Pub review: The Hero of Maida, Maida Vale
PUBLISHED: 17:31 04 October 2018
Gastro pub rescued from developers is bucking Brexit by serving fine British ingredients cooked in a French style
It’s not news to Londoners that their local pubs are disappearing faster than you can say ‘luxury flats.’
For every fanfare about a new craft brewery in Dalston, there’s a depressingly familiar petition to save a struggling north London watering hole located on a lucrative slice of real estate.
Well the Truscott Arms certainly wasn’t struggling until a massive rent hike made it unviable.
Maida Vale locals were fond of its legendary Sunday roasts and gastro-fare served in the light-filled upstairs dining room, so a suspected move to flog it for residential development was headed off with a campaign to list the Victorian pub as an asset of community value.
Now it’s been bought by Harcourt Inns - who acquired the freehold just to make sure it stays a pub - and renamed it The Hero of Maida. The moniker refers not to any victory over greedy property developers, but to the Count of Maida, Sir John Stuart, who overcame Napoleon’s forces in Maida, Italy in 1806.
After all that exertion, Sir John might well have earned the kind of feast we enjoyed under the auspices of the Hero’s chef director Henry Harris.
A duo of fresh oysters and a fine aged fillet of beef would have been right up the old boy’s street.
Appropriately enough, Harris is marrying British seasonality with classic provincial French cooking to great effect.
I also liked the combination of unstuffiness in elegant surroundings - downstairs boasts pale blue walls, a zinc topped bar, outside garden and terrace; upstairs we found friends meeting up and families with well behaved children, amid chandeliers, oak floors and old school glamour.
Service was laid back to the point of slow but my hot smoked trout arrived as firm salty flakes of fish atop an unctuous duck egg - a more peppery watercress sauce and a warmer egg, and it would have been a triumph.
My pal’s oysters were top notch, and to continue the raw theme, she had a well dressed steak tartare, boasting just the right blend of vinegary pickle and spicy tang. My 45-day aged fillet shrouded in bacon with artichoke puree and a madeira jus was rich and pink. (shame our side of greens were so far under, it was like chewing carpet) But my Pal once again struck gold with her pan fried Dorset brill in a prawn and cockle jus; you could almost inhale the ocean ozone from W9.
We rounded off with ‘Maida Mess’ a punning spin on the Eton variety with cream, berries and slivers of meringue, and an apple sorbet. We weren’t sure if we were supposed to upend the accompanying glass of Calvados over the iced dessert, but the combination of mellow liquor and sweet cold sorbet was very good.
If you really like French cooking you can order the calves brains, their signature Creme Caramel or as I plan to do when I head down there on a Sunday; the seven hour slow roasted shoulder of lamb and rosemary - sounds great.
The Hero of Maida. 55, Shirland Road W9 theheromaidavale.co.uk