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|Address:||Paley Street, Maidenhead, Berkshire SL6 3JS|
|Price: £42.00||Wine: £15.00||Champagne: £42.50|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sat 11am-3pm 6-11pm Sun 12N-4pm|
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9 Months on and it’s hard to imagine ever falling out of love with somewhere like this, not only because they manage to maintain incredibly high food standards, but there is always a warm welcome, staff know what they are doing and it still has a hint of rustic pub charm whilst being comfortable – If I am dining out I want comfort in order to relax and imbibe which is made easy here unlike places too bucolic, with wobbly, old furniture, and often uncomfortable chairs.
Lamb’s liver and bacon doesn’t sound exciting, but as a ‘dish of the day’ for £10 put together by the exactingly talented chef, Dominic Chapman, a piece of lamb’s offal became rather special. I worried that it may be too ordinary following the fabulous asparagus starter of 4 fat spears with a soft yolked pheasant egg in a crispy delicately weaved coating of some sort with just the right amount of hollandaise and monk’s beard. Happy to remain boringly repetitive, though understandably so, my man ordered the rich rabbit lasagne to which he has an obvious addiction, but we all have to indulge sometimes including me and this is an outstanding dish. The menu changes seasonally but major protests would occur if the rabbit ever hopped off the menu for too long.
On to the lambs liver with bacon and sage which was pan-fried to order for me. Nostalgia kicked in as I remembered my Mum putting this on the table when I was a child, but I soon returned to the present as I got lost in the wonderful flavours, the dreamy mash and greens all pulled together with a tasty glossy gravy.. My partner’s peppered venison was perfect as usual and chips are a fail-safe too.
Ordering dessert happens rarely, but I just could not resist another trip down memory lane, with rhubarb crumble and custard. Suffice it to say that I completely demolished the best version of a rhubarb C &C I have ever had, despite feeling quite full half way through it. A little sophistication was also brought to a rice pud’ served with doughnuts that also comes highly recommended.
Utterly faultless cooking is why we are happy to drive 30mins+ on a fairly regular basis purely to eat here. The chef is actually in the kitchen, and reliability is quite evident in the dishes produced.
Since the Michelin star, the standard has been consistently good, in fact very much so. It is quite expensive, but we are always satisfied and happy to pay for the high standard. One or two dishes have remained on the menu choice for good reason : they are simply too good to drop. Rabbit lasagne was once a pithivier, so the chef has perfected the filling until it has become sublimely soft with a fine silky layer of pasta laced with a thin coating of creamy sauce. A fresh starter of summer vegetables dressed impeccably, was beautiful to see, equalled by delicious flavours vibrant and interesting. A generous bread selection includes minitiature loaves, always fresh and warm; one of my favourites being tomato flavoured. For contrast there is a crisp olive flatbread. Appetisers such as rabbit on toast, rollmops, scotch eggs or courgettes start at around £3 so that you can skip starter and save yourself for the main and a pudding, unless so tempted to go for it all…Last time, I ordered melon and tomato starter that was so simple, but so good when something healthier and very refreshing appeals. It is pleasing to see that duck and venison is still on the menu adjusted to suit the season. Lemon sole and halibut I adore, but I have yet to try North Sea Cod. Side orders include seasonal fresh vegetables and salads – peas I order every time because they are fabulous now. Chips and mash are served with one or two dishes where appropriate, but as a side order are £4 for those who must indulge regardless of choice. Good use of herbs come direct from their new modern garden setting outside the vaulted light extension, where diners can look out on to the planters brimming with herbs in the small area. Staff are cheerful and helpful and wines very rarely disappoint. Expect to pay £160 for 2 with a really decent bottle of wine. I am about to book again because it is the best it has ever been right now and better than the Hand and Flowers.