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The Macdonald Compleat Angler Marlow Review

November 16, 2012

Residents of Marlow are a lucky lot. The town is blessed with perfect Englishness, it has both history and beauty. The mainly Georgian period buildings in the high street accommodate the best shops, including lots of independents and some great traditional public houses. Rural charm meets M40 convenience. Great schools, an adorable park by the Thames?Marlow is a very special location. And do not get me started on the local brewery, Rebellion (except to say if you are close to Marlow and like your beer, you have to visit). I should mention the brewery is one of my favourite destinations in Buckinghamshire, but recently I discovered another to add to my list and this one features very highly too. The Compleat Angler hotel could be seen as the final piece of the jigsaw to make Marlow perfect. The hotel is 400 years old and sits on the banks of the Thames. A rather impressive, fast flowing weir is at the rear of the hotel, providing another wonderful view (many of the rooms have views of the Thames / weir). The hotel is named after Izaak Walton?s 1653 guide to the art of fly-fishing. It makes you come over all J R Hartley. It fits perfectly. The Compleat Angler has two restaurants. The 2AA Rosette award winning Bowaters Restaurant and Aubergine, a sister restaurant to the renowned Aubergine Restaurant in London?s Chelsea. Aubergine always gets rave reviews regarding the fine dining experience, with the mighty weir providing a stunning backdrop. We opted for a calmer Bowaters, and I cannot fault a thing. To start, the staff are welcoming, professional (clearly well trained in their individual tasks) and fully accommodating. The menu is varied enough to give choice, but because of the quality of the dishes available can also be concise. Choosing what to eat from such a menu is an easy task. To start, my partner had seared smoked salmon. I went for scallops, both dishes were more than acceptable (I wish I had chosen the salmon ? she?s always getting the better dishes these days!). Bowaters is not huge, but this gives a cosy, intimate feel. There were many couples enjoying their meal, which on a weekday shows the standard of the food on offer. Our mains were Duck served two ways and a sublime beef fillet (I edged it this time, just). Sides of spinach and thyme potato gratin washed down with a beautiful Pinot Noir. Intimate and very romantic, this was more than a pleasant meal out. The room was in keeping with the rest of the hotel ? spotless. It was also spacious enough, with a balcony overlooking the weir. The hotel retains its sense of history yet does so without being too formal. The staff do well to be welcoming and helpful. It is a little irritating that I can find no faults with the Compleat Angler, it is as perfect as the town in which it is situated. And the icing on the cake? The hotel bar even stocks bottles of the local brew!

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