The Coach * | Marlow (UK)

The pub concept elevated to another level!
Deeply satisfying dishes, big on flavour and glowing with technical finesse.

The Coach in the beautiful Georgian town of Marlow (UK) is Tom Kerridge’s second pub, just a stones throw away from the first one, the two Michelin starred The Hand & Flowers. The Coach works on a non-bookable, first come first served basis, with unreserved tables and bar stool seating.

The Coach opened in 2014 and was awarded with a Michelin star in 2018. This meant that at 28, Tom De Keyser was (and still is) one of the youngest Head Chefs of a Michelin starred restaurant in the UK. His progression within acclaimed celebrity Chef Tom Kerridge’s kitchens from Demi Chef de Partie at the Hand & Flowers to Head Chef at the Coach, in just five years has also made him a role model for aspiring young chefs.
Tom’s responsibilities, however, go much further. As well as having control of the running of the kitchen, including menu writing and development, he also oversees the smooth running of the business as a whole, including managing front of house staff.

The Coach is open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers a casual modern approach to dining. There are no starters or main courses on the menu, just 8 “Meat” and 15 “No Meat” dishes (at £3.50-£16.50) that arrive as they’re ready and are designed for sharing. Rotisserie dishes are a speciality. The menu also offers 5 desserts (at £8.50).

The Coach – Bar

We went for lunch last week and managed to get a seat at the long L-shaped bar. We ordered a selection of dishes and waited to see what would arrive first.

Mushroom “Risotto” Claude Bosi (£8.50)

The risotto is not a real risotto as mushrooms play the roll of the rice in this dish. A homage to Chef Claude Bosi who invented the Celery Risotto without rice. Nice rich and creamy sauce, great flavours, but the mouth feel you expect when you hear risotto is not there. So you are left with mushrooms in a creamy sauce, which doesn’t do justice to the dish.

Crispy Pig’s Head with Pickled Carrot and Fried Quail’s Egg ((£8.50)

Very neat and pretty dish. Perfect croquette of the pig’s head. Pickled carrot and the mayonnaise work really well. Quail’s egg is a nice touch, although the strip of bacon under it was not crispy. The crackling stick delivers the crunch though. Clever dish and very tasty.

Fillet of Sea Bream with Parsnip and Chanterelles (£15.50)

Sea Bream with a perfect crispy skin. All the other elements on dish work really well together, the silky parsnip puree, the chanterelles, the pickled cucumber, all very nice, unfortunately they overpower the fish. So when you taste everything together, the fish is totally lost.

Whole Stuffed Rotisserie Quail with Black Pudding and Moilee Sauce (£16.50)

The beautifully grilled quail was stuffed with black pudding and apricots. Such a nice combination. Very strong curry flavour of the moilee sauce, but the portion was just right for it not to overpower the dish. Comforting pub food, but with a lot of finesse.

Maple Glazed Rotisserie Celeriac with Pear and Chestnut (£4.50)

The celeriac was nice, but missed a crunch to go with it. Maybe the chestnut was supposed to bring it, but I couldn’t find it on the plate. Maybe forgotten? The maple glaze brought dimension to the dish, but you want more of it. Otherwise it is a bit dull to eat after a few bites. Fortunately it came together with the quail and the chips.

The Coach Chips with Béarnaise (£5.50)

And yes, The Coach chips definitely passed the test. Fried in duck fat, which adds a nice flavour and perfectly crisp. Could do with more of the Béarnaise!

Orange and Almond Tart with Chocolate Sorbet (£8.50)

Delicate tart, with bitter oranges and chocolate ice cream. A classic combination that works really well. A nice bitter-sweet experience. Again a very neat presentation and perfect execution.

Beef Suet Sticky Toffee Pudding with Vanilla Ice Cream (£8.50)

The sticky toffee pudding had a real dark (almost burnt) flavour enhanced by the beef suet. It was so strong, it even overpowered the caramel sauce. But together with the vanilla ice cream it got a bit milder and everything together gave that comforting feeling you expect with a dessert like this.

The Coach – Kitchen

From the bar we had a nice view of the open kitchen, where chefs are part of the buzzy dynamic, pitching in to help the staff whisk dishes out to the tables. A busy, well oiled machine, managed by Head Chef Tom De Keyser with a natural ease.

The waiting staff need to up their game a bit though. One of the female staff didn’t know what beef suet was, when our neighbouring guest asked, let alone that it was in the sticky toffee pudding. Also the staff don’t seem to be in control of when guests are ready to order a dessert or want to pay. As dishes come as they are ready, it’s more difficult for them to manage, but still, that’s part of the deal.

I am very impressed with The Coach. I was a bit concerned when I first saw the menu and learned that the dishes come as they are ready, but it works. The pub concept elevated to another level!
Deeply satisfying dishes, big on flavour and glowing with technical finesse. It’s clear why they received a Michelin star.

Just one thing: Please get rid of those tv screens. It just doesn’t work. This is not an American sports bar….