The Hand and flowers

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Seeing as we were in stoner park we thought we may as well go and visit the hand and flowers in Marlow to celebrate leaving the big smoke. I've been wanting to come here for an age and what a feat to be the only pub to have two michelin stars with the great Tom Kerridge of whom i have a lot of respect for.

It was a nasty evening with the weather and after putting up the tent we were in need of a stiff drink ASAP. We threw on some smart casuals on and jumped in a taxi. now desperate for a drink sat down in the bar area and immediately ordered several different gin and tonics from the extensive menu. I had Toms vegetable gin which was deliciously fresh, garnished with a stick of liquorice bark and fennel herb which is one of my favourites. A couple of rounds of crispy pork skin and roasted nuts later and we were ready to enter the restaurant.

The room though quite dark was beautifully decorated. The quality of the table setting stood out quite vividly and of course a pair of Toms rather large chef old whites splayed out on the wall for added character and also some retro sneakers I imagine he wore to work back in the day.

Before we knew it deep fried whitebait with Bloody Mary sauce and warm sour dough with the most wonderful soft local butter came to the table.

We moved on to the Hand and flowers own ale which was pleasant and of course a couple of bottles of very reasonably price reds on standby for the main course. I started with the scallop and my it was a big'n served in a ceramic pot with a rather sweet bouillabaisse, a mere hint of saffron, peppers, a beautiful cracker with fennel herb ebmeded within and a blob of rouille. I have to say i was quite jealous of Dave's liver parfait and brioche, so light and brilliant to spread with a bit of chutney.

The wine was opened and we moved onto the main course. A couple of our party went for the fillet of beef which considering where we were i thought a bit boring however good it may be as we have a team of brilliantly talented chefs that can persuade certain ingredients to impress us. I went for the "essex lamb bun" with sweetbreads, black cabbage verde and a pot of sticky lamb jus. Its presented very simple, a cleaned lamb bone protruding out of a shiny egg washed sphere of pastry clad lamb rack, confit breast and sweetbreads. Stunning with the salsa verde to cut trough the fatiness of the lamb, one of those times where you look around the table and think I've won! Although the venison did look amazing too.

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To finish, a strawberry soufflé, brilliantly executed with pistachio ice-cream and more poached strawberries, not too sweet and not too heavy after such a full on main course. We finished with a double espresso and waddled out to the taxi and back to the circus. A lovely evening all round and would certainly recommend it, however we did have to book 3 months in advance!

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