There are some restaurants that have been on my ‘list’ for as long as I can remember. You know, that ever growing list of restaurants that you add to on a daily basis but fail to tick of quite so rapidly. Well Tom Kerridge’s two Michelin star pub, The Hand & Flowers, is one such restaurant. But as it’s found in Marlow, we just haven’t found an excuse…until now.
We were celebrating our six year anniversary (and the last one before we get married in November!) so I called up on the off chance they had a table and/or a room (yep, you can stay over too!). I was told the next Saturday night they had available was in December. Ok, scratch that then.
A couple of hours later and there had been a cancellation for lunch this very Saturday – perfect!
We arrived an hour early to make the most of their cosy holding pen/bar, complete with roaring fire and some of the friendliest staff in the restaurant biz. A couple of rounds of champagne for me and Seedlip Espresso ‘No’ Martinis for him (always the long suffering driver) and we were seated.
Waiting for us at the table was a card congratulating us on our anniversary – nice touch.
Now obviously Michelin star dining rarely comes cheap, but the Hand & Flowers offer a three course set lunch Mon-Sat priced at a very reasonable £30. Yes, 30 quid! Absolute bargain. Now, I know what you’re thinking, the set lunch is never going to be as exciting as the a la carte menu right? Well, wrong actually. We genuinely wanted that over everything else. Before we could tuck into that though, we were bought a selection of bread and butter to the table, as well as a bowl of complementary crisp whitebait with marie rose sauce for dipping. A warming bowl of celeriac soup kicked off proceedings, with a sweet and sour walnut crumb. Bobbing about was a single blue cheese tortellini and croutons.
For the main course we were presented with one of the most elegant pies we’ve ever seen. Dainty, with a golden pastry, it was stuffed with chicken and a full size button mushroom. To accompany it the most wonderful roasted shallot, layered with a bright green slick of herbs and a dollop of spicy tomato infused mayonnaise on the side. Pub grub I guess, but not as you know it. A side of cavolo nero with English mustard and crispy ham hock rounded things off.
For dessert one of us stuck with the set menu option of orange curd with cacao and pumpkin seed crumble with dark chocolate sorbet whilst the other ordered a la carte. Priced at £16 (nearly as much as we were spending on the set lunch! haha!) The Hand & Flowers chocolate and ale cake comes with a drizzle of salted caramel and a scoop of muscovado ice cream, as well as a mini silver tankard of ale. Really, truly worth the extra cash.
The wine list is a treat to flick through with a small selection available by the glass and a special spotlight on their ‘wines of the month’. We found a very tasty South African viognier by the carafe that we’d happily order again.
This special little boozer celebrated its 14th birthday this year – here’s to the same again!