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Interview with James Grierson, co-owner of Albion restaurant, Kuala Lumpur

A relative newcomer to Kuala Lumpur’s restaurant scene, Albion restaurant is quickly gaining a reputation as a top place to eat. I described it elsewhere as “probably the best place to eat in KL”, so I wanted to be sure that A Luxury Travel Blog readers gained the benefit of the insider knowledge too. Here Albion co-owner James Grierson talks about his life, and his latest venture, Albion. What is it that you do exactly?
I co-own a restaurant called Albion located in the Bukit Bintang area of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I run front of house whilst Colin, my partner, runs the kitchen.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I have a great passion for food, drink and people. Involvement in this industry sates my appetite for all three. Every day is different. Every day is hugely gratifying. To meet new people and experience, vicariously, their enjoyment of what we offer at Albion is what it’s all about. When they return for more, I know we are on the right track.
What would you say are the 3 best places you’ve ever stayed?
Bachelor Hall, St James, Barbados – It’s a mansion right on the beach and one memorable evening I watched the sunset with a glass of whisky in one hand and my Walkman playing Beethoven in the other. Bliss! The Mandarin Oriental Hotel [formerly the Oriental], Bangkok, Thailand – An obvious choice, I know, but it is amazing with gorgeous French and riverside restaurants. I love being pampered and took full advantage of the facilities. Service is impeccable. The Park Hotel, Kenmare, Ireland – On the ring of Kerry and steeped in near-prehistorically calm countryside. This is an expertly run hotel with a terrific restaurant. It is in a stunning location and if you can’t relax here you need a shrink or a few glasses of Paddy!
What’s been your most memorable dining experience to date?
Eating Marco Pierre White‘s food at his first venture called Harvey’s in Wandsworth, London. Powerful, sexy, imaginative brilliance. His signature dish was a Stuffed Pig’s Trotter. Wow! The Guvnor. I was very touched at the kind words he said about Keith Floyd after Floyd’s death last year. I am a huge fan of Floyd.
Have you rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous, either through your work or your travels?
Yes, lots. I was a professional musician for 20 years prior to coming into this industry so met a plethora of stars: Sir Paul McCartney, Sting, Sir Bob Geldof (who was my neighbour in London), Ozzy Osbourne, Annie Lennox, Nigel Kennedy, Sir Cliff Richard and Sir Elton John. Sounds like I won’t meet anyone who isn’t titled! As a restaurant manager I served Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Sir David Frost (there I go again!), Lord and Lady Gilmour, Diana Princess of Wales, The Duchess of York, Nigella Lawson, The Spice Girls, Lord Pinter, Lord Webber, Michael Gove MP, The Monty Python team, Alan Parker and Delia Smith.
What currently ranks highest on your travel wish list?
I have a great yearning to visit India and Nepal. This will take up a lot of my time to do comprehensively and time is something I don’t have at the moment, as I’m running a new business with a view to expansion. But, the dream is there and once Albion has washed its face(s), Colin and I can pack our bags and head for the airport. My previous employer, Camellia Panjabi, was Marketing Director of Taj Hotels and she would love to be our guide in India!
Many thanks, James, for so generously giving us your time when we visited Albion restaurant recently. We wish you every success with your new venture, and have no doubt that once the word spreads Albion is going to be well known as the top destination restaurant in Kuala Lumpur. If you would like to be interviewed on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

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  1. On a recent visit to Kuala Lumpur, I happened to visit this restaurant, and have to say the food was excellent. I had the best Macaroni Cheese ever, while my husband went for Steak and Guinness pie. They are typically British, with eastern finesse, and service you would expect from a top class Eastern restaurant. Fish and chips is on the menu too.

    I loved Kuala Lumpur, and feel that the city has a better feeling than Singapore nowadays.

  2. The restaurant sounds great sorry i missed this when last in KL will need to look out for this the next time i am there.

  3. This restaurant had shot up in the rankings of Trip Advisor the last time I looked. It deserves it! James is a really charming man and great company.

    Irene, you definitely should go to Albion next time you’re in KL. If you get a chance to meet James, tell him that Kay from ALTB recommended it to you – and don’t mention Brussels sprouts. ;-)

  4. LOL! It’s just a joke about how so many Brits overcook sprouts.

    When I was a trainee chef, the only food I had sent back from the restaurant as being unacceptable to the customer was sprouts, which the customer claimed were not cooked enough. They were cooked perfectly! I mentioned this to James, and he completely understood this odd habit some Brits have of putting the sprouts on much too early.

    I’m not in the habit of linking to my own sites in my ALTB comments, but I’ll make an exception here as I think you might like my review of Albion.


  5. I was at The Albion on the 15th december for a xmas party. The food was outstanding and the staff were very professional. James is a perfect host. I will be booking a table for this weekend. Looking forward to it.

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