The Truscott Arms may be less than five years old, but that hasn’t stopped it from earning a space at the very top table of London’s gastropub scene. Already bestowed with a string of highly coveted awards including the Toptable Diner’s Choice Award and Sustainable Pub of the Year, the venue opened its account for 2016 by scooping the Wine List of the Year prize at January’s Gastropub Awards.
With such a glittering back-catalogue of successes to count upon, it's fair to say that expectations were high as we arrived in Maida Vale for Friday night dinner and drinks. Located inside a grand Victorian townhouse in one of west London’s most sought after postcodes, The Truscott Arms spans five impressive storeys, with a delightful outdoor terrace space opening for alfresco drinking come the warmer months. The ground floor plays host to a charming pub space bedecked with independent artworks and a back bar packed with gluten-free beers, with a resplendent dining room found upstairs and a duo of private function rooms rounding things off on the third floor. After whetting the whistle with a drink in the bar, we made our way upstairs to get comfortable in a dining room characterised by its high ceilings, ornate finishes and large windows that survey the streets below.
The Food & Drink
The focus here is very much on shaping local, responsibly sourced produce into highly creative and wonderfully presented plates. The bar offers a menu of traditionally hearty British pub fare in the ground floor bar, while the restaurant upstairs carries a carefully curated menu of fine dining options.
Ordering from the Journey menu (£65 for four courses), it’s clear to see that much time and effort has gone into ensuring a seamless transition from one fine course to another. The Duck egg is a sumptuous way to start the night; a rich and creamy opener complemented with 12 Oloroso sherry and artichokes. A serving of Heritage potato was next up, while the melt-in-the-mouth Canon of lamb offered among the most tender meat I’ve ever had the pleasure of indulging in; perfectly offset with a supporting side of celeriac, cabbage & onions. Each plate offers a handy recommended wine to complement the flavours on show, and every course is an artwork in its own right, with head chef Aidan McGee and his kitchen staff striving to offer a dining out experience that delivers on a multi-sensory level. The Chocolate with orange ice cream added a typically sumptuous gloss to finish.
The judges at the Gastropub Awards were quick to comment on the "breadth, depth and accessibility of the wine list" at the Arms. Much like the gastro goods on offer here, the menu is filled with variety and showcases a selection of bottles sourced from smaller, lesser-known producers and some of the bigger hitters, too. Our Chateau de Fontenille (£26) offered a satisfying fresh taste of Bordeaux, but there really is an exhaustive list of bottles from as far afield as Croatia, Japan, Lebanon and Hungary to suit all tastes and preferences. There’s a handy range of beers and a list of signature cocktails (all £9.50) to complete the picture.
Arriving at around peak time on a Friday evening, we found the Truscott Arms abuzz with groups of mates and couples taking their first steps to the weekend in the pub downstairs. It was busy but not overcrowded, and most of the groups were able to settle at tables as they discussed their plans for the weekend. An upbeat playlist of weekend classics filtered upstairs to the dining room as the evening wore on. The dining room itself was reasonably quiet for a Friday night - we were only joined by three other groups upon this visit - but this allowed for a serene ambience that had its own charm; the perfect antidote to a trip to your rowdy local boozer at the weekends. Service was - as you might expect - impeccable throughout. The attentive team at The Arms were always on hand to top up a drink or talk us through certain aspects of the menu, and it’s really little wonder that user reviews commonly heap praise on the customer experience here.
The Truscott Arms website talks of itself as a "pub worth travelling for", and I can completely endorse this claim. With the first award of the year under their belt and a brand new site open for business in Belsize Park, these guys continue to back up their award-winning reputation for sustainable produce with warm service and an inviting ambience; I’ll be back for one of their celebrated Sunday Roasts pronto.