Harden's survey result
For 25 years we've been curating reviews of the UK's most notable restaurant. This year diners have submitted over 60,000 reviews to create the most authoritative restaurant guide in the UK.
“A top notch gastropub… but one that’s horribly over-hyped and certainly nowhere near two Michelin stars”. Due to the (over) recognition of the French tyre company a few years back, Tom Kerridge’s renowned boozer on the “busy” approach-road to the town centre has achieved a level of fame out of all proportion to its humble quarters and (admittedly accomplished) culinary performance, and risks becoming a victim of its own success. All reports agree that it’s a “lovely and cosy” (if “cramped”) honest pub, which despite its celebrity (and that of its TV chef owner) has stayed “very relaxed”; and legions of its fans do feel its “exceptional and traditional cooking delivers an amazing and authentic experience”, enhanced by staff “who couldn’t be more friendly”. But the growing volume of critical feedback rings alarm bells this year: the level of table turning can be “astonishing”; and too many reports of food that was “I hate to say it, but just, well, ‘nice’” (and very salty) means it risks now becoming “a cliché of ordinary cooking at bloated prices… for which it takes months to book!”.
“You wait a year but it’s worth it” according to most reports on Tom Kerridge’s Thames-valley legend, which owes its packed reservation book and huge fame (one of the top-10 most commented-on restaurants outside London in our survey) to being the only UK pub to hold two Michelin stars. “Any high-end restaurant where jeans are OK, and you can order a pint of top ale with your 2-star food gets my vote” – indeed, it is still a “proper pub” (“although if you only want to drink, you’ll have to go in the side room”) and “where else is such great food eaten in so buzzing and boisterous an environment?” There are inevitable gripes – for some the “mismatch of high-end food and low-key pub interior doesn’t work” and quite a sizeable disgruntled minority “love Tom on TV” but find the cooking “disappointing for all its stars and rosettes”. Given the huge expectations here however, what’s most striking is the proportion loving “the happiest staff” and “somewhere to enjoy with friends and family!”
“Tom Kerridge never fails to deliver”, according to the armies of fans of his famous, Thames-valley phenomenon (which – notwithstanding its “relaxed”, “cosy” and “buzzy” vibe – is sufficiently ambitious it’s “hardly a pub” nowadays). But while his “fine-dining-comfort-food” is undoubtedly “spectacular”, the place still strikes some folk as “unjustifiably hyped” due to Michelin’s “bemusing” award of not one but two stars. Whatever the correct level of guide-book-esteem, shortage of custom is not a problem – “it’s a nightmare to book”, and “even the extension does little to reduce the over-crowding!”
“To call it a gastropub is unfair, as it is perhaps THE gastropub”; so say the legions of fans of Tom Kerridge’s two-Michelin-star establishment, lauding dishes “packed full of flavour”, which turn “the everyday into something extraordinary”; a hard core of refuseniks, though, continues to find it “over-rated”.
Hand & Flowers Restaurant Diner Reviews
"Had the unusual pleasure of dinning at the bar and I have to say we got the best seats in the house. The food was good, the drinks interesting and Mixologist certainly added to the unique experience - including serving the best Bloody Mary ever!."
West Street, Marlow, SL7 2BP
Mon - Sat Lunch: 12.00 - 14.45 Mon - Sat Dinner: 18.30 - 21.45 Sun Lunch: 12.00 - 15.15