Celebrity chef Tom Kerridge’s two Michelin-starred pub the Hand & Flowers has gone from strength to strength and remains a spectacle in the culinary world, visited by eager foodies from across the country.
The pub, Kerridge’s first, opened in 2005 and gained its first Michelin star within a year, achieving its second in 2012. It also currently has four AA Rosettes and headed the Top 50 Gastropubs list for many years in a row, before being retired in 2014. It has now come out of retirement, reappearing on the list at number 19 in 2018, before moving up to 14 in 2019 and a further two places in 2020, before being placed at number 7 this year.
After more than a decade, the Hand & Flowers is still a proper pub with proper food. It is friendly, comfortable and relaxing. “We wanted it to be exactly the kind of place where we would like to enjoy our days off,” says Kerridge.
Although it’s Kerridge’s name on the door, there is an accomplished team behind the pub’s success. In charge of the kitchen is head chef Jamie May, a creative and determined chef who is setting food trends.
Making every customer feel special as they walk through the pub’s door is the top agenda for the gastropub, along with giving friendly service and exceptional food and drink.
Lourdes Dooley is the pub’s general manager of many years, who believes the key to a great pub is a good landlord (you’ve got more than that in Kerridge) as well as friendly staff.
Last, but by no means least, is Kerridge’s wife Beth. A big supporter of Kerridge and the Hand & Flowers, she is an accomplished sculptor.
The Hand & Flowers is not Kerridge’s only pub; he owns and runs two others in Marlow – the Butcher’s Tap being the most recently opened. The Coach, formerly headed by Nick Beardshaw and also on the Top 50 Gastropubs list, achieved its first Michelin star in 2017.
Kerridge’s latest pub venture – the Butcher’s Tap – opened in November 2017 and pairs a butcher’s shop with a pub. The new site is a joint venture between friend and butcher Andy Cook, and pub company Greene King.
Back to the Hand & Flowers, though. Dishes you can expect from the team include soft smoked salmon with pine emulsion, beer cracker and raw salmon parfait; lovage soup with Bramley apple, smoked eel, ham and cheese tortellini; and duck liver parfait with orange chutney and toasted brioche to start.
Mains have included the likes of loin of Cotswold venison and maple roast pumpkin, game sausage, lime pickle and spiced crispy chickpeas; Essex lamb ‘bun’ with sweetbreads and salsa verde; and fillet of Stokes Marsh Farm beef with Hand & Flowers chips and Béarnaise sauce.
And to finish, menus have featured the likes of milk toffee tart with ‘old English spice’ and roasted grapefruit sorbet; tirami choux with hot chocolate sauce; and caramelised apple and white chocolate bavarois with broken digestives and prune and Armagnac ice cream.
For special occasions, the Hand & Flowers also features a private dining room, The Shed, which can accommodate up to nine pre-booked guests and has three menus to choose from, ranging from £95 to £150 per person.
Guests who don’t want to journey home after visiting the Hand & Flowers can take advantage of the gastropub’s 11 bedrooms, situated in cottages nearby. Each guest can select which breakfast they would like to be prepared and waiting for them on their arrival.