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Hand and Flowers - Worth a detour


"Excellent cuisine, worth a detour"- that's what two of those red stars in the Michelin guide actually mean. And yet I would imagine most people, headed to the Hand and Flowers in Marlow, were actually going under the three star guise of "deserves a special journey". I certainly was when I visited last Saturday. My reluctance to travel for food was over thrown by the undisputed appeal of the infamous eatery - the first pub to receive the two star accolade and a lunch menu that's as competitive as the average pub down the street.The set lunch menu,  is a bargain at £15 for two courses but involves no choices, so a fussy eater would be thrown on to the a la carte - not such bad thing, as its also incredibly reasonably priced. Its nice to see that the doubling of stars, hasn't meant similar price increases.

Luckily for me, and for you, if ever venture out to Marlow, getting there isn't that bad, in fact its actually very enjoyable. Simply take a train from Paddington to Maidenhead and sprint across two platforms to the Marlow Branch and jump on the next train. The single line track that connects Marlow to the main line has something of a nostalgic feel to it. It weaves it's way through the postcard like countryside, past houses and roads with cars stopped watching and finally over the Thames. This is the stuff of John Betjeman, after all he did advise " slow trains on branch lines, half-empty trains that go through meadows in the evening and stop at each once oil-lit halt. Time and war slip away and you are in the heart of England". Marlow may not be the heart of England, and the war may not be close to home, but when I did finally arrive in Marlow I was certainly content.

Trains from London arrive in Marlow arrive on the hour and the walk to the restaurant is just under 20 minutes along Marlow's picturesque, highstreet, assuming you don't end up in one of the town's many boutiques. The pub is as handsome as anyone could wish - low ceilings, yet well lit, original beams and beautiful tables.

Deep-fried white bait, and breads shortly after our drinks and whilst the white bait went untouched, the bread was scoffed in a minute or two. Pumpkin soup with maple walnut dressing was enormously satisfying. If lacking depth of flavour - it was a very good pumpkin soup but it didn't leave me craving more. 

The bavette of steak however, did. How they managed to give steak such a butter like texture I will never know. Billed as "medium rare", it was much closer to rare, and with the touch of a knife expelled a tidal wave of juices. It sat upon a sauce of mushroom ketchup, which perfectly complemented the the slight sweetness of the meat.

The bill, for two courses, a side, a glass of wine and service came to a very reasonable £27. Adding in the train the whole day cost me just over, £40, not at all bad for a totally entertaining 6 or so hours. Ultimately, I think I've sided with the book. Worth a detour? Yes. Worth a special journey? I'm not sure but maybe the journey is as pleasant as this is - perhaps. Its a good day out - nice lunch, wander round Marlow and back, especially for those needing a break from London but just on the basis of the food, I'm not convinced its worth the journey with so many fabulous restaurants in London.

Hand & Flowers on Urbanspoon


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Reader Comments (1)

not really sure about the worth a detour....have you been to Gavroche? Manoir? ...some Paris 2 Michelin stars maybe?...I don't think so.

August 2, 2012 | Unregistered Commentervialaporte

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