The boss had been in a really bad mood this week. And if that isn’t annoying enough, it’s one of those contagious bad moods that makes everyone else irritable. Not a pleasant work environment. So today I’m going the blogging-as-diversional-tactic route – I’m just going to pretend I’m still in London, enjoying a fantastic gastropub meal.
Nick and I arrived at The Harwood Arms a little stressed. Let’s just say that the scale of the London Underground map is VERY different from that of the Paris Métro. (A short love note to the Métro, if you’ll indulge me. Métro, I love you. You get me anywhere I might want to go in 45 minutes or less. Your spacious platforms and large-windowed cars almost let me forget that I’m deep in the bowels of the city. Your lines are well organized and beautifully color-coded. You are never more than a 5 minute walk away. I only wish you would run all night so I’d never have to take the Noctilien again. Love, Camille)
Anywho, we showed up rather late for our reservation, but our anxiety was instantly assuaged by the cheerful host. He showed us to our rustic-yet-elegant wooden table and quickly brought two pints of local beer and a muslin sack filled with bread. A square of slate supported the butter, and a small bowl of Maldon sea salt accompanied. We perused the menu and made our selections. I started with the warm onion tart with Monty’s cheddar (I can call it that, because I bought some earlier that day at Neal’s Yard Dairy), and Nick had a salad bursting with flavorful garnishes including roast pumpkin and some mushrooms we imagined had been foraged that morning.
As we let the refined country cottage atmosphere soothe our jangled nerves, the main courses arrived. Both Nick’s gin-braised venison (pictured above) and my crispy rainbow trout (pictured below) looked and smelled heavenly.
The venison was tender and infused with woodsy flavors from the gin, and the trout was moist and served with creamed spinach and smoky bacon. How can you go wrong with fish and bacon?
We didn’t really have room for dessert, but we ordered it anyway. I couldn’t resist the chance to try Harry Potter’s favorite dessert, treacle tart. Since I’ve never had one before, I don’t know if this is a traditional version or done with a twist, but either way, I loved it. It was a very dense and sweet paste of dried fruits, not unlike mincemeat, but the kicker was the quenelle of clotted cream. It perfectly balanced the heady, sweet-spiced tart with its cool, creamy tang.
Who says English food sucks? Not me!
Originally published on Croque-Camille.