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Thursday, 19 May 2011

The Harwood Arms Restaurant

The Harwood Arms combines the best of both worlds: it is a relaxed gastro pub with food exceptional enough to receive a Michelin star. The restaurant is pleasantly rustic with a low key vibe, completely inconspicuous from outside. It is a successful collaboration of several big names: Brett Graham of the famed Ledbury restaurant, Mike Robinson of the acclaimed Pot Kiln pub in Berkshire and Edwin Vaux from the renowned Vaux Brewery.

We were seated at a nice wooden table in the centre of the dining area. I immediately noticed the no fuss attitude, napkins tied with string and dainty fresh garden flowers adding colour to each table. I’m all for a Michelin starred restaurant minus the poncey atmosphere but here I found the service a little too relaxed, even a tad on the sloppy side. A scatty girl in jeans casually wandered around getting us our water and drinks seemingly when she felt like it, and seemed nervous as she opened a bottle of red wine for the next door table, embarrassingly splashing a few drops. My friend tasted one of their special ales, while I succumbed and had a glass of Prosecco, priced reasonably at £6.

Warm potato bread and rye bread arrived with some soft yellow butter. The potato was particularly delicious, soft comforting dough with a perfect crisp crust. We opted for two courses: main and dessert, eating in the evening I felt I couldn’t manage three. The Harwood Arms is known for its fine game and wild food, predominantly from Berkshire, and this is evident from the meaty menu. I chose grilled leg of Hampshire Down lamb with fennel puree, young market vegetables and stewed courgettes. The meat was succulent with a delicious garlicky flavour, though perhaps a little undercooked for me and I had to leave the rarer parts. The fresh vegetables were a lovely accompaniment, I particularly enjoyed the wonderfully flavoured courgettes, sweeter and tastier than I have ever experienced before.

My guest had the grilled T-bone and crispy shoulder of Berkshire fallow deer with garlic potatoes, pickled beetroot and field mushrooms. Elegantly presented on a wooden platter, this was essentially deer cooked three ways. Most enticing was the appetising curled sausage, after trying a little of everything I decided I also rather liked the shoulder meat encased in a crispy breaded shell. A sucker for garlic I couldn’t resist stealing a few of the yummy little potatoes too.

Puddings were large as you would expect for £7/8. No chocolate choices were available, instead most were very dairy based: rice pudding, honey ice cream, buttermilk pudding or cheeses, oh and rhubarb jam doughnuts served with sour cream. So we had the heather honey ice cream with honeycomb and hobnob ginger creams and the buttermilk pudding with blood orange sorbet and demerara sugar shortbread. Both were nice, though neither sensational... I found the honey ice cream with honeycomb a bit too sweet, though the homemade hobnobs were very good. I was too full to properly enjoy my taste of buttermilk pudding which is basically like pannacotta, but not as creamy.

We departed soon after desserts, and left the Harwood Arms as quiet and secluded as we had found it. I must admit, I was hoping for more, as I had heard such good things about this restaurant and the Ledbury mastermind, Mike Robinson. The bill for two came to £60, for which I’ve had better value and tastier meals.


  1. he, thanks for your comment
    great blog


  2. Hi lovely, thank you for following me - I am now following you :-) love your blog, makes me want to venture into London more! xx

  3. Ah! I left feeling exactly like how you did too.