HARWOOD ARMS:FAB FOOD IN FULHAM
Fulham – ain’t it great ? No, really. And especially when there are places like The Harwood Arms to eat in. Hidden away behind Fulham Broadway this attractive pub cum restaurant is the result of a drinking session between Mike Robinson of the Pot Kiln fame, Brett Graham of The Ledbury and Edwin Vaux. My original plan had been to revisit the Pot Kiln and while browsing their website I came across a link to The Harwood Arms.
Regular visitors to the blog will know that I was mightily impressed by the Pot Kiln a year ago - the Pigeon and Venison was the best I’d ever eaten - so I was very excited to see how this bit of rus in urbe translated from the original. As it turned out very, very well indeed. The combination of superlative ingredients and the skill of ex-Ledbury chef, Stephen Williams in the kitchen meant a cracking meal was up there with the best of the year. This is a chef who can cook.
Bar snacks take the form of English tapas and are taken to a new level. In fact you could quite happily eat these accompanied by a pint or a glass of wine and you would still leave a very happy bunny. Not as happy as me, though. I had my eyes on bigger game.
I had to try the snacks (well of course I did). Venison Scotch Egg came with a crisp panko-like coating with lovely meat and a perfectly cooked soft egg within. I was so impressed I had to try another. Kipper Croquettes were the, er, nuts. Light and moreish they came with an excellent homemade ketchup and a little shallot salad. As good as you’d get in Spain or indeed in any of the Iberian joints in town (now there’s a killer combination: a copita of chilled manzanilla and a kipper croqueta).
For starters proper, a warm salad came with slices of lightly gamey Partridge and studded with cubes of excellent bacon and black pudding. There was a touch of sweetness from some beets and some crunch from chopped hazelnuts. Simple and delicious. Bread on the side was homemade, the soda bread in particular being fantastic.
The Venison at the Pot Kiln had been a highlight and the T-Bone of Henley Fallow Deer was certainly up to snuff. Bambi came as a big fist of meat cooked to an even, perfect pinkness and was very venisonny (a lot isn’t). There were some potatoes that been cleverly cooked to give a soft interior and a light crispy skin. Bringing the whole thing together was a deeply savoury mushroom ketchup.
I thought I might be flagging at this point but there was such a lightness of touch to the cooking that even after a dessert of Bramley Apple Doughnuts and a scoop of Brown Bread Ice Cream I still didn’t feel bloated.
Faults ? Well I did have a long hard think but the best I could come up with was that the Laguiole knife wasn’t quite sharp enough. Terrible, I know.
Prices are ludicrously low for the quality of the food and cooking. Service from the young, Antipodean staff was friendly, efficient and totally fuss-free. To be honest it’s not really a secret how good this place is and though it’s only been open for a few weeks apparently it’s full most nights and also for Sunday lunch. Go for a midweek lunch instead, or better still enjoy a leisurely Saturday – beating a visit B&Q into the proverbial cocked hat - with a bottle or two of wine and have some of the best food you’re likely to get in the capital. No, really.