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126 West Street
Tom Kerridge is currently doing for Marlow what Rick Stein did for Padstow: his name is everywhere, and his fingers are in an increasing number of local pies – including The Shed, a new private dining room a few doors away from his two-Michelin-starred flagship. “What’s not to love” exclaims one reader, and we’re not surprised when others wax lyrical about The Hand and Flowers: “fantastic and not too fussy”; “incredible food, so unique yet beautifully simple” – the plaudits just keep coming. The pay-off for lucky diners is a rolling menu of Kerridge’s greatest hits and tricksy fresh-faced ideas with a seasonal smile – think lamb and haggis toast with chorizo mayo, whipped cheese and mint jelly, slow-cooked duck breast with apricot purée, morels and a Moroccan-style savoury tart or the fish du jour served with char-roasted alliums, cheese mash, avruga caviar and sauce ‘bonne femme’. This is a world away from your average gastropub fodder, and there are delicious surprises right to the very end: one reader loved the “mini ale” served with his dessert (a boozy chocolate and ale cake with salted caramel and muscovado ice cream). The only downside is the fact that you have to book “ages in advance”, but that’s small beer when the restaurant can deliver such quality, warmth and pleasure.
SquareMeal’s Best Restaurants in the UK 2018 is compiled using votes from our annual survey, last conducted in spring 2018. Thousands of readers took part and the results were moderated by SquareMeal’s editor and his nationwide team of professional reviewers. The UK survey does not include any restaurants in London. Click here for the full list of SquareMeal’s Best Restaurants in the UK.
UK's Top 100 Restaurants 2015
UK's Top 100 Restaurants 2016
UK's Top 100 Restaurants 2017
SquareMeal Award - Best UK Restaurant
UK's Top 100 Restaurants
126 West Street
Marlow Station 1km
Cookham Station 4km
Harleyford Golf Club 881m
Bisham Abbey N.S.C 1km
Mon-Sat 12N-2.30pm 5-10.30pm Sun 12N-3pm
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 3
We were lucky enough to get a Friday evening spot here and were full of anticipation given the demand for tables and all the adulatory publicity. To call the Hand and Flowers a pub with a restaurant is something of an exaggeration, and although there is a decent-sized bar, there is little doubt that the overwhelming majority of punters are there as diners. The dining room maintains the original period set-up, and the atmosphere is certainly relaxed, although this does not deter the staff from doing their utmost to provide proper restaurant service, which occasionally results in a feeling that they are slightly confused over their role. We were pleased to see that the menu paid homage to some traditional dishes, and our amuse-bouche was deep-fried whitebait with good old Marie Rose sauce. We decided that as there was no tasting menu we would go for different dishes so as to experience the cooking as fully as possible, and we started with a smooth and subtle duck liver parfait enlivened with port and madeira and good toast and orange chutney, and salt cod Scotch egg with deep-fried chorizo making a good contrast with the red pepper sauce. My main was an impressively presented osso bucco, the meat shredded and served inside the hollowed-out bone but chewy and thus disappointing despite its good taste. The osso bucco came with oversweet carrot, which been poached with sugar and star anis, and a generous slice of a brawn-like sausage. My wife chose partridge which she pronounced fine although possibly rather underdone for some people's taste, and this came with good black pudding purée, braised celery, Morello cherry ketchup and game pie. We felt that it would be good to have some potato and something green on the plate, and were therefore obliged to order sides, but we could not let the occasion pass without having some of the famous Hand and Flowers chips, with some sprout tops to accompany them. We were frankly disappointed to find that the chips qualified technically as chips because of the way they are cooked, but what we were served looked like and tasted like something akin to an extruded potato nugget and were not what we would call "proper" chips. Our desserts made a diverse pair - tonka bean panna cotta with chunks of honeycomb and rhubarb jelly providing an interesting contrast, and a giant, unadorned, dark-looking crème brulée with a very solid crust and a slug of bitter beer accompanying it. Given the variety of our dishes, we left the choice of wines to the wine waiter, and these turned out to be adequate, if on the expensive side.
I don't usually do reviews but felt compelled to since I was so taken aback by the poor service we received here. My family and I were celebrating a special occasion by having lunch here a few days ago. We all were looking forward to it for a long time and sadly we were left very disappointed by our experience.
We arrived early by 30 mins for our table and were sent away by the front of house because they had no where for us to sit. We noted at least 4 empty tables (one of which was a table of 6) in the ‘bar area’ which were not offered. We had to loiter nearby, went back 30 mins later at our designated time and were sat at one of the empty tables we had witnessed before, to have a drink and peruse the drinks menu (we had to ask to see the food menu)
We were then hurried off this table to another in the restaurant area (hard to differentiate whats what as it quite small)
I was not impressed with the menu choice and struggled to find something that I wanted to eat to be honest. I settled for the fish and chips, which sounds a lame choice but its honestly the only thing that appealed to me out of the choice. It was very nice I have to say ( apart from the chips which they cook to the point there is no potato left inside) Everybody else was happy with their food choices. Best bit for me was actually the soda bread they give you at the beginning, which was delicious.
Our bill was just under £300 (6 of us) and the overall consensus from our party was that the food was very nice, not outstanding though! Perhaps I was expecting too much.
It was severely let down by the staff and overall service. The front of house lady was just awful, unhelpful and rude and there was not one personable wait staff in the place.
I am a regular at the Hinds Head in Bray, which is a 10/10 for me and never disappointed in either food or service on my numerous visits. I'm glad I tried the Hand and Flowers to see what all the hype was about but I won't be back. I can't believe this place gets 2 Michelin stars over the Hind's Head 1. I'd recommend the latter over Hand and Flowers every time.
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