The Hoxton Southwark’s Albie has collaborated with chef Ixta Belfrage to launch a new vitamin D boosting menu.

The new menu Mushroom Boost consists of three limited-edition, immune-boosting dishes and is only available in November. The new menu coincided with the clocks going back because longer winter nights and shorter days, significantly reduce vitamin D intake.

To combat the gloomy days chef Ixta Belfrage (co-author of Flavour) has put together a vegetarian vitamin packed menu using mushrooms from the UK & Irish Mushroom Producers group.

Mushrooms have a fascinating ability to absorb vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. The UK & Irish producers have crafted a unique process to enhance the vitamin D2 content in mushrooms by mimicking the production of vitamin D2 that occurs in mushrooms exposed to sunlight in their natural environment.

The Mushroom Boost menu is centered around vitamin D, sustainability and Ixta’s culinary roots. Ixta’s cooking draws inspiration from three countries: Italy the country she grew up in. Mexico where she went to visit her granddad. And Brazil, the country her mother is from.

Needless to say my guest and I grabbed our umbrellas and headed to check out if the new menu at Albie reflects Ixta’s cooking inspirations and of course we also wanted to top up our vitamin D.

For starters we shared Portobello Mushroom Tacos and Tempura Chestnut Mushrooms.

The tacos came loaded with plenty of chopped mushrooms, chipotle crema, pickled onions & salsa fresca. Our opinions split with my guest.

She loved the tacos, whereas for me they were a little spicy. Although I thought the pickled onions were an interesting touch to offset the spice well, even adding a bit of umami.

I favoured the chestnut mushroom tempura. It was a great combination of textures, meaty chunky slices of mushrooms including the shimeji (that’s a long slender mushroom) and perfectly crisp tempura coating with popping salt granules and black sesame.

The tempura was served with coconut and scotch bonnet dipping sauce on the side. My guest particularly enjoyed it as it had a spicy kick to it, while I just savoured the pure tempura.  

Both starters were good sized portions, filling enough even for carnivorous guests while also leaving a healthy feeling.

The starters were followed by a paccheri pasta with mushroom white ragu, dried porcini and sautéed girolles. I don’t often see girolles on menus in London despite this mushroom being widely found in English forests.

I recall a few occasions when I stumbled upon it on restaurant menus in Scotland and an occasional wicker basket of fresh girolles in French delis in central London in Autumn.

It is a great little foxy mushroom with unique shape and lovely slightly sweet flavour, but for some reason places have to be quirky, or more high end to serve girolles .

Our ragu was perfect with al dente, wide, strips of pasta, plenty of mushrooms and a lightly spiced sauce. It was cold and raining outside so it hit the spot, comforting yet healthy dish with just the right amount of spice to warm us up.

We completed our evening with only one slice of light and fluffy citrus zest ricotta cake, which came from the all-day Albie menu. My guest insisted she did not want a separate dessert for herself.

Instead she planned to just try tiny bit of mine or so she told me. When the cake arrived I knew I wanted it all to myself but to my frustration I ended up with only half of it.

It was our first time in Albie. It is a spacious venue with a cozy feel, which sits on the ground floor of the Hoxton Hotel in Southwark an easy walk from Blackfriars and Waterloo stations.

You may also have heard of its popular sister on the top floor, the Seabird rooftop bar. Albie offers a modest list of classical and Hoxton special cocktails and a diverse list of wines including a few orange wines.

The mushroom menu is worth a try, it is a good balance of filling and hearty yet healthy dishes. Not to mention mushrooms are also high in protein, selenium, potassium, folic acid and B vitamins depending on the variety. One Portobello mushroom for instance can contain more potassium than a banana.

It’s a good way to top up your vitamin intake while dining out in warm and relaxed setting.

Albie, 40 Blackfriars Rd, London SE1 8NY

Mushroom Boost menu is available till end of November.