Restaurant Review: The Vanilla Pod, Marlow

Can The Vanilla Pod in Marlow live up to its excellent reputation? Life Editor Clare Bourke was keen to find out.

About the restaurant The Vanilla Pod's claim to fame, other than its food, is that it is in the former home of the poet and dramatist T S Eliot. Now an elegant restaurant in Marlow's West Street, it has received constant praise not only for its food but also for its atmosphere. As well as the main dining room, the upstairs houses the T.S. Eliot private dining room. The kitchen is run by Chef Proprietor Michael Macdonald, who uses local produce to inspire his frequently changing menu.

First impressions The very simple faade leads into calm and elegance inside. It can only be described as like walking into a home, not into a restaurant. It has the luxurious feel of a small restaurant that is not in the slightest bit pretentious.

Atmosphere and d�cor A contemporary, clean look yet a sense of cosiness prevails on account of the relatively small dining area. The tables have comfortable high-backed chairs and there is a true sense of luxury amid the simplicity. By 8.30pm on a Tuesday night almost every table is full.

Service A warm welcome from the maitre d' and waiting staff aid instant relaxation and the attention to detail throughout the meal is exceptional. Our waitress was all smiles and answered all our food questions without hesitation.

To start After an amuse-bouche of celeriac and apple soup, my Linguine with Scallops and Ceps arrived on a long plate with the scallops beautifully arranged atop the strands of linguine. The scallops were perfect, so full of flavour and excellently complimented by the ceps. My husband declared his single parcel of Ravioli of Woodland Mushrooms with Celeriac and Truffle to be a delight and our only regret was there was not more of each.

For main Two very different main courses arrived next. My Rump of Lamb with Potato Gnocchi and Pepper Jus was beautifully pink and succulent while my husband's Steamed Seabass with Blanched Pomme Anna Potatoes and Asparagus Velout� was declared the best he has ever tasted.

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To finish After a complimentary pre dessert of Blue Lagoon jelly topped with lemon cream, my Butter Milk Panna Cotta with Lemon Jelly and Blueberries arrived. A little too sweet for my tastes, it was nonetheless a lovely end to the meal while my husband uttered barely a word during his Sabl� Bretton with Raspberries and a Tahitian Vanilla Cream as he was enjoying it so much.

Our experience We picked this restaurant as it was our anniversary so our expectations were high but The Vanilla Pod had no problem living up to these. A delight from start to finish.The cost of a three-course a l carte dinner for two was �100, including a bottle of Agentinian 2008 Land of Fire ros� wine. Service was not included.

This is an independent review featuring a restaurant selected and experienced by the editor. The restaurant was not told it was being reviewed.

The Vanilla Pod31 West Street, MarlowBuckinghamshire, SL7 2LS01628

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