This weekend I had the pleasure of dining at the only pub to have ever been awarded 2 Michelin stars. The Hand & Flowers in Marlow. It was my first ever Michelin experience and one that I will never forget as long as I live! The trip was to celebrate my Mum’s Birthday, so a big shout out & Happy Birthday Mum!
The Hand & Flowers pub is situated in a lovely little country town called Marlow on the outskirts of London. As soon as you walk in you feel completely relaxed in it’s rustically charming atmosphere. There is no posh, hoity toity-ness about this place at all. You are just made to feel completely at ease and very welcome by the supremely delightful front of house staff. When your table is ready, you are lead to beautiful solid oak tables with some seriously comfy chairs/sofas. With fresh flowers & lit candles on every table, you can’t help but just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Which leads me onto the food. Aaah, the food… I’m literally struggling to find words to describe how breathtakingly fantastic it was! Well, have a look at the photos and see for yourself how intriguing and beautiful each dish was.
When you are seated, the waiter brings you over a basket of white & wholemeal sour dough bread followed by a newspaper cone of whitebait fish with a marie rose dipping sauce. All complimentary and all delicious! Which I’ll be honest, I found quite surprising as I’m not a huge fish eater!
This was my starter. Blowtorched Scottish Scallop with Warm Roast Chicken Bouillon, Morels, Nasturtium and Apple. I have literally never tasted anything like this before and I can honestly say, I don’t think anything is going to come even remotely close to how freaking amazing it was! The scallops just melted in your mouth and that teamed up with the apple jelly at the bottom of the bowl, wow. Just, wow. It was like there was an angelic choir having a sing song in my mouth!
This was the Mr’s starter, Pork and Mushroom Terrine with Dill, Pickles and Toasted Sourdough.
The Birthday girl’s starter, Parfait of Duck and Foie Gras with Orange Chutney and Toasted Brioche.
Dad’s Starter, Potato “Risotto” with Baked Potato Stock, Fresh Morels & Hop Shoots.
This was my main course, Tenderloin of Wiltshire Pork with Pickled Mustard Leaf, Malt Glazed Cheek, Garlic Sausage and Potato Dauphine. This was like playing hide and seek with your dinner. Every time you moved something on the plate, another food appeared out of nowhere! I was halfway through the meal before I discovered the garlic sausage and the ham hiding at the back! (Best garlic sausage & ham I’ve ever eaten in my life by the way!) The glazed cheek was incredible though. For something that is so fatty, it just melted in your mouth leaving behind a delicate sweetness that worked beautifully with the rest of the dish. I must admit though, it was the little crispy potato dauphine balls that did it for me – outstanding!
This was what the Mr had for his main course, Fillet of Lancashire Beef with Hand and Flowers Chips, and Béarnaise Sauce. He allowed us all to steal a chip each, BEST CHIPS EVER! They were so stupendously soft & fluffy in the middle and super crispy on the outside! I’m sorry Heston, move over – there’s a new chip master in town! I tried a piece of the fillet steak with the sauce too. It was out of this world! Absolutely remarkable.
This was what the Birthday Girl chose, Cornish Red Mullet with Beef Dripping, Oxtail and Bay Leaf Dressing. I’ll be honest, the look of it scares the crap out of me! I’m not a fan of having a whole fish on a plate in front of me but Mum said it tasted beautiful. (Albeit, a little confusing to dissect especially if you have never eaten a whole fish before!)
And finally Dad’s main course was the Loin of Costwold Venison, King Oyster Mushroom “Farci”, Blowtorched Gem Lettuce and Salt Baked Beetroot. I tasted a bit of this too (Ok, I tried to be cheeky and nick a taste of pretty much everything I could get my hands on!) The venison was so rich & peppery! Packed with an extraordinary amount of flavour though, superb.
This little beauty was my dessert. The Hand & Flowers Chocolate and Ale Cake with Salted Caramel and Muscovado Ice Cream. Served with a shot glass of Real Ale. I swear I had a foodgasm when I ate this! As rich as it was, I could have eaten another. From the frosted nut on top of the muscovado ice cream, to it’s gooey chocolatey rich ale core, down to the salted caramel disc on the bottom – it was perfect in every way! Well and truly sensational!
The Mr chose the Banana Soufflé with Gingerbread Custard and Yoghurt Ice Cream as his final course. It certainly looks impressive though doesn’t it? Definitely a soufflé that rose to the occasion!
My Dad chose the Warm Sesame Pudding with Green Tea Sorbet, Crème Fraîche and Maple.
But the final icing on the cake (so to speak) was what they pulled out the bag for my Mum…
How sweet is that?! It really was the perfect touch to the perfect evening. Mum had the Warm Pistachio Sponge Cake with Melon Sorbet and Marzipan by the way – and she said it was light and gorgeous which is exactly what she wanted after the rich dishes she had chosen before it.
There was one slight epic fail on my part though…
Oops! Only I could drop my spoon & smash a glass at a Michelin starred establishment, what a plank!
That mishap aside, it really was an amazing experience. But for somewhere with a 6 month waiting list I would expect nothing less!
It just leaves me to say a massive thank you and big hugs to my Mum & Dad for sharing the experience with me and the Mr. It is one that I will never forget and shall look back on fondly.
Until next time cherubs.