What happens when you combine a chef-patron from a two-Michelin-starred London restaurant to run a boozer in Fulham? A deservedly popular gastropub is born! Brett Graham from The Ledbury (since 2005) is the man responsible who began cooking at a tender age of 15 in his native town of Newcastle of Australia back in 1994. During the latter part of 2008 Graham opened Fulham gastropub the Harwood Arms with TV chef Mike Robinson and publican Edwin Vaux. Two years later it wins a star. What I love about The Harwood Arms despite having a shiny Michelin status it has a down to earth good-ol boozer feel, yes it has draft on tap, wooden floors with matching tables and chairs that wouldn’t look out of place in your local. Granted it’s a bit more polished than your spit-and-saw-dust variety but the food itself isn’t innovate and complex as it doesn’t need to be, after all less is more in pub right? I came on a Friday evening with friend to catch-up, little did he know that I’d recommended this place for a mutual long-time compatriot who booked for an hour earlier to celebrate his partner’s birthday (he was oblivious to my booking too). Neither of them knew of each other’s attendance either, and the look on their faces when they crossed paths was hilarious! Still to this day they thought it was a bat-sh@t crazy coincidence!
I’m a sucker for good bread and this home-made Irish soda variant from their bar-snack menu hits the spot. (£2.50). It’s malty with layers molasses flavour – combine it with that creamy butter and crunchy sea salt and you’ll be in bread heaven.
Coursodon Saint Joseph (£65) It’s brilliant juice with a wee kick of tannins. So good that we guzzled three bottles.
Harwood Arms Scotch Egg (£4.5). Knife and fork contact produces a reassuring crunch as you cut into this delightful scotch egg; the crisp and perfectly browned exterior holds beautifully seasoned venison. The meat itself is quite lean but is a purveyor of flavour and look at the seduction yolk! A pub is not complete unless it has a good scotch egg and it’s safe to say this one falls into that category.
Berkshire wood pigeon faggots with carrots cooked in bone marrow with crispy shallots. Breaking into the ‘caul fat’ the faggots were wrapped in was challenging and I can only describe it has chewing cling film! If you can get beyond that the meat inside was delicious. Porky parts I’m sure from the belly, shoulder and some bacon chucked in for good measure. (That’s what I taste). In case you’re wondering, the caul fat is the omentum membrane from the pig’s abdomen. Lovely.
Onto the mains and first in is the loin of Tamworth pork with bacon marmalade, cider pickled cabbage and apple. The pork was rich, moist and strangely springy in texture. Acidity balance came from the cabbage and apple. Umami, spice & sweetness was the bacon jam’s job, which it had the shoulders for. Don’t get me started on how crispy the crackling was! Overall, a joy to eat but what really made my taste buds dance was the bacon jam – so good that the recipe request was sent to the kitchen!
Roast rump of Herdwick lamb, with white sprouting broccoli, goat’s curd and sunflower seeds. The lamb imparted wonderful sweet meaty flavour without the strong gamey taste it’s known for. I loved the tender broccoli too which were satisfying to eat. This plate of food got me swooning.
Token mash shot!
Yorkshire rhubarb soufflé with marmalade ice cream. Fluffy, a rumour of egg and mild tartness layered in from the rhubarb. Very classy cooking.
The damage: Expect to pay £35.50 for 2 courses or £42.50 for 3 courses excluding drinks
The good: I’m still thinking about when I’m going to dine here again, dreaming continuously about that flawless venison scotch egg, how supremely tender that roast rump of Herdwick lamb was, but let’s not forget that intensely satisfying bacon jam either! When an experience becomes this evocative, time beckons for you to return. (For me at least anyway!).
The bad: Pub or not, you wouldn’t expect Michelin level service to be boggle-eye clueless as to what’s in the dishes or how they were cooked. I reckon our waitress got some laps in from all the trips to the kitchen to grab the answers to my inquisitiveness. You can’t have it all I guess, perhaps it was a minor quibble in the grand scheme of things.