The Harwood Arms is my favourite pub for food in London, its simple dining room a long way from the over-designed “gastropubs” popping up everywhere, yet with strikingly good food that deserves its Michelin star. Head chef since April 2014 is Alex Harper, previously junior sous chef at The Ledbury and before that head chef at Texture; Alex trained for four years at Le Manoir au Quat’ Saisons. Three courses are now priced at £39.50, two courses at £33.50; a s previously, once nice feature is a full vegetarian menu available of request. The restaurant specialises in game, much of it shot in Berkshire by owner Mike Robinson.
Spiced cauliflower with brassicas, capers and raisins was excellent, the vegetables precisely cooked, the balance of flavours very pleasing (15/20). Wood pigeon faggots (using birds from Berkshire) were served with carrot cooked in bone marrow and crispy shallots. This dish had lovely, deep flavour, the vegetables providing just about enough balance to the richness of the meat (15/20).
Roast saddle of fallow deer with damson, celeriac and smoked bone marrow tart featured excellent deer, cooked pink and with lovely flavour. A caramelised onion was a nice touch but overall this was a dish that I did find too rich; it was crying out for some green salad with an acidic dressing, or some other way to cut through the richness (14/20 but more if it was better balanced). Turbot from Cornwall was served sprouting broccoli, fennel and brown shrimp. The fish was accurately cooked and the fennel was very good, the sprouting broccoli a nice pairing for the fish (14/20).
For dessert I could not resist the signature doughuts, in this case blackberry jam ones, served with orange sugar and vanilla cream. These were indulgent but delicious; Homer Simpson would definitely approve (16/20).
Service was excellent, with a particularly friendly waitress from Melbourne looking after us well. The bill came to £93 a head, but that was with some excellent wine and a supplementary venison Scotch egg, which I can never resist ordering here. If you shared a modest bottle of wine then a typical price per head would be around £70.