Last weekend, to celebrate our anniversary, Sam and I decided that we needed a night outside of London. We both LOVE hotels. Absolutely love them. Even just one night away from home feels like a holiday to me. After some very brief but satisfactory research, we decided that a night in Marlow, Buckinghamshire would do us loads of good. It was a cheap and quick train ride from London (under an hour), with a picturesque village, beautiful Thames-side walks and and lots of good food.
Marlow is home to Tom Kerridge’s famous 2 Michelin Star pub, The Hand and Flowers, but alas, this was a last minute trip and the reservation list for can stretch anywhere from months to years in advance. However, I recommend going to Marlow and taking a gamble: Tom Kerridge’s other restaurant The Coach doesn’t take reservations at all, so eating is on a first come first serve basis. Bad if you’ve driven from London to Marlow just to try to eat there for dinner, but great if you’re already in the town with time to spare. (Marlow is also home to the brewery for Rebellion Beer.)
It was delicious and totally exceeded all my expectations. The only downside is that when you look at the menu online you think, “Holy cow, look at those great price!” What the menu fails to mention is that all the items on the menu are tapas sized so you’ll need more than one. However, everything is so rich and filling that you really don’t need to order loads. I had a caesar salad, the ordinary name and connotations don’t do justice to the glory that is placed before you. From the quality of the croutons to the dressing, it blows all other caesar salads out of this world. Sam had the coach chips with bernaise, which were cooked to perfection: so thick and crisp on the outside, whilst light and fluffy on the inside.
But the side that I most highly recommend ordering is the rotisserie pomme boulangère- if you are a potato lover it will rock your world. For my “main” (remember these are tapas sized) I had the Coach burger, a slider sized burger that included a generous dollop of pulled pork and the thickest pickle I’ve ever seen. Even though the burger was the size of a slider it was so rich and delicious that it filled me up the same as a regular sized burger would. Sam had the chicken kiev with cauliflower cheese, which he nicely let me nibble on. It was lovely, with the kind of cauliflower cheese that will make you question all other cauliflower cheeses you’ve ever had. Then we split the hot chocolate tart with hazelnut ice-cream for dessert. It was glorious. As soon as we finished eating it, I wished I could eat it all over again. The chocolate tart “self sauced” when the first fork had barely touched it, and the hazelnut ice-cream was the perfect accompanying flavour. It fulfilled my most wild Nutella fantasies.
Besides its famous food scene, Marlow is also known for rowing and the regatta. And to be fair to the water scene, it’s been around for far longer than the food! (Not to mention producing some of England’s most famous athletes, like Sir Steve Redgrave.) It was also home to TS Eliot during the First World War, which explains the presence of a large Eliot quote in the graveyard at the All Saints Church by the Thames.
We ambled back and forth along the gorgeous Thames paths and imagined what it would be like to live along such a gorgeous stretch of the river. Hours may or may not have been spent watching the boats manoeuvre the intimidatingly deep lock with ease. And an embarrassing amount of time may have been spent oogling dogs in Barkers, a spa for local dogs, playing “which dog would you take home” and “waggliest tail award goes to…” (Is it obvious that I have dog fever?)
We returned to London on Sunday afternoon feeling infinitely relaxed, not believing that we’d only left 24 hours previously. Also, someone (and by someone I mean me) may have spent the train ride researching jobs and house prices in Marlow.
It helped that we had such perfect weather for our entire weekend, but this will be one of my most memorable weekend breaks ever. In fact, even though we were only gone 1 night, I definitely suffered from the post-vacations blues when we returned.
What’s your favourite weekend break?