The Truscott Arms, Maida Vale
Although mopey singer Duffy equates Warwick Avenue with breakups and angry tube confrontations, this charming North-West London bubble seeps daisy chain romance and blissful family roasts from every stucco fronted household. The Truscott Arms is a modern European pub in an airy Victorian building, nestled on a residential road; a place where once you step through the doors you enter a rose-tinted world where the only debates had are whether midday is too early to crack into the wine. Familial as it seems on a weekend, there are two ways to enjoy a date here. One, you can spend hours on a Sunday picking away at a giant roast and topping up your levels from the night before. Two, you can book the upstairs restaurant for a Friday night of hearty winter dining and too much red. Either way, there’s something about the place that throws a blanket of contentment over you, convincing you that you’ve already enjoyed a successful career, made yourself a beautiful family and are now permitted to rest on your laurels and toast this all day with a partner by your side. Truscott, you make any date look like a longterm prospect.
On a Sunday, my God the roast. The pork (pulled and shin) is tender, melting, just fatty enough and the beef is bloody and, for a change, thinly sliced enough to tackle easily on a date. If ordering for two, the roasts come on a sharing board, loaded with Goose fat potatoes, fluffy Yorkshire puddings, 2 mini bowls of honey roast root vegetables, two mini gravy pots and a heap of buttered french beans artfully strewn on the board in a chef’s salute to chic disorder. Masterful. Skip the starters but go for a cheese board at the end. Bloody Marys make sense, but this is pretty goddamn filling so maybe just a small glass of red. On a Friday night upstairs, share a rib eye for two with the addition of foie gras and marrow and order as much wine as you can stomach. Then coffee and caramel slice.
As I said, a Friday winter night or a cosy Sunday lunch would work well here. A safe compromise would be to book a late afternoon roast at 4/5pm, just as darkness has fallen and the desire to hibernate is strong. It may take some coaxing to get a date here as Sunday dread is descending but, since they have braved the cold, arrive early and have a bottle of wine ordered to greet them with as they make their flustered entrance and try to recompose themselves. As dishevelled as they look, poke fun at their red nose, brush a non-existent leaf off their shoulder, remove a stray hair from their face and tell them they look fabulous. Hand them a glass of wine and ask to hear all about their weekend (“I’m sure it was more exciting than mine”). Then shimmy upstairs to one of the tartan lined booths, smack your lips and order the roast. Give them the corner seat so that you can gradually move closer throughout the meal and they have nowhere but wall to back into.
As there’s so much food, don’t feel pressure to finish it all. Just sip away, order another bottle, and work through the food in a hierarchy – meat first, then honey roasts, then beans, then potatoes, then Yorkshires. This way, when you do get full, you’ll at least have polished off the best of the board. The key to sealing the deal here is to stay till the pub closes on Sunday – it feels great to be living the weekend to the full and if your date doesn’t rush home early to “sort out my life” you know you’re onto a laid back character. Don’t travel home together, it pops the bubble. I’ll go to Warwick Avenue, you walk to Royal Oak. Oh yes, and just a little kiss goodbye, the sort of long and tongueless lip rub you give spouses before they leave for a work trip.
Maida Vale isn’t our usual date hangout.
1-2. It’s not about sex, Babe.