I have written several times about the Harwood Arms, so please read my previous review for the background and the wine list. This latest meal began with the signature venison Scotch egg, which single-handedly redefined the Scotch egg in London, and is the reason why you now see it so often on restaurant menus. It is a thing of beauty (17/20).
Chicken liver parfait was a special of the day, served with thyme-flavoured hob nob biscuits and onion and Balsamic vinegar jam. This was very enjoyable, the texture smooth and silky, the biscuits having good texture. The liver flavour could perhaps have been a little deeper, but this was a very well-made dish (14/20). Gin-cured salmon was presented differently to the last time that I tried it, with the blinis separate, but this was also a good dish, the blinis having very good texture, the salmon having pleasant flavour (14/20).
A pre-ordered special was venison Wellington. Beef Wellington was created notionally in celebration of the military victories of The Duke of Wellington, though its true origins are obscure. The first recipe reference in print appears in the early 20th century, though the French had been cooking filet de beef en croute a long time before that. The Harwood Arms substitutes more flavourful fallow deer for the traditional beef fillet, and also separates the pastry from the meat and mushroom duxelle layers with a juniper pancake and also spinach to protect the pastry from contact with the meat juices, which can make the puff pastry soggy. There is a double egg wash to glaze the outside, and the only short-cut here is the use of bought-in puff pastry (from Wild Harvest in Dagenham). Otherwise this is a very classic recipe. Most importantly, it was beautifully executed, the venison tender and lightly cooked, the pastry avoiding sogginess and the duxelle excellent. I was particularly taken by the quality of the broccoli served on the side, which was superbly cooked; it is not easy for a chef to make broccoli really shine, but this had fabulous texture. The cooking juices were made into a rich sauce and served in a jug alongside. This was a terrific dish (18/20).
Lemon doughnuts have long been a feature of the menu here, and were light with just enough acidity to cut through the richness of the beignets. This was definitely a doughnut of which Homer Simpson would approve (15/20). Coffee was Nespresso. Service was very capable, with a charming German waitress who had good dish knowledge. The bill with some good wine came to £135 per person, of which the food element was mere £49.95 each. The Harwood Arms seems invisible to the Instagram crowd yet serves some very fine food indeed, and thoroughly deserves its Michelin star.