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Harwood Arms, London

d
DublinChow Nov 9, 2009 01:26 AM

Thanks to everyone here who have recommended the Harwood. On a flying visit to London to visit the brother who lives nearby and never heard of it, we had to try it. As our table was delayed and not ready for us, we happily ordered drinks at the bar to wait a while. We asked someone if we could hang our coats up, only to be told they don't have anywhere, mmm funny, but we drank on with our overcoats on our laps. We ordered the venison chipolatas from the very appetizing bar menu as a nibble while we waited but were too busy nattering to notice that they never materialised. Shown to our table and ordered our food. Oops, after a few minutes we have no more venison special, never mind we said, lets have something else. Few mins later, thats off too. Ok we'll choose x, come back again, sorry we just gave out the last starter special. Not to worry, is our wine on the way? O yes, i'll get it now. Five mins later: That's not what we ordered but we'll have it anyway. Smashing affordable wine list with great tasting notes too. Oh and here come the venison chipolatas: someone doesn't want them, do you? Absolutely! They were delicious. Our partridge platter for two starter arrived and blew us away. Cooked five ways, it easily matched anything done in a fine dining restaurant and bettered lots that i've tasted. The partridge tea sang, the little kiev breast was crispy on the outside, moist and flavoured inside with marjoram butter, great little retro idea. Rissoles on liquorice, confit leg and an exquisite moose. Little chunks of pickled pear and celeriac coleslaw sat alongside on the wooden platter to cut through all that richness. What a piece of craftsmanship, an ode to autumn of a different kind!
My main of braised mutton was meltingly soft and unctous on a bed of purple sprouting peppered with caperberries (the big ones) a great idea, again giving balance we thought to the rich meat. And to cap it all, the so friendly staff arranged a platter of all the deserts for us by way of apology for messing up our orders. What delights on that plate! The last of the season scottish raspberries with buttermilk pudding was a stunner and the bourbon biscuits brought us right back to childhood. Couldn't fault anything. The service was off last Saturday but the dumb waiter lift was broken and confusion reigned. Happily we took everything well and this was rewarded by the charming staff who thanked us for our good humoured patience and comped the bar drinks and the desert plate. We had a memorable night, one of the best meals in a looong time. Go here if you haven't already. Bring your british-and-irish-food-doubting friends. Not a tomato, asparagus or red pepper in sight. The menu oozes autumn and winter: chestnuts, cauliflower, berkshire ceps, partridge, fallow deer, apples, pear, squash, parsnip, pheasant, ginger, quince. This is what the food of these islands can achieve. The Harwood Arms is a gem. Shout it from the rooftops.

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    plummonk Nov 9, 2009 01:53 AM

    Nice review, I think that anybody who has been to HA would agree, this is some stunning cooking, imaginative and balanced, simple with wow factor, and flavours that linger in the memory for weeks. I'm not such a dessert fan but I can't stop thinking about their deep fried elderflower and sour cream ice cream. Probably the best meal I've eaten this year.

    1. PhilD Nov 9, 2009 10:11 AM

      Good report. It is a pub so service does sometimes trip over itself, but they always make amends in some way or other.

      I am envious I have had the Venison but never Moose, do they shoot it on their estate? ;-)

      1 Reply
      1. re: PhilD
        d
        DublinChow Nov 9, 2009 11:02 AM

        no Phil, it was just running loose around the hoose!

      2. f
        fat boy slim Nov 10, 2009 01:49 AM

        Hope confusion reigns on our next visit, we would put up with that safe in the knowledge of the splendor to follow, plus of course those freebie drinks, and dessert plate.lol.

        Spread the gospel, they are well deserving of it.

        1. a
          astereilla Nov 10, 2009 11:51 PM

          That sounds like you had a great time despite the service mishaps. Thanks, you've just cemented my decision to go there sometime this month!

          1. c
            Corporate_40 Nov 11, 2009 03:17 AM

            Very excited to go there when I visit next month. Between there, Hereford Rd, and St. John, i'm going to have one great dining trip.

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