The Elgin Food Pub and Music House, Notting Hill – review

The Elgin window Previously a down-market Frog and Firkin, The Elgin is another pub that has recently been taken over by Geronimo Inns.  Fortunately the group has maintained the striking Victoriana and attracted a different clientele. The sports-bar atmosphere has disappeared along with its dubious drinkers, or at least the drinkers here are no more dubious than in any other neighbourhood pub. The pub does however boast a music pedigree, as The Clash played here. The tradition continues with live music on some nights. The back room of the pub is the 70-cover Music Room.

Since 1856 The Elgin has had many incarnations so it’s truly amazing that the character has survived. It now has ‘Grade II listed’ status, so those magnificent Victorian features will not be replaced by sombreros, Inuit canoes strung from the chandeliers, and black and white pictures of James Dean.

The décor is memorable and unique. A glass screen divides the front bar from the Gin Palace. This is no contemporary frosted glass affair. It’s the original stained and bevelled glass partition and it’s a testament to good fortune that it has survived both the ravages of war-time bombing and customers’ hurled projectiles.

The Gin Palace bar is striking. If the Vatican had a members’ bar it would be modelled on the extravaganza housed in this side room at The Elgin. Picture a huge dark wood sideboard with turned this’s and deeply carved thats punctuated with a glint of glass, and your mind will have conjured a fair approximation of this piece of fitted furniture. The ceilings are high here and this bar meets it in fine ornate fashion.

The Elgin terrine It’s no surprise that a Gin Palace will display a fair number of its name-sake drinks. The Elgin offers nearly 40. I am not normally a gin drinker but the waiter persuaded me that a glass of Brockmans flavoured with coriander, blueberries, blackberries and Valencia oranges might be to my taste. I am a convert and can understand now why gin was oft described as ‘mother’s ruin’. It would be easy to over-imbibe.

The Gin Palace is also a 30 or so seat dining room so we settled ourselves for the evening. There is a row of red-plush banquettes, tables and wooden chairs opposite the imposing bar but we chose the table for 2 by the window. It’s a quieter area than the main bar but it doesn’t have the isolated feel of an annex, as there is the through traffic of those heading for the music room.

Pressed Ham Hock Terrine was my guest’s choice of starter. It was moist, flavourful and well textured with chunks of pink ham. Served with toast, this made a substantial beginning. My appetite was a little more modest so I ordered the Caramelised Onion Tart with Goats Cheese which was sweet and coloured to a mahogany hue, with the cheese giving a salty tang. The accompanying salad was more than a garnish and was strewn with walnuts offering a contrasting crunch to the unctuous tart. Starter it might have been but it could equally have constituted a light lunch.

The Elgin pork Jersey Royals and Garlic Spinach were the side dishes for the Pork Cutlet which must have been cut from the carcass of a porker of considerable size. This was a thick chop with real crackling, a sprinkle of stuffing and a potato croquette to elevate one corner of the meat above the pool of rich gravy. A hearty plateful of tender cutlet with an old-fashioned taste of real pork.

Bailey’s Crème Brulée and Rhubarb and Ginger Crumble with vanilla ice cream were our desserts. The brulée had a delicate hint of cream liqueur, perhaps a little too restrained but it was a delightful presentation of cracking sugar and creamy rich custard. The crumble could have had a more pronounced hit of ginger but it was a good example of what makes crumble so popular – a fruity, luscious base with a good topping of buttery crumble.

The Elgin is another of those pubs that are deserving of preservation. Solid food, charming ambiance and the chance of some good music. Well worth a visit.

Opening Hours:
11am to 11pm (Monday to Saturday)
12 noon to 10.30pm (Sunday)

The Elgin Food Pub and Music House
96 Ladbroke Grove, Notting Hill, London W11 1PY
Phone: 020 7229 5663
Visit The Elgin here


Restaurant and Pub review by Chrissie Walker © 2018