“Fine cuisine and fine wines, far from the madding crowd”, enthused a fan of the Harrow. Despite its bucolic name, this isn’t some timeless local pub, but a full-blown country restaurant in a secluded village by the Kennet & Avon Canal. Serious ambition is a given, and the interior affirms its classy credentials with muted modern shades, high-backed leather chairs and crisp white linen in the unstuffy dining areas. Chef/patron Roger Jones’s accomplished cooking is driven by high-quality seasonal ingredients, with day-boat catches from Brixham showing up strongly. Starters often come with an oriental slant (carpaccio of yellowfin tuna with wasabi and yuzu dressing), and there are useful by-the-glass suggestions for each course: Crystallum The Agnes Chardonnay 2011 alongside pot-roast lamb’s heart and tongue with rosemary and thyme, say. The full wine list is a global oenophile’s delight, with bottles from serious growers at very fair prices. “Great for special occasions” too.
Michelin-starred chef Roger Jones is a big champion of New World wine, particularly Australia and New Zealand – and his list is a prolonged love letter to the efforts of winemakers Down Under. There are 13 pages of whites (including a mouth-watering selection of Clare Valley Rieslings), and 11 pages of reds (including 12 vintages of Moss Wood Cab and seven vintages of Grange). But this isn’t so much about sheer volume as great names – often with a fair bit of age, and great prices.