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Friday 15 May 2015

The Truscott Arms - Max's Sandwich Shop - Ollie Templeton at Carousel

Today on the blog, more recent eats around London, from Crouch Hill to Maida Vale via Marylebone.

Sunday May 3rd - First up, a trip to leafy Warwick Avenue for lunch at The Truscott Arms.  Chef Aidan McGee has recently launched a new bar menu at Maida Vale's much loved gastropub, and the summer terrace is set to open any day now, but we were in the market for Britain's Best Roast 2014.

Ella (The Little Brown Book) and I made ourselves at home in their quirky first floor dining room that was once part of the Shirland Hotel.  Two glasses of Chateau des Graves D'Ardonneau Bordeaux (an utter gem) kept us company as we perused the menu and the nutty décor.

We kicked off with a generous Truscott Meat Board (£7) and a colourful plate of Maple Cured Salmon with Compressed Cucumber, Pickled Beetroot and Sourdough Toast.  Both delicious but possibly unnecessary when followed by one of their ridiculous roasts!

The Truscott Arms roast is truly enormous.  Our epic board of meat & veg would have provided a stern test for Adam Richman if he hadn't thrown in the towel and turned vegan. As it all comes piled up on one slab of wood, you might as well get more than one type of meat and share it all around. 

Choose from 35 day aged beef rump cap with red wine gravy, Free-Range English rare breed pork (pulled shoulder & roast loin) with mustard sauce, and Smoked English lamb leg & braised shoulder with garlic & rosemary infused lamb sauce served with honey roast root veg, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding & seasonal greens.  Having been to one too many BBQ joints, the pulled pork shoulder seemed a bit out of place, but the beef rump cap and the roast pork loin were sublime.  A very nice man kindly packaged up our 7th and 8th portions to take home - phew.

Obviously, we still had room for dessert though - separate stomach and all that.  I kept things light with a fresh pot of Strawberries with Lemon Cream and Mint Granita whilst Ella committed to an indulgent Dark Chocolate & Pecan Brownie with Chocolate Sauce & Vanilla Ice Cream.

Three hours later, after a quick tour of the garden and function rooms cutely named after streets that the owners used to live on, we rolled ourselves outside and attempted to walk it all off in Little Venice.

Is it the best roast in London? I have NO IDEA! But it's a good place to start, and I'll definitely be back for the full dinner menu soon, or perhaps a pub quiz or two.  There's plenty else going on too including film nights, wine clubs, art exhibitions and an exciting event called "Eating Sound" where dishes are matched with live music composed for the evening by Sam Bailey - the next one is on Tuesday 23rd September.

Not content with the one site, this June sees the opening of The Truscott Cellar in Belsize Park, a 60 cover wine bar with small British plates from Aidan McGee and design by Michel Schranz set over two floors.  I'll be in the corner stuffing my face with their Cellar Skins filled with the likes of Blackened Lancashire Bacon, Wensleydale & Truffle Oil, Creamed Haddock & Spring Onion, and Wookey Hole Cheddar & Fried Leek.

The Truscott Arms on Urbanspoon

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Roasts in my sights : The Colonel Fawcett / Jones and Sons


That's pretty much all you need to know about Max's Sandwich Shop run by former Salt Yard FOH and Le Coq GM Max Halley.  He's opened a lively little joint in Crouch Hill that slings out hot sandwiches with a healthy side order of alcohol to a funky soundtrack.  Whilst in the neighbourhood (which I never thought would happen), we popped in for a couple of sarnies.

Beware - these are big sandwiches.  After a couple of arancini balls, we were defeated by Chris' Infamous Robocoq (there's a sentence) - Confit Chicken, Chicken Liver Parfait, Chicory, Sweet Potato Fries and Wild Garlic Salsa falling out of two chunks of focaccia.  What's Your Beef All About? was a tad too rich and salty for me, but a third team member arrived in the nick of time and polished it off, slutty gravy mayo and all.  Gin & tonics and beers from Beavertown & Kernel went down a treat, and the music was right up our street.

Chris' Infamous Robocoq - Confit Chicken, Chicken Liver Parfait, Chicory, Sweet Potato Fries, Wild Garlic Salsa

If I lived slightly closer, I would be in here on a weekly basis. Great fun, highly recommended.

Check out the Faltering Fullback's sprawling treehouse garden whilst in town too.

Max's on Urbanspoon

Thursday 7th May - Last but not least on this round-up, a lovely lunch at Carousel in Marylebone - a rotating residencies restaurant & events space run by the multi-talented Templeton cousins.  

Whilst everyone has been making a fuss about Clove Club changing to an advanced bookings ticketed system of payment (popular in Chicago at Alinea, Next & co.), Carousel have been successfully doing it under the radar for a while now in a bid to avoid food wastage.

After curating the line-up for a few months, ex-Moro Chef Ollie Templeton is finally taking the reins himself (until 30th May) with his modern twist on traditional Spanish cuisine.  

There's one sitting for dinner at 7.30pm which is a £35 4-course affair that starts optimistically in the Carousel garden with snacks a la plancha and fino sherry before moving inside. Lunch is a more casual affair and three classy courses will only set you back £21.50, or you can just grab a main for £9.50.

After some pretty fantastic bread and oil, we got stuck in to a light salad of Smoked Trout with Pickled Chicory and Chegworth Leaves and a moreish plate of Cuttlefish with Wet Rice, Preserved Lemon and Aioli that came with a little kick.  I've been dreaming of the latter ever since, even after some of Nuno Mendes' tasty off-menu cuttlefish rice at Taberna do Mercado.  Wet Rice, in case you were wondering, is effectively a risotto prepared without butter (gasp) - it's delicious, I promise.

Smoked Trout, Pickled Chicory, Chegworth Leaves

Cuttlefish, Wet Rice, Preserved Lemon, Aioli

The starters were followed by a comforting plate of Confit Pork Belly with White Beans and Romesco - beautifully cooked and just the right amount for a leisurely lunch, washed down with some fine wines and Kernel table beer.  In the evening, you would also get a plate of Swaledale Lamb with Grilled Onions, Garlic and Herbs.

Confit Pork Belly, White Beans, Romesco

To finish, we shared a delightful little bowl of Rice Pudding with Rhubarb Jam and Pistachios - not something I would usually order myself, but thankfully we didn't have a choice! It's a smartly restrained way to end a perfectly balanced lunch.

Rice Pudding, Rhubarb Jam, Pistachios

Get down to Carousel before 30th May if you can to catch Ollie Templeton in action.  Otherwise you'll be stuck with Leo Carreira (2nd-13th June), and wouldn't that be a disaster?

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