I wanted to love The Coach Marlow (formely The Coach and Horses). Mainly as I love Tom Kerridge aka the happiest man on the plant (close second, Kriss Akabusi). This lovely looking gastropub helpfully only takes walk-ins, acting as a spill-over sight for it’s even higher-end sister site The Hand & Flowers down the road, where there is a year long waiting list for their Michelin star Sunday roasts. I couldn’t wait a year and I’m too poor, so The Coach Marlow it was.
Only visit The Coach Marlow if you: can drop any preconceptions, foolishly appreciate tapas, are minted and not hungry. I am none of the above, thus left discontented. I love Mr Kerridge with his amicable West Country patois and proper pub-grub philosophy; disappointingly, The Coach Marlow ignores it.
Controversial opinion – tapas is pointless – a Mediterranean euphemism for expensive inefficiency. Only madmen want dishes to arrive schizophrenically. The standard excuse is: “To try bits of everything!”. Which is nonsense because portions are so small, only cold crumbs remain once shared. Order your preferences then trade bits later damn it. In any other context, new cutlery is provided and smaller courses sensibly arrive first – nobody thinks anything of it. Tapas means culinary human rights are waived in favour of a needless continental concept.
Rant over (almost). Sitting at The Coach Marlow bar provides stimulating views of the industrious open kitchen; an ideal first date rendezvous, providing distractions from potential awkward silences. The hard-working young kitchen team, went about their business in a focused manner. Unfortunately, everyone else was cramped together. At least I was lucky enough to get a table, or so I thought. Modern televisions were strategically placed, all the fixtures and fittings were handsomely fitted, and the lighting was pleasingly low.
Everything on The Coach Marlow’s menu sounded delicious. I was expecting a real treat here. The format was oddly split between ‘Meat’ and ‘No Meat’, yet meat’s in both sections: a practical joke, quirkiness or a genuine mistake, I know not. Furthermore, the descriptions didn’t hint at the wildly varying portions, making things unnecessarily fiddly. Was this a pub or some kind of puzzle…
Everything looked more than appetising, the food I mean, not the staff, I’m not that weird. Anyway, dishes were creatively arranged and housed in beautiful, earthy crockery. You felt that touch of quality. The Coach Marlow produced initially interesting dishes, which later left one puzzled and unsatisfied, rather than intrigued and impressed. The Whisky & Rye Pudding was cold rather than warm – evidently an error of judgement for any winter pudding. The Venison Chilli had the kick of a paraplegic and served grittily under-cooked. A pricey piece of Lamb carried a shameful amount of flaccid fat. The Pigs Head was a delicate croquette rather than something intimidating. This was all lamentable, as the depth of flavour across all dishes was impressive.
The Triple Cooked Chips & Béarnaise were memorable – undisputed world champion pieces of potato. However, as chips were the highlight, The Coach Marlow left me dissatisfied.
The Coach Review Summary
Atmosphere 9 Cost 2 Quality 6 Service 6
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