The Queens Head, Little Marlow
The Queen's Head describes itself as 'Marlow's Little Secret', a fitting description for this 17th century pub hidden in a leafy lane outside the main town.
The Queen’s Head pub describes itself as ‘Marlow’s Little Secret’, a fitting description for a pub that’s actually situated in Little Marlow (so away from Big Marlow’s thoroughfare) and can be found nestled in a leafy lane. It’s a very pretty 16th century red brick country pub, cladded in roses and ivy and sitting opposite the local manor house, with the 12th century church just around the corner. There’s a smattering of picnic tables out the front for sun-seekers, walkers and their dogs. So far, so idyllic.
I had an email from a reader the other day asking me to feature somewhere that wasn’t a ‘gastropub’, so Jennie, this one’s for you! The Queen’s Head is resolutely local and cosy and I’d say even a little bit rough and ready on the inside, particularly in the small snug where I ate, with old velvet bar stools and some random art on the walls. The main bar to the left (below) has more style, with a small fire and a painted feature wall but even here it’s all very authentically non-faffed with, and I enjoyed it for that.
There is money in these ere parts so no surprise to find some beards and well-heeled locals too. I was invited here for lunch several years ago by a London PR friend and an interiors blogger/author, so it definitely cuts across the trendy/local axis but the overall vibe is very relaxed and low key.
There’s much made of the gastro offering on the website and what I ate was very good, but I’d say it’s more of a traditional pub lunch that you’ll get here. Fine by me – sometimes it’s a relief to come across a pub that caters in firm favourites, without the need or soupcons or tasting menus.
It being a damp midweek day, I went for carbo-cheer option of pulled Pork in a brioche Bun, with cabbage Coleslaw & French Fries, which was pretty much as you’d expect – unctious, filling, ideal for the job in hand.
Dessert was a creme brulée, prettily served with strawberries and biscuit and very nice it was too, with the top well caramelised and crisp and the brulée soft beneath.
Other options on the lunch menu would have been fig and mozzarella salad, steak sandwich or grilled chicken ciabatta with sundried tomato and avocado mayo with french fries, so nothing to frighten the horses, just the basics done well.
You’d have no qualms about children being in this pub because it’s super-friendly and laid back, and of course there’s the outside picnic area too if the decibels are starting to rise inside. No playing equipment or anything like that though, and it’s not so much a garden as a seating area, so for very young kids you’ll want to bring some entertainment. No kids menu as such, but much of the food will appeal to young palates – steak sandwiches, pulled pork brioche, scrambled eggs and salmon for lunch. The á la carte dinner it ups the gastro intent with braised shin of beef with oxtail ravioli or crispy pork & tiger prawn Thai broth so that might be more challenging for the younger folk.
Outside it’s a woof (that’s yes) where you’ll find dog bowls and your hound can sit in the sunshine as you knock back your medicinal gin and tonic. You can buy doggie treats too, but be warned – your four-legged friend is canis non grata inside the building.
OUT AND ABOUT
Well, Marlow is but a 5 minute drive for starters, but before you head off in your car to sample the well-heeled High St, there’s the totally amazing Home Barn almost opposite you from the main road, a treasure trove of cool interiors pieces, vintage and retro furnishings that has London interiors editors and stylists heading out this way in droves. There’s also a lovely circular walk you can do from the pub that takes in the river – it’s about 3 miles so you can carb load guilt-free, knowing you’ll walk it off afterwards.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: An unpretentious lunch stop with friends/family and on a pretty walking route if you want to combine a walk/meal out. Ideal for a beer and bar snack over summer. Perfect for trendies pretending they like proper rustic pubs.
Not for: Gastropub mavens. The Queen’s Head has ample charms but the pub is bigger on tradition and warmth than stylistic finesse.
The damage: Excellent value, particularly in Marlow where they charge you for breathing! The pulled pork brioche burger was only £7.95, a steak sandwich is £8.95. Most mains rock up around £7-9 at lunch and on the a la carte between £13-15.
The Queens Head pub, Pound Lane, Little Marlow, Buckinghamshire, SL7 3SR. Tel: 01628 482 927.