British pub becomes star of fine-dining

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The beer flowed at Britain's Hand & Flowers on Thursday after it became the first pub to be awarded two stars by the prestigious Michelin restaurant guide for Great Britain and Ireland.

Delicacies served up at the "gastropub" in Marlow, south England, include quail tart, parsley soup and roast veal sweetbread, although those hoping for the traditional pub-grub of peanuts and pork scratchings will go hungry.

The upscale boozer was opened by husband and wife team Tom and Beth Kerridge in 2005 and its "unpretentious modern British flavours" and "rustic French dishes" earned it a coveted star less than a year later.

Chef Tom Kerridge said the new accolade was "fantastic".

"You never expect things like this, especially in a pub," he added. "We try very hard to be good at what we do but when this comes along it's phenomenal."

Kerridge attributed the pub's success to "good products" and a "no-trickery" approach.

Michelin Guide editor Rebecca Burr said it "confirmed our view that pubs serving good food are the ones that continue to thrive.

"At the Hand & Flowers, Tom's cooking has risen to new heights," she added. "His dishes are sophisticated yet familiar and are a perfect match for the relaxed surroundings of his charming pub."

In total, 13 pubs were awarded stars while the Restaurant Sat Bains in Nottingham was also promoted to a two-star level.

Celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal's new restaurant at London's Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park hotel was also recognised by the judges.

The first Michelin guide to the British Isles was published in 1911 to help travellers and included information on how to change a tyre. The current Great Britain and Ireland guide was launched in 1974.

© 2011 AFP

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