The Vanilla Pod in Marlow, Bucks.
Well, at long last I managed a dinner at the new restaurant in Marlow, the Vanilla Pod. The chef is formerly of Danesfield House and other pretty high class establishments so this promised to be pretty good. Since Marlow is home, having a potentially fine restaurant within walking distance of the house was very interesting to me.
So, last night my mother, my friend Ken, and I gave the Vanilla Pod a try. We were suitably impressed!!
The place is small, maybe 6-8 tables, and cosy, just off the High Street. Décor is simple but attractive. Waiters are in dinner jackets very French and formal appearing but friendly and welcoming.
To get us started we were offered an amuse bouche of creamy cauliflower soup which definitely promised a delightful full meal to come.
We all opted for the same starter pan-fried scallops with risotto, braised rhubarb and vanilla gastricque (vanilla features prominently in a number of dishes). We all loved it! The other offerings were equally appealing ravioli of seared quail, foie gras and truffled artichoke broth; potato and eggplant terrine with goat cheese fondant; pressed rabbit cassoulet with apple and mango chutney, etc. But the scallops appeared first on the list and seduced us before we had a chance to read further. Well try other offerings on a different day.
I had a pave of brill with truffled lentils and asparagus for my main. Wow!!! It was stunning perfectly prepared fish with just lightly truffled lentils that added a wonderful contrast to the fish without overwhelming. Ken and Mom both opted for loin of lamb with an orange, vanilla and brioche crust. The lamb was beautifully prepared and exactly as rare (medium rare) as ordered. There were a couple of other interesting fish choices, a duck breast glazed with honey, fennel and coriander with madiera jus gras, a rib-eye steak, and chicken with ceps. Cant imagine what a vegetarian would do but I understand that they do offer special dishes just for them but they are not apparently on the menu.
For puds Mom and I both had the warm chocolate tart with vanilla ice cream (very chocolately and not too sweet) while Ken had a rum pannacotta with banana ice cream.
All of this was accompanied by a 1997 chateauneuf-du-pape which was a good foil for the meal.
Our dinner was the first night on their new monthly menu so they were only offering 3 courses for £22.50 which, by Thames Valley standards, is pretty good value. Once the chef has worked his way into the monthly menu, they will also offer a gourmet 5 course choice.
If youre coming out to the west of London, I can definitely recommend the Vanilla Pod.
The Bucks Belly