There seem to be places that simply attract culinary heavy hitters.
Rather unassuming, if idyllic, places can turn out to have some of the best restaurants run by the best chefs in the country.
Only five miles away from Heston Blumenthal’s 3 Michelin star Fat Duck is the town of Marlow which has become a well-known centre of culinary excellence thanks to celebrity chef Tom Kerridge.
Marlow is home to both of Tom’s Michelin starred restaurants – The Hand and Flowers and The Coach.
The Hand and Flowers was Tom’s real success story with it being the first pub to ever receive 2 Michelin stars.
The pub’s website celebrates its “bold, unpretentious cooking with brilliant seasonal ingredients”.
The pretty town is clearly popular amongst chefs because of its location in the Chiltern Hills, offering a rural escape from the hectic kitchens of the capital.
However, it isn’t so far that the town isn’t easily accessible from London, with it being an hour’s drive or train away.
Marlow is a great place to treat yourself to both culinary delights and a good deal of shopping and other experiences.
The town’s proximity to the Thames means that visitors can enjoy a boat ride before their feast and its award-winning Higginson Park is a great place to walk off a luxury meal.
Protected wetlands nearby mean that Marlow is flushed with wildlife, particularly birds such as kingfishers, swans and ducks.
One of the most notable features of the surrounding architecture is the town’s suspension bridge which was built between 1829 and 1832 and is now a grade I listed building.
It is when crossing this bridge to the other side of Marlow that you will find another high profile restaurant, run by another well known Michelin starred chef.
Sindhu is run by the first Indian chef to ever receive a Michelin star, Atul Kochhar, and is in the Michelin guide.
According to TripAdvisor, although less prestigious, Sindhu is actually better reviewed by the visitors and locals of Marlow and is ranked higher than both The Hand and Flowers and The Coach.
One review said: “One of the best Indian meals including some of the Taj restaurant meals in India. The quality and flavours were excellent.”
However despite the Michelin stars and guides, rosettes and accolades – one fine dining restaurant seems to reign supreme in Marlow.
Although not recognised by Michelin, the Vanilla Pod has been declared “the best restaurant in Marlow” by happy visitors.
The restaurant has snatched the top spot on TripAdvisor beating off its Michelin starred competition.
One local declared: “I don’t understand why they don’t have a michelin star!”
With another saying: “What the Hand & Flower should be like.”
Run by husband and wife team, Michael and Steph, the fine dining restaurant has won fans due to its less costly prices, intimate atmosphere and relaxed service.
Looks like it worth getting down to Marlow to try Vanilla Pod before it does win a star and jacks up the prices.
How To Get There
It is an hour’s drive from central London and even less if you are setting off from the West. You can catch the train from either Paddington or Marylebone with the journey taking about an hour and a half.
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