If Michelin can award Lonesome George three stars just for moulding mounds of rice and piggybacking pieces of raw fish on them then I have absolutely no problems with the same accolade being bestowed on pubs in Blighty serving decent food. Let’s be honest, creating a Scotch egg from scratch requires more Einsteinian skills than a horrendously costly piece of otoro sushi.
Don’t be shy about ordering a pint as The Hand and Flowers is after all a pub.
Enticing menu but Chef Kerridge wasn’t in the kitchen.
The subsequent absence of the chef de cuisine in the kitchen clearly resulted in the hits and misses I experienced during my meal here.
Service was polite and terribly well spoken (young Tories and all).
Ambience was basically a pub but without the big screen or the usual bad smells.
Freebies of sprats and bread courtesy of the absent chef.
The whitebait was fresh and crispy but undeservingly underseasoned whereas the breads were simply divine.
Parsley Soup with Smoked Eel, Bacon and Cheddar Tortellini.
The soup had far too many complexities and strong tasting ingredients applied to it. It managed to baffle the taste buds and corrupt them enough to render the whole bowl pointless and sadly unappetising. This was one soup worries wouldn’t go down better with!
NB (1) Why were the flowers there?
Glazed Omelette of Smoked Haddock and Parmesan.
A superb starter or an Omelette Arnold Bennett by any other name.
This dish had a lovely lightness and delicacy touch to it and that’s despite the use of heavyweight ingredients like smoked haddock, eggs, butter, béchamel, Parmesan, etc.
It was pure eggy goodness that can be engorged without restraint!
The second marvel-
Salt Baked Potatoes with Garlic and Parsley Butter.
What initially resembled like a stone of an avocado was in fact one of those rare Heritage potatoes (and just in case you were wondering, two further ones were burrowed inside). This was a wondrous creation and almost a hearty dish unto itself. It more than championed a certain Ms Winfrey’s quote of-
“My idea of heaven is a great big baked potato and someone to share it with.”
The third marvel-
Line Caught Cod with Pastrami, Morels Herb Crust and English Asparagus.
It was a near perfect dish except for-
NB (2) Why were the flowers there again?
Essex Lamb “Bun” with Sweetbreads and Salsa Verde.
The lamb cutlet was gorgeous, tender and as expected of a starred joint, rightfully pink.
The accompanying gravy was nothing short of amazing.
The pastry was as hard as rock, unsophisticated and utterly inedible. No wonder the word bun was adorned with inverted commas!
Whatever barding that was involved in the cooking the lone piece was lamb was equally disappointing. The combination of the cabbage, forcemeat and shreds of poultry were stringy, crude and disconcertingly challenging to the palate.
Exceedingly poor value at £23.50!
Warm Pistachio Sponge Cake with Melon Sorbet and Marzipan.
This was one conversation-killer of a dish, my dining companion enjoyed his dessert in silence and gobbled the whole thing in less than five minutes. He smiled and suggested that the entire meal was to some degree, redeemable.
Hand & Flowers Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel and Muscovado Ice Cream.
The Hand and Flowers has the ability to serve astonishingly good pub grub and yet fails when it tries too hard. And what with the two Michelin stars? Well all I can conclude is that the food here is nice but flawed.
126 West Street