Now you may think in a city as vast as London, Michelin starred pubs wouldn’t be that unusual; but in fact the sole flag bearer for the trusty gastro-pub is the Hardwood Arms. I’m not really sure what qualifies any place for Michelin status implicitly but quality ingredients, top notch service and just that something that is a little bit different surely have to be common place?
Luckily I think all three are in abundance. This is still a pub lets not forget, so the ubiquitous quiz night is present and correct alongside the casual relaxed atmosphere you get from any above-par pub.
The second you walk in the building you know where the main focus is at however – and that most certainly is food – heavy rich smells hit you immediately giving your nose a nice tickle in anticipation The menu has nice variation, lots of fish with lots of game throwing in time-honoured classics such as faggots and duck eggs also.
As good as the menu is, our eyes were also drawn to the specials board where a mysterious food called a Muntjack was listed. Now a lot of your reading this might know instantly what this is, and declaring me a philistine for not knowing… however for those you not in the know , it is a small dear that grows to no more than half a meter tall.
More on that in a second – firstly for the starters selected the ‘Smoked Cornish Mackerel with Radish’s and Oyster Sauce’ & the ‘Crispy Duck egg with cured duck breast, artichokes and hazelnuts’. The Mackerel dish didn’t take up a lot of plate space, but the smoking of the Mackerel was
pungent and not over-powering complimented nicely with the Radish’s and oyster sauce. The Crispy Duck egg was obviously very much like a scotch egg, but the breaded crumb cover was lovely and crispy and not fatty. The cured duck, artichokes and hazelnuts were accompanied by a froth… Now I usually have little time if any for froths taking up valuable plate space, but to be fair the combination of all the ingredients really worked. A lovely gamy dish with balanced flavours.
So back to the MuntJack – with the starters cleared away a rather impressive large board of wood slowly made it’s way to us. The ‘Saddle of MuntJack’ was a meal to be shared for two and had ‘bed (board) fellows’ of
Cheltenham Beetroots, Roast Onions, Garlic Potatoes and smoked Bone Marrow. Looking at it we were unsure how to attack it, but for anyone thinking of having one of these ‘Saddles’ the meat comes away in two beautiful fillet’s, almost falling off the bone. The Roast Potatoes were incredible, the Onions sublime, the Marrow just superb
and the Muntjack a joy – a triumph of a meal, not just for Sunday’s but for any second you feel hungry frankly. Having a gorgeous Spanish 2007 Cal Pla Priorat Doca Red with it just finished it off.
Not wanting it to end too soon the dessert chosen was the ‘Poached Pear, with walnuts and roast pear ice cream’. Turning up like a toffee apple, but in Pear form again without sounding too absurd with superlatives it also was really scrumptious with five different elements overall combining well.
London’s foremost gastropub? It’s a fair bet to be frank.
£60 pp – with wine
Tel: 0207 386 1847
Walham Grove, Fulham, London SW6 1QP