The UK's only 2 Michelin starred gastropub by Tom Kerridge in the charming town of Marlow - booking is now essential for 6 months in advance of weekend reservations
Another repeat of the classic dishes, squeezed in whilst we could and before the reservation calendar was to become untenable. Simply put, a powerhouse of dishes, although I was disappointed to see the onion jam around the parfait clearly older than necessary with not enough moisture, as if it had been left out for 30 minutes; clearly they expect to sell more and have numerous prepped in advance but either this one was prepped far too far in advance or left in a warm area. Either way, not great as it has caused me to remember this and write the majority of this piece on that rather than the meal which, was again, on the whole, wonderful.
Food Grade: 88%
As I was going to be passing I actually called on the morning and asked whether they had space at the bar for counter dining for one – and low and behold they did! It is always going to be easier in these circumstances if one is dining alone however I do appreciate that this is not the norm(!). As I was passing I was all too happy having a chat with the staff and lept at the chance to try the set menu which was really good. It had only just picked up its second Michelin star a few months prior to this meal and the three courses was then £19 which is phenomenally good value – no surprise now that the reputation has spread Mr Kerridge has accordingly wacked the price up for his dishes and especially for the set menu in a very obvious manner – that and the fact that the demand has gone through the roof and the prices are now a lot higher than they used to be has somehow caused the place to lose the special x-factor it once had and is in danger of turning in to a tourist spot.
On this occasion the soup was simple and pleasing, the whole quail with butter sauce was superb and the chocolate dessert was simple and done very well. Worth the £19 at the time and I am delighted to see Mr Kerridge’s brief tactic of raising prices exponentially has been lowered back to its £19.50 ball park area.
Food Grade: 79%
This has turned in to quite a gem and thankfully I got my three visits in before the reservation list went through the ceiling on its promotion to 2 Michelin stars. The dishes here really are well done in their simplicity but there is obvious skill beneath their modest presentation – there is just real authority in the choice of flavours and way in which these simple dishes are put together. The chicken liver parfait rivals that of Heston Blumenthal’s mandarin meat fruit which is hard to do and the fish and chips were simply the best standard you can get with succulent sweetness of the meat surrounded by an unbelievably light and crispy batter. The Great British Menu duck dish with butter gravy was just wonderful (a must if you go) and the mustard mash with the pork was a true delight. In short, there was nothing that we tried that was not liked by everyone. Tom Kerridge’s food here is worthy of its 2 stars without question based purely on the sure-fire victories in the mouth they produce and it is wonderful to be able to have a pint with your meal if you so wish as opposed to wine only, such is the nature of the gastropub. Although, that word should be used with caution as it is not really a gastro pub – it is a restaurant in a pub shell with no room for anyone to us the bar in the conventional pub way, although one can dine at the very small bar as an emergency option. The bar itself has had to be turned in to counter dining to make up for the extremely high demand. Getting a table here is now so difficult, my recommendation would be to take a day off work on a Mon or Tues and go for lunch or dinner any way possible a few months in advance.
A superb place for food, just such a shame the secret is out as it is such an effort to book, find a date, wait the distance and then travel there with my only reservation being that when that day comes, you had better not be late as they do double booking sessions so your table is only good for 2 hours which does not seem long enough. Diners should not expect a refined service as many on the front of house are quite young, however, this adds to a cosy, family and unpretentious place it is and the ones I have spoken seemed passionate about the food.
Food Grade: 89%
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