This wasn’t any old Pub lunch, this was a two Michelin starred pub lunch! Last month we made a very exciting excursion to the Hand and Flowers in Marlow! The booking was made back in January no less (we could only get a lunchtime siting at that!) and eagerly anticipated our visit. As part of a foody weekend down south, this was to be the highlight!
I’m sure that our readers will know all about the Hand and Flowers. In short, it’s the only two Michelin Star pub in the UK, owned and run by household name and larger than life chef, Tom Kerridge.
Arriving promptly, we were quickly taken to our tables sat in one of the cosy corners of the pub – the restaurant is certainly that, rustic yet homely. Settling down with a G&T aperitif, we then had the envious task of choosing what to eat! This was easier said than done as everything read so deliciously! We all agreed one thing however, we’d definitely be getting some of their famous chips!!
Choices made, we were swiftly brought warm sourdough and our amuse of crispy fried whitebait in Marie Rose sauce. Crunchy and salty, perfect for getting our taste buds ready for the courses that came!
I opted for the crispy pig’s head with rhubarb and pancetta, the meat had been meticulously shredded, rolled, seasoned and breadcrumbed and the rhubarb gave it that much needed acidity to cut through the pork. I was amazed by the thin cigar of perfect crackling too, how do they do it?!
Other starter choices were the smoked mackerel and parsley scotch egg topped with a beautiful spiral of charred onion, a glazed smoked haddock omelette and the signature dish of blowtorched scallops, bouillon jelly and truffle. I managed to steal a nibble from each of these too and I would have been more than happy with any one of them!
For mains Dan and I both had to choose the iconic Hand and Flowers duck and chips! A beautifully tender pink duck breast, served with duck gravy and minted peas. The chips were triple cooked in duck fat and were up there as some of the best chips I’ve had. Crunchy, chewy, salty and very very rich! The only thing that could have improved the dish was if the duck skin was crispy and rendered out more, but I’m just being ultra fussy!
The other main choices were the venison and charred baby gem lettuce and the fillet of beef. Again the meats were meltingly tender and cooked to the perfect point of rare!
I have to admit I was at the tipping point of being too full but in the interests of a fair write up I had to order a dessert! I immediately plumped (being the operative word!) for the chocolate, ale and salted caramel cake, which served with muscovado ice cream. It also came with a lovely little glass of Innis and Gunn too! The cake was more like a fondant, with a liquid centre, the saltiness and maltiness paired well with the sweet cold ice cream.
Dan chose the raspberry soufflé with white chocolate ice cream, look how beautiful it was! Light, yet full of raspberry flavours, a perfect summer dessert. Other choices were the creme brûlée and the beautiful tonka bean panna cotta with jelly and meringues!
Our whole Hand and Flowers experience definitely didn’t disappoint, but then again I’m not sure what I was expecting from this 2 star establishment. One thing’s for sure, and I may be shot down for this, is that in my mind the Hand and Flowers isn’t a pub. It’s a restaurant. It has a bar, but not one to just drop in and have a drink. that being said I don’t think you’d want to just drop in given the food on offer!
It’s not stuffy, the staff are attentive and friendly. It’s definitely a destination restaurant, which you would expect from the 6 month reservation wait! It’s not cheap, but I’d be more than happy to visit again. They do have a fantastic set lunch too, for those who aren’t feeling quite as extravagant!
We visited a couple more restaurants in the area over the weekend, so keep your eyes peeled for more food stories from the south!