The Harwood arms is a one Michelin starred Gastro-pub which serves British food and is a collaboration between Brett Graham of the Ledbury restaurant, Mike Robinson of the Pot Kiln pub in Berkshire and Edwin Vaux from the Vaux brewery. Their idea they say is “to provide Londoners with a really relaxed venue for eating the finest British produce, cooked amazingly well, accompanied by excellent beer and wine at a great price.” Interestingly, in February 2011 Head Chef Barry Fitzgerald took over from ex-Ledbury chef Stephen William’s in the kitchen. Stephen William’s hard work and originality really put the Harwood on the map and without him I do not think that they would have been awarded a Michelin star in 2010, the first pub in London to have this accolade.
I went for a friend’s birthday dinner on a friday night. The pub is about 5 minutes walk from Fulham broadway. Looks-wise, it is still definitely a charming pub, with vintage wood tables and a cosy fireplace in the corner. There was a pleasant and warm ambience to the place. We were a group of about 15 people, so we had a pre-ordered set menu.
If you’ve heard of the Harwood arms, you’ve probably also heard about their Venison Scotch eggs. I ordered them for my starter, and they lived up to the eggy hype. Beautifully crunchy outside (japanese panko breadcrumbs) with a thin layer of venison meat inside and a perfectly soft-boiled egg inside. The venison meat was well seasoned and it all comes together as a whole, as a damn good scotch egg, very well executed. I challenge you to find me a better scotch egg in the land!
Then came along an unexpected amuse bouche, which was Pumpkin and Sage Soup in a glass. This was outstanding, the soup was incredibly silky with a lovely taste of roasted pumpkin with a hum of sage running through it.
The mains were the only slight let down. I ordered the beef cheeks and Herefordshire snails braised in ale, with champ. Firstly, it looked a bit sloppy. I’m all for rustic presentation, but this didn’t look very inviting. The beef cheeks was perfectly braised and tender, but the snails were definitely over-cooked and slightly rubbery. The dish as a whole just didn’t have that punch of flavour the starter and the soup had. It was under-seasoned, which isn’t a huge crime because of course we can make it to our own taste at the table. This was a reasonably good, unpretentious gastro-pub dish, but no more than that. A lot of restaurants have hit and miss dishes over a service, and maybe this was just one of them, and it certainly didn’t stop me from warming to the place. But then again, this is why I think that Michelin stars can be a curse to a restaurant, because customers immediately have a higher expectation of the place. Of course, Michelin stars are good financially for a place (bookings, PR etc.), but I’ve heard many a chef who has gained a star, say it changes a restaurant, and not necessarily for the better. Less soul to the place, more corporate customers. But anyways, I got a little side tracked there. On to dessert.
For dessert I had the Cheeseboard with British Cheeses (of course) oat biscuits, Eccles cakes and quince jelly. This was excellent. Well sourced cheeses from Britain. The Eccles cakes had an unusual amount of currants in them which made them like mince pies. But this was a good thing, they tasted better than any mince pie I’ve ever had. They were so good in fact, I asked for a Michelin starred doggy bag for the leftovers. I even suggested to the waitress that they should definitely offer these as mince pies for christmas, she agreed enthusiastically with me, which was good acting on her part, but I did appreciate it. Which brings me to the service, which was very friendly, attentive and our waitress was very knowledgable about all the wine and dishes.
The big group bill came to £50 per head with about a bottle of half of wine each, which I thought was really good value for the amount of food we received and for the service we had.
Unpretentious British Pub, which serves (mostly) very tasty, well executed original dishes. I found it to be very good value. If you can’t book a table, just stroll in and find a table and order a scotch egg and a few other bar snacks. They also do a pub quiz on Tuesday night’s which is meant to be a laugh. The residents of Fulham are very lucky to have this as a local. Highly recommended – But it will be interesting to see now that the Head Chef who got this place on the map has left, if the food will stay original with punchy flavour, or if it will go down hill.
The Harwood Arms
Walham Grove, Fulham SW6 1QP
Tel: 0207 386 1847
Nearest tube: Fulham Broadway
Meal for two including a bottle of wine and service: £100