Sunday, 8 September 2013

Harwood Arms - British Comfort

Harwood Arms is the only London pub that was awarded a Michelin star. I have been wanting to visit for almost 2 years, but having moved out of Fulham, I hadn't found enough reason and motivation to make the trek. Seeing Mister gave me a free choice of restaurant for my birthday dinner - it's a good enough reason.

I was an hour late for dinner. The only comment Mister made was that he ate my bread. I don't even know what to say. The bread was definitely worth mentioning - especially the warm potato bread from Borough Market that was moist and dense with a crusty edge - delicious. 

Unlike any regular pub, the dining room at Harwood Arms was cosily adorned with a shabby chic, country-house feel; tables were well-spaced apart with a small pot of flowers and candle. There was a warm homely feel to the restaurant.

Venison scotch eggs
The signature venison scotch eggs (above) were simply gorgeous. 

Treacle cured smoked salmon with picked apple, whisky and watercress
I didn't know smoked salmon could taste so good. The thick slices of salmon with strips of fat were beautifully cured with treacle sweetness and a tone of fruity smokiness. It was just sweet enough to complement the smokiness without drowning the flavours from the fish. The salmon was bouncy but soft, with gentle crunches from the cucumber shavings. It was delightful.

Braised ox tongue in stout with picket onions, broken eggs and scallions
The wafer thin ox tongue almost started to dissolve away as I rolled it around my fork, it was smooth and rich, a bit like beef carpaccio but more savoury and flavoursome. The ox tongue was also presented as small cubes, giving more substance and some chew to the dish. The chopped eggs helped to neutralise the flavours and added a touch of jelly-bounce. It was a sophisticated combination.

Muggleswick Estate grouse with buttered greens, pressed potato and malt
This was served with a whisky shot mixed with tea topped with a bread sauce foam - absolutely delicious. 

The game bird was cooked to medium, and as expected, was succulent and tender. Instead of powerful bloodiness, this was relatively mellow with the meat juice and diluted with the greens hidden in the breast. There was less metallic tones from the rawness, but more comforting and autumn-like with the whiskey and malt. Loved it.

Slow cooked saddle of pork with turnips, young carrots and ale
Seeing there was no venison on the menu, I went with pork. The hunk of meat was barely holding its shape, quickly crumbling under the softest touch from the knife. The meat was interwoven with cartilage and a tad of nutty lard, so there were layers of textures from the denser lean meat, squidgy cartilage and soft, wobbly fat. I wasn't mad about the shavings of mushroom, carrots and turnip, thought the crunch almost spoilt the mouthfeel.

Frozen goat's curd with vanilla, strawberries and blueberries
The goat's curd wasn't too pungent, just enough with a weany, goaty kick, complimented well by the berries and broken meringue. It was a light and refreshing finish.

I loved The Harwoord Arms. It was undoubtedly one of the best meals I have had this year. The seemingly familiar ingredients were put into recipes with a little twist, giving a bit of surprise to the dish. The meat was fresh, cooking was precise, service was swift and personable - I couldn't fault it. Those upstair dining rooms in East London pubs are no match, not even close. It was a shame there was no venison on the menu on the day, but I would definitely go back to have a taste of their hunted wild game.

Walham Grove
Tel: 0207 386 1847

1 comment: