Places To Eat In London: The Harwood Arms, Fulham
So, it turns out that The Harwood Arms, London’s only Michelin starred pub is a mere 15 minutes walk away from our flat, so last month the Friday night after my birthday J took me for a surprise meal there to celebrate. We stopped off at our local en-route for a pre-dinner gin and tonic (where he made a big show of looking at the menu and at the specials board to try and throw me off as he knew I’d figured out where we were going!) and then shared what I think will be one of the most memorable meals I have ever had in London.
The Harwood Arms is somewhere to save for a special occasion (it is a three course set menu for £49.95) – yes it was a bit pricy and the wine list will set you back a bit, but we had a beautiful bottle of Bordeaux from the top end of the list (I think it was about £42) that truly made the meal that bit more special.
With our starters came the bread: whipped butter that was good but needed a bit more salt, and a nice, dense treacly Guinness bread. This was the only part of the meal that was not 100% – they were of great quality, but they did not have that special something of the bread at The Fordwich Arms – the last Michelin starred pub I went to, or even The Compasses Inn, where I went for the final instalment of my birthday the next day! This – and the fact the service was flawless but felt like we were being rushed a bit – were literally the only flaws.
J started off with the Venison faggots served with Jerusalem artichoke crisps and puree, and pickled crosnes which I am very, very happy to report he let me finish when he was down to the final faggot. The flavours were so bold, and the portion so generous. The faggots were melt in the mouth and full of rich, gamey flavours, the artichoke creamy and the pickles really cut through the richness of the dish. A really, really beautiful starter that really showcased the best of a pub that prides itself on serving up British game in the middle of West London.
At the time of writing this meal was four days ago, and I’ve been out for another since, and I’ve still not shut up about my chicken liver pate with onion jam and homemade thyme hobnob biscuits. It was honestly one of the best things I’ve ever eaten; an insanely generous portion of impossibly whipped light pate that just melted on my tongue, served with a very generous pile of very buttery, oaty, aromatic biscuits that made for the perfect bit to balance out the richness of the pate. Rich, indulgent, and a real, real treat.
We toyed for a while with the sharing special of roe deer wellington, but in the end settled on two separate dishes that came with some wonderfully crisp garlic potatoes to share. In France where it is cheap and plentiful I’m a big veal eater, so I went for the topside of Cumbrian veal with parsley mash, wild mushrooms and roast spring onion. This was simply perfect; the meat was impossibly juicy and tender, the jus full of flavour, and the mashed potato whipped light and vibrant. However, the star were the buttery, concentrated wild mushrooms and morels puddled in the middle of the mash. Such a shock of umami flavours, lifting everything on the plate around them.
We basically wanted all the puddings, so chose two to share. The treacle tart with buttermilk sorbet was a perfect specimen, but next to the lemon curd doughnuts served with an Earl Grey-infused whipped dipping cream it felt a bit plain and simple. The doughnuts were warm, light and the rich curd just oozed out. The cream was light and really surprising. A really excellent way to finish off the meal.
J could not have chosen a better spot for my birthday present. If, like me, you love fine dining in the more relaxed setting a pub offers rather than a stuffy, white tablecloth dining room, proper British grub and excellent French wines, bookmark The Harwood Arms for your next birthday or anniversary celebration – I promise you that you won’t regret it!