Squid, Steak & Sticky Date Pud.The Maynard Arms, Crouch End, London #review

You can't beat a British pub for a unique experience. The history of the pub in the UK goes back hundreds of years when Inn keepers offered hospitality to weary travellers.

Not many pubs require space to rest horses nowadays but many maintain that tradition of offering sustenance to travellers, even if nowadays they've walked from round the corner, parked the car or hopped off a bus or train rather than stepped out of a carriage.

The Maynard Arms in Park Road, Crouch End, London has been a family pub since 1851 and bears one of England’s oldest ancestral names.

I was invited along to check The Maynard Arms out as it recently reopened with a bright new look that blends original design features with a menu full of bold flavours and a superior drinks list. 

First glance from across the road and I have to say, honestly, it didn't look anything out of the ordinary.  There's a seating area at the front of the pub which looks nicer in daylight and the awnings advertise it as a public house with dining room and garden.

Walking inside I was very pleasantly surprised.  Even on a Wednesday night there was a nice atmosphere and the blend of rich paint colours and textures from wood, brick, leather and velvet give a cosy feel to the huge space.

This is a venue with a variety of areas to suit all comers. When I was there I saw people standing at high-level tables celebrating a birthday with drinks, comfy chesterfield sofas, and I spotted tables, banquettes and booths in a variety of sizes.

The garden at the rear of The Maynard Arms is a real asset - a lovely courtyard space with twinkly lights. With the temperature in minus figures during our visit it was empty but I bet it would be a real sun trap and a nice place to enjoy drinking and dining al fresco.

Talking of food....

I was very impressed with the new look menu. The food on the whole was excellent, managing to be so much more than pub grub, imaginative without being gimmicky.

I'd better clarify "on the whole". No-one at our table seemed impressed with the heritage potatoes. They looked grim and tasted like they looked. The chips were nicely presented in copper buckets but were nothing special. 

Luckily there are salad and vegetable options which we thought were superb. I particularly enjoyed the tender stem broccoli with toasted almonds and my husband raved about the roast rainbow vegetable salad (a starter option, pictured below) which came with lentils, goats cheese curd and tahini dressing.

Rainbow vegetable salad The Maynard Arms, London

I was glad our hosts decided to serve taster plates from the whole menu rather than letting us choose. I would not have been disappointed with what would have been my first choice of crispy squid with roast garlic curry leaves, and lime coriander chilli dressing but I would have missed out on the gorgeous rabbit ballotine with pickled red cabbage and a tarragon and mustard dressing.

smoked tofu with falafel from The Maynard Arms, Crouch End

My husband would never have ordered smoked tofu and falafel with mixed grains, pomegranate, gold raising and herbs (pictured above) but really enjoyed it. I particularly enjoyed the sea bass served atop a warm nicoise salad and went back for a second taste of the flat iron chicken which managed to be both crispy and juicy. The broccoli spinach slaw which accompanied the chicken was a nice touch especially since the fries were a bit ordinary.

sea bass. The Maynard Arms, Crouch End, food blogger #review

We both wished we could've had a whole portion of the steak though. You can really judge a restaurant by its steak and The Maynard Arms steak is superb. We sampled a 10oz ribeye (my fave cut) served with divine herb-crusted bone marrow, mushroom tarragon duxelle and a crispy potato cake. Please sir, can I have some more of that!

The Maynard Arms restaurant review, Crouch End, London

Portions are generous but I managed to find room to try the dessert menu. I know, I'm a hero. The things I do to bring you a complete review.

The Bramley apple and blackcurrant parfait with granola crumble and honey yoghurt was definitely unstructured but tasty. The lemon curd Eton mess was a triumph - suitably chewy and not too sweet. 

The Maynard Arms Eton Mess #review #foodblogger

But the curtain call, standing ovation and bouquet throwing should be reserved for the frankly spectacular sticky date banana pudding with toffee sauce and vanilla ice-cream. It looked like something a 10 year old had decorated but it was heaven in a (generously sized) bowl. And I don't even particularly like bananas!

sticky date banana pudding from The Maynard Arms #review

Obviously we need to mention the drink options as this is a pub. There's an impressive range of craft beers and good wines as well as the usual pub favourites.

On Sunday apparently there's a choice of roasts on offer with all the trimmings at around £15.

The Maynard Arms has managed to stay true to its traditional pub roots with a dart board and rugby fixtures showing plus great home cooked food served with flair. The great thing about the venue is that it is big enough and designed so it can cater for all needs. Sit round the corner to eat and you'd think you were in a smart restaurant. Lean on the wood-clad bar and it feels like your local. Not an easy task to pull off but The Maynard Arms manages it. Take note struggling pubs - this is the way forward.

Disclaimer: I was invited to sample food and drink at The Maynard Arms free for the purpose of this honest review.

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