August 21 2010
Although there’s been a vast improvement in pub food in recent years, it can still sometimes be a disappointing experience. But my experience at The Hand & Flowers in Marlow last weekend ticked all the right boxes. Perhaps this isn’t so surprising given that the chef, Tom Kerridge, who you may have seen in BBC2’s Great British Menu show (he won the main course contest with his slow-cooked duck breast with duck fat chips and gravy), has one Michelin star plus three AA rosettes and an Egon Ronay star.
Everything feels good about this solid old inn. It has a white-painted exterior and, inside, a low-beamed ceiling with exposed brick and flint walls and chunky wooden tables decorated with flowers and candles (second picture). We’d come for the “designer” fish and chips (£13.50) recommended by a friend and, while sipping a fine sauvignon blanc before the main course arrived, were delighted to be presented with an amuse bouche of whitebait wrapped in a newspaper cone with a dip-bowl of Marie Rose sauce (first picture).
Nor did the famous fish and chips disappoint. A generous helping of tender whiting in a light, golden batter was accompanied by home-made tartare sauce while deliciously crisp, herb-infused chips were served in miniature copper saucepans. What with the hot, home-baked rolls, none of us had room for a dessert and instead chose coffee and teas from a speciality tea menu. My organic gunpowder tea (£2.75) arrived in a clear glass miniature teapot with a matching, shallow glass tea-bowl – a charming presentation.
The pub serves a well-priced set lunch Monday to Saturday (£10 for two courses or £13.50 for three) and roast beef with Yorkshire pudding on Sundays. There’s also an à la carte menu at lunchtime and evenings. And if you can’t tear yourself away from all this lovely food then you might consider checking in to one of the four cottage suites (from £140 per night) also run by Tom and Beth Kerridge, a few yards from the pub.