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Thu 2nd Feb 2017 - Leon co-founder Allegra McEvedy brings west London wine bar Albertine back into the family
Leon co-founder Allegra McEvedy brings west London wine bar Albertine back into the family: Leon co-founder Allegra McEvedy has taken back ownership of Albertine in Shepherd’s Bush, west London, which her mother started in 1978, and will reopen it in mid-February after a refurbishment. McEvedy, who founded Leon in 2004 with John Vincent and Henry Dimbleby, said although Albertine would have very much the same spirit as it has had for the past 35 years, there would be a greater emphasis on food, both in the bar and in the new Upstairs dining room at the Wood Lane venue. Now open from 8am, Albertine will serve French and Italian pastries alongside coffee and bacon rolls, before harking back to the simplicity of the 1970s with a fixed format “something-for-everybody” lunch menu. While wine will continue to play a big role in the restaurant, McEvedy along with head chef and partner Roberto Freddi have created a relaxed menu for downstairs while the Upstairs dining room has a more restaurant feel, where diners can book a table or just turn up. It will feature European (including British) seasonal plates with a favouring to Italian from Freddi, who hails from the Dolomites and trained under Jonathon Jones at The Anchor & Hope and was part of the opening team at Hoi Polloi in Shoreditch. He met McEvedy in 2013 when she was opening Blackfoot in Exmouth Market, becoming head chef there the following year. Freddi is currently also part of the brigade of cooks behind Native in Covent Garden and Rochelle Canteen in Arnold Circus. McEvedy vividly remembers varnishing the floors the day before Albertine opened in the late 1970s and going to buy the distinctive pews at a church reclamation yard with her mother – the same ones that line the bar today. Albertine is the birthplace of EastEnders, which is why Albert Square is called what it is. McEvedy said: “It’s an absolute dream come true and something I’ve hoped I’d have the opportunity to do for a long time. My mum died so long ago now – nearly 30 years – and it feels like a total privilege, not to mention an exciting opportunity, to be the owner of that business nearly four decades later in a venue that has her at its very soul. Before my mum bought and refurbished it, 1 Wood Lane was a chicken shop, and when she started it up she really stamped her europhile, stylish character all over it in a gloriously 1970s way. And although we are putting in a new offer that is hopefully both contemporary and timeless, to me there’s still exactly the same feel in the air as there was when I used to come in after school at the age that my daughter is now. It really is all a bit magical for me.” 

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