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|Address:||31 West St, Marlow, Buckinghamshire SL7 2LS|
|Price: £62.00||Wine: £18.00||Champagne: £38.00|
|Opening Hours:||Tues-Sat 12N-2pm 7-10pm|
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Update Oct 2010
Truffle scented cep mousseline was sublime and the butternut squash risotto with chorizo proved a treat. When my chicken arrived, the all too familiar waft of vanilla hit the senses like an old acquaintance whose friendship you would not want to develop too far. It can be tricky to incorporate vanilla into savoury dishes, and some parts of the dish were slightly overpowered, but the accompanying blini was just wonderful. Venison with a bitter chocolate oil is now a staple – venison always matches the best quality I have had anywhere. However, the pervasive and consistent use of vanilla ensures that we will only be able to visit once in a while. A good wine will always be recommended and a Puglian red was a rich reward. Pleasingly, they are now steering away from predominantly French listing. I think we will always remain patrons because often food can be outstanding and so carefully put together, even though Mr McDonald will always be a V- pod addict.
Aug 09 – Stark Mediterranean tones with tiled floor didn’t quite bond with the formal service, but the cooking has always been reason enough to visit. Now muted tones, a carpeted dining area and comfy chairs have replaced the rustic. The curt French Maitre D’ has mercifully been replaced by the most charming man who now discretely directs; a totally untypical Italian who has the manner more akin to that of a softly spoken English gent who doesn’t miss a trick. However service is a bit old school and so still quite prim.
Michelin * has eluded this chef whose standard I think often warrants one. Quality victuals get sourced and treated with skilful care and Mr McD always delivers a good-looking plate. Only very occasionally does his ingredient list meander off course to produce something less than cohesive. Friday night, seriously good scallops were properly seasoned and caramelised – simple but divine with sauce vierge. Venison main with celeriac puree & bitter chocolate oil was better than my ‘nice’ pork which was a little sweet overall from the pear & vanilla – a touch of acidity may have balanced it. I felt that after the pork I didn’t want dessert nor preordained cheeses, so as the venison got the crown we asked for another main to share – they willingly obliged and we were pleased they did. Wine list has expanded as choices venture beyond France, though we still plumped for a Bordeaux.
We’d visit more often if we thought we could just drop in for a relaxed meal, but feel the need to don the glad-rags, though not everybody does. Definitely worth a visit if you’re near Marlow, unless of course you have an aversion to vanilla.