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Review – Harwood Arms

For an ordinary Londoner the Michelin awarded Harwood Arms can be an odd experience. As somebody who is used to the colorful mix of people in the capital I was slightly bewildered by the completely-white middle to upper-class homogeneity. Although this is clearly not something you can blame the establishment for it is nevertheless a reflection of Fulham’s pockets of unreal wealth.

Fulham
Fulham

Wealthy areas are compromised of a lower number of minorities, proportionally speaking, and although still somewhat unusual it explains at least partly why during my last visit every single customer would have undoubtedly ticked the “White, British” ethnicity box on any NHS questionaire.

Freshly baked Bread
Freshly baked Bread

However, despite feeling distinctly like we were attending Henley Regatta and not a pub the Harwood boasts a beautiful eatery with a sophisticated yet laid-back atmosphere. The modern and award winning British menu is exquisitely presented and unquestionably a level or two above your usual afternoon gastropub meal.

Poached peet smoked salmon with lemon, sour cream and apple
Poached peet smoked salmon with lemon, sour cream and apple

Service is professional but struck me as somewhat dispassionate and lacking warmth. The extensive wine list featured an Erre Punta Blanca 2011 Rioja which is a fantastic White – if you like that kind of thing – and at £15 per (large) glass the prices are representative of the West London surroundings. As a North Londoner you might simply deem them rather high.

Braised cheek of Longhorn beef with black cabbage, white beetroot and horseradish
Braised cheek of Longhorn beef with black cabbage, white beetroot and horseradish

I felt a disconnect between all the things I love about a pub – simple quality food, tradition, affordability and strong, full flavours – and the higher end and much more nuanced undertakings of the Harwood Arms. There is no doubt about the abundance of skill and precision permeating through the kitchen, but conceptually I was not convinced, however personal and subjective this transpires to be.

Loin and belly of tamworth pork with burnt onion, apple, cabbage and bacon
Loin and belly of tamworth pork with burnt onion, apple, cabbage and bacon

Unfortunately for me and regardless of the highly developed snapshots of dishes something was irreparably lost. In a weekend “roast” I long for soul and heart – it is an unaccountable thing that can not be generated, and in the end I found very little of it in Fulham that day. All things considered I would not return to the Harwood Arms. But you should probably go.

[6/10]   The Harwood Arms, Walham Grove, SW6 1QP London

Harwood Arms on Urbanspoon

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