Review – Harry’s Bar & Kitchen at Horwood House
Horwood House has always been a destination location. Nestled into the Buckinghamshire countryside just 10 minutes outside Milton Keynes, the Grade II listed manor house with its picturesque grounds has undergone somewhat of a transformation over the last few years. Independently owned, a recent £6 million refurbishment has seen a new spa created complete with 15 metre swimming pool and treatment rooms, 15 multi-purpose meeting spaces and a brand-new bar and restaurant area. And it was this restaurant, Harry’s Bar & Kitchen, that we went to try out.
The first question we had is “Who is Harry?” and therein lies a lovely story. The restaurant is located within the heart of the manor house and as part of its rich and colourful history, there were once 16 gardeners employed to make sure the kitchens of the house were always fully stocked with fresh fruit and vegetables. The head gardener was named ‘Harry’ Thrower, father of the famous TV gardener Percy Thrower – who remembers Blue Peter?
The restaurant is vast but with some very clever design features the seating is zoned to allow guests to dine with their own needs in mind – if you require a quiet table for two, no problem…if you’re dining with a group of colleagues, there’s a larger ‘kitchen table’ allowing everyone to interact and dine together. There’s also a very quaint outside courtyard area, perfect for taking afternoon tea in the sunshine.
We visited on a Tuesday lunchtime, not the busiest time of the week but did mean we enjoyed a very peaceful lunch. The menu is plentiful but not overwhelming, modern British would probably describe its style. Many of the ingredients are sourced locally including their charcuterie and steaks.
They offer a selection of ‘nibbles’ and ‘small plates’ – really a fancy name for starters. We chose the Ox cheek croquettes, served with smoked garlic aioli and the Isle of White tomatoes, served with chopped avocado and whipped tofu. We’ll be honest, we were slightly hesitant when it came to the tofu, but we took the plunge and gave it a go. Both were delicious although we could have done with two more of the croquettes, three just wasn’t enough but that’s probably why they were listed under the ‘nibble’ section. Even the tofu was a surprising hit.
For our mains we chose from either end of the menu spectrum. Our first choice was the signature ‘Harry’s Burger’ – a hand-pressed beef patty crispy onions, rocket, burger sauce, (we added cheese and bacon), all served in a brioche bun with Cajun fries (although we swapped Cajun for sweet potato). Choice number two was the Caesar salad, served with shaved parmesan, rosemary croutons and boiled hens’ egg (you could also add chicken or Halloumi). Yet, again we couldn’t fault either dish – unless you count not quite finishing the burger, as it was just too big!
Did we have room for dessert? Of course, we did, what sort of silly question is that? We honestly could have picked every single item from the dessert menu but alas we were forced to choose. Paris-Brest with Vanilla Creme Diplomat was actually the first choice for both of us but in the end, we decided to try another, just to mix it up a bit. Valrhona Caramelia Chocolate Delice it was then.
Now, we’ll be totally honest, we didn’t actually know what ‘Valrhona Caramilia’ was when we ordered but a quick Google search later and it turns out to be a very fancy French-made chocolate with caramel undertones, who knew? We needn’t have worried – can’t actually think of a better chocolate dessert that we’ve ever tried. Sweetness balance was spot on, and it definitely hit the right chocolatey notes. And what of the Paris-Brest – well, take a look at the photo below – come on, do you think we were disappointed?
So overall, what did we think of ‘Harry’s Bar & Kitchen’? Okay, so you have to make a bit of an effort to visit, it’s not a typical city centre location but in return you get some stunning rural scenery, a truly beautiful restaurant and honestly some of the best dishes we’ve ever eaten. They’ve pulled out all the stops at Horwood House and we’re sure they would have made Harry Thrower immensely proud.
Find out more and book here via the Horwood House website