Christmas and New year are always full or merriment and indulgences, so I always try to get out as much as I can into the fresh air and drive into the countryside, to enjoy some leisurely walking-it’s still a form of exercise, right? This time we chose to drive to Marlow and as we were leaving, we bumped into our neighbours and asked them if they knew of a nice place to have lunch there. The reply, in unison, was instant: ‘The Compleate Angler’, which has two restaurants-a British cuisine based, more casual, called Bowaters and a sister to London’s restaurant, called Aubergine, which offers French cuisine.
The hotel itself, pretty and white, stands on the bank of the river Thames, and has perfect views, overlooking the church, the bridge and of course, the river itself. It just looked so welcoming, we quickly had a look around its garden and patio area, with a pretty Christmas tree and walked straight in.
Silly me, while browsing the site on my Iphone, as we drove, thought that Aubergine was more casual, so made a booking there, only to realise my mistake upon arrival, as I saw smartly dressed couples being seated at two tables in the middle of the room…We, in the meantime, we dressed in jeans and cashmere sweaters, but mercifully the staff was quite relaxed about our attire, possibly because it was lunch time and they weren’t fully booked.
We were sat down quickly, but unfortunately the two available baby seats were already taken, so my little one had to sit in the grown-up chair-not that she minded. The room itself was quite large, with tables evenly and nicely spaced and dark wooden beams and purple, white, beige and green colours making the decor look muted, but very pleasing on the eye. I started getting hungry-so much for the good intentions-as soon as I started reading the menu….
I started with veal sweetbreads with celeriac, truffles and quite a few other ingredients that unfortunately I didn’t jot down-the dish was perfectly executed and completely divine. It’s so easy to overcook the sweetbreads and make them taste rubbery, but this dish was perfection itself. I followed it up with truffle and cep risotto which was lovely and not too large a portion, but I was a little jealous of my husband’s order of steak with truffles and mashed potatoes with poached pear as his main course-the meat was so flavoursome and tender, it just melted in your mouth. And my son’s breast of chicken with jus reduction and mashed garlic potatoes and chips-well, let me just say that the plate was empty when he was done with his main course and he can be a fussy eater. Our waiter told us that the secret of chef’s mashed potatoes was lots and lots of butter and I have to say that both the mash and the chips (crispy on the outside and fluffy and light inside) were cooked by an expert who knows his potatoes well!
We were so full after our two courses that we declined the dessert, but our coffee came with a little tray with small cubs of marmalade and tiny chocolate pastries that were delicious and made the perfect meal complete.
The staff was attentive and smartly dressed and the sommelier made perfect suggestion for the wine for our main courses. It was also nice of them to ask us about the impression that each course left on us, making me sense their justified pride for the restaurant that they work at.
The hotel itself was busy, yet the staff made it look casually calm and as we left to have a walk by the river, I made a mental note to definitely come back-this place is perfect at any time of the year and gets my vote on all counts!