The Harwood Arms has had a few head chefs over the years, but the transitions thus far have been smooth and the pub continues to serve traditional British food, with an emphasis on game. The latest head chef is is Salle Abé, who had worked at The Ledbury and happens to be married to the chef de cuisine of Gordon Ramsay Royal Hospital Road, Matt Abé. I have written before about the excellent wine list here, which not only has well chosen producers but is quite modestly priced.
The venison Scotch egg here is a thing of legend, the dish that, when it appeared, single handedly revived interest in eating the humble Scotch egg in restaurants. This version is made with venison, and with its liquid centre and crisp outside with just the right amount of salt, is pretty much what every other Scotch egg should aspire to.
Quail was served as both breast and leg, the latter on the bone, and came with a very good accompaniment of cabbage, frisee lettuce and walnuts (15/20). A mackerel starter was pleasant but did not quite match the standard of the other dishes, the particular specimen of mackerel cooked fine but not having the flavour of the very finest (13/20). My main course of sika deer with beetroot and bone marrow was lovely, the meat having gorgeous, subtle flavour, the earthiness of the beetroot a natural foil for this meat (16/20). On the side were very good garlic potatoes.
At the end was a basket of lemon curd doughnuts, one of my favourite things. Doughnuts may be commonplace, but getting them to this standard is very difficult. Here they had exactly the right level of lemon acidity to cut through the richness of the sugary coating, simple but gorgeous to eat. These reminded me of the version served in The Square at the height of its powers under Phil Howard (18/20).
The bill came to £106 per head with a lovely bottle of Vina Tondonia. Service was charming, and the whole experience thoroughly enjoyable. The Harwood Arms is a marvellous place to eat and drink that should be more widely celebrated.