The interior was interesting for a one Michelin star restaurant – the heavy, dark pub like interior contrasts heavily with the usual sort of restaurants that set their eyes on the Michelin guide, all airy and modern. Despite being quite excited to try out such a ranked restaurant – especially as I have kept away for one reason or another from the Michelins – it ended up showcasing that not all that glitters is gold.
Head chef: Alex Harper
Camera: iPhone 6
I have great appreciation for the setting – it’s a good sign that not all Michelin start restaurants always fit into the same mould (because, we have to admit it, they mostly have a certain way of presenting themselves). It feels homey, intimate in a rustic sort of way. Not everyone, or not every occasion, fits inside a modern glass-heavy restaurant. Also of note is that the director if Harwood Arms is actually Brett Graham – the head chef of the Ledbury. This all showed so much promise.
So did the bread – warm and fresh, deliciously dense, it gave such an earthy vibe to the entire place. It fitted in perfectly with the tune that the interior had set. The Hepple Gin with Douglas fir and pomegranate & basil tonic had such wonderful undertones…
Yet the starters were mostly bland and uninteresting. The buttered Cornish crab on English muffins with coastal herbs and pickled lemon was underwhelming, like the crabs had decided that morning that they were having none of it and just died of boredom, which then just killed any taste. The Berkshire wood pigeon faggots with carrots cooked in bone marrow and crispy shallots had a sauce that was much to rich and thick considering the faggots themselves were also quite heavy.
The main was even more disappointing: Haunch of Berkshire Fallow deer with smoked bone marrow tart and celeriac. The dish was technically prepared well – the deer meat was cooked excellently, rare enough not to destroy the flavour but well enough to make it tender. But I found the dish to be conceived poorly: there were too many elements that made the dish heavy and, especially with the bone marrow, fatty. Considering this, I would have expected the dish to have something acidic in the mix, like pickles or onions, as they cut through the fattiness. They help cleanse the pallet somewhat so that I don’t eventually get sick from the dish. No such thing was there.
The dessert was a definite up-tick. The milk, honey, apricot and chamomile is basically a few tiny chamomile sort of muffins surrounded by cream and some sorbet of sorts in the middle. The chamomile was such a lovely, subtle fragrance and the entire dish was moreish and not too heavy. There was a good balance of freshness and good use of the creamy little lumps of honey and apricot.