It took us a good half hour wandering, lost, to find the exemplary Inn on the Green, Cookham Dean. Cookham Dean is such a wonderfully isolated little village with a former cricket green, and one commercial establishment - Inn on the Green. To get to it, you leave Marlow, on the River Thames, drive up a hill and then around the summit. Take a wrong turning off the "ring road" and you lose it.
The Inn on the Green is however, well worth the effort. Once there, you have a varied and entertaining venue in a quiet English village, that still smacks of sunshine, butterflies and cricket. There's a monument to the wars, loads of beautiful English country walks and a charming little cemetery, about 15 feet square.
The Inn on the Green is owned by Andy Taylor of Sanctuary Records (one of the biggest music companies in the world), together with Mark Fuller (Embassy Club, Marquis, Sugar Reef and Red Cube). The executive chef is Garry Hollihead whose list of prior venues is awesome (including L'Oasis Restaurant in Nice and the Savoy Hotel, Les Saveurs, Mortons and L'Escargot in London). He's no stranger to the Michelin Star world.
The restaurant's walls are covered with "medals of the music world" - platinum and gold records. These are for artists including Iron Maiden, Morrisey, Dubliners, Ozzy & Kelly Osbourne, Blue Nile etc. This is a real point of interest for visitors involved in the music industry.
Too late for dinner, we spent a relaxing while in the bar area which is plushly decorated with large comfortable leather seating. The open fireplace dividing these sections supplies ample warmth. The original doorway still has the stained widow shown at the top of this article. Ben, the cocktail barman. a native of Norwich, satisfied my need for a refresher with a "Gin on the Green" (Southern Comfort, Bombay Sapphire, OJ, Blue Curacao, with a dash of Creme de Menthe). Ben's happy to experiment, so feel free to play variations with him. I was then ready for a "Ward 8" and to retire.
The hotel rooms have TV's incorporating DVD and CD players, on which the eclectic selection of CDs in your room can be played.
For breakfast we enjoyed the fresh fruit salad and the home made raisin and walnut bread and the croissants. The restaurant is divided into sections. The back one is like a timber and purple plaster giving a Tudor feel with rustic wall to floor mirrors and gold curtains. The wooden plank door to the bar. The carpeting has a rush matting look about it. There's a blackened iron wine rack, big enough to hold an entire cellar.
We visited nearby Marlow, a charming historic town situated on the River Thames with the Chiltern Hills to the north. You're only about 30 miles west of the center of London and a couple of miles from the M40. It is the perfect place to enjoy the peace and tranquility of the river, shopping with a difference, walking around historical buildings, taking part in the many sports and leisure activities and eating and drinking in the numerous cafes, restaurants and pubs.
Returning for Sunday lunch we were pleased to find a new chef Robert Mazur providing a variation from the standard English fare. My Caesar Salad offered a rich variety of flavors, with a breadcrumb coated poached egg and black pudding. Though the texture of the black pudding was sadly lost in the dressing, the delicious blend of flavors stayed in my mouth a long time.
The background music is a really unusual. As eclectic as the selection of CDs in the room with Velvet Underground's "Heroin" seeming to fit in really well.
My main course of Sauteed Calf's Liver, Parsley Crumbs, Bacon and Vichy Carrots was served is a rich Veal au jus reduction, blended with diced shallots cooked in port. This really blended beautifully and, had I not been driving, I'd have loved some Merlot. I was delighted to find American style bacon though others might prefer this to be clear on the menu. Janet enjoyed her Roast Fillet of Cod and Baby Leeks in a delicious Clam Chowder, though finding the cod coating a little salty.
The walk had created enough appetite to accommodate sweets. So Janet had the Cappuccino Custard & Ovaltine Ice-Cream with Hazelnut Biscotti, which she reported to be light and delightful. My Lemongrass & Coconut Tart, Pineapple Granita and Roast Pineapple Chunks was well refreshing.
Room prices are a tad lower than other hotels nearby such as the Compleat Angler, so if you want the village atmosphere, the country walks and to avoid the crowds, this is a superb alternative. The restaurant is not inexpensive but is reasonable value for the quality of food. Children under six eat free with children over six eating for half price.
Tel: 01628 482638
Wally Robertson, March 2005