The Harwood Arms

Posted By Kerri


There have been many good reviews of  the Harwood Arms in the last few months and, given that we live within walking distance and haven’t visited, last night’s dinner was long overdue.

The room itself is lovely, open and bright with high ceilings and big windows; a combination of new and old decor lends a comfortable and familiar feel to the space. This is more restaurant than bar really with the majority of the room filled with mismatched tables and chairs but Stephen and I were lucky enough to grab a sofa in the small area by the fire so we could have a pre-dinner drink while waiting for our friends to arrive.

The great thing about dining with good friends is the opportunity to share dishes and taste more of the menu, which is what usually happens when we eat out with these particular friends. When it came to ordering last night though we all ended up with pretty much the same dishes which led to some discussion about changing our order, my stance is firm on this though: always go with your first choice otherwise you’re inevitably disappointed and regret the last minute change of mind.


One thing that wasn’t likely to change under any circumstances was the ordering of the much-talked-about venison scotch egg. Stephen said it was the best he’d ever had and it certainly looked good, a great crust giving way to a moist, meaty interior before revealing the perfectly-cooked egg at the centre.


I opted for snails to start. I’ve only really seen snails on French menus before so I was excited and intrigued to see how the Harwood Arms would treat them. The presentation was different to the French style and it took me a little while to work out the right technique for releasing the buttery snails from their shell but, once I’d mastered it, there was no stopping me. The first one was a little rubbery but the other four (sadly I had to give one to Stephen) were great; larger than their French cousins, meaty with plenty of garlic butter and crunchy breadcrumbs and a sliver of bone marrow which further enhanced the meaty flavour.


My main course of cod with crayfish and Jersey Royal potatoes had the potential to be good but sadly wasn’t brilliant. I was hesitant about ordering cod given the sustainability issues but couldn’t resist the lure of the crayfish which I love and which the Harwood Arms is known for. The cod itself was very small and, given it’s size, there were far too many potatoes, many of which were over-cooked and I don’t think they were seasoned at all. The sauce was tasty and would have been great to mop up with the potatoes but it was just too thin so remained in a pool with the leftover potatoes at the bottom of the dish. And the dish itself was just ridiculous. It looked attractive (apart from the many chips around the edges) but was almost impossible to eat out of, unless you had ordered something like a risotto or a pasta dish. Far too difficult to try and cut fish and potatoes without ending up with a big mess in the bowl.


The boys both went for the braised shoulder of lamb which was very good indeed, perfectly seasoned and moist, intensely lamby in flavour and with the right ratio of potato and vegetable accompaniments. They weren’t so vociferous in their complaints about the dish as I was but they did agree that a plate would have been better.


And then, unusually for me, dessert. I was really keen to try the Earl Grey tea ice-cream as I hadn’t had it before and I’m glad I did. It was unusual at the first taste , slightly spicy and very aromatic but it softened as the ice-cream melted and went perfectly with the home-made garibaldi biscuits.

So, aside from my complaints about the crockery, the lack of seasoning, the small portion size, the undercooked and too-abundant potatoes and the too-thin sauce; I actually really liked the Harwood Arms. Everything else we ate was very good, the room was lovely, the atmosphere was relaxed and the staff were attentive without being pushy. I’d definitely go back, particularly as it’s so close, but next time I’d order something without potatoes that’s easy to eat from a bowl.

Jul 4th, 2009

6 Comments to 'The Harwood Arms'

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  1. Lizzie said,

    I’ve only been for the scotch egg, and I found whilst it was AMAZING the little pile of salt on top was superfluous. So we ordered another and asked them to leave it off…
    .-= Lizzie´s last blog ..Thai-Style Fish Cakes =-.

  2. Helen said,

    I need to go back here for a proper feed. I was the peson dining on the scotch eggs with Lizzie so I echo that comment. They were delicious otherwise. We also enjoyed their garlicky potatoes. I’m dying to try the sherbet doughnuts too. I can’t see most of your pictures by the way – don’t know if the prob is my end or yours…
    .-= Helen´s last blog ..Donna Margherita (Lavender Hill) =-.

  3. Stephen said,

    Helen and Lizzie, I did try to tip the salt off, but it stuck into the very crispy breadcrumbs and not much came off. Kerri did actually warn me about the salt because of your comments on the subject, but I didn’t heed the warning 🙂

    And thanks for the comment about the images, have fixed them. I’m really not sure what WordPress thought it was doing, but it put in some image links as relative links and got them completely wrong.

  4. Douglas said,

    Very, very nice looking lunch!

  5. Mrs Ergül said,

    sadly, sometimes we just can’t have them all! I’m glad you still liked it despite all the unpleasant happenings!
    .-= Mrs Ergül´s last blog ..Hong Kong Trip Part II 香港游之点心日 =-.

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