Harden's survey result
“Tom Kerridge’s (wonderful) versions of pub grub” mean there are still many reporters who “can’t wait to go back” to his immensely popular and consequently “overcrowded” Thames-valley gastropub, which owes its mighty reputation to Michelin’s award of a rare two stars, back in 2012. It was a questionable decision from the start, but could be glossed over at the time by the Hand & Flowers’ undeniably crowd-pleasing performance. However, ratings here have been in decline for years now, and it’s reaching a point where this down-to-earth hostelry is starting to seem “seriously overhyped”. It doesn’t help that TV Tom’s opened The Coach “literally down the road” which is “more fun” and has better scoff. And with this celebrity chef’s multiple other openings in London and Manchester, “Is TK just too stretched to keep control?”. (There’s also the question of when Michelin will finally stop slumbering and take away one or both stars here).
“Two stars????” – Tom Kerridge’s renowned (because of Michelin) destination is “a nice pub with very good food but it’s not up to the incredibly high standards that the French tyre company seem to think it merits” and consequently can appear “way over-hyped”. A fair number of reporters do indeed experience “magnificent cooking” (“so many things on the menu that you’re dying to eat”) delivered with “warm-heartedness, of a kind not given in most London eateries”; and in an “atmospheric setting, which remains like a gastropub despite the awards”. But, perhaps because TK has been distracted by his launch in the capital, the gulf between expectations and reality grew noticeably this year, and for a significant proportion of diners it now merely seems like “an adequate but unexceptional meal at a very inflated price”; or at worse “tremendously disappointing and truly bad”.
“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!”
Hand & Flowers Restaurant Diner Reviews
"The food as always was very nice but the hand and flowers chips were very chewy and not crisp. The coffee was stone cold. Definitely going steadily down hill. A shame TK and the management take no notice of the reviews and comments customers leave. I do not think it will keep the Michelin stars much longer."
"Memorable meal of the year, fantastic quality and cooking in idyllic surroundings. If only could go every week"
"Over-priced and Over-Crowded it has been since getting a second M-Star but this time - someone else paid - the fish was undercooked, everything savoury bordered on pudding sweet and the service was terrible. IS Tim K. too stretched to keep control?"
"Really pleased the food not only met but surpassed the hype by the distance of a marathon at least. Venison was exceptional but the star of the show was a sublime pineapple soufflé with a coconut crust. Real Sally met Harry moment!"
|Wine per bottle||£34.00|
West Street, Marlow, SL7 2BP
|Monday||12 pm-2:30 pm, 6:30 pm-9:30 pm|
|Tuesday||12 pm-2:30 pm, 6:30 pm-9:30 pm|
|Wednesday||12 pm-2:30 pm, 6:30 pm-12 am|
|Thursday||12 pm-2:30 pm, 6:30 pm-9:30 pm|
|Friday||12 pm-2:30 pm, 6:30 pm-9:30 pm|
|Saturday||12 pm-2:30 pm, 6:30 pm-9:30 pm|
|Sunday||12 pm-3:30 pm|