As a small, gastronomic, diversion from the wines of Piemonte, I am marking the end of an era with the imminent closure of The Harrow, Little Bedwyn. For the last 21 years Roger and Sue Jones have run this brilliant and civilised restaurant with a great cellar. For many of those years it had a Michelin star and, as far as we are concerned, the experience has never been less than that. Roger is now moving on to devote himself to his wine consulting business and it is very sad, for us, that this our favourite and local restaurant is closing, but all good things come to an end. We wish Roger, Sue and all the staff all the very best for the future.
Why was this such a special place? First, the cooking was brilliant, innovative and precise. You can see that in the pictures. Then there was a the great wine cellar. At one point, it was said that The Harrow had the best Australian wine list anywhere, including Australia. New Zealand was also incredibly strong and in recent years South Africa has been the focus. But there was also great French wines, a page of Lopez de Heredia classics going back to 1920 and an early recognition of English and Welsh wine. Italy was rarely a main feature (I do remember a Super Tuscan sale) but no one is perfect! Lastly, but really of the utmost importance, Sue has been the perfect host, balancing a real warmth and friendliness with immaculate professionalism. We hope she will now go on to help the next generation of front of house staff understand how to run a much-loved restaurant.
We went out with a bang, enjoying the spectacular Gourment 8 course menu and matched wines. In these last days, there is a fair amount of cellar raiding going on but who would have thought to pair Beef Tartare, sorry Roger, Welsh Beef Tartare and Indian spices, with sweet and aged Coteaux du Layon 1985. De Bortoli’s Noble One Botrytis Semillon 1996 was another rarity.
Our memories are many and various:
- eating Whitebait here for £1.25 in the days when it was still a village pub
- a first visit to the newly upmarket Harrow when we were an hour late for a group of eight wine buffs (intimation of a life to come): my first tastes of Didier Dagueneau and Jaboulet’s Hermitage La Chapelle (1990 since you ask)
- meetings with friends over the years
- special occasions (for this last meal we were also celebrating a special anniversary together)
- and, perhaps top of the bill, my 60th birthday with our immediate families, including Ernest and Luke, before both of them were one year olds. Sue was understandably a little nervous (there were other tables booked) but carried it off with great aplomb. The small people were impeccably behaved and everyone had a great time.
We will miss The Harrow but we will have many, many happy memories of these two wonderful decades which showed how fine dining and great hospitality can be done.