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Harwood Arms Review

Lizzie Mabbott finds culinary bliss

Written by . Published on June 30th 2011.


Harwood Arms Review

ON a sunny Saturday, we headed for The Harwood Arms, a Michelin-starred pub in leafy Fulham. The restaurant is a collaboration between Brett Graham of Ledbury fame, Mike Robinson of The Pot Kiln in Berkshire and Edwin Vaux of Vaux Brewery, so it promised to be an outstanding meal.

The scotch egg was crispy with a runny yolk, and as I ate it became clear why they were so famous for it.

Perched at the bar, a refreshing cucumber-filled gin fizz and a venison scotch egg (£3) kicked off proceedings while I waited in an empty pub for my dining companion. The scotch egg was crispy with a runny yolk, and  as I ate it became clear why they were so famous for it. The pub soon filled up with families and couples, as well as a couple of large parties. Once seated, warm, toffee-scented slices of rye bread were hungrily devoured with creamy, rich butter while we perused the menu.

Grilled salted ox tongue with turnip and mustard croquette, bread and butter pickles and dandelionGrilled salted ox tongue with turnip and mustard croquette, bread and butter pickles and dandelion

Grilled ox tongue with a turnip and mustard croquette and pickles suffered slightly from being served on a wooden board (£7.50); the fat and juices from the tongue ran uncomfortably over its edge in a somewhat repulsive manner. The meat was firm, salty and delicious and the pickles offset the saltiness, whilst the dressed bitter leaves brought it all together. The croquette had an appropriately nose-clearing mustard hit.

Across the table, the salad of chicken leg stuffed with smoked eel and hazelnuts (£7) was presented in a very surprising way. I had expected slabs of the chicken, but instead it was sliced into thin slivers and topped with dressed frisée lettuce. The smokiness of the eel shone through and the buttery hazelnut sauce elevated the dish to greater heights. A fruity, deep Albarino complemented these courses perfectly. 

Fillet of wild black bream with a sourdough crust, asparagus, jersey royals, mussel fritters and seaweedFillet of wild black bream with a sourdough crust, asparagus, jersey royals, mussel fritters and seaweed

A fillet of wild black bream (£17.75) has an earth-shatteringly crisp crust. Perched atop tender English asparagus, the dish was dressed with a creamy seaweed sauce. Mussels weren’t frittered as advertised but were plain, of which I was glad, given my previous indulgence with the scotch egg and croquette. A quenelle of Jersey royals was creamy but held some texture.

Grilled T-bone of roe deer, Cumberland sausage and crispy slow cooked shoulderGrilled T-bone of roe deer, Cumberland sausage and crispy slow cooked shoulder

The real winner was from the specials board. The grilled T-bone of roe deer, complete with a Cumberland sausage and crispy slow cooked shoulder, was a meaty feast. Cooked pink, the T-bone was juicy and gamey, but my companion’s eyes really widened when he tasted the crispy shoulder. This was brilliant. Fork-tender succulent meat was encased in crumb, and it was evident that there must have been a deft hand at the fryer. 

Bowl of warm rhubarb jam doughnuts with ginger sugar and sour creamBowl of warm rhubarb jam doughnuts with ginger sugar and sour cream

Though I was stuffed, I couldn’t resist the rhubarb jam doughnuts (£8) served with sour cream and caramelized ginger. Light and fluffy inside, they oozed tart jam. Even better than the sour cream accompaniment though, was when I dunked them in the vanilla buttermilk pudding that had raspberries nestled within it, topped with cubes of lemon verbena jelly.

I had originally worried whether standards might have dropped since the chef who was there when they won their Michelin star left last February, but judging on the lunch we had, I needn’t have. Though not cheap for a pub lunch, with most of the mains at around £18,  the restaurant does represent good value for a Michelin-recognised establishment. Throughout our meal service was attentive though not particularly charismatic but we were never left wanting. There was a nice buzz to the place rather than a hushed reverence, something else you don’t often get in high-end places.

 

Rating:             16.5/20

Breakdown:      8/10 food

                       3.5/5 service

                       5/5 ambience

Harwood Arms
Walham Grove
SW6 1QP

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Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20: We get carried away.

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