The Hand and Flowers

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Gastropub, British

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About The Hand and Flowers

SquareMeal Review

Gold Award

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.

Good to know about The Hand and Flowers

Average Price
££££ - £50 - £79
Cuisines
Gastropub, British

Location for The Hand and Flowers

126 West Street, Marlow, SL7 2BP

Opening Times of The Hand and Flowers

Mon-Sat 12N-2.30pm 5-10.30pm Sun 12N-3pm

Reviews of The Hand and Flowers

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16 Reviews
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Value:

Paul A

Not up to its reputation
19 January 2015
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.
Food & Drink
Service
Atmosphere
Value

Paul A

Not up to its reputation
19 January 2015
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.
Food & Drink
Service
Atmosphere
Value

Paul A

Not up to its reputation
19 January 2015
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.
Food & Drink
Service
Atmosphere
Value

Ms/Mrs. Michelle M

Disappointing - Let down by service
27 September 2013
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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Ms/Mrs. Jean T

22 November 2012
We had been to The Hands & Flowers earlier in the year but wanted to share our experience with a foodie friend so duly booked the day off work and travelled from London to Marlow for our gastronomique feast. On a dull wintry day we entered through the side entrance into a buzzy atmosphere. As on our earlier visit the young staff were excellent, very attentive and ready to explain the menu. A mild disappointment was that the starters came out before we had finished our canapes but this was soon forgotten when we tasted the Duck Parfait and Foie Gras and the Pork & Mushroom Terrine were all declared marvellous – the brioche with the Parfait was excellent. For mains we had the Duck, Tenderloin of Pork and the Loin of Venison each of them consisted of layers of flavours and delicious attention to detail and they were accompanied by superb vegetables. For dessert two of us had the Raspberry souffle which was the lightest and most wonderful souffle we have had in a long time and the Warm Pistachio cake with Melon Sorbet and Mazipan was uttlerly delightful! We had a lovely afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed the experience and will return!
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Ms/Mrs. Paula K

07 September 2012
Was pleased to secure one of the few remaining tables for lunch outside yesterday. The food was disappointing, to say the least. We got no further than whitebait ‘appetiser’ and lamb main course from set menu; both were overcooked and tasteless. Flies buzzed around our table. I paid £37.00 (excluding service) to avoid embarrassing my companion and left. Staff seemed completely insensitive to my feedback and my payment was processed quickly and coldly. The only element I could recommend was the carafe of house rose; sadly unfinished.
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Mr. Ben M

11 July 2012
What on earth were the people at Michelin thinking when they gave “pub” 2 Michelin stars? It is just a very good gastro pub. Pub service and gastro pub food. Service was very lapse. We were firstly not asked of any allergies and canapés served that we could not eat. When we returned them they did not even ask why. A bottle of wine came and tasted, then left on the side for us to pour. Very lapse for any restaurant alone one with 2 Michelin stars. Food very average, starters were bland and the crispy pigs head very greasy. “Lamb Bun” was nice and the steak tough. The only saving grace was the crème brulee dessert, probably the best I have ever eaten. On a whole if you lived locally you would go occasionally. Definitely not worth the journey from London and definitely not 2 Michelin stars!
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Mr. paul S

16 April 2012
My wife and i , had dinner here on saturday, i must admitt i was slightly optomostic that this would live up to other 2 michelin star establishments i have been too, but i am glad to say i was blown away, it was a country mile ahead in my view. The restaurant is very small, but has a very traditional feel, and has kept the “pub” theme, which is great. Very friendly and informal staff, really liked this, not some ponsy snob looking down on you like he is doing you a favour as many of these michelin restaurants have…that i hate! the food, i had the crispy pigs head to start my wife had the haddock omelette, both were brilliant and of the highest standard , mine in particular was for a lack of a better word, monumental!! i could have easily eaten another one and beautifully presentented, not a pigs head in sight!!! second course i had the duck which won Tom the main from great british menu, it was brillaint and the chips to die for, my wife had the beef which was one of the best i have tatsted soo tender and flavoursom. we opted to share a dessert, a chocolate cake, it was very good indeed, not the best i have had, but it can be forgiven for the rollercaoster of flavours we had just been presented with. i have eaten at most 2 and 3 star michelin retaurants in london, this was right up their with the best and in my view eclipses them, well done michelin at last your inspectors have got it right, shame they cant get it right with the london scene, i would be stripping many of them of their stars, they simply do not deserve them in any way shape or form. the most amazing thing, 2 starters 2 mains, desert, 2 glasses of champagne, wine, water, a smidge over 140, notes,service was not added to the bill we left tip in cash, any london restaurant would be minum double that if not tripple, plus how these london restaurants have the bare face cheek to add 15% service charge to the bill is a disgrace, i always cross it off and leave what i think is a reasonable tip. this is the best value michelin eatery i have ever been too and i cant wait to go back.
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Mr. Vincent L

