Test Driving The Harwood Arms for their 10th anniversary

eggsThe Harwood's venison scotch eggs were the first to set off the current gourmet scotch egg trend - for which we give them profound thanks.

Ok, we've got to admit from the start - this was our first trip to The Harwood Arms.

Yes - the multi-award-winning tavern that was the first London pub to secure a Michelin star and has The Ledbury's Brett Graham as a co-owner. That one. It's obviously been a major omission and one we can only partly put down to a Londoner's deep-held reluctance to travel, what for us is 16 tube stops, across town.

So when we heard they were celebrating their 10th birthday and got invited down to try a special menu they're putting on for it, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to right this particular wrong.

A bit of background first - The Harwood's emergence as one of London's best eating pubs came about from the formation of one hell of a trio; co-founders Brett Graham, Mike Robinson who owned the Pot Kiln pub in Berkshire and Edwin Vaux from the Vaux brewery launched the pub back in 2009. They brought in chef Stephen Williams (now at 40 Maltby Street) to help them create what Brett describes as a vision "to go beyond the typical pub fare." They did this in spades, winning a Michelin star just a year later.

barThe good news is that The Harwood is still a proper pub with space up at the bar to sit with a pint and a Scotch egg.

Since then, the pub has gone on to keep its star and is now No 5 in the UK's Top Gastropub's list. A lot of that has to do with the talent in the kitchen and the brains behind the operation, but there's also the matter of their produce too. Mike is responsible for the deer management on more than 20,000 acres of land in Hampshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire. So when you're ordering one of their famous venison scotch eggs or a dish of roast muntjac, then they'll be able to tell you exactly where it comes from.

Right now, the Head Chef is Sally Abe who has a pretty stellar CV starting her career working for Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's, moving on to The Ledbury and then to Elystan Street under Phil Howard before coming to The Harwood as head chef.

sallyHead chef Sally presents the table with the Muntjac Wellingtons 

If all that makes you either want to make a return visit or, like us, go for the first time, then here's what's on the 10th anniversary menu (much of which is also on the main menu as individual courses). It kicked off with the scotch eggs you see above and then...

tartWarm onion and Montgomery cheddar tart with cider and sorrel - a teeny, perfectly presented tart (and damned good pastry)

pateWhipped chicken livers with mead jelly and thyme hobnobs - those hobnobs are just amazing. If only the real ones were like this (we might just try some parfait on them to check...).

fishBaked cod with laverbread butter and asparagus - and that asparagus spear was spring on a plate. 

faggotWood pigeon faggot with celeriac and pickled walnut - a glorious use of pigeon.

wellyMuntjac Wellington with wild garlic - this also came with teeny Jersey Royals and sprouting broccoli. This was the top dish for us. We're generally hyper-critical of wellingtons but this was pitch perfect - the muntjack offering a real depth of flavour. 

sliceElderflower custard slice with buttermilk sorbet and English strawberries - at this point in the meal you might think you wouldn't have enough room for dessert but you'd be very wrong. We'd been through all of the above and we still could have had another serving of this.

And if that wasn't enough - there are also lemon curd doughnuts with Earl Grey cream. 

The Harwood's 10th-anniversary dinner will be held on 20 May 2019 when Sally and Brett will be joined by all of the former Head Chefs as they return to The Harwood Arms for one night, then they'll have the menu on for two weeks for everyone to order. 

Our visit to the Harwood Arms was a long time coming - but now we see what we're missing, we'll be planning a return visit...

Hot Dinners dined as guests of The Harwood Arms


More about The Harwood Arms

Where is it? Walham Grove, Fulham, London SW6 1QP

When does the anniversary menu run: Tuesday – Saturday evenings, 20 May - 1 June 2019

How much: £80 per person with an optional (but very much advised) £45 wine pairing

Find out more: Visit their website or follow them on Instagram @harwoodarms 

Book The Harwood Arms