The Hand & Flowers is the only UK pub with two Michelin stars. A downside of this is the fact that, if you want to dine here, you usually have to book several months ahead. (WadeandRock tip: follow Hand&Flowers on twitter – they sometimes tweet about additional availability). We really enjoyed our last visit and today we will see if it has been worth the wait to come here for a second time.
We enjoy some beautiful home-made bread and keep the sealed pack of home-made cheese & onion puffs we are given for later. We start by sharing the glazed omelette with smoked haddock & parmesan served in a small skillet. The flavour of the smoked haddock flesh works wonderfully in an omelette and the parmesan is just a bonus. I’m helped by being able to wash down the rich taste with a pint of Hand & Flowers bitter.
As you might expect the place is buzzing with life. Service standards remain high with prompt attention and explanations of dishes where necessary. I decide to have the loin of Cotswold venison with Boudin noir (black pudding) purée, salt baked celeriac, a ball-shaped ragout pie and a cowpuff (like a prawn cracker but beef flavoured). Loads of bold flavours on one plate!
Rock selects the tenderloin of Wiltshire pork with pickled cabbage, garlic sausage, a malted cheek beignet and mustard mayonnaise. It is a beautiful dish even though the pork is very, very pink. She leaves a little and when asked she simply states that some of the pork was just too pink for her but that she really enjoyed the dish. Almost immediately we are informed that it has been taken off the bill – great service is sometimes going a step further than required!
With the bill now somewhat lighter than we had anticipated – we agree to share not one, but two desserts. The Hand & Flowers chocolate & ale cake with salted caramel and Muscavado ice cream plus the tonka bean pannacotta with poached plums, honeycomb, ginger wine jelly and plum sorbet. The chocolate and ale cake is also accompanied by two tiny glasses of dark stout – another nice touch.
It has been a lovely experience. Very good food, really excellent service and some fine beer. Was it worth the wait? I think it probably was.