The Chequers in Marlow - restaurant review
PUBLISHED: 15:27 03 June 2015 | UPDATED: 10:01 07 November 2017
A visit to The Chequers gives editor Jan Raycroft a few flashbacks and an entertaining encounter with a ‘celebrity chef’. Photos: Maureen McLean
So where to start with this one? Back in 1977-ish, the Queen’s Silver Jubilee year, might be good. For this was the time when if a young couple and their friends wanted to dine out in style with prawn cocktail, steak, chips and peas and a Black Forest trifle washed down with perhaps a bottle of Blue Nun… well, The Chequers in Marlow High Street was the ultimate place to head.
You can see I’ve lived. So going back through the doors of the newly refurbished pub restaurant was always going to be interesting. Previously, there was the snug little Whisky Bar in this ancient inn, now newly converted to The Churchill Tap, old wood everywhere and a selection of beers to send any connoisseur into raptures.
This is because the pub is one of a select few owned by Brakspear, so you get beers from the Henley-based Bell Street Brewery, ales from other Buckinghamshire breweries and a good choice of bottled world beers.
We’ll stop here a minute to mention the Tap’s bar food of homemade sausage rolls, piccalilli, scotch eggs and cheeses and breads. This is just the sort of place I used to lurk in as a young reporter, ostensibly meeting contacts who might give me a scoop.
Manager Andreea Grecu is rightly delighted with this new look and moving on, shows us the large and welcoming bar area before you get to the main dining room, a spacious delight far removed from those sticky leatherette seats I remember from the 70s. Just round the corner in this winding place with its sloping 16th century floors and beams made from original ships’ timbers is a little private dining area perfect for family and business gatherings.
Today The Chequers is still renowned for its steaks and grills, but the offerings are far removed from what I recall. Now you can expect the best 100 day, wet aged Australian beef, cut to size and shape to suit from its Butcher’s Block counter.
The various steaks sit alongside an extensive lunchtime and dinner menu of similar hearty fare and lighter dishes. There’s an ‘office lunch’ section and a Sunday carvery runs from noon to 4pm. There are no bright green frozen peas now (sides are more likely to be creamed spinach or rocket and parmesan) although I’m delighted to see peach melba on the desserts list!
The place seems so good it needs to be tested, so when I bump into executive head chef Antony Ely it’s time to offer the challenge. “Here’s the thing, I no longer eat steak, actually no meat other than the occasional bit of oily fish… plus, well, I’m gluten-free. How are you going to feed me?”
This turns into my embarrassment of the day as The Chequers menu has not only been designed to ensure Awkward Annies like me can dine in comfort and enjoy a feast (Antony reels off a grand selection) but there’s more to come.
I learn that in the past he spent six years in Dublin as U2’s executive chef, and fed the likes of Bill Clinton and Bishop Desmond Tutu. I want to scuttle off back to The Tap (junior reporter-style) but the man’s a charmer who loves being in Marlow and meeting all us curious customers. Definitely go along for a pint and sausage roll, or one of those highly recommended steaks.
51-53 High Street, Marlow, SL7 1BA; 01628 482 053; www.thechequersmarlow.co.uk