Perfect roast at The Oarsman Marlow

Liz Nicholls


Meat-lovers (and even secret carnivores) are sure of sublime old-school classics & service at this perfect bistropub which is hosting a series of special guest chefs

With the weather still stubbornly wintry, and mojo levels decidedly lacking, the perfect roast is exactly what the doctor ordered. But where to find this mythical beast?

I had heard amazing things about The Oarsman, right in the heart of Marlow (the foodies’ favourite, with its pick of delicious delicatessens and boui bistros) and was delighted to find myself here last Sunday, with a leisurely lunchtime at my disposal as well as a similarly food-obsessed pal.

The indulgent interior of this gastro gem does not disappoint, with its arse-friendly banquettes and copper details glowing with promise at the pass. Last month saw the launch of The Oarsman’s special guest chef series creating one-off collaborative menus with head chef Scott Smith.

I had left my (mostly) vegetarian household far behind me for the day to indulge in some hearty doses of fresh meat… and it more than lived up to the hype. One of Scott’s classics (which apparently won the hearts and minds of the pub’s gaffers Nigel Sutcliffe and James McLean, and has stayed on the menu ever since) is bacon & trotters which we just had to try. This savoury joy more than delivers on its promise, as did the simply stunning classic fish soup with rouille and lacy cheesy croutons. After a refreshing marmalade martini, the main event, the holy grail of the perfect roast was then delivered not once but twice.

The perfectly pink entrecote of beef was matched by a towering Yorkshire pud and layered fondant tatties and spiced carrot that sang with the rich meaty gravy. Gina was genial enough to go swapsies halfway through, and it was a toss-up as to whether the porchetta, wrapped in the crispiest crackling of your foodiest dreams and cabbage (with a ladylike wodge of that dreamy potato again) was even better.

The staff seem rightly proud of everything served here and it was their warm praise of Scott’s Ecclefechan tart (a festive, fruity Scottish fave) with an impossibly gleamy and creamy artisan cheese that persuaded us to take a swerve from our usual chocolate choice that served us well.

I had to have a lie down after our feast – I haven’t felt that indulged since my post Christmas game-induced meat sweats. Hearty, old-school and satisfying, the Oarsman deserves a whole afternoon and a designated driver to do its offering the full justice.

The next star chefs to take the pass in the series are Simon Bonwick, Ben Tish and Daniel Smith. To book, call 01628 617755 or visit to find out more and check out the menu.