Monday, June 22, 2009

The Harwood Arms , Fulham , London

I have been to The Harwood Arms three times since it opened its doors in a little corner of gentrified Fulham between Seagrave Road and North End Road. After every meal I conclude that this extraordinary “gastro pub “ seems to get better.

The Harwood Arms is a joint venture between Brett Graham of the excellent Ledbury, Mike Robinson of the superb Pot Kiln in Berkshire and top publican Edwin Vaux .

The décor is classic fine gastropub with stripped woods, bare tables and pale pastel coloured walls. There are some points of difference namely the wonderful Sophie Conran crockery and rustic Hessian napkins.

Chef Stephen Williams is a true artist with fresh, seasonal British produce much of it from the same suppliers to the Pot Kiln. Stephen has worked not only at The Ledbury but also Coach & Horses and my favourite gastropub Anchor & Hope. At The Harwood Arms he has the opportunity to work with superb game, seafood and fruit and vegetables.

The cooking here is truly outstanding with very British, bar snacks, weekday and week end menus that usually include five starters, five man courses and five deserts supplemented by some blackboard specials.

My only real quibble is the very poorly selected wine list that has too many average New World wines and is generally unimaginative. Food this good deserves a much better wine list.

On Sunday 21st, Father’s Day whilst Mrs Gastro was completing the London to Brighton charity bike ride I took my mother and two sons for a late Sunday Lunch to The Harwood Arms.

The food was superb and we received excellent service from Charlotte Levi whilst Stephen and Alistair worked their magic in the kitchen.

We ate (* what I had):

To start

*Salad of Warwickshire Asparagus with roasted hazelnuts, radishes and salad cream.
Chilled courgette and basil soup with warm cheddar cheese straws.
Soft boiled pheasant eggs with field mushrooms and coarse celery salt.
Poached salmon with broken eggs, wild herbs and toast.

To follow

*Slow roast old spot pork belly with celeriac puree, marjoram and gooseberry chutney.
Braised shoulder of lamb with lovage, peas and grain mustard crumbs x2
Stuffed leg of chicken glazed in mead with pink fur apple potatoes, broad beans and bread sauce.
Crisp potatoes with garlic butter for the table.
To Finish

Bowl of warm lemon curd and sherbet doughnuts with whipped cream and heather honey
Rhubarb bakewell tart with vanilla ice cream
English strawberries with elderflower jelly and sour cream sorbet
Eaton Mess made with gooseberries and gooseberry jelly.

Everything was truly outstanding and beautifully presented and executed. Flavour combinations were subtle and worked very well and the quality of the ingredients was obvious.

I thought both the courgette soup and pheasant egg/field mushroom starters were outstanding as were the lamb and pork mains.

My Rhubarb bakewell tart even surpassed my (previous) favourite version at the Anchor and Hope and the homemade ice vanilla ice cream served with it was sublime. My seven-year-old son is still talking about his mini sherbet doughnuts 24 hours after the meal.

With starters and puds below £7 and main courses rarely above £16 The Harwood Arms is not only producing great food but amazing value too.

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