Harrison’s

It’s been a very hectic weekend already.  Yesterday I cooked lunch for 9 people and you know how these things can just go on and on, we didn’t say goodbye to our guests until it was totally dark.  Sunday morning has come and we just feel exhausted.  We wanted to have a family meal together, but frankly I was just too tired to cook.  So, where better to slope off to than Harrison’s in Balham, here we knew we could relax and have a fabulous lunch.  It’s not so much famed for it’s Sunday Brunches or that reputations have been made there, its just that they are really very good at cooking, serving, dealing with families at the weekend.

So, perfect choice we thought, and we were right with the odd little quibble.  The place has a Tardis like quality in that it is much larger than you think.  There are large tables to accommodate the numerous families enjoying lunch.  Downstairs in the basement is another bar and room for children with a play-mat and toys.  All self contained and very safe, there is even baby changing facilities on this level.

The menu at weekends is a brunch affair served between the very civil hours of 12.15 and 4pm (although they are open from 9am for breakfast).  I elected to go for a traditional three course roast, with a good Chicken and Pork Rillettes and Apricot Chutney to start which was rich, tasty and served with excellent toasted bread.  To follow a hearty helping of Roast Beef with all the trimmings and of special note were the crunchy roast potatoes.  I had a little room for a rather superb Raspberry and Blackberry Mille Feuille, which was packed with gorgeous ripe fruit and layered between a light flaky puff pastry – I could have eaten it a thousand times!  This feast was only £21.  The rest of the family tried a variety of less traditional but by no means less enjoyable flavours.  There was a very cute and crispy Prawn Popcorn served in a cardboard box just like you’d get at the cinema – they were savoury and crispy but with a slight sweetness coming through.  A good way to smuggle seafood past a small child, this came with a Cajun Aioli which while nice I thought was a bit too strong for the subtlety of the Popcorn.  There was a very authentic and robust Andalucian Gazpacho, which arrived with chopped boiled egg, spring onions and other bits and pieces to enhance the experience.  A gigantic Club Sandwich gave my eldest son a bit of a problem in that at his age (12 years) he couldn’t finish it – maybe one for sharing with smaller people.  Fresh Beer Battered Haddock Chips and Tartare Sauce would have been spot on but for the Chips not quite hitting the mark.  This I think is a personal thing – I like my chips to have a golden colour to them and be crunchy but fluffy inside, these were a touch anaemic for my liking – I couldn’t feel a crunch.  But a small point that not everybody would agree with.  There was a dish on the table that I thought was so fantastic that I asked the staff exactly what was in it.  You might be surprised – it was Mushy Peas.  Now Mushy Peas are usually a blandish green goo that brightens up a plate of fish and chips but contains little flavour – not these, they had a depth of flavour uncommon in mere normal mushy peas.  The ingredients were: Peas, Garlic, Cream, Mint, White Wine and Thyme.  If you go do try some.

I was really enjoying my much-needed break from the kitchen at home – incidentally you can see the kitchen at work in Harrison’s, always a sign of confidence in the proprietor.  One of the investors in this and its sister restaurant Sam’s in Chiswick is no less than Rick Stein.  Who as well as investing also provides a selection of recommended wines and some of his dishes inspired by his current TV series travelling around Spain are available this month.  So you don’t have to go all the way to Cornwall to get your fix of Rick.

A rich coloured Strawberry Sorbet was pleasantly intense and a delightful little cup of very luscious hand made Chocolates with a pot of Fresh Mint Tea finished us off.  And if you have younger children then there is kids menu with such healthy plates as Grilled Lemon Chicken, Rice and Broccoli and for afters maybe a Fresh Fruit Salad.  These are £7 for 2 courses.

Now I don’t know about you but I think I’m going to make time for this a little more often, as a break from my own kitchen seems to have done me the world of good.  And the family didn’t complain either.  I recommend Sunday lunch at Harrison’s if you are a bit tired and don’t fancy cooking, or even if you want to try some outstanding mushy peas.

15-19 Bedford Hill

Balham

SW12 9EX

020 8675 6900

  

About Neil

Neil is a food and travel writer and photographer based in London, UK. He's Food & Travel Editor at Families Magazine, as well as a full-time blogger on this site. Impressed? Then you might like to hire his services.

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