The Harwood Arms

Walham Grove, London, SW6 1QP Directions

Tel 020 7386 1847
   Now closed Open Sunday 12:00 - 20:15

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Reviews

Over-hyped

2
Having read all of the glowing reviews we made a special visit with some friends (we are the informal Fulham Dining Club) last Saturday evening.

Having failed to make a booking either by telephone (engaged/or voice mail full) or on-line (faulty website) a personal visit was necessary just to make a reservation.

Our unanimous general impression from of our dinner here last Saturday evening was that although the service was friendly it was distinctly amateur. We ordered only one starter and it was an hour before our main course arrived without any explanation or apology for the delay.

The menu was a distinct disappointment as we had been looking forward to a varied selection of game specialities for which we understood they are renown. Furthermore we were not informed of any special dishes which we only discovered after our meal listed on a blackboard near the toilets.

The food was generally unexceptional compared with the fare at The White Horse nearby and other selective restaurants in the vicinity. We did enquire if the head chef was actually in situ and were told that he was indeed in the kitchen.

The draught ale was well kept but the house red which we ordered (at £15.50 bottle) was below the standard that we would have expected in this sort of establishment.

We made our feelings known to the waitress who asked if we would be prepared to give them another chance on a further visit which we may consider provided it is easier to make a reservation!
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A new member of the elite of gastropubs

5
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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The Country Comes to Town

5
Tucked a safe distance behind Fulham Broadway, is a pub that serves outstanding food, that goes by the name of the Harwood Arms. It's reputation for serving the Capital's finest scotch egg was enough bait to lure me in from South of the river. Lizzie, Chris and Helen tipped me off about these eggy bundles of joy, so I pre-ordered some when I reserved our table. Just to make sure!

From the moment we arrived, we felt at home. The service was slick and the surroundings were smart but relaxed. The Harwood Arms strikes a great balance between creating the warm atmosphere of a pub, but with the overall style and professionalism of a restaurant. The Holy Grail for any gastropub. Given that the mantra of the Harwood Arms is to bring the country to the city it is no wonder that 3 country bumpkins living in London liked it so much!

We tucked into our venison scotch egg like hyenas at Easter who'd given up eating deer Lent. Yolk dripped across my face and slurped over my hands as I failed to put into words just how amazing that moment was. Cowie and my Sister were equally impressed. So much so that I only got a sixth of a Scotch egg! I mopped up the remains with some of the best bread I've gobbled down in ages.

My starter picked up from where the pre-starter had left off. A wooden platter of soft boiled pheasant eggs served on toast with mushrooms had me yelping in appreciation. The crunchy toast and earthy mushrooms were a perfect match. I loved it, but on reflection, it could have done with a bit of sharpness to balance the mellow glossiness.

Poached salmon was rudely pink and criminally tasty. Almost ripe with flavour. It was impossibly attractive and just as tasty.

Spurred on by the joy of our earlier scotch egg, my sister followed this up with a limited edition, black pudding scotch egg that was served with some cold asparagus that was supposed to be hot. But, when the black pudding scotch egg is this good, they could have served it with a used condom and I'd have been happy!

Having wowed us with the starters, we were worried the kitchen would struggle to outdo itself with the mains. But we needn't have been. My grilled deer with bay, garlic potatoes and horseradish and beetroot spread was a dish that I'd happily have every day of the week. The meat was soft, charred and punctuated by the deicate flavour of bay that it had been skewered with. The beetroot and horseradish sauce was so good that Cowie annexed it to go with her cod! Garlic potatoes were upstaged dramatically.

Cowie's cod was delicious. Topped with potted shrimp and some garnished with sea greens it couldn't have been a lot better. But I just hope it was sourced from somewhere that isn't running out of cod.

My sister devoured her ray like there was no tomorrow. My little mouthful was far more citrus than I was expecting. Which was no bad thing. The only criticism would be the size of the portion. But then again none of us left feeling hungry and we couldn't find room for dessert!

The Harwood Arms is a top class gastropub, serving the sort of menu where you'd happily eat everything on it 7 days a week. The menu doesn't just pay lip service to seasonality and provenance, it genuinely lives and breathes it as you'll see by the way the menu changes when their larder AKA the countryside is having a glut. Look out for signal crayfish hitting their menu soon for instance. When you visit, which you must, just make sure you don't miss out on the scotch eggs. They are worthy of an entire page in the Dorling Kindersley Guide to London.
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Going to have to go back for that beef...

4
We met friends for an early Sunday dinner at the Harwood Arms. I liked the look of the pub immediately, it was (half)filled with happy looking people, the lighting was good, and the tables weren't too rammed in. And I liked the staff too, especially when they happily let us move from our allocated table in the noisy part of the bar, to a more spacious one where we could hold a conversation without having to shout.

