Wednesday 25 January 2012

The Knowledge Crouch End - Part One: The Maynard Arms

In the UK, there's a test called 'The Knowledge' for London black cab drivers. Before being awarded a licence, they have to pass a test of the best ways to navigate the thousands of roads, cul-de-sacs and one way systems in London. Basically they have to carry a complete A-Z in their heads. Not an easy task.

But this same term of The Knowledge was also used by a very good friend of ours a few years ago when he decided (together with a willing victim) to visit all the pubs in Portsmouth during a twelve month period. We are still enjoying the benefits of his Knowledge when we visit Pompey, as there's never a time when our friend is doubtful about which pub we should next go to. we're installed in Crouch End, the Englishman thought it would be befitting if we did a similar exercise here. Only in order to repay the courtesy afforded to us by our Portsmouth friend when he's visiting us...we wouldn't want to be ignorant of the best pubs in our new neighbourhood, now would we? (My liver is already curling up in horror...)

The Maynard Arms became the first pub of our Crouch End Knowledge, when on the day of our move, exhausted by the day's stresses and strains but buoyed by the thrill of having finally moved into a place of our own, we needed some sustenance. Unusually for me, I hadn't read any reviews, or had hardly even noticed the place. It was just a pub that we happened upon and once inside were very impressed by the buzzy atmosphere and friendly staff. There's a large bar area at the front and a restaurant at the back, as well as a large garden with tables.

We decided to get a table in the restaurant in the back. The boys (The Englishman and Son) went for a pint of Grandstand, which is brewed in Twickenham, and which when I tasted it, I wanted half a pint of immediately. It was very well kept and fresh.

A half a pint of Grandstand

the main bar at Maynard Arms

The girls (Daughter and Son's lovely girlfriend) decided to have white wine, a Viognier, which was very nice too. When we scanned the food menu, I was even more impressed. There were a couple of pies, a fish dish, belly of pork and a special stewed lamb with gnocchi.

Daughter and I had chicken and leek pie, which was the best pub dish I've had for a long while. Son and the Englishman chose the lamb, and ate it heartily, and Son's Girlfriend had the belly of pork. There were approving noises made around the table as we filled our moving day hungry bellies.

Lamb stew and gnocchi.

The chicken pie came with fresh greens and mash.

There was proper crackling with the belly of pork.

The boys finished off Daughter's Chicken Pie. 
We were a happy party after our mains and didn't really need dessert, but decided to share a sticky toffee pudding and an apple and rhubarb crumble. And then I spotted my favourite, Affogato (vanilla ice-ream drowned by a shot of expresso), on the menu and was lost...

If all the pubs of our Knowledge tour of Crouch End are as good as The Maynard Arms my New Year's diet might be in serious danger....

The Maynard Arms
70 Park Road
Crouch End
N8 8SX


Parisbreakfasts said...

Wish you had shown the desserts!
It's been so long since I've been to a pub..
not since I had an Anglo boyfriend.
He taught me to drink lime shandies, which I wrongly assumed was soda pop.
Looks like fun!

Adam said...

As the architect of the Portsmouth knowledge, I am glad to see the onerous task of the north London equivalent has been taken on by such keen volunteers! I warn you, it is addictive and at least I had the natural limit of Portsea island to curb my mission - where will your limit lie?!!

Unknown said...

Ah, that is the question. Perhaps postcode N8 could be a good limiting factor? Helena xx