The ViewLondon Review
On London’s far flung western edge, the Old Orchard has one of the most attractive settings of any of the capital’s pubs, and offers good beer and grub too.
Harefield Village sits within the green belt land of the London Borough of Hillingdon, surrounded by fields, with Ruislip Woods National Nature Reserve and Colne Valley Park within walking distance. Down a lane on the edge of the village, the handsome white building that is the Old Orchard commands a massive beer garden from which a grassy slope tumbles to sailing lakes, actually former gravel pits, and the line of the Grand Union Canal. From the top of the lane the view stretches for miles across rolling countryside. If you don’t live locally, aren’t walking or cycling on the canal, or don’t have a designated driver, you’ll need a bus from Northwood or Uxbridge and then a short walk.
Built as a large private house in the early 1930s, the Old Orchard has been a hotel and a restaurant, and was reopened late in 2010 as a relatively upmarket food-led pub by northern-based pubco Brunning & Price. Inside is a single very spacious room that’s suitably country house in style, with comfortable rustic furniture, maps and old prints on the walls, and welcoming open fires. Smaller, similarly furnished rooms are available for private hire upstairs. The beer garden – an extensive area of sheltered tables surrounded by lawns – really is gigantic and perfect for kids in good weather.
The friendly new management has pulled off the trick of creating a crisp and civilised space for diners while retaining the feel of a pub in which people can just pop by for a drink – a secluded cluster of chairs near the fireplace is particularly favoured for this. Expect a mixed crowd of locals, countryside visitors on warm days, and destination diners. Families are welcome indoors too and there are board games to hand.
Although no longer a fine dining destination, the Old Orchard offers upmarket food by pub standards. The daily changing menu has a slightly rustic flavour. It might list starters like crispy parmesan polenta salad with aubergine (£7.95) or pheasant, venison and rabbit terrine (£7.95). Main courses might include roasts (£12.45); gourmet sausage and mash (£9.95); sweet potato and thyme gnocchi with roasted baby beets (£10.95) or grilled trout fillets (£14.45). Specialist cheese and Ploughman’s lunches are also served while summer weekends feature outdoor barbecues.
The drink offer is strong in several departments, leading off with six handpumps including a house beer brewed for the pubco by Phoenix in Manchester. Tring's Side Pocket for a Toad and Fuller’s London Pride are other regulars, while guest often come from localish sources like Windsor & Eton and Itchen Valley. Staropramen and Leffe Blond are on keg. They’re not the cheapest pints in London, though. Whisky fans can choose from over 100 single malts and other specialist whiskies, and there’s a modest range of speciality rum. Around 16 entries in the 50-plus eclectic wine list, helpfully organised in taste categories, are available by the glass (from £2.95).
The Last Word
Surely one of the best of London’s surprisingly generous share of country pubs, and the perfect place to call in when exploring the delightful green spaces and waterways along the London Loop and Hillingdon Trail.
The Old Orchard has been reviewed by 12 users