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The Coach

In case you don’t already know, I’m leaving. I’m moving to Tel Aviv in a few weeks and it’s still uncertain exactly when I’ll get on the plane. I’ve arranged everything as if I was flying this week, but I’m not. You may imagine how frustrating this is.

On Saturday I waved goodbye to Primrose Hill Farmers’ Market where I’ve gone almost every week in the year it’s been open. I love it and urge you to visit, if you have a chance. On Sunday, Amanda and her mother, Naomi, gave me a farewell breakfast at Fischer’s. On Tuesday, while men were emptying everything from my flat into a lorry, I said goodbye to my 82-year-old mother. That evening I started sleeping on a friend’s sofa bed. His front door is constantly blocked by the queue for Kanada-Ya. Maybe I’ll actually go, now I’m so close. On Wednesday I had my official leaving do at Moro. Everyone I call a friend was there. It and they were brilliant. All week I have resembled what happens when you cross a man about to leave with a waterfall. Going somewhere new is thrilling, but leaving the friends and places I love is not. No tissue has been absorbent enough.

On Monday Camilla picked me up for our farewell lunch. The day was beautiful, the sky the colour of forget-me-nots. She drove to Marlow, which is as pretty as small, English towns get. We were eating at The Coach, one of Tom Kerridge’s places. No respectable person says gastropub these days, do they? The Coach has a pub theme: there are tvs above the bar that I’m sure show football when it’s on. There’s a bar with stools, but for people to eat, not drink at. There’s a chandelier and brass coach lamps, an open kitchen and nice waitresses, too. It isn’t a pub.

We lifted a glass of rosé to each other and Camilla gave a piece of news, good news, news that affects me profoundly. I can’t tell you what that news is because it may not happen, but it concerns Things I Love, my other blog. “What?” I asked, my eyes bright and shiny. She told me again. I am, you may have guessed by now, a bit of a silly sausage. My emotions have been on a hair trigger all week. A torrent, no, a tsunami, of tears comically flowed from my eyes as I ran from the table. The other diners must have wondered what calamity had caused them. I gathered myself and returned. There has never been a better moment to fuss over a menu and order lunch.

The Coach offers fairly traditional, English, modern cooking, if traditional and modern can be used to describe the same thing. Familiar food done in a contemporary manner, maybe. The portion style is slightly odd; small plates but not sharing plates. Does anywhere serve big plates these days? All I know is that small plates need big tables. Ours wasn’t. We’ve eaten together so often we chose for each other. We ordered as though we were going to share, but the plates and bowls were put in front of us as though we were not. Still, we are rebellious at times and each ate equally of everything. The waitress warned us the dishes would arrive in the order they were cooked, which, magically, turned out to be the order we wanted to eat them, more or less. Starter-y things first, main-ish things second. It’s what separates us from savages.

What I want to say is how delicious it all was. We swooned at the chicken parfait, a real highpoint, rich and shiny with butter, as we did at the chicken kiev, it’s buttery lake flowing. I loved the ham terrine and the slow-roasted celeriac. I’m sorry I didn’t have room for the custard tart but the hot chocolate tart was lovely. Everything looked beautiful and was very good to eat. Not like pub food at all.

Small plates also, of course, lead to big bills. Around £80 for both of us, including a glass of wine each.

The Coach, 3 West Street, Marlow, Bucks, SL7 2LS. We arrived before 12.30 as they don’t take bookings. It was already busy.



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