Monday, April 7, 2014
The Hand and Flowers pub in Marlow is one of those restaurants that is defying what the current definition of Michelin Starred means. For a very long time there has been a trend in the restaurant market to make everything, for lack of a better word, fancy-pants. These restaurants more often than not have tiny portions and are striving for sensory-overload and molecular gastronomy.
However, Tom Kerridge, a big, exuberant man that I'm hoping one day to meet, is changing all of that. He runs the world's only 2 Michelin Star pub. The only other restaurant I know of with as many stars that isn't stuck-up is Heston's Dinner. Both The Hand and Flowers and Dinner provide excellent, no exceptional, everyday food, done in a way that no weekend home chef could ever possibly do. They incorporate the greatest cooking techniques with the simplest of ingredients.
Take for instance, my starter: Soft and Raw White Asparagus with Roasted Cep and Hazelnuts, topped with Parmesan and Lardo. At first glance I didn't want to get this dish. I figured it would be too light and well, I was in a 2 Michelin Star pub, why the heck would I want light? However, it was heavenly. One of the nicest starters I have ever had. It was woody and earthy. The Ceps and Parmesan worked beautifully together. The Asparagus was incredibly flavorful.
The same can be said for, as you might imagine, my wife's Demi "En Croute" of Whole Baby Truffle with Foie Gras and Port. I think it's clear from the photo above that this is the greatest dish that has ever been constructed by human hands. A Baby Truffle in a sphere of Foie Gras. Unreal, really. This is the stuff of legend.
The mains were also ludicrous in their flavor and presentation. Both were big, round, beautiful dishes with immense flavor. The cooking skill required to prepare the mains is something I can only dream of. My Essex Lamb "Bun" with Sweetbreads and Salsa Verde was nothing short of perfection on a plate. A simpler dish, but not lacking in gastronomic excellence was my wife's Fillet of Lancashire Beef with Hand and Flowers Chips (chips made using an apple corer, then triple cooked), with Bearnaise Sauce.
The Hand and Flowers in Marlow is a restaurant that no matter how many photos I take or how many words I use to describe it, I simply can't convey how special it is. To have such a restaurant less than an hour and a half from my front door is as dangerous as it is fortunate. Luckily for my wallet and waistline, as I write this, tables are booked up until October 2014. That's for a weekday lunch seating. Want a table for a Saturday dinner? You'll have to wait until February 2015!
To view my professional food photography please visit my website Taylor Young Photography.