Tuesday, 17 February 2009

The Harwood Arms

Subsequent visit

This is my second gastropub review within ten days. The mere mention of the term gastropub sends shivers down my spine, especially with the near apocalyptic experience at The Princess Victoria. The Harwood Arms is not the sort of place whereby the likes of Garys and Waynes are likely to turn up and chatter about the aftermath of a Stamford Bridge (nearby) match over pints of Stellas. No, the pub aspect of this place has been totally partially removed (without mercy methinks) to make way for a serious eating venue, so no plasmas showing Sky sports, dominant whiffs of Pledge furniture polish and certainly no evidence of pork scratchings displayed anywhere. The location of THA is all too civil, bang in a little residential corner of affluent Fulham (not an area where I venture much, the ‘hoorayness and don’t you know!’ attitude of the people who live here deter me toot sweet).

What led me here was Matthew Norman's review for the Guardian; now I don't normally fall for his recommendations as I find them all too predictably foregone and uninspiring. But this particular writeup of his caught my eye and was pretty much tantalising. The pedigree of THA is more than promising; the involvement of Brett Graham (why do our antipodal friends achieve so much in so little time!) of the famed Ledbury restaurant was convincing enough for me. The interior is pure and simple à la gastropub; i.e. comfy, but not too formal as to suggest ‘plush-sit-down-with-maître d'-on-tow’ nor too communal/refectory 'same stew for all' type. The lighting is just right, unlike TPV no night vision binoculars were needed here for the simple purposes of reading the menu and being able to distinguish what one is actually eating for dinner. The service, OMG, what joy to witness; was wonderfully friendly and bloomin' efficient.

Bread in linen bag (don’t ask me about the hygiene side of things!)- Lovely touch and gratifyingly fresh.

Companion’s Soup of Butternut Squash with Chanterelles and Almonds- Great winter food, subtle, warmly sweet and spot on.

I nearly went for some Maldon rock oysters until I noticed something resolutely piggish on the menu. I mean how can I not go for Chopped Trotters and Crisp Ears on Toast with Wild Herbs and Tarragon Mustard. This starter was of ‘Cor Blimey!’ proportions. The crisply battered ears were tender within and the trotter paste was excellent. For a second I could’ve sworn that the tarragon mustard was wasabi.

Compy’s Line caught Brixham Pollock with Brown Shrimps, Sea Purslane and Creamed Potatoes was a success. The saltiness of the shrimps complimenting the ethereal tasting fish was sublime.

Second dose of oinky goodness, my Slow roast Old Spot Pork Belly with Black Pudding, Colcannon and Pickled Prunes. Save the prunes (together with apricots, can’t stand them), this mains was everything you would expect to end the week with, well gastronomically so to speak. Melting pork and good-for-snacking crackling sums up the skill of the kitchen. Oh, why does everything taste twice as nice when Black Pudding is included?

Comp’s Bowl of warm Bramley apple doughnuts with spiced sugar was obviously made for sharing; well at least the perceived sight of it was implied. No, this dessert was way too good to be shared. The one morsel I duly nicked from the bowl only went on to confirm that one might as well forego on the mains next time and plump directly for three portions of this terrific dish instead.

The good old Black Treacle Tart with Cornish Clotted Cream- this was rich and sweet and I’m sorry to say, it simply put a smile on my face; I was a happy bro’. Comp the philistine huffed and said it was the clotted cream that did it.

So if the Ledbury is out of reach for most peeps, THA will more than compensate for this. It’s excellent and as a result, highly recommended.

PS To the owners of The Princess Victoria- come here and see for yourself. Decent service and brilliant cooking are much in evidence here; so no excuses as you’ve been more than duly prompted!

27 Walham Grove Fulham
London SW6 1QR



Anonymous said...

I'm giving this place a try on Sunday - hope the Black Treacle Tart is still on the menu!

bellaphon said...

Sue- awaiting your review in TP.

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