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 ‘beef toast and dripping’ with mustard butter, English asparagus and salad cream; and the deeply satisfying glazed omelette with smoked haddock and parmesan. And there’s no let up with the mains in dishes such as pork belly with smoked cheek beignet, black pudding and gherkin ketchup; 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 £17-18 and mains at around £40) but its set lunch menu of three courses for £29.50 would give many a pub of much lower standing a run for its money. Whichever menu you choose, bring a healthy appetite.