'A superb meal in lovely surroundings with fantastic service---we’re longing to return'

Born 1983

Mon–Sat 8am–11.30pm, Sun 11am–6.30pm

The blurb

‘Born 1983 is the next phase of dining at The Truscott Arms. Stories and journeys have always been the starting point for the inspiration behind our food. Born 1983 has taken Aidan McGee’s journey from the family farm in Donegal to cooking in some of the most outstanding kitchens around the world to his experiences here with us. It charts the journey not chronologically but rather in terms of what’s important to him now, what he loves doing and, most importantly, what he loves to eat.

Aidan McGee leads his kitchen to value the sustainability of the produce; all our meat is free range, and where possible we source from within fifty miles of the pub. Only fitting for the SRA’s Sustainable Pub of the Year; but of interest to you because the quality of what you eat matters to us.’

The style

Refreshingly unstuffy fine dining. Born 1983 is the new upstairs restaurant at popular Maida Vale gastropub The Truscott Arms. The high-ceilinged room has been beautifully redesigned, with fabulous modern chandeliers, interesting art on the walls and nice roomy leather armchairs giving the impression that this venture has been a real labour of love; the pristine white linen, gleaming tableware and generous space between tables suggest a distinctly higher than average gastronomic experience to come.

Both Aidan the chef and Endre the Maitre’d greeted us with friendly and knowledgeable politeness that never bordered on the unctuous, as Aidan explained the inspiration
behind his menus, and Endre gave his recommendations.

The crowd

Mainly press on the evening we visited, so hardly representative. The pub is deservedly popular with locals, but judging by the quality of the food and drink upstairs, Born 1983 will very quickly become (if it hasn’t already) a destination restaurant. Prices are high (£65 for the A La Carte ‘Journey’ menu, £95 for the tasting ‘Memories’ menu) but not unreasonably so, given the excellence of the cooking and ingredients, which will no doubt influence the crowd it attracts.

The owners of the Truscott Arms are award-winning theatre director Andrew Fishwick and his wife Mary Jane, so thespy types might well be conspicuous in all their mannered glory.

The food

A selection of delectable amuse bouches accompanied our prosecco aperitifs: tiny profiteroles oozing with melted cheese; sweet little caramelised onion tarts; an inspired creation of savoury crispy chicken skin topped with vine jelly; mushroom, thyme and shallot tea, an intensely flavoured infusion—all of which had us simmering with anticipation for the main event.

We had the Journey menu, which offers four choices in each course. From the first, ‘produce’, I went for the creamy artichoke soup, topped with a poached duck egg and 12 year old Oloroso sherry jelly, the addition of dried artichoke ‘crisps’ providing pleasing textural contrast. My husband’s melt-in-the mouth sweetbreads with lavender honey, sweetcorn and soured mushrooms, a sublime fusion of flavours, prompted moans of pleasure.

From ‘the finer things’, my langoustine with caviar and seafood soup was notably good, the sweet salinity of the broth punctuated by intense bursts of flavour from little black nuggets that turned out to be freeze-dried Jerusalem artichokes. Truly delicious. Aidan’s Irish heritage is evident in the fact that potato dishes feature on both ‘the finer things’ course, and the following, ‘putting the pieces together’. I was hoping Andy would choose the heritage potato ​duxelles with truffle from the former (so I could pinch some), but it was a vain hope as he’s a resolute carnivore, and quail in Sauternes sauce was calling. It was predictably yummy.

Onto ‘putting the pieces together’. I was tempted by colcannon with Ragstone (goats cheese), basil oil and black garlic, but felt that to order it would be shame when there was halibut on the menu. And what a piece of fish it was, firm fleshed and squeaky fresh, its mild, sweet flavour in no way overpowered by its delicate cider sauce. A slightly crunchy spear of salsify was the perfect vegetable accompaniment.

Andy’s venison with black pudding, pureed root vegetables and cabbage was tender, yet bloody enough to satisfy even his feral urges—a triumph. We shared a pudding of ‘chocolate’ with orange ice cream—a heavenly rich ganache, perfectly complemented by the creamy citrus; and a well-chosen platter of British cheeses with a slightly gritty fig jelly/puree—a nice departure from quince and fulfilling pretty much the same purpose.

The drink

Oh the drink! Such variety, such clever pairings with the food. Endre certainly knows his stuff. We both kicked off with Madeira d’Oliveiras (Sercial 1981 for Andy’s sweetbreads and Verdelho 1986 for my duck egg/artichoke combo), which got the meal off to an unexpected and cracking start. To follow, a golden Pinot Gris (Albert Mann Grand Cru 2000 from Alsace) for his quail, a light, crisp Chardonnay (Montsable 2014 from the Pays d’Oc) for my langoustine.

The unusual matching of red wine (a blend of Valdiguie, Carignan and petit Syrah, available on tap) with my halibut worked extremely well, and Andy was thrilled with the 1971 Chateau Prieure-Lichine, Margaux, that accompanied his venison. We finished with a Californian black Muscat—revelatory with the chocolate—and Warre’s Otima 10 tawny port with the cheeses.

It was a superb meal in lovely surroundings with fantastic service—we’re longing to return. And next time I’ll try the colcannon.

Born 1983, The Truscott Arms, 55 Shirland Road, Maida Vale, London W9; 020 7266 9198; www.thetruscottarms.com

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