The Coach is Tom Kerridges second restaurant in Marlow which has been open a little less than two weeks. Needing no introduction as chef is regularly on TV promoting British produce and refined pub grub which is accessible to all. The Coach first peaked our interest during an appearance by chef at the Liverpool Food and Drink Festival in September, where he spoke passionately about his ethos and understanding the difficulties in getting into his acclaimed 2 Michelin starred restaurant, The Hand & Flowers. Therefore wanting to spread his food and seeming genuinely humble and appreciative of the public support, The Coach operates a no bookings policy.
Marlow is a bustling little town and it was surprising how busy it was full of cars and high street shops, somehow in my mind I thought it was similar to the peaceful and calm Bray. The interior of the pub is plush with seats for diners across the bar along with tables around the sides.
Having two restaurants in Marlow makes for easier management and it was nice to see Tom Kerridge overseeing the operation from the bar and chatting to customers. Marlow is probably a good location for other reasons as well, namely for the affluent population. We were aghast when in when a lady walked into the waiting area and promptly declared it to be a horrible little room and that they should go for a stroll instead! It was a narrow small waiting room to be fair with staff walking through constantly but it was clean and certainly better than being out in the cold. Other customers would stroll in and nonchalantly ask for glasses of champagne as if it was the norm for a Saturday afternoon.
After a short wait and a quick gander at the menu we were seated and were told that the dishes were all starter/tapas sized with prices from a reasonable £2.50 - £14.50 . Like a kid in a sweet shop we wanted to order everything but restrained ourselves incase we were too greedy for our own good.
The dishes arrived thick and fast and we started with salmon tartare on rye bread cracker and moules marinière with warm stout & brown bread. The salmon tartare resembled a larger version of the typical amuse in many restaurants these days. The salmon was fresh if a little drowned in the cream dressing. The mussels were served without shells and were large and cooked just right with an exquisite white wine sauce.
Mrs Noms favourite dish was the mushroom “risotto” Claude Bosi, a dish with a nod to the Michelin starred chef of Hisbicus in London. A risotto without rice but with indulgent cheese binding together the wild mushrooms. I only got one spoonful in as Mrs Nom enjoyed it so much she forgot about leaving me any!
The next dishes were certainly large than the average starter, more like small mains. A whole stuffed rotisserie quail and roast pork belly with crackling, mash and pickled cabbage, finished with a side of Coach chips with béarnaise.
The quail was moist and succulent, stuffed with fig and sausage meat. The skin could have been crisper though however. The roast pork belly had a delightful crunchy crackling, the mash was one of the smoothest I have experienced. A larger serving would have made a great roast dinner. The chips were good as expected although a touch too crispy on the outside.
As an introduction to the food of Tom Kerridge, this is good refined British pub grub and Hand & Flowers is definitely on the agenda next… if we can get a table that is!