3 West Street, Marlow, Buckinghamshire SL7 2LS
Price: £40 per person (beers included)
In this world there are restaurants and Restaurants. In this case I should probably use the posh definition of “gastro-pub”. The Coach is a Gastro-pub.
It won my heart (and my tummy) and I am happy to now consider it among the best places I have ever eaten.
You seriously need to go there early. Like really early. The place is small with just some tables and the majority of seats at the bar. We arrived at 11:30 in order to secure a lunch spot…and we had to sit at the bar. We had the impression a couple of families had been there since breakfast.
The experience is slightly different from a restaurant as the menu offers a sample of tasting dishes ranging from meat to fish and veggies. It’s very English – I personally found, hence no strange attempts to Italian pasta or Indian curries thankfully. Apparently the sous-chef from the renown Michelin starred restaurant The Hand and the Flower – again in Marlow – has now started the new adventure of The Coach. Although I never had the pleasure to dine at The Hand and the Flower, I believe The Coach does indeed represent a faithfully Michelin star heritage.
The Coach embodies the next level of good English comfort meaty food. And it’s a smash in the face for all of those who think that English cuisine has nothing to offer.
The staff was smiling and relaxed at all time, notwithstanding the crowd and the long one-hour queue in the waiting room. We had some refreshing fish dishes: potted Cornish crab with cucumber chutney, a real delicatessen and a spoon of salmon mousse where they could have probably be a bit more generous.
We also tasted an exquisite chicken liver pâté with plum chutney that almost brought me physically back to Victorian England.
The meat dishes completely overcame the fish ones which were still delicious. My father had a very traditional and at the same time superb steak and ale pie. He also had a delicious ramp of lamb, the roast of the day. I admit I always doubt roasts, but in this case the meat was a triumph of taste. My mother ordered venison with beans and parsnip purée. She got a wide bowl which we looked at a bit skeptically. We completely changed our mind after the first spoon. The venison was served in a chilli-con-carne kind of style, I know it sounds weird but it was incredibly tasty…almost still wild! The purée was a surprise as well, it was so soft that its texture resembled a mousse. We loved it as it was an encounter of fine eating and humble cooking.
Finally, I had the most amazing, juicy, soft piece of lamb you can think of. Neck of lamb to be precise. I can’t even remember what else was on the plate as the lamb completely rapt all my attention.
After I recovered my senses from the lamb experience, we finished the meal with some outstanding desserts, such as hot chocolate tart with hazelnut ice cream – a delight! The melting heart of the tart matched sublimely withe the crunch crust and the cold ice cream.
What an experience! A perfect, relaxed, affordable representation of fine English cuisine. Highly, strongly, absolutely recommended!
Add-ons from my visit on 11/02/2017
Mussels Terrine with truffle mousse
The Coach Burger
Black Pudding stuffed Quail – on a bed of coconut milk sauce
Chocolate and Peanut Tart with Raisin Ice cream