The Hand & Flowers
The Culinary Ride Of Your Life!
A lot has been said about Tom Kerridge and The Hand & Flowers, the only pub ever to earn 2 Michelin stars. Well, I am not surprised at all. The Hand & Flowers deserves every compliment it gets for its food. But what makes the experience unique is the incredible atmosphere that Tom and his team have created, and that welcomes you and wraps you like a hug the moment you cross the threshold.
Lourdes, the General Manager, who has been there for over a decade, is a smiley Argentine who seamlessly flies from one table to another making sure everybody is happy and pleased with their experience at The Hand. At the bar, Anthony and his colleagues entertain you with fabulous drinks and appetizers while you wait for your table. Oh the pork scratchings…! You do have to try these. Impossibly light and not really greasy. It is a total mystery to me how they manage this but I don’t care, I just care that they keep them in the menu forever.
The dining room is a pub, so it is softly lit, and full of twists and corners what adds to the intimacy and coziness that the place oozes through all and every single one of its bricks and beams. Our tour through gastronomy paradise started with a mushroom and pork terrine served with the best pickles I have ever tasted. My husband chose the warm salt baked carrot tart, which turned out to be a mind-blowing explosion of flavours so intense that made him a bit dizzy (just kidding!).
My main course was venison with a cheeky little surprise inside… blue cheese and black pudding filling. Ohhhh!!! I am sure it is illegal, or a sin, or both.
The meat was accompanied by a roasted parsnip marinated in soy and glazed with honey. I couldn’t imagine a humble parsnip could taste so good. My husband chose the pork belly with rhubarb, which was, in his words “simply sublime”. We couldn’t help but order their famous chips. Again, I totally understand why they are so celebrated. That is how to elevate the humble potato to levels of crispiness and flavour unknown to humble mortals.
We drank a bottle of fabulous Bordeaux from Château La Claymore 2014 and were told that it was the last. Very, very sad. By the time dessert came we were both about to explode but still managed to polish the Choux bun a la crème. Another big wow! Light, and delicate and absolutely delicious.
After such sumptuous meal, we took a stroll around the village. Marlow is postcard pretty, and it did us all the good in the world. Thankfully we had had the good common sense to book one of the cottage rooms managed by The Hand & Flowers for the night. So the final cherry on the cake was a glass of champagne looking at the stars from our own private hot tub.