This month saw the launch of Born 1983 in the newly refurbished dining room at The Truscott Arms. Stories and journeys have always been the starting point for the inspiration behind the food at The Truscott Arms. 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 at The Truscott Arms. His menus chart 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.
Award winning Head Chef Aidan McGee has devised two brand new gastronomic experiences – ‘Journey’ and ‘Memories’. ‘Memories’ is a six course tasting menu priced at £95 with dishes taken from the new a la carte offering ‘Journey’ £65. We headed up to Maida Vale for a little bit of inception of the foodie kind.
A tidy selection of amuse bouche arrived as we sat down and were devoured just as quickly.
The journey began with ‘Produce’ and features a tasty dish of sweetbreads, lavender honey, sweet corn and soured mushrooms. Even though my dining partner was part time vegetarian she agreed that the dish is a great one to ease you into the offal side of life. I really enjoyed the panfried crispiness of the sweetbreads as they melt in your mouth and the hazelnut and corn really elevated the flavour of the dish.
One of the highlights of the meal came during the second course of duck egg, artichokes and artichoke soup. There’s a beautiful orange-yolked egg sitting right underneath the foam that emerges during your first scoop. An incredibly light dish that gets its texture added from the artichoke crisps.
I may know nothing at all about Old World Wines over here in Europe but we sure as hell are all about the New World Wines and I cannot recommend highly enough the Elephant Hill Le Phant 2013, Viognier, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer from Hawkes Bay. It’s rich, unctuous and a little bit bonkers (in a good way). Hawkes Bay remains one of the most diverse and interesting wine regions in the world and this took us right back to our travels in that neck of the woods a couple of years ago.
Insanely fresh halibut was next out of the kitchen and placed in front of us. A nice crust on top and a hearty mussel and brown shrimp sauce/broth poured into the dish at the table, celeriac, spinach and samphire rounded out the rest of the dish. The sauce was had a good balance of sweetness. The fish was stunning – actually some of the best fish we have ever had. The whole dish just works!
A very generous serve of venison topped with venison jus, swede, cabbage, earthy black pudding and topped with a radish disk. The venison was cooked absolutely perfectly – when you push against the meat and can feel how plump and moist it still is inside – it just makes your mouth water before you dive in.
And finally a ‘Treat’ in the form of Chocolate with orange ice cream. Beautifully citrusy with a dusting of chocolate soil – the chocolate reminded us like a Michelin Star version of Angel Delight. The orange ice cream was a revelation – it seriously was like fresh orange juice in ice cream form, you can almost taste the pulp.
British cheeses were the final course and where the table service fell apart a little. Firstly our waiter just put the plate down in front of us and walked off, which we then had to call back to ask them to explain exactly what we had in front of us. I’m relatively new to the cheese game and part of my education is learning from restaurant cheese boards about what they have and why they decided on that mix of cheese to be served. Short descriptions were muttered but not heard before they once again ducked off and we were left to decide ourselves. The cheeses were all too cold (like they were straight from the fridge, though with a set menu why not get them out of the fridge during the main course to bring them up to room temperature?) and the fig jam had no real flavour to it. Also I cannot understand how the cheese course is served off a standard white plate which looks like you could have slapped it up at home. A wooden board, some crackers, muscatel grapes would go a long way – it’s hard to understand that the chef who sent out every other dish this evening gave the ok for this to be sent out.
All up this was a fantastic meal with some great cooking on offer that was briefly let down towards the end of the meal. The FOH issues are easy to iron out so don’t expect to find them on your visit. The team also really know there wane so it’s also worth noting that each dish can also paired with a choice of exceptional wines from the curated, award-winning list.
Contact: The Truscott Arms, 55 Shirland Road, Maida Vale, W9 2JD. Ph. 020 7266 9198. Website.