For those unacquainted with the delights of Crouch End, a visit is a must. If I had to define the area in a sentence, I would say that it is like if you held a year-round village fête inside a second-hand bookshop. Eccentric little boutiques that celebrate the lack of a tube station are plentiful and it just manages to swerve the banality of quirkiness and the snobbery of smugness. Its restaurants, bars and pubs are all filled with the insouciant, slightly barmy charm that characterises the area. It has many local institutions such as Banners where Bob Dylan once ate after recording at the local studios and the Kings Head, which is famous for its try out nights in the basement.
Another well-loved Crouch End hangout is the Maynard Arms, which dates back to 1851. It boasts a wide open-plan bar with plenty of sofas as well as a very chic dining area in the back. Popping in for dinner on a garrulous Friday, my companion and I both started with the miso-glazed rabbit, which came with pickled red cabbage and tarragon and mustard dressing. Rabbit can be a difficult meat to prepare well as it is not naturally rich, but this dish was expertly put together. The miso glaze added a depth of flavour, which contrasted well with the cabbage and the dressing.
For main course, I chose the Charter Pie, which was made up of chicken, ham hock, mushrooms, leek and tarragon cream. My companion went for the 10oz ribeye steak, which came with herb-crusted bone marrow, mushroom tarragon duxelle and a crispy potato cake. The Charter Pie was sturdy, with an abundance of meat and flavour. My companion was highly effusive about his steak, complimenting the quality of meat and the expertness of the preparation.
To finish off, my companion ventured for the malted chocolate fondant, which was accompanied by blackberry sorbet and matcha. I picked the lemon curd Eton Mess, which also featured white chocolate and roasted pistachio nuts. Although an interesting variation on the dessert, the dish came in too sturdy a form, resembling a meringue Stollen and it was hard work to break through. However, my companion was more than happy with his fondant and quickly slumped into simpering satisfaction.
As one of Crouch End’s long-standing institutions, it would have been easy for the Maynard Arms to remain comfortable in its mix of pleasant interiors and good quality food. But it has evolved and made sure that its dining area boasts more than enough reasons to visit this eccentric corner of north London.
The Maynard Arms
70 Park Road