2016 Food Awards – Part 2

WadeandRockandFood Awards 2016

The WadeandRockandFood Awards 2016 follow another year of dining out in hundreds of restaurants, pubs and cafes. The awards aim to celebrate the very best eating experiences we have had over the last 12 months. Awards 2016 part 1 focused on restaurants, part 2 focuses on pubs and part 3 will focus on small independent food providers.

In 2015 we found several sensational pubs. In 2016 we have not been quite so fortunate – with many places falling short on imagination and quality. However, our top 3 pubs are all worthy of their place.

Devonshire Arms, Long Sutton

A former hunting lodge set in a pretty Somerset village. Has the feel of a traditional village pub but the food is of a far higher standard than you find in most village pubs. Devon review

Hand & Flowers, Marlow

You may have to wait months to get a table at the only UK pub with 2 Michelin stars…but it is worth it. A clever combination of exceptional service and high end pub food. Hand review

Three Tuns, Great Bedwyn

A free house that always has a good range of beers. The Three Tuns is a lively village pub that creates some beautiful plates of food and it is simply a great place to dine with friends. Tuns review – Apr 16 Tuns review – Dec 16

Part 3 will follow in the next few days.

Lunch@Hand & Flowers, Marlow

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.