Tom Kerridge’s charming Marlow restaurant-pub combo excels in hearty haute cuisine
The Hand & Flowers is hailed as the first pub in the UK to win two Michelin stars, and while it is very much a pub in some respects (albeit a very refined one these days) it’s more finessed fine dining than a pint and a bag of pork scratchings.
Chef-patron Tom Kerridge’s cooking is hearty and wholesome with big hitting flavours and artery clogging combinations (in a good way). Starters can include glazed omelette of smoked haddock and parmesan; and pork and mushroom terrine and there’s no let up with the mains in dishes such as spiced loin and ragu of venison with carrot and Marmite purée, and ‘cow puff’ ; and his legendary Essex lamb ‘bun’ with sweetbreads and salsa verde.
Kerridge is a man who wears his passion for cooking on his sleeve and at The Hand & Flowers he takes gutsy pub-style dishes and gives them just enough refinement to make them feel fresh and exciting, without making them fussy. This is food for the soul that, to use Kerridge’s parlance, is ‘proper lush’.
Dishes are priced at a level that befits its two-star rating (starters and desserts £16 to £34 and mains between £60 and £90). That said, its three-course lunch menu costs £39.50, a figure that would give many a pub of much lower standing a run for its money. Whichever menu you opt for, bring a healthy appetite.