16 January 2012
I don’t even know where to start, seriously. Hand and flowers is this kind of places, not being their fault, but trapped into the endlessness vicious circle of Michelin establishment. Granted 2 stars by the Michelin guide in the 2012 edition. OK this is nice, this friendly, this is overwhelming…but STOP. This is a fact. From 7 years being living in the UK I’ve always been easy with the rating of restaurants in the country, trying to identify the difference and understand. From most starred restaurant in the world, to the best places in France and the UK, I’ve to say, that in this particular occasion we’re reaching the level of the ridicule. Not for the respect of the chef, certainly not. After a full meal I think I had quite a decent experience for 3 hours. But come on, this is not acceptable to compare some places in the UK to the Hand and Flowers. This is not acceptable to compare the Green House in London to this pub, the Pied a Terre, the teams in the world suffering every day to bring an experience, a moment in the life of you and me. This is not simply acceptable to compare the Gavroche or Joel Robuchon to the H/S. Even the Mid-Summer which I detailed over a full post was to be applauded in this instance. Something in going wrong in the Michelin rating establishment and we will have to understand what is happening. Is it a kind of mafia surrounding the French established born guide ….. carrying what they did for the some recognized Chef in the world, and almost being creating a subsidiaries of connection with some grown up chef. I’m fed seriously fed up with this outrageous way of the Michelin guide to establish new scales, new benchmarking where there is definitely none. Established for a while in the world. I will take the example of some Tailevent in Paris. How dare would you rate Taillevent the same level as the Hand and Flowers? Am I missing the point here? Are we saying the UK Michelin got a different rating as the rest of the world? Then if the anwer to that question is a Yes, then I’m giving up. I though Michelin was establishing a global and standard level of rating all cross the world. This would be my mistake. Here Tom Tom Kerridge, with all the best respect I got for his talent since I’ve seen him in Great British Menu, I can’t understand how you could have the respect to be part of the group of established Michel Roux or Joel Robuchon and not being ashamed of been awarded the same level on a simple pub in the middle of Marlow. I would be you, I would write to the Michelin headquarter telling that there must be an misunderstanding. The first minute of this moment are just living the sum up of all the rest of the experience……Nill…close to nothing. We arrive, we see a nice pub, a team chatting, an usual hesitation on taking your clothes and then the noisy dining room….are you sure this is the place you’re coming to have a Sunday roast?? Almost surreal. Two Stars? This is a joke!! My god….Michelin Guide UK is driving the people nuts by doing this kind of analogy. This is really bad, and these not even the fault of mister Kerridge. Seriously. The Michelin star in the UK is not on the first time proceeding to this kind of operation. They did it recently in 2011 for Arbutus in London. Same scenario, as the total surprise was astonishing. Even from them from really close sources. Come on Michelin team, you can do better and be realistically independent. Stop trying to ruin the level you established in other countries by just rushing and creating stars where there is none. I’ve been recently to the Elephant in Torqay and this was a far better experience than the Hand and Flowers Worse than that, something happen which never happen to me, and which was even worse for this poor chef…..a hair….seriously I’m not joking….this is a first time I had a hair in my dish. This was a joke. I’m not even doing any fuss of it ….expect that I and my friend had to wait 20 minutes to get another dish ready to replace. Also I’ve to say, on top of that, we’ve been commended to leave the table for a certain time….what the hell is that…if you’re a 2 stars…you deal with that? I can’t wait to see serious people coming to your restaurant (pub) In essence…..forget about this place. If the food can be nice…..I’m not even commenting about it….as I’ve been so much disgusted by the treatment and the rudeness of the management and staff. I even had to claim to cancel the price of counted replacement dish??? …….in a history of good food and Michelin star, this is a pure disappointment. Leaving me with hanger against my favorite guide and the fact that some people are currently committing into the selling of the quite old and established guide. We’re losing in quality and independency. This is a shame. I hope this is not the start or even continuity of a downfall. I’m working to make people understand the real rating established a long time ago by people with passion. Recently the Michelin guide has committed a self-suicide by promoting too many places ….and not real looking to their own rating benchmark. I would recommend to those people currently working at Michelin to travel more. To experience more places in the world. You should go to Tokyo messieurs. You should go to Paris or Spain messieurs. How can you rate Noma, Robuchon, Gavroche, Carré de Feuillants, …..or even Mid Summer with a 2 stars when you are rating 2 star at Hand and Flower. This is OUTREAGOUS. I would recommend you to extend your bib gourmand to different level…..this would be wiser. As a lover of food and quality…….I’m sorry Hand and Flowers is a nice pub…maybe the best….but this is a PUB Please enjoy the food…….unfortunately on shade by the silliness of an international rating established by currently falling regulator. To the image of the big financial rating agencies…..it seems that some food rating agencies are currently overwhelming their power…..this could be their downfall soon….
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Ms/Mrs. Caroline S

15 November 2011
Having followed Tom Kerridge on the Great British Menu I decided to book a table for dinner and a room in the hotel back in June for a surprise for my boyfriends birthday last week. We arrived very excited and were checked in pretty quickly despite it being really very busy with the last of the lunch guests. The room was lovely – very comfortable and some great features like a huge copper bath in one corner of the room – really quite fun! Dinner was nothing short of DELICIOUS!!! The atmosphere in the restaurant was brilliant, the guests were buzzing, sharing food and generally really enjoying themselves – and rightly so! The staff were so cheerful and extremely attentive and as a special birthday treat we got to meet Tom himself! What a lovely guy! We will definitely go back as everything was just superb and I can't wait to sample more of his food!
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