According to Alexa, Arnold Palmer has never hit an albatross in a competitive round of golf, but there’s definitely something golfy going down at Albatross & Arnold. As a name, it’s a factually confusing tongue twister, but the impressive new menu of sophisticated, British modern sharing plates renders this irrelevant.
Albatross & Arnold sits on the first floor of The Range; a members-only, state-of-the-art golf simulation club in Spinningfields’ Left Bank. The Range has a number of individual driving range booths offering a choice of 80+ impossibly accurate golf courses and an embarrassment of oddly realistic golfing features. You can alter things like wind direction or grass length, so you feel like Bruce Almighty when you’re setting up a round. It was founded by former top-level golfer, Andrew McLougney and the whole thing is mind-blowing.
The key focal point is the 13ft polished concrete, oak and brass bar
Golfing aside, the restaurant stands up on its own two feet, with an intimate 40 covers giving the place an exclusive feel and ensuring each table gets adequate attention. It’s not the most atmospheric space I’ve been in, but it’s easy to relax here and I don’t feel out of place.
The key focal point is the 13ft polished concrete, oak and brass bar, which offers a strong variety of liquids, including the opulent and incredibly naughty ‘Dessert Cocktails’, which fall into the ‘treats you don’t deserve’ category. I had one called the ‘Pick Me Up’, which picked me up until 4am, thanks to the Cotswolds whiskey and cream, coffee liqueur, vanilla and espresso. Dangerously stunning.
The velvet furniture sits under a light installation of 1,000 suspended golf balls. As you can imagine, this is a pretty mesmerising feature and gives you another reason to avert your eyes from the Spinningfield circus down below. If you’re into seeing recruiters with no socks or people in lace pyjamas stumbling towards Menagerie, get a spot by the window.
The olives were juicy and salty and oily and satisfying. Like a lot of olives really, but boy did I enjoy them
To start, we had olives and a scotch egg. The olives were juicy and salty and oily and satisfying. Like a lot of olives really, but boy did I enjoy them. The scotch egg was also surprisingly substantial, but there was quality AND quantity on this pretty bit of stoneware. Placed in a puddle of mild mustard mayonnaise, the shell was crunchy on the outside and crumbly on the inside, with the warm pork and black pudding cuddling a soft egg yolk in the centre. As I munched aggressively on this meaty sphere, I noted how it would make for a fantastic model Earth in an edible astrology lesson. I imagine that’s the sort of thing they have in schools these days.
For the mains, we chose the cod and the monkfish, with sides of grilled asparagus and skin on fries with bacon aioli. The cod dish was really good; it was well cooked and the scraps in the tartare sauce turned a plate with a simple fillet on it into a rich and powerful state of affairs. You know it’s good when you get your fingers involved and this was really, really good for the price.
More impressively, the monkfish was beautifully done. It wasn’t huge, but I suppose that’s down to the size of the monkfish and who am I to tell fish how to live their lives? Did I want a bigger portion? Yes. Did I want a monkfish to sacrifice its happiness, spend hours down at the sea gym and lose all of its mates just so I could have another mouthful? No. Don’t bulk up for my benefit guys. The chicken butter sauce was so rich and it gave the monkfish a creamy and thick mouthfeel, helped along by some covert herbs in warm oil. This particular dish is a good £7 cheaper than the almost-equivalent over at Kala on King Street and having tried both, I’d say this represents good value.
The restaurant has a reputation as a hidden gem with exceptionally high standards
Side note: the bacon aioli was a cup of aioli with thick chunks of bacon in it. As a guy making a conscious effort to reduce his pork intake this year, I don’t ‘take the train to Pigville’ as frequently as I used to, but when I do, I savour every mouthful. Imagine my delight when our brilliant waiter, Sam, arrived with that cup of bacon chunks. It was a glorious moment and the skin-on fries were a perfect accompaniment. Oh, the grilled asparagus was good too.
There’s a substantial wine list at Albatross & Arnold, but it’s manageable and the waiters are on hand to bring you up to speed with anything you’re not sure about. The waiters are actually incredibly attentive and warm, consistent with the restaurant’s deserved reputation as a hidden gem with exceptionally high standards.
The concept deserves kudos and the execution deserves success
With a generous, high-quality bottomless brunch available at the weekends, Albatross & Arnold is a legitimate option for diners with elevated expectations throughout the entire week. A huge amount of work has been done on the new menu and it’s looking really strong. Location wise, it’s in the rough, but the concept deserves kudos and the execution deserves success. Like Tiger at the Masters, I’ll be back.