Gordon Ramsay’s Warrington stays true to its origins
THE Warrington has to be one of London’s best boozers. It’s lovely to hunker down with a pint in winter amid its stunning Victorian d�cor, or to sip a cold white wine outside on a summer’s evening while you watch the world pass by this pleasant Maida Vale crossroads.
When telly chef Gordon Ramsay took over a few years ago, regulars were mumbling into their beer about what might become of their beloved pub.
In the event, they needn’t have worried, the interior character is unchanged and now that the outside area has been revamped, there are tables and summer barbecues to be had on fine evenings.
You can even watch sport, listen to cricket talks or join in the regular pub quiz for goodness sake.
Upstairs an undistinguished Thai joint has been replaced with a proper restaurant. Early reviews beefed about charging restaurant prices for pub grub, but new chef Chris Arkadieff has sensibly drawn the distinction between hearty traditional bar snacks downstairs (pork crackling, sausage roll, beef pie and fish and chips) and an altogether more refined experience upstairs.
Formerly head chef at Ramsay’s Chiswick gastropub The Devonshire which closed in July, he cooks with the usual seasonal, well sourced ingredients we’ve come to expect from all self-respecting modern restaurants.
There’s a good value two course summer menu for �18 with the likes of grilled sardines on toast with tomato and wild garlic, or sea trout, spiced lentils and gremolata, and Sunday roasts starting at �15.50.
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The upstairs feels cool, quiet and restful in muted greys and browns, a world away from the hustle of a busy Friday evening in the pub downstairs.
The night we were in, the attentive staff were offering diners a free cocktail based on a Campari-style bitter spirit – but with my sweeter tooth I preferred a simply ingenious fruity mix of dark berries, gin and woody rosemary.
The a la carte menu comes in at �35-�40 a head without wine and we experienced both successes and disappointments.
A starter of smoked ham, soft quail’s egg, violet artichokes and sorrel was impeccable and moreish with beautifully balanced flavours. Super crispy breaded quail with a creamy celeriac remoulade was well executed, but the bird’s flavour got lost in the deep fried treatment and you found yourself longing for a meatier mouthful.
A classic steak and chips with side salad of different tomato types was a perfect summer’s evening dish – a well sourced piece of meat, if a shade underdone, and sensational fries molten on the inside, crispy on the out.
My cod with crushed Jersey Royals and sauce vierge was all subtle summery lightness but cried out for a punchier blend of herbs, citrus, coriander, tomato and olive oil to lift the meaty but bland fish (again underdone).
We rounded off with a fine cheese board, accompanied by quince and a very good chutney, and a chocolate mousse that somehow managed both lightness, density and depth of flavour, accompanied by a raspberry ripple ice cream that was crystallised and underchurned.
There’s a varied and thoughtfully sourced wine list starting at a reasonable �14.25 with plenty of good quality wines by the glass.
Bookings on 020-7592 7960.