There’s something about the sun in London that makes you lazy, i think it’s that fact that it happens so rarely that makes you want to do nothing other than laze like a cat, sprawled under a tree somewhere. You dream of ice cold glasses of pimms and picnics in the park (which never focus as much on dainty sandwiches and strawberries as i’d like) and it’s the only time when the city seems to smile. Everyone seems desperate to cling onto the last hours of sun, knowing that soon, there’ll be nothing but dull grey skies to look at. Sadly i haven’t seen as much of it as i’d like as i’ve spent the week frantically unpacking and cleaning the flat but now that we’re settled in to the flat nicely (apart from the sofa, hurry up ikea) we thought it was about time to venture out and discover some of the local retaurants. First on our list was The Harwood Arms, as, somehow, we’ve managed to move somewhere where our local pub has a michelin star. This obviously had absolutely nothing to do with the appeal of our flat whatsoever….
Anway, on sunday, with the sun shining, off we toddled round the corner to sample some of our local’s delights, and i have to say, delights doesn’t even come close.
Frst up, we went for a round of the specal cocktals, Alex and i opting for a gin fizz and Genie, the earl grey martni.
The gin fizz was the resounding success of the two choices, a thirst-quenching blend of gin, elderflower, mint, lime and cucumber, all rounded off nicely with a good splash of soda. Just the ticket for such a hot day. The martini was good but took an absolute age to arrive due to the tea needing to brew and it was unanimously decided that, whilst good, it probably wasn’t worth the wait.
Talking of waiting, the bread we were given whilst we waited for our starters was seriously worthy of note, so much so that Alex has already requested i somehow try and recreate one of the breads, a kind of dense, seedy sodabread.
Whilst our staters weren’t speedy to arrive, when they did come, they were so delicious, i would have waited all day for them, definitely our favourite course of the day. Being a sucker for game in all shapes and forms, i went for the partridge and parsnip soup, which came with the delightful surprise of a large crouton topped with a parsnip puree and a perfect little partridge breast.
This was one of the best dishes i’ve had in a very long time, definitely something to return for.
Something else worth going back for and one of those things you wonder why no one has done it before was the snails. Perfectly cooked before being added back to their shells along with tender braised oxtail and a parsley crust, they were the best snails i’ve ever had and a great introduction to them if it’s something you’re a bit iffy about trying.
Alex went for the special, which i must admit i’m struggling to remember the exact details of. I remember a poached duck egg yolk and bacon, chantarelles and a griddled spring onion (ok, so i got some help from alex here), and i remember it being good, but not as good as the other two dishes.
Again, the main courses didn’t exactly fly out of the kitchen but i was fairly thankful for that as my soup was quite filling and i was glad to have some time to let it go down. Also, i don’t think any of us were going to complain after the success of the first course, we were just excited to see what would come next. Luckily we, and especially me, weren’t let down.
I was the only one who went for a meat option but i think that’s definitely the way forward. The fish was good but the meat was infinitely better. To be honest, i was lost the moment i saw the words ‘slow cooked lamb shoulder’. You can keep your legs and your racks, give me a bit of slow cooked shoulder and i’ll just about love you forever. Especially when you add a little pearl barley and a bit of black cabbage, i’ll be a happy girl.
Alex again went for the special, this time it was the gurnard. The main reason for this choice was that it was accompanied by a razor clam, something that will lure him in time and time again. This was basically the snazziest fish finger you’ll ever eat. That isn’t meant as a slight, i’m all in favour of revamping the classics, especially things we loved as children but should probably shun as adults in favour of ‘proper’ food.
Genie also went for fish, in her case, the roasted cod with seasonal vegetables. The fish was well seasoned and cooked so that it was still moist and tender, the crispy mini croquettes providing a great contrast to the delicateness of the fish.
As full as we all were after this (genie and i had to sadly hand over the remains of ours to a very willing Alex), pudding was a-calling. I had already espied something on the menu when we very first arrived that i pretty much knew from the get go would be mine come pudding time, and, lo and behold it was. There’s something about doughnuts that conjours up childhood memories and sheer indulgence and a feeling of whimsy that may explain my sheer unadulterated joy at the mere mention of them. This is especailly true when they’re dusted with cinammon sugar, filled with fig jam and served with sour cream. Who in their right mind could resist that?
Oooh it was good, as you can see though, it was fairly sizeable so once again, Alex had to be called in to help. The only thing that wasn’t good was the figs themselves. I don’t know what had been done to them but where they should have been jammy and sticky and rich, they just had a slightly odd taste and a rather unappealing texture.
Alex went for the lemon and blueberry eton mess. Now i’m distinctly unfussed by the blueberry as a fruit, finding that most of the ones we get here are flavourless and rather soggy in texture. Alex is the polar opposite, actively loving the blueberry and likely to order anything it’s found nestling inside. I have to say, somehow, these were the most blueberryish of blueberries. Tasting just as they were supposed to taste and being accented and heightened by the lemon, all swirled through a mound of pillowy cream and perched atop a sliver of blueberry jelly. A very satisfying end to the meal on both fronts.
Sadly the sun has now faded and the sincere march towards autumn has begun. However, i’m comforted by the fact that though the warmth might not still be here, luckily the Harwood Arms is still just around the corner, waiting for us to come back. And come back we shall.