15 July 2010
Wiktionary defines local as: “one's nearest or regularly frequented public house or restaurant”. (It used to say bar, but such is the joy of all things Wiki, I changed it. No doubt it will have been changed back by now, but I will have made my point anyway). Hardy's is my nearest, although not most regularly frequented, restaurant; thank heavens too that the Barley Mow has been thoughtfully and carefully restored, and has reopend as a boozer. This lovely gem of a pub was closed for way too long, but I now have a local “public house” within falling distance too.
Hardy's is not, nor has ever had any pretentions of being, a hip or cool place to hang out. It is never going to win a Squaremeal star, let alone a Michelin one, but that misses the point. This is a local. A restaurant that you can walk to in a few minutes, that you know what you're going to get and you know that it is going to be cooked well. No surprises; no foams, no drizzles, no smears, but the sort of place where you go if you fancy fishcakes (traditional, not Thai), beef (roast, not pan seared with an aromatic jus) and lamb (rump, not rare breed).
The wine list is surprisingly long, arranged carefully by style rather than grape, and with some crackingly good value wines at the lower price range, with a few more expensive ones for a special treat. The descriptions are great too: each wine has its own two line write-up, generally talking about the grape, the aroma, the character but, in one memorable description: a Vogue covergirl, not a Playboy centrefold. I have no idea what that means, but surely worth a try.