The Truscott Arms in Maida Vale raises its game
It was just a year ago that I had a meal at The Truscott Arms and the owner’s intentions were clear: to bring fine dining to their pub. However, intentions are not always sufficient in reaching a goal; the kitchen was missing a chef and a brigade capable of that achievement.
A few months later, former chef of Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Aidan McGee joins the venture and things finally take a turn for the better.
Targeted changes made to the bright upstairs dining room reflect the new direction, with elegant tables and silverware resembling those of the acclaimed restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental.
The menu has two options: à la carte and five-course tasting. After enjoying the little appetiser, a light and creamy Goat Cheese and Tomato Macaroon, we try the Rabbit, Carrots, Sourdough, Fennel – the latest addition to the menu – and the Scottish Scallops, Smoked Bacon, Peas, Lemon, Truffle. Both starters are perfectly presented: there are three parts of the rabbit (a rack, a piece of leg and a croquette) cooked beautifully, served with carrots you actually want to eat and a delicious pumpkin purée. The rabbit croquette is still soft and juicy inside; it wasn’t simply prepared in the morning and reheated for service.
On the other hand, the scallops are an equally satisfying option: cooked with a crust but still soft, they are complemented by an exquisite piece of smoked bacon. Unfortunately, the proposed wine pairing was not so well thought out: the Sauvignon Blanc 2012 by Domain Patrick Vauvy is bland and excessively fruity.
The main courses are often the proving ground of restaurants; it’s complicated to project the same level of excitement created by the starters onto the larger main portions.
I have no issues with the old-school precept that meat and fish should not be eaten in the same meal, and nor does my dining companion; we decide to go for the Ballindalloch Beef, Turnips, Onions, Mushrooms, Potatoes and the Red Mullet, Wild Garlic, Jersey Royals, Spring Greens, Wiston Estate Wine and Grapes. The beef – an Aberdeen Angus breed – is generous, tasty and well-cooked, but missing the wow factor of the previous courses. However, the little wild mushrooms are excellent.
The red mullet certainly shows improvement compared to the very similar one proposed by the previous chef, but the large amount of butter sauce covering it simply kills the fish and the effort made to prepare it.
There’s always space for dessert if chocolate is on offer, and that’s the case with Chocolate, Loquats, Jasmine Tea. It’s a very safe rendition: the chocolate and jasmine tea ice cream resemble the classic chocolate and vanilla combination. The Egg Custard Tart, Bartlett Pears, Perry Sorbet is much heavier – well, it’s a custard tart after all – but the pear is exquisite.
Before the desserts, a memorable palate cleanser is served: a blackcurrant foam with coconut ice cream and coconut slice. After the desserts, an espresso coffee concludes the meal on an impeccably intense and sophisticated note.
★★★★★Food ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
Photos: Laura Denti
To book a table at The Truscott Arms, 55 Shirland Road, London W9 2JD, call 020 7266 9198 or enquire here.