You don’t particularly notice the décor at The Elgin, which is a good sign; this pub/restaurant is all about the food and service, which is outstanding. It’s not a pub in a traditional sense – you walk straight into a bright, airy and bare-bricked room, with sturdy wooden tables featuring the standard flickering candle. If I was asked what The Elgin looked like, I’d say ‘lots of wood’, which isn’t the most descriptive of phrases, but probably sums it up.

This Maida Vale bar and grill is the sort where regular diners are greeted like old friends, and the service was spectacular in its attentive and welcoming spirit. Not to be outshone, the food showed us there is some real talent in the kitchen – stand-out dishes were the braised beef croquettes with mustard (amazingly tender), and ginger pig sausage with lentils and cabbage; so much more than it sounds, this was a delightful combination with the sausage crumbly and a real depth of flavour to the meat (we were told the Head Chef hails from New Zealand, so perhaps she has a secret Kiwi recipe going on there…).

A main we felt didn’t quite match the high standard of the rest was the sea bream with olives, tomato and fennel – a tasty and beautiful dish, yet a tad too flavourful for my taste. The saltiness of the olives and richness of the tomatoes left no room for the fish and fennel; a shame with such fabulous ingredients! However, a scrumptious pear tart and delicate cheeseboard with honeycomb finished off our meal with a flourish, and we stayed for a good half an hour afterwards, soaking up the atmosphere and the rest of our wine. The food at The Elgin simply must be tried, but it’s also a great place for a simple drink with friends.

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