Open Mon–Wed 8am–midnight, Thu–Sat 8am–1am, Sun 8am–11pm
It wasn’t until I actually spotted the Elgin that I realised it wasn’t the first time I’d visited the pub—after reviewing a nearby restaurant a couple of months ago, my guest and I had stumbled through the doors and relieved the place of a bottle or two of wine before moving on into the night. It was a nice place. A nice pub, however, does not a good meal make, and it should at least prove a worthwhile exercise to ascertain whether the Elgin can put its money where its mash is.
The newly refurbished dining area retains its classic pub style and atmosphere (think warm lighting, fireplaces, sofas and comfortable chairs to relax in post-meal) with a dash of modern, arty flair which a cynic might assume steps into the realm of the ironic – colourful artworks line the walls, a giant desk lamp lights up the far end of the room and the soundtrack seems to be a playlist of mid-90s dance-pop hits. That’s not a complaint, by the way; merely a comment.
To start, my Cornish crab cocktail with avocado and nutbourne tomato relish (£9.50) may have cost as much as a main in another pub, but was generously sized, notably fresh and benefited hugely from that tomato relish, which added the sort of splash of complimentary flavour that, let’s face it, avocado usually fails to do. My guest’s nursery tomato and mozzarella salad with red basil and campalou (£8.50) was, again, generous, crisp and colourfully presented – worth considering as the summer months draw to a close.
Next, my pork sausages with spring onion mash, black cabbage and cider gravy (£13) was as good as you’d hope for from most pubs, if not quite as good as you’d expect in this one: the sausages were perfectly fine and a dollop of table mustard made a nice accompaniment, but the mash was perhaps a little drier than I’d have liked. My guest’s marinated lamb chops with grilled baby gem, new potatoes and green sauce (£16) was well worth the price tag – a dash of garlic in the potatoes proved welcome and the lamb was as tender as any I’ve tried in any bona fide restaurant.
For dessert, the dip your own British strawberries (£6) was as affordable as it is innovative as a menu item, being enough to share between two and accompanied with a good-sized serving of melted dark chocolate and cream: a fab dessert, for sure, but I expect it would make an even better late night bar snack, too. The Elgin also boasts an impressive drinks menu (as you’d hope, from a pub), with a range of better-than-decent local beers and an expansive gin menu, which features dozens of award-winning gins from near and far – each of which is served either neat or with a mixer. If a beer’s not on the cards, it never hurts to be served a gin and tonic the size of a child’s head.
The staff – and I use that in the singular, because most of the Elgin’s crew seemed to be working the bar downstairs – was more personable and helpful than I’ve seen from servers in fully-fledged restaurants in the same neighbourhood, and the meal was full of little touches (such as strawberries as well as lemon in the table water) which elevate the whole experience above that of the traditional pub meal. And as far as pub grub goes, I’d wager you won’t find much better without breaking into a higher price band. Give it a go.