Pitching itself as somewhere between café, local pub and laid-back restaurant (gastropub, in other words), the Elgin’s dress sense comes straight out of the hipster style guide. Dishevelled antique furniture is used liberally throughout the bar, while works sourced from upcoming artists adorn its exposed brick walls. The light and airy ground floor space boasts pale wood floors, warm spotlighting, and original, and stunningly restored glazed Victoria tiles. The Northerner, who knows a thing or two about tiles, was impressed.
The service is very friendly and casual – if you eat downstairs you take your order to the bar; upstairs is restaurant style. The clientele (punters is too common) are mostly young, well-heeled professionals. The atmosphere is buzzing without ever threatening to be loud.
The food is surprisingly different from your standard gastro fare, and includes small plates of Braised Beef Croquettes and Duck, Mache and Bramble Salad with Hazelnut Vinaigrette. The Northerner tried the latter and declared it a triumph. For mains (or 'larger plates', as they prefer to be known) I went for the Lamb Rump, Sweetbreads, wild Garlic and Pea Puree while the Northerner tried the mackerel. Both were a little bit underwhelming. The lamb was perfectly cooked, the vegetables were fresh and sweet, but it could have done with a generous helping of seasoning. The fish was unfortunately and unnecessarily lost in a sea of tomato sauce. It would have been better off served ‘dry’. The forced rhubarb trifle was our pick of the desserts – sweet creaminess and sharp rhubarb flavours with a nice biscuit texture at the base. Delicious. We tried the Hungarian Pinot Noir from the brilliant wine list – brilliant in that 80% of the listed wines are exactly the same price by the glass or bottle. The wine itself didn’t quite match its first glass promise, but it was nice to try from a country that doesn’t often appear on a wine list.
The Elgin is a good local that has brought a middle class version of edginess to Maida Vale. It’s still a few tweaks away from being a destination for which you would travel across London. But if you’re not aspiring to West or East End beauty, this place will do.