Please note that due to Copyright Trolls, all images have been removed until I can manually review them, one by one, and ensure credit is appropriately displayed. So if the story suddenly makes no sense, then...well...soz.
This is a long process, so please bear with me...it will likely take until the end of 2024 until all images are reviewed and displayed correctly. Sigh.
Aha. I’m back and after 5 years I’ve finally worked out how to book The Harwood Arms, in Fulham.
A couple of warnings first. This is NOT a Barbie-free zone – never has been, never will be. I’m a Barbie Girl, in The Harwood Arms. Cool, that song is in your head now for the rest of the review.
Two, this is going to be slightly NSFW, also with apologies to everyone now expecting a strict feminist theme on Roast Dinners in London.
Three. I’ve been to The Harwood Arms. This is one of those, “could it be better than Blacklock” roasts.
You have been warned.
You had been warned.
Bang goes (quite literally albeit in a doll world) my chances of The Harwood Arms ever sharing this post, but who cares – it isn’t like I’ve spent the last 6 years trying to build up a boring restaurant guide to try to get that job at The Guardian where I can whine about life being so unfair in a meritocracy and how we haven’t tried communism properly yet (read also not tried Brexit properly yet). Or maybe even with the intention of selling tyres.
I’m A Barbie Girl
It’s true. One of my accomplices genuinely thought until yesterday that The Michelin Guide was written by someone called Mr Michelin, and assumed the tyre company was completely unrelated.
Well, The Harwood Arms has a Michelin Star. Oooh. Which explains why it has been on my to-do list since near the beginning, yet I’ve never been able to get a booking.
Quite a few times it has come up when I’ve spun the random number generator, but there was no bookings for the coming Sunday, or the one after, or the one after, or the one after, or the one after, or the one after, or the one after, or the one after…Barbie porn?
Eventually I figured it out – they release bookings 90 days in advance – and you have to book on that 90th day. 24th April I made the booking for 23rd July. I booked a trip to Paris in the meantime – oh and if you want to see what a Sunday roast in Paris looks like, step this way into my worldwide adventures.
Interestingly I found a pub in Dallas called The Harwood Arms – and yes, the serve Sunday roasts too. Feels like it needs to be a mission.
Back to our Harwood Arms, and the Michelin Guide suggests, “The Harwood Arms is a pub at heart, so bar snacks are a must: munch on homemade crisps or a venison Scotch egg while you peruse the menu with a pint”.
It is a pub at heart. We eschewed bar snacks, and even starters. And the beer choice isn’t exactly enticing – Camden Pale or Camden Lager, with another lager, Guinness and two old man warm beers. Maybe Mr Michelin didn’t actually visit here. He was spot on with everything else he wrote though. Damn, and I thought being a roast dinner reviewer was a cool life.
In The Harwood Arms
The menu states a few things that you can ignore as easily as anyone suggesting that the Barbie movie is going to make everyone gay.
Yes it is 3 courses for £65.00, but they were fine with us having 2 courses for £50.00.
They do also suggest that roasts are to share between two, yet there were a troubling three of us at the table – only the Iberian pork and the unlisted special, Cote De Boeuf (so spelling that wrong at some point), required two people.
My mind immediately went to the Iberian pork, my regular accomplice’s to the sirloin, my occasional accomplice’s to the Cote De Boeuf – a sharing plate. There was also slow-cooked deer shoulder and another special, Muntjac deer, available.
I like to think that I’m at least as flexible as Barbie, so I offered to share the Cote De Boeuf (gosh such generosity in my friendship), once we clarified that the supplementary charge was £25.00 between two, and not each. There was also a supplementary charge for the sirloin, of £7.50.
I still had a nagging doubt, and that was that I’d only had average, decent or occasionally disappointing steaks in the last few years. I’d got to the point where I thought, maybe, I didn’t actually like steak any more. And here I was spending an extra £12.50 on one. £62.50 for two courses, to be exact. Plus service charge. Plus wine. Plus a boring beer.
Life With Roasties, It Can Be Toasted
Our roasts took around 20 minutes to arrive – and came on a sharing platter. Service was excellent throughout – they topped up our wine glasses for us, but alas we had to plate ourselves.
You quibble if you want to, but I’m cool with it, especially when it is a sharing steak, and especially when my accomplice doesn’t quite eat his fair share. You mean, more for me? Aha.
No, I didn’t have breakfast, unless a handful of grapes counts.
Starting with the half a carrot, this had a very slight crunch to it but was still soft, with a honey and wholegrain mustard dressing. Tres nice, as they say in France.
The tenderstem broccoli was more plentiful, flavoured delicately with lemon and had quite a crunch – you might argue it was a tad too crunchy, though for my preferences it was just on the side of acceptable – 30 second less blanching and I would be describing it as undercooked. As it was, it was thoroughly enjoyable.
The cauliflower cheese was exquisite. A proper, sticky, creamy, cheesy sauce – I wish I had asked them what cheese, though I would no doubt have instantly forgotten. The breadcrumbs on top gave it a pleasing crunch – and they supplied two dishes between the three of us.
You Can Brush My Beef
We had around 10 roast potatoes to share between the two of us on our sharing platter – though if you think that is crazy, then my regular accomplice, not for the first time this year, had more roasties than me – 10 on her solo platter. 10 roast potatoes for one person is actually too many. She left some.
