The Hand and Flowers

As big foodies, my boyfriend and I are always trying to hit the hot spots of food around the UK. We've wanted to visit The Hand and Flowers in particular for quite a while after finding out about it when we visited The Fat Duck a couple of years ago. Set in the lovely town of Marlow, The Hand and Flowers is owned by popular TV chef Tom Kerridge, and when we managed to snag a table for my boyfriend's birthday, we were more than excited.

Upon arriving, we were pretty exhausted. The M25 (which is basically the hell of roads, for those who don't live in the UK) had become blocked, as usual, so we took a re-route and ended up driving for what felt like days. Never have I looked forward to a meal more. 

We were quickly seated at our table, a lovely little nook in the corner of the pub which felt extremely cosy. 

The decor was gorgeous, and I was happy to see the restaurant lived up to its name, sporting a significant number of flowers. Not so many hands though...

After taking our picks from the gorgeous menu, we were presented with complimentary bread, butter and fried whitebait with homemade Marie Rose sauce. 

Bread in posh restaurants always excites me for some reason. Usually because it comes out warm and the butter is incredible. Simple tastes! 

The whitebait were perfectly crispy and golden and tasted incredible with a little dip in the pink sauce. 

The food was delivered speedily, with the starters up first. Ollie chose the Carpaccio of unsmoked salmon with Avruga caviar, sea salt, whisky and Blinis. 

It tasted incredible, as did the little parcel of warm Blinis which came on the side. 

My dad went for the Lovage soup, with a strange combination of bramley apple, smoked eel and ham and cheese tortellini. 

The concoction arrived looking like some kind of potion from a Harry Potter movie.

But boy did it taste amazing! The balance of flavours was absolutely perfect, the sweetness of the apple matching with the saltiness of the eel, creating the most unusual but gorgeous flavour. 

As usual, I didn't have a starter, so I waited eagerly for my main. And I have to say, I was not disappointed. 

The fillet of beef arrived like a tennis ball on my plate; perfectly cooked, gorgeously seasoned. I have to say that it was the best steak I've ever had, and that says a lot. The onion rings were also gorgeous. Definitely a must-order!

Alongside my hulk steak was a little pot of Béarnaise sauce and the restaurant's signature chips. 

Ollie had the pork tenderloin with pickled mustard leaf, malt glazed cheek, garlic sausage and potato Dauphine. One of the prettiest looking meat dishes I've ever seen.

The final dish to arrive was the slow cooked duck breast, with duck fat chips and gravy. 

Plus a little pot of savoy cabbage to accompany. 

Pretty rich food to say the least, but as I always say, there's always room for dessert!

The prettiest sweet award certainly goes to the white chocolate and lime bavarois, filled with 72% dark Valrhona chocolate sorbet. The white chocolate ball was calling me, so I may have pinched a bit from Ollie's plate. 

Mine was the apple custard slice with bramley apple sorbet. Deliciously sharp and sweet all at the same time. 

The bitter orange soufflé was one of the most perfect looking tower of golden scrumptiousness I've ever seen, decked out with a cardamon ice cream and citrus syrup. 

Of course, a birthday is the perfect opportunity to get dressed up, even though I still ended up being the most over-dressed person in the place. When I walked in and saw people in jeans and t-shirts I did feel a bit self-conscious. But, if you can't wear a pretty dress on a birthday when can you!? 

My mama always told me that if you feel confident in your clothes and people stare at you, they're usually staring because you look great. If you love your clothes and the way they look then who cares what other people think! 

Dress - Armani Exchange || Shoes - Miss Selfridge

I've written about this dress before, but it still remains one of my favourites. Not only is it pink (which, yes, is very important), but the floaty material reminds me of a fairy princess dress. 

I paired it with my new go-to heels. After my old ones broke I was determined to find an new pair which go with practically everything. Luckily I found these beauties in Miss Selfridge.

We concluded with coffees in the cosy waiting area. The couches were so comfy I could have curled up and gone to sleep right there.

While my mama and I relaxed on the sofas, my boyfriend was lucky enough to be allowed to take a peek in the kitchens. As a chef himself, this was exactly the kind of thing that interests him. He got a few snaps for me, of course...

It was a perfect day (apart from the traffic and never-ending driving), and the meal was absolutely delicious. The Hand and Flowers only take reservations way in advance, so if you're thinking of heading there for a special occasion get in as quick as you can!