There are not many chefs who, having cut their culinary teeth in some of the world’s finest restaurants and then launching their own hugely successful eatery, would give it all up to work in a West London gastro pub. But then Etienne Bruwer is no ordinary chef, and The Truscott Arms is no ordinary gastro pub.
Newly opened, The Truscott Arms is a fascinating collaboration of fine food, drink and art set across three floors of a gorgeous Victorian building. It was this hybrid that prompted Etienne Bruwer to turn his back on Manna Epicure, his much-lauded Cape Town restaurant and bakery, and move 6000 miles to Maida Vale.
The job of transforming the various spaces to a modern idiom was entrusted to MS-DA. Michel Schranz, designer and director of MS-DA, says: “We were commissioned to re-design the entire pub, restaurant, terrace and private dining rooms while we were developing the client’s private home. We renovated, furnished, lit and brought back to life this Victorian pub in Maida Vale: a pub on the ground floor with a new, extensive terrace and beer garden, a fine-dining restaurant on the first floor as well as carefully-designed private dining rooms and function rooms on the second floor.”
MS-DA takes an artisanal approach to architecture and design, rooted in Michel’s background as a craftsman. These qualities are very much in evidence at The Truscott Arms.
“There seems to be an inherent lack of nice pubs in this area, and this will definitely fill a void. The area is full of well-to-do people that have probably little contact with each other, but they could potentially meet in there”
Original features including opulent cornices and ceiling roses and solid wood floors have been lovingly restored, whilst areas such as the downstairs pub were stripped back and simplified, the only decoration being the hand-painted Moroccan tiles that adorn the bar area.
Full use was made of the building’s huge windows, ensuring that the top floors in particular are flooded with natural light. The result is at once comfortable and elegant, a place where customers will immediately feel at home.
The interior design is friendly, warm, clean, unpretentious yet stimulating and surprising with predominantly soft, cool tones and a pared back look.
“We wanted to use shades rather than colours, and walls, ceilings and real materials with hints of colours in fabrics,” explains Michel. “We also wanted to expose and bring to light the nicest of the old features of the original building in terms of form and material.”
According to Michel, The Truscott Arms has the potential to become a local hub of interesting people from the area. “There seems to be an inherent lack of nice pubs in this area, and this will definitely fill a void. The area is full of well-to-do people that have probably little contact with each other but they could potentially meet in there.”
Chef Etienne Bruwer combines the best locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients – “British produce is the best in the world”, enthuses Etienne – with the experimental techniques that have been the hallmarks of Bruwer’s cuisine from the very beginning.
At The Truscott Arms, Etienne has developed all menus from scratch. In the downstairs pub he has taken traditional bar food and given it an exciting twist, introducing crowd pleasers like Brandade (a tribute to the famous snack of his home country) and The Truscott Arms Sausage Roll, featuring gluten-free sausages made with his recipe by Aubrey Allen, the Queen’s butchers.
Michel Schranz’s final word on the Truscott Arms: “We have been equally challenged and pleased with this project – we are very delighted about the pub with all its spaces and like how the spaces are being inhabited. We have also made a proposal to add some artwork to the pub space that responds to the community.”
Client Andrew Fishwick & MJ Roberts-Fishwick
Location Maida Vale, London W9
Branding Principle Ingredient
Chairs SCP contracts
Tables Cardel Grant Joiners
Lights SCP, Ingo Maurer, 1001 Lights
Exterior furniture Cult Furniture
Blinds Ciara McCarthy