This is the story of the re-birth of a London pub, re-furbished and raring to go…
It all started back in 2007. For four short but glorious months of my life, I had a flat in Notting Hill. Well, not exactly in Notting Hill but right up the road. Each day, I would walk up Ladbroke Grove enjoying the Edwardian and Victorian architecture you find lining the streets, people watching as the yummy mummies with their Hummer-sized prams (British English for ‘strollers’) power-walked past me to be home in time for supper.
Just as I would pass the Portobello Market on the edge of Notting Hill territory, I would walk past a run-down English boozer of a pub where old men slid in to secretly sip their pints and slur sentiments to each other between drags of cigarettes and trips to the loo (British for…okay, you know that one).
This pub was called the Elgin. I went down on Saturday for a visit.
From the moment we arrived at the pub, it was clear the place had changed – several wooden tables with seats for four spread outside and a blackboard in the middle declaring it to be British Cheese Week and that we should come on in for some Cheesy Mash or a British Cheese Board.
Tummies rumbling, we entered the pub, and immediately felt comfortable spending the afternoon there. The Elgin was snapped up by Geronimo Inns, who have completely restored the place back to its original grandeur.
The layout of the pub is perfect – gorgeously restored Gin Palace bar in the front and a more official restaurant with table service in the back. The bar has seats for 30, and with its 22 different gins, and German beer on tap, the bar area will most likely get very crowded in the evenings. The Saturday afternoon we were there, the bar area was filled with afternoon wine drinkers fresh from a day at the market. The restaurant area in the back has a more luxurious feel, though still relaxed enough to want to spend a lazy weekend day using the free wi-fi and sampling from the wine menu.
The food menu, on the other hand, was not so spectacular. If you have never been to Britain before, then the gastropub concept of Modern British will not yet bore you. You will enjoy the tasty Welsh Rarebit starter, the artichoke salad, or the slow-cooked duck leg or homemade burger with chunky chips. For those who know their way around a British pub, however, the menu is safe but unoriginal, tasty but uninspiring.
But that doesn’t really matter. The location of the pub being right around the corner from Portobello Market means the Elgin maintains a local feel just steps off the beaten path. The pub is also the first of the Geronimo Inns to host live music and have DJ sessions on special nights during the week and between the music, several samples of G&Ts from the Gin Palace, and mixing with interesting Notting Hillbilly locals, the Elgin pub is now a hotspot to hang in West London. Of course, now I don’t live there anymore…
78 Ladbroke Grove
London W11 1PY