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RESTAURANT REVIEW: HARVEY’S BISTRO, BLACKHEATH

Victoria Purcell finds contemporary Portuguese cuisine and plates of fantastic seafood at Harvey’s Bistro on Lee Road, Blackheath

I’ve broken my own rules. Meat starter; fish main. Or vice versa. Occasionally the odd vegetarian dish. Those are the rules I set myself to make sure I tick all the food group boxes. But then I set foot in Harvey’s Bistro, formerly Villa Moura, on Lee Road, and was confronted with a menu full of wonderful seafood.

The restaurant, which serves up an array of Portuguese and Mediterranean dishes, has just had a contemporary makeover with ambient blue-purple lighting lending a cosy glow to the exposed-brick walls and natural stone floors. It looks good, and on the Saturday night we visited after Blackheath Fireworks, it was packed.

‘I heard you like lobster,’ said Aaron Koch, the owner, and I blushed remembering my love letter to lobster in last month’s restaurant review. I really do, and it features twice on the menu here – Scottish lobster Thermidor with brandy, cream, Dijon mustard and parmesan, and Harvey’s surf and turf (half a lobster with an 8oz sirloin steak). But I also loved the sound of everything else on the menu – grilled sardines, steamed mussels, seafood soup, wing of skate… it’s a seafood-lover’s dream. 

So it was seafood to start and seafood for the main course. First up, octopus and baby squid pan-fried with chorizo, tomato, garlic and chilli – a full-flavoured dish bolstered by thin slivers of chorizo. The octopus is so succulent it practically melts in the mouth. Next up, butterfly king prawns cooked in piri piri sauce – messy and juicy with a hint of heat in the piri piri. And surprisingly filling. It transpired I needn’t have ordered the side of zucchini fries, but I was glad I did.

Over at the other side of the table, my friend was playing a more carnivorous role, starting with choricho assado – an artisan Portuguese sausage flame-grilled with brandy – followed by a perfectly grilled 8oz 28 day-aged Scotch sirloin, garnished with grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, some impressive homemade crisps and chips.

The menu¸ which also features slow-braised pork belly, grilled lamb cutlets and spatchcocked poussin, for those less keen on the aquatic, is one that will have you planning your next trip before the bread and olives have even arrived (surf and turf, most definitely). The flavours are bold, the dishes generous and well presented and the staff are friendly – it’s everything a good neighbourhood restaurant should be.

THE KNOWLEDGE

Cost
Two courses for two around £42 (drinks excluded)

Good for…
Seafood lovers and big, bold grilled meats

What to eat…
The octopus is succulent and the homemade piri piri lends a Portugese piquance

What to know…
Book at weekends, it’s busy!

121 Lee Road, Blackheath SE3 9DS; 020 8318 2116; harveyslondon.co.uk

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