Henry Harris’s makeover of this much-loved Maida Vale local (formerly The Truscott Arms) is a boon to the area. Here is a chef who really knows his oignons, and the elegant upstairs room certainly has a smart restaurant-style vibe, although the revamp has kept the heart of the business as a proper pub, complete with a beer garden. A splendid square zinc-topped bar dominates the rich blue boozing space downstairs, with an array of boards and jars nestling among the beer pumps for those who fancy a snack with their pint – although the full menu is available to allcomers, upstairs and down.
Harris’s cooking has always leant towards ‘Franglais’, and he’s a master of the style – witness grilled onglet (charred on the outside but served classically rare) with bone-marrow butter adding a sophisticated gloss. Elsewhere, sweet black bacon is layered atop generous slivers of perfectly pink calf’s liver on a pillow of proper mash, while a lovely chunk of pearlescent cod is simply paired with brown butter and capers. Puds such as lemon posset, poached peach and chocolate pots tend to stay this side of the Channel, and they’re spot-on for those who still have room.
As befits a really good hostelry, the mainly French wine list has plenty of choice by the glass, but there are some serious bottles for those looking to push the boat out. Lots of customers, however, stick to pub drinks – there’s an impressive line-up of lagers and ales on draught, as well as some decent cider.