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Review: The Harrow Inn
Mel Hutchfield ventured to Wanborough to sample the 'fine dining' experience on offer at The Harrow Inn.
When I booked The Harrow I didn’t expect it to be the beginning of a heatwave. They on the other hand hadn't been expecting us, as they didn’t have our booking despite email confirmation. Luckily it was fairly empty, as most of Swindon had probably whipped out the BBQ.
But a drive to Wanborough was perfect for a summer evening and I was interested to try the place since it came under new ownership a couple of years ago.
There are outside areas to have drinks and a formal dining room. Inside is traditional country pub with open fireplaces and horse brasses. We chose a table in the bar area as we had the dog with us and fell eagerly on the menus.
Husband's starter was a beautiful scotch egg with piccalilli; the egg wrapped in soft pork and crispy breadcrumbs. I chose the baked Camembert to share - no I wasn't sharing it. It arrived in the box with a balsamic onion marmalade and a mountain of home baked bread to dip in the gooey cheese. It was ambitious for one but I think I made a good job of it.
I'm not particularly precious about menus only having seasonal food - I'm not going to quibble over a parsnip in May. But when the weather is hot well into the evening, I like a menu to have lighter options. I really struggled to choose a main - bangers and mash or beef in Guinness felt too much like winter warmers for a hot summer’s day. Normally I’d choose a vegetarian option for something fresher, but the only veg dish was an uninspiring pepper risotto.
So I went for my default choice, fish and chips. The haddock was flaky and moist in a very thin beer batter, accompanied by handcut chips. It also came with mushy peas which I can only describe as unpleasant. Having spent too much time watching Masterchef I unsuccessfully tried to work out what they tasted of, as it wasn't peas. Husband chose the sirloin steak which was mouth-wateringly soft with a lovely smokiness from the chargrill. It came with mushroom, tomato and chips but it would have been nice to have the option of a sauce.
To cool down, we both chose three scoops of homemade ice creams. Creamy rhubarb and custard came out favourite with both of us, though banana and black treacle came very close for me.
The service seemed a bit fraught, with staff rushing about, though most tables were empty. Everyone who served us though had a smile - they were particularly tolerant of our hot and bothered Border Terrier Archie, bringing him treats and bowls of water even when he barked at them every time they walked by.
The pub's website describes the food as fine dining - it's certainly not that, but it is enjoyable pub food.
Though it wasn't a great choice for a hot July evening, on a winter’s day I imagine it would be a snug place to read the papers by the fire with a roast dinner.