lunches at the Harwood Arms...

The Harwood Arms is the perfect kind of local pub.  Set in a nondescript street in Fulham, it looks completely unassuming and decidedly local. People were popping in and out all afternoon, and from what I saw, the majority appeared to be on foot and knew the staff well.  The interior is all stripped down wood and feels airy, and light.  However, a quick glance under the bonnet reveals a much racier engine - Harwood is actually a joint collaboration between Mike Robinson, chef patron of the Pot Kiln pub out in Berkshire, and Brett Graham of the Ledbury.

I'd been speaking to a well known food blogger and @Hermanoprimero on twitter for a while now - we're all techies, we're of a similar age, and we're all obsessed with food.  I thought it would be fun to organise a lunch, so when one of them suggested we meet there, it seemed like a very good choice. I've eaten Mike's venison before (some of the best I've ever had), and The Ledbury is one of my favourite restaurants in London.

The man currently behind the stoves at is Barry Fitzgerald, who'd previously worked at Arbutus and Honey.  He recently took over the mantle from Stevie Williams, who'd made the Harwood Arms the only Michelin starred pub in London.

We began with an amazing venison scotch egg - crispy panko breadcrumbs, delicious meat, perfect egg.  I think the picture speaks for itself...

Venison Scotch egg

I had the Cornish crab on toast, with a chilled courgette and basil soup.  The soup was packed full of flavour (and not too courgetty actually), a bowl of green seasonality, with spiky basil, and clean herby flavours.  The crab toast was delicious!  The light white meat on the top was delicate and sweet, but the bottom of the toast contained a rich layer of brown meat.  It wasn't just that the brown meat was packed full of flavour, it tasted as though it had actually been dressed in a reduction of shellfish.  It tasted of the best bisque, a sort of ground shell intensity that worked perfectly on the toast and was a perfect foil for the verdant soup.

Cornish crab on toast, with edible flowers
Chilled courgette and basil soup, with Cornish crab on toast 
Next I had the plaice - perfectly cooked fish, lightly dressed vegetables, salty samphire, sweet baby gem lettuce.  A lovely dish, clean and yet packed full of flavour.

Roast plaice on the bone, with smoked potato, baby gem and potted shrimp butter
There were lots of amazing puddings on offer, but I'm a bit addicted to sea buckthorn after my travels to Paul Foster at Tuddenham Mill, so there was no way I was going to turn down any dish that contained it.  In this case there were perfect tiny doughnuts, dusted in sugar and cinnamon.  The sea buckthorn came as dipping sauce, and also mixed with sour cream.  Light and fresh, they complimented each other perfectly.

Brown sugar doughnuts, with sea buckthorn curd and sour cream
The staff at the Harwood Arms, headed by Alex Sergeant, were charming and attentive. We were there for hours talking about all manner of things, and they kept us topped up, fed and watered in a friendly but unobtrusive way.  The food is of very good quality, and well executed.  Actually I think it's very good value too - I wish I lived next to the Harwood, it would definitely be my local - I wish it could be my local... As it is, it's definitely going on my regulars list.

@Hermanoprimero's Lunch

Warm salad of wood pigeon, with
creamed livers, bitter leaves and turnips

Cheek and jowl of Middlewhite portk,
with celeriac, white cabbage and crackling

Fresh mint ice-cream with Harwood Arms bournon biscuits

The other lunch...

Chicken live pate, with spiced chutney,
chicory and caramelised onion bread
Slow cooked neck of roebuck, with
creamed celeriac, wild mushrooms and horseradish

Raspberry and blackberry trifle,
with sherry sponge and brandy snaps

(and yes, it really is that colour!)

Harwood Arms
27 Walham Grove
London SW6 1QP

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