It’s not everyday you get to eat two Michelin star pub grub, in fact, it happens perhaps once a year, if you’re lucky – that’s because booking lunch or dinner, at the weekend in the Hand and Flowers in Marlow takes some serious forward planning. So we made a booking, a year and a few months ago or so… and yesterday tucked into the spoils.
Tom Kerridge has been pretty prolific of late with books and TV appearances all over the shop so most people will be familiar with his joviality, generosity and warmth. I so hoped this would extend beyond the screen and onto the plate which, thankfully, it did. The menu is full of honest-to-goodness tasty and plates of food.
You’re not going to need a Larousse culinary dictionary to decipher the menu, here, it’s about genuine food cooked to perfection.
The bread and appetiser were served in theatrical fashion complete with butter paddle.
Starters, I went for the crispy pig’s head with pickled pineapple, sage and onion purée, pancetta and crackling. The pig’s head was soft and salty and the pineapple just enough sweetness to offset the meatiness.
The salt baked swede and haggis tart with crispy lamb and Chantilly de chèvre, was the more refined-looking, and by far the lighter of the two but no less delicious.
For mains, I was torn between the duck and the venison but was won over by the duck sausage, girolle and rillette tart. Only to be ordered if you’ve got a hefty appetite, this dish is decadence personified; sticky skin and tender breast alongside crispy pastry and earthy mushrooms.
Across the table my boyfriend thoroughly enjoyed his tenderloin of pork with pickled mustard leaf, malt glazed cheek, garlic sausage and potato dauphine.
Only one of us had room for dessert, no prizes for guessing who. Sweet malt gateau with malted milk ice cream, yeast tuile and crème fraîche proved a little too malty for me but just up my boyfriend’s street so we shared which was probably no bad thing.
The renovated pub was the perfect place to spend a festive evening, lit with the warm glow of fairy lights from a majestic Christmas tree and the soft flicker of candlelight.
The bar is snug, with leather sofas and solid wood furniture. If you lived locally, I can imagine it would be nice just to pop in for a drink – they have an extensive wine list, gin menu and decent local beers on draft, including the Hand and Flowers’ own brew. Fair warning though, none come cheap. The cheapest glass of wine is priced at about £10 a glass. Well, with two Michelin stars above the door, it’s hardly a surprise.
The service was perfect – attentive without being invasive and extremely knowledgeable if you’re ever in need of advice.
I would recommend to anyone travelling from London or elsewhere to venture to Marlow early. The town is really lovely and was made all the more charming by the Christmas decorations so you could bob from pub to pub beforehand or go for a walk along the river to work up an appetite.