All the roast potatoes were golden and crispy – perhaps occasionally a tad too crispy, perhaps made a little earlier. Soft inside, but not fluffy. These were well ahead of the London standard, very well ahead, yet you can envisage better.
You may have noticed that the Yorkshire pudding looked burnt – and you are correct. They even admitted that it was cooked and left overnight. Aha. We know the game.
Except it was cooked and left overnight with this braised beef concoction – I feel like I tasted bone marrow too, though not sure if that is my imagination, life is your creation, Come on, Barbie, let’s go party, ah ah ah yeah.
So, yes the yorkie itself was dried out and burnt on top, urgh. Ohhhhh. Yet it had this wonderful concoction inside, which had soaked into the dried-out yorkie, and made the bottom part edible, and fairly delightfully so. Ooooh. Come on, Barbie, let’s go party, ooh oh, ooh oh.
There’s actually three types of beef to talk about here – I do wonder what came in the yorkies with the deer or pork. So this braised beef was pretty delicious, there was an earthy nature to it, a hint of onion, and I thought bone marrow but as I mentioned, possibly part of my, erm, imaginative faculty.
And Dress My Roast With Gravy
Remember what I said earlier about not having had a good steak in a couple of years? Granted one of those times was a visit to the underwhelming Steak & Co, it includes M&S steaks along with proper butcher’s steaks, other restaurants in London, Wales and Paris – one of which served me disgustingly burnt steak that I as too British to return.
I have finally had great steak again. The Cote De Boeuf was divine and very much worth the £12.50 each supplement. The fat was gooey and rendered perfectly, the meat itself was just totally melt in your mouth – succulent and juicy. Think of all the superlatives that My London would give a steak from wherever is paying them for advertisement, and add some more.
Also there was a cube of…ahhh memory…I think short rib, which was notably more fatty, but gloriously so in a kind of gooey way, topped with shallot and some kind of salsa verde type thing.
Wow. I’m not sure I’ve emphasised sufficiently just how amazing this Cote De Boeuf was.
The only thing left to mention is the gravy. It wasn’t wow, but it totally worked with the roast – with the quality of the Cote De Boeuf, even I, at my most northern inner depths, question whether I’d really want a proper northern gravy – or whether their silky, faintly rich jus-like gravy was actually more suitable. I do think it was more suitable – a Blacklock-type gravy might have been overkill.
Which leads us nicely onto…
Imagination, In Your Yorkshire Pudding
Oh, I mean, it leads us onto the question. The question. That question. Is The Harwood Arms better than Blacklock for a Sunday roast?
I’ve drooled and droned on about the Cote De Boeuf, oh and the short-rib, oh and the braised beef – this is as good as it gets. I might as well order the vegetarian roast this coming Sunday, as nothing will compete. I will probably never get as gorgeous a cut of beef, on a Sunday roast, in London.
The vegetables were all excellent, and all added to the roast, all had some unique flavours.
I have only one real complaint – and that is the Yorkshire pudding. Leaving them overnight does nobody any favours, no matter what glory is inside the hole.
The service was exceptional from start to end, the pub itself is fairly simple – pleasantly decorated though without being too posh or anything – I didn’t feel out of place as an overmarked pleb.
We spent a shade under £100 each, which I didn’t think was too bad – 2 courses, the £12.50 supplement, a bottle of wine, a drink each and service charge.
Interestingly they don’t cram too many tables in there either – maybe 12, 15 at a push. And we never felt rushed at all.
Oh Lord Gravy, Let’s Eat Barbie
Oh and we had dessert:
Gosh, and you thought you were at the bit where I told you whether it was better than Blacklock, or not.
So I was stuffed after the roast. Totally stuffed. I was still stuffed the next morning – I couldn’t even bear going for a beer afterwards, though I did suggest it out of politeness.
Yet I could squeeze dessert – which is a rare I bother, mostly because I’m trying to lose weight before the doctor decides I need to go on life-long drugs which won’t k-hole me.
Anyway. It was glorious. Perhaps I struggled a tad with the frozen pieces, as they jarred for my personal enjoyment, but the cream was luxurious, the blood orange punchy – every bite was different in terms of the combination of flavours. So, yes, they can do bloody good desserts too.
Right. Scores. My occasional accomplice scored it an 8.90 out of 10 – the last time he joined me was for The Grill At The Dorchester, and I think he slightly preferred the experience there, but preferred the food here.
My regular accomplice scored it a 9.10 out of 10. Whopping.
I’m also scoring it a 9.10 out of 10. Which makes it the 3rd best roast dinner I’ve ever had in London, one of which is closed down. Which doesn’t make it better than my first trip to Blacklock. Yet it was better than my visit to Blacklock Covent Garden this year, and Blacklock Soho the previous year.
It will be likely be a long time before I have a better roast dinner. Get it booked. For 90 day’s time.
Come on Barbie, let’s go party…
The Harwood Arms, Fulham
Station: West Brompton
Tube Lines: District, Overground
Fare Zone: Zone 2
Loved & Loathed
Loved: Well, the Cote De Boeuf was sensational, the vegetables all excellent with different flavours, service superb and the yorkie was stuffed.
Loathed: The yorkie was burnt and overdone...but apart from that, such a top notch meal.