I was ravenous and almost leapt on the bread when it arrived. The white bread was good, but the soda bread (apparently made on the premises) was very delicious and reminded me why I was once addicted to the stuff after a holiday in Ireland a few years back.

The boys started with the Pigeon Tea with a game sausage roll. The presentation was fabulous - a tea cup filled with pigeon and mushroom broth, accompanied by an evil looking sausage roll. There were no complaints as they sipped, slurped, and munched their way through the dish.

I wasn't excited about the main courses on offer, well I should say I WAS excited by a couple of them, but due to my current 'pregnant' situation there was only really one I could order - the Crisp fillet of Wiltshire rainbow trout with smoked bacon, creamed spinach, semolina dumplings, and sea purslane. Ok, this was a nice dish full of flavour and all that…. but it wasn't rare Rib of Beef… Nor was it the Whole Wood Pigeon with Cumbrian air dried ham, chicory braised in mead, buttered onions, and toasted sourdough, which looked amazing, and was happily devoured by my husband.

Speaking of beef, our friends ordered the Rib of Berkshire beef for 2, with Yorkshire puddings, field mushrooms, roast potatoes and horseradish. I almost cried when it arrived as it looked so good. They felt sorry for me and threw one of the roast potatoes my way. The beef portion was so generous that it wasn't until plates were being cleared that anyone realised the aforementioned Yorkshire puddings and field mushrooms never appeared.

We shared two desserts - the Black treacle tart with Cornish clotted cream, and the Bowl of warm Yorkshire rhubarb doughnuts with vanilla sugar. I had been really looking forward to the tart but found it a bit too full of ginger. The doughnuts were better received and quickly consumed.
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Famous Scotch Eggs

4
The Harwood Arms, a handsome Victorian pub a stone's throw away from Stanford Bridge in Fulham, is famous for its Scotch Eggs. Not many places are famous for their Scotch Eggs, because not many places do them very well. If all the Scotch Eggs you've ever eaten have been those processed rubber balls you buy in the multipacks at Iceland, I don't blame you if you're wondering what all the fuss is about.

Crispy, flaky breadcrumbs cover a whisper-thin layer of spiced Venison meat, which in turn surrounds a perfectly soft-boiled egg. It's a pleasure for all the senses, not to mention a marvel of engineering - how they manage to get the yolk so soft while the white remains firm and the meat not overcooked must be a result of many hours of trial and error. Topped with a light sprinkling of Maldon salt, the Harwood Arms Venison Scotch Egg is worth a trip to Fulham alone, but lucky for me I found the time to sample some of the rest of their menu as well.

My starter of pigs trotters and ears was a bit of a Curate's Scotch Egg. The strips of deep fried ears weren't overly flavoursome but were useful for dipping in the herby tarragon mustard. However the trotter meat on toast was excellent - sausagey and yummy, and ideal with the accompanying expertly-seasoned salad. A good, British starter and a sign of a confident and experimental kitchen. Highlights of the rest of the starters were some huge, meaty oysters and a perfectly decent onion quiche.

Main course was a generous - in fact, slightly overly generous as it turned out as I had to leave some - portion of grilled Ox tongue with a vegetable gratin. The gratin had a good, deep flavour but a rather odd texture - quite thick and gloopy. But the ox tongue was good, well seasoned with attractive grill marks on it and a rich beefy taste like hot pastrami. Again, a solid gastropub dish that had "inspired by St. John" written all over it, and was none the worse for that.

I also shouldn't go any further without mentioning the cute little bags of house bread that we were served. They contained a very nice white bread with a lovely crust, but a truly extraordinary soda bread which they bake in-house. Sweet and moist, with a perfect crust and lovely depth of flavour, it is the best bread I've tried all year and almost the highlight of my entire meal. Spread with the provided salted butter, it's a delicious reminder of the enormous advantage of having a kitchen confident and skilled enough to bake its own bread; it's baffling why even the very top restaurants (the 3-star Gordon Ramsay restaurant for one) sometimes don't bother when the results can be this good.

It was just as we were finishing our main courses that the evening's entertainment began. Tuesday night at the Harwood Arms is Quiz Night, and there was no escaping it even in the restaurant half of the building. Such goings-on probably wouldn't be for everyone, but I found it quite charming that despite the top-end food the atmosphere was still unselfconsciously that of a normal neighbourhood boozer. A normal neighbourhood boozer with homemade Scotch Eggs and the best bread in London. Now that's my kind of place.
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