What: Venerable west London pub The Truscott Arms has reopened in Maida Vale with a high profile chef at the helm.
Who: Now called The Hero of Maida, the pub is in the capable hands of acclaimed chef Henry Harris, formerly of now-closed Knightsbridge restaurant Racine, and his business partner James McCullough. Former St. John general manager Thomas Blythe, is overseeing front of house, and Steve Collins is taking the role of head chef. Harris and McCullough are co-founders of recently founded Harcourt Inns Group, which opened The Coach in Clerkenwell and The Three Cranes in the City late last year.
The vibe: A short walk from Maida Vale tube station, the refurbished space spans two storeys on a corner site. The ground floor offers bar seating and leather banquettes, with tall windows and antique works of art. The more casual of the two storeys, a short snack menu is drawn up on the wall, and a courtyard opens at the back offering outdoor seating. The upstairs dining room is a more formal affair, with low lighting, a chandelier, and the pub’s original ceiling roses.
The food: Harris is renowned for his traditional French cuisine, and head chef Collins, formerly of Islington’s French brasserie Bellanger, is also familiar with the style. Starters include some of Harris’ signature dishes from Racine including calves’ brains with black butter and capers; asparagus and crab vinaigrette; and a fish soup with rouille, gruyere and croutons. Mains include the likes of Toulouse sausages with puy lentils; seabass with ratatouille; and grilled rabbit leg with Alsace bacon and mustard sauce. Desserts comprise crème caramel; apple sorbet; and lemon posset with blueberry trifle. In the downstairs pub, the offering is less formal, with changing daily specials including dishes such as a cheese, onion and bacon tart; chicken paillarde with salad; and a Sunday roast menu is available across both floors.
The drinks: In the dining room, the drinks menu focuses on Old World wines, with a selection of classic cocktails including a London negroni; an Old Fashioned; and a Bloody Mary. Downstairs, beers are sourced from family-run breweries alongside a selection of wines and champagnes from independent vineyards.
And another thing: The pub takes its name from another pub that went by the same name and no longer exists. The hero in the name pertains to General Sir John Stuart, who triumphed at the Battle of Maida and restored British morale during the Napoleonic wars. The entire area of Maida Vale was named after the pub, as opposed to the other way around.