I had my brother stay with me for a few days last week and whilst not his first trip to London, his past experiences have always been as a backpacker during times when the Aussie was substantially weaker to the sterling. Unfortunately his prior opinion of food quality in London reflected this. So it was my aim this time around to prove to him that the city that I now call home may not have a sparkling Sydney harbour, but it still does some good food.
The first stop on our gastronomic tour, The Harwood Arms in Fulham as I figured if I was going to wow him with a gastropub it might as well be a good one.
I have written before how much of a fan I am of Brett Graham, not just because he is a fellow Aussie, but because his food is simple yet brilliant. At his flagship restaurant The Ledbury, his simplistic, yet sophisticated touch lets the produce do the talking and I was very pleased to see this same approach in his more casual (yet Michelin starred) pub.
There has been much written about the fact that the Harwood Arms in indeed still a pub and therefore fairly no-frills in terms of decor. They even still do Tuesday trivia. There is both a bar menu (snacks) as well as the restaurant menu and specials board. Like the Ledbury, the staff are mainly Australian and New Zealand, and their relaxed demeanor really suits the pub.
We started off with Scotch Eggs (£3.50 each) all round. Honestly I have never been a fan of scotch eggs, mainly because the few that I have had have been luke warm bordering cold, hard-boiled with a gummy sausage layer. The Harwood Arms version, rather looks like a croquette when served. The breadcrumb layer is very crisp (panko breadcrumbs?), the meat layer obvious without being too meaty and egg, perfectly soft-boiled with a runny core. Mixing the runny egg yolk into the crispy breadcrumb shell was just divine!
For our main course, brother J and I decided to share a whole rib roast joint for two (£39). Still loaded with meat from my Albion fix the week prior I was curious to see how the Harwood Arms would match up. Our perfectly medium rare slice meat was served on a huge chopping board (though perhaps not as good as the Albion’s) alongside crispy goose fat potatoes, buttered cauliflower, kale and beans, as well as two perky looking yorkshire puddings.
Brother J took one look at the yorkshire puddings and thought they could possibly be a pie of sorts. Whilst traditionally yorkshire pudding is left plain, this version was not too far off the ‘pie’ mark. Graham has geniusly encased slow butter cooked mushrooms at the bottom of the yorkshire pudding case, almost ‘self-gravying’ the pud. Our meat was tender and juicy, though in parts a little fatty. The serving size was phenomenal and the two of us struggled to finish our mains.
The Harwood Arms doesn’t claim to be something that it’s not. It offers great food, in a laid back environment. The only shame is that we all don’t have a local as great as this.