Tom Kerridge’s Pub in the Park Marlow kicked off in style last night, thanks to music legend Van Morrison and plenty of tasty food.

Despite a spell of rain making the ground at Higginson Park a little soggy underfoot, spirits were high at the food and music festival’s inaugural night yesterday (May 16).

With celebrities including James May and Mary Berry, as well as founder and curator Kerridge milling around the temporarily transformed and spacious park, there was certainly no shortage of things to do, see or taste-test.

Ahead of a nostalgia-filled set from Van ‘The Man’ Morrison, who took to the mainstage at 8:30pm, the Free Press was invited to try some of the food on offer from renowned chefs including Atul Kochhar, Angela Hartnett, Jack Blumenthal and more.

First, we headed to Kochhar’s Vaasu pop-up, a compact version of his North Indian restaurant on Chapel Street, to try the Tangra Prawn dish – crispy fried prawn with crispy garlic and special sauce.

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In typical form for the respected chef, the modest-sized dish was full of spice and herb flavour, with the house sauce delivering an elevated take on a sweet chilli dip.

Next, we sampled the Yorkie Wrap from The Star Inn, a Michelin-starred pub based in the Yorkshire Moors, and the Gravy Mayo Beef Bun from Kerridge’s flagship Marlow restaurant, The Hand and Flowers.

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The wrap – packed with smoked beef brisket, beer-pickled onions, horseradish and marmite mayo – was artfully arranged and very flavourful, living up to the high bar set by its ingredients list.

The beef bun, meanwhile – the only dish we tried from Kerridge’s twice-Michelin-starred pub, the first in the UK to receive the previously unheard-of honour – was hearty fare, with melt-in-the-mouth beef doused in rich and tangy gravy with a slight underlying sweetness.

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We topped the evening’s savoury offerings off with a couple of portions of Blumenthal’s Ginger Wings – the Salt and Peppa and Buffalease Ragu Hot Wings – alongside the texturally diverse Courgette Fritti with garlic aioli and nduja ketchup from London-based pub The Orange.

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Both Ginger Wings dishes – which can be found during Pub in the Park’s off-season at The Crafty Taproom on Marlow High Street – were delicious and far and away some of the best wings we’ve ever tasted.

Both hitting just the right balance of saltiness and crispiness, the Salt and Peppa wings were oddly refreshing, while the Buffalease Ragu chicken had a perfectly tempered spicy kick.

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We ended the night with a half-berry and half-apple crumble with shortbread topping and hot vanilla custard from Simply Crumble.

The lightly zesty topping ensured it wasn’t overly sweet and the custard was a great addition to the always-reliable comfort food dish.

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It was the cherry on top of a lovely, culinarily expansive evening – and just the tip of the iceberg of the food on offer at Marlow’s Pub in the Park this year.

Recommendations from other attendees we chatted to during Thursday’s opening night included the loaded nachos from Holy Moly’s pop-up truck and other standouts from The Hand and Flowers’ menu, the Nduja Sausage Roll and Crispy Goan Cauliflower.

All dishes at Pub in the Park are £7. The festival will wrap up its Marlow stopover on Sunday, May 19, with limited tickets for Saturday afternoon and evening still available to buy here.