Young and coffee in varying degrees, Kat also says stuff @ThoroughlyMode
Published October 18th 2010
The Harwood Arms is a pub. But it's a pub with a Michelin star. So it's not really an ordinary local pub.
On its food side, the Harwood gets its pedigree from a Michelin starred restaurant, and on the drinks side it gets its parentage from a well known, and loved, pub in rural Berkshire and the Vaux Brewery. The idea being to combine the two and make, as their slogan says: the town come to the country. Meaning they're really serious about where they source their produce from, and really serious about how they cook and serve it. This part of the magic is the domain of Stephen Williams, who is worth mentioning purely so that you know who to thank personally if you enjoy your meal here.
One of Stephen's specialities, if the people who talk about food all the time are to be listened to, are the venison scotch eggs, which manage to have the slightly runny yolk, and soft white centre, of a perfect three minute egg, inside a delicious venison shell. Before you get upset about eating Bambi, all the venison eaten here has been personally shot by one of the Harwood's owners, Mike Robinson. That's how seriously they take sourcing their produce. While the bar menu is seasonably static, the short restaurant menu changes quite frequently. For a snapshot of what you can expect, they're currently serving grilled steak of Berkshire Roe deer and douglas fir sausage with raw celeriac, spelt flat bread and field mushrooms; braised shoulder of English lamb with purple sprouting broccoli, rosemary broth, crispy haggis and green sauce; and whole roast North Yorkshire Grouse with smoked bacon, watercress and brown bread sauce. If they're doing it, try and leave space for a few scoops of Perry sorbet to finish, it's like a Roald Dahl concoction of roast pork in light ice cream format.
But the Michelin star, and let's be clear that the Harwood is the first pub in London to be awarded a Michelin star, doesn't get in the way of the atmosphere, which is still decidedly pubby. Meaning that people bring their dogs in, feel relaxed enough to get a bit raucous if the mood takes them and on Tuesday night when it's pub quiz night everyone gets friendly and a bit involved in each others' business. In fact, on Tuesday nights especially, this light and friendly, Georgian-slightly-Shaker-y-ily-decorated space, can get cheerily noisy as teams vie to win the first prize of four free meals, or second prize of four free drinks.
It's lauded all over town, but a little bit out of the way to get too many people in each night - if you want to eat you will need to book though, because there are only a few handfuls of tables. And foodies know and love it.