"It's only a Gastropub ..."
Repeat: "It's only a Gastropub".
These were the words I read on a food blog written by the very entertaining Bellaphon, to whom I have made reference several times on my own pages here. Otherwise known as "Fat Les" (his choosing, not mine), he has since ceased writing about food owing to the fact that he has "lost his sense of smell". Personally I think it's because he started smoking again and thus, sadly, his palate's sensitivity has gone walkabout, but I, like many, live in hope that he feels inspired enough to pack in the dreaded weed, go out to restaurants again, eat vast quantities of rich food and then sit down at his keyboard to tell the likes of me what he thought about it.
It was a procedure exactly like this which has prompted me to tell you about my visit to a place I have been meaning to sample, purely on the basis of a rave review I read by Fat Les, for the best part of 8 months. Several failed attempts at securing a table later, I received the text message I had been waiting for; your reservation for 2 is confirmed at;
The Harwood Arms in Fulham.
Joseph and Annabel were having a "sleepover" at my parents, so the wonderful M and myself treated ourselves to an evening out. We took good old public transport (just like old times) so I could push the boat out, should the ale or wine list take my fancy (which they did).
Apart from some extremely loud and drunk King's Road types (who left meekly when they smashed an over-the-bar lamp shade), the ambience was just perfect. A small-ish bar adjoining an even smaller-ish restaurant area and the staff were extremely laid back and friendly.
Did we want a drink? Yes please, a pint of Wandle ale for me (local, you see?) and a Bloody Mary for M which, considering she doesn't drink, like, ever, gives you some idea of how welcoming and relaxing the place is!
We drank, we chatted, we ate the warm home made bread and I asked if I could have one of their famous venison scotch eggs which-was-amazing!!!!. (I should at this point highlight the fact that I opted not to take my camera as I have become something of a bore when it comes to snapping my food. It is for this reason that I will provide you with a link to Bellaphon's review of the place, complete with pic's, shortly).
Anyway, our choice's of food went something like this.
Me: (after the scotch egg) Poached salmon with sea purslane, fresh apple, horseradish cream and toast.
M: Half dozen Hereford snails with oxtail braised in stout, parsley crumbs and bone marrow.
Me: Whole rabbit leg stewed in cider and mustard with smoked bacon, prunes and Swiss chard.
M: Roast pheasant breast and green peppercorn sausage with pearl barley, butternut squash and black cabbage.
Following thses exquisite courses, we were all set for Bramley apple doughnuts and cheese's but alas, our stomach's were full. We made do (did I just say "made do"???) with two scoops of clementine sorbet which was just amazing.
It wasn't the kind of place that we would eat at regularly - whilst it wasn't horribly expensive, it wasn't 'everyday' eating prices either. We have spent much of today reminding ourselves how nice it was and how we must go again. I think that spending the following day reminding yourself about your meal is a pretty good indicator to how much we enjoyed ourselves.
Our terrific food, the walk back to Fulham which was buzzing with people just heading out as we headed home, Christmas lights twinkling, the slightly hypnotic bus ride, leaving behind the crisp, cold night air as we walked into our warm home, all added to the special-ness of the evening.
The fact that we discussed our children for most of the evening is neither here nor there!!
I would like to say a big thank you to Fat Les (there's nothing "fat" about him, by the way!) for bringing my attention to the Harwood Arms in the first place.
Without him, I would never have heard about it, let alone gone to try it.
I reckon if I get a petition going, he might pack in the fags, get his taste buds back into shape and get out there again, giving us points and tips as to where to eat.
Having said that, he did give the South West of London a bit of a wide berth so I may have to get a different petition going about that one!
But for now, thanks Les. Thanks a lot.
Hope the shop is busy!
Come back soon!!?!
(Check out his review here)