seemed like four leap years had passed before I had managed to choose a dessert to complement my cappuccino. I clearly have too much time on my hands, but when it comes to food, my brain seems to process any decisions as a matter of life and death. I was faced with options such as Panna Cotta, Chocolate Pud, Gluten-Free Cupcake, Berry tarts, Almond Cake with a jam centre, and Almond and Strawberry Macarons. The small puds were £2.00 but the cakes were around £3.40 which I felt was a little much for their petite size.
I had a cappuccino, a gluten-free (coincidental) cupcake and a granola bar, all of which were very nice. The gluten-free cupcake contained some pocketed raspberries that made me all giddy upon their discovery.
A Foodie library of popular cookbooks such as Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi's 'Jerusalem' and the Hemsley Sisters' 'The Art of Eating Well' proudly stands at the back of the coffee cave. Customers are allowed to dip into these books during their visit and can also purchase them. The décor of the Counter Albion is very artistic; white framed posters are hung exhibiting some beautiful watercolours and sketches. Another major plus for me was the music playlist: multiple 'tuuune!' moments were had thanks to a great variation of oldies and a few personal favourites like Alt-j, Bombay Bicycle Club and Radiohead.
The staff at the Counter Albion were extremely friendly and really made me feel at home. Camille, Sam and the rest of the team were very attentive and down to earth; I even met the chef who was a real laugh. At night the café transforms into a low-key wine, cheese and charcuterie hang-out, and stays open until 10.30pm.
The fridges are regularly re-stocked with fresh-pressed juices and plenty of treats.
The coffee cave at night. When the neon lights can be appreciated. I left with a really positive feeling about the place, mostly for its atmosphere and great service. It's very easy to find and a great place to meet a friend too. I was also informed that from 8.30am, for £5.50, you can have a selection of breakfast foods like granola, yoghurt, scrambled eggs, avocado and cereals. This indeed sounded very tempting and I was really impressed by their flexibility in offering different buffet-style meals from 8.30am - 10.30pm.