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 Mandarin Oriental acclaimed restaurant.
The menu has two options: à la carte and five-course tasting. After enjoying the little appetizer, 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 presented to perfection: 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. Unfortunate was the proposed wine pairing: 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 excitement of the starters in 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, 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 improvements 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 desserts if chocolate is on offer, and that’s the case with Chocolate, Loquats, Jasmine Tea. It’s a very safe rendition: 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 palate cleanser is served, and it is memorable: a blackcurrant foam with coconut ice cream and coconut slice. After the desserts, the espresso coffee closes the meal with 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.