COOL: The Hand & Flowers, Marlow

Posted on February 20, 2013 by

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The Hand & Flowers is the first and only pub in the world to have two Michelin stars.

That might sound amazing, but let’s be honest: the place is actually on trend because it appeared on Masterchef: The Professionals. Anton and Kerry, who both won in the end (not a cop out at *all*), were delivered to the pub for their ‘Cook in an Amazing Restaurant’ episode.

And we, the TV viewing people, got our first glimpse of The Hand & Flowers. Boy did it look GREAT.

There were things like huge chunks of meat served with massive onion rings on top, and chips that cracked louder than Russian meteorites. And chef/owner Tom Kerridge seemed like THE NICEST GUY ALIVE. And it had STARS. Two of them! So it had to be as delicious as it looked.

In a rare moment of divine clarity, I dived for the phone and booked a table as soon as the episode was over. Thank my little giblets I did: The Hand & Flowers is now fully booked until December. That, my friends, is the power of Masterchef: The Professionals. Never doubt it.

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So, rather excitedly, we began our meal by sitting outside with gin and tonics in the sunshine. Mine was Bathtub Gin, and had a cute little bag of juniper berries floating in it. The boyfriend went for Tanqueray Rangpur with a kaffir lime leaf.

They were both insanely delicious yet completely different from one another. I’ve been inspired. My only goal in life now is to own a selection of gins and the knowledge of how to serve them correctly.

Inside and at our table, we weren’t entirely sure if The Hand & Flowers could be called a pub. There wasn’t a bar, which is a little weird, and the ambience was very ‘hush hush, oooooh’. The toilets didn’t even have a condom machine.

That said, some of the décor was gastro-pub hideous. I spent the meal leaning on a yellow-brownish cushion made of fuzzy quavers – a gross experience, in so many ways.

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Our complimentary whitebait served in newspaper cone was crunchy and nostalgic; the sourdough bread was some of the best I’ve ever had. At this point I began whimpering with joy, although this may have been the 47% double shot of Bathtub Gin talking.

My starter, the Crispy Pig’s Head with Artichoke, Pancetta and Chickweed, had a full range of textures and pig flavours going on. It looked beautiful too. See?

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The boyfriend’s Blowtorched Scottish Scallop with Warm Roast Chicken Bouillon was exactly that: juicy scallops sitting in jellied chicken stock.

Both were so good that we had to look at each other mid-chew and mouth the words ‘Oh. My. God.’ It was that kind of meal.

The mains were definitely more pub-like than our starters.

My duck – the dish from Masterchef, or “The Great British Menu” if you prefer (whatever) – was one of the best things I have ever put in my mouth. The skin was caramelised and crispy, the meat pink and deep, the gravy perfection.

My photo was rubbish, so here's a proper one.

My photo was rubbish, so here’s a proper one. Thanks Kang!

And the chips. The chips were literally an ode to ‘ZOMG’. They were crunchy. They were fluffy. They tasted like duck fat. They made me happy.

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The boyfriend’s Lancashire beef, above, was brilliant too. Our side of kale and ham hock was a great accompaniment. Basically, it all tasted so nice that I seriously considered excusing myself to the toilet, locking myself in a cubicle and having a good cry.

But I composed myself then, and I will now.

The Hand & Flowers Chocolate and Ale Cake with Salted Caramel and Muscovado Ice Cream turned out to be one of the meal’s highlights. Served with a little glass of punchy ale, it became more delicious with every mouthful (how do they do that?!).

We ate it so fast that we forgot to take a photo.

After macchiatos and espressos and a huge bill, which totally didn’t matter because this was a rare, life-affirming meal, we strolled back into beautiful Marlow, a little bit pissed, still mouthing ‘Oh. My. God.’

The Hand & Flowers can be found in Marlow, SL7 2BP. Good luck trying to get a table, suckers.

 

Posted in: COOL