From waffles and crépes, to chocolate fudge cake, crème brûlée, icecreams and milkshakes, there’s something really comforting about a good dessert.
The thing is, with the exception of a few places we’ve reviewed on TwoMenAboutTown, a large chunk of the restaurant trade of both chain and independent variety source sweets ready-made from suppliers, charging a silly amount for the fuss of sticking a refrigerated pre-made brownie on a plate with a scoop of icecream. Desserts are an art form that kitchens struggle to cope with or find time for, instead opting to focus on their appetisers and main menus, often far too big for their own good.
My blogger-in-crime RobsRibs has said many times that Milton Keynes is in dire need of a good pudding restaurant – even proclaiming to one day open one himself – something to take on the pre-made and homogenised dessert menu world, or at least that seen in Milton Keynes. With this in mind then, would Kaspa’s hold a torch to the big man’s vision and fill a sweet-void, or would it fall by the wayside? Independently, both Rob and I headed down within the last week under the radar to check out what Kaspa’s Desserts is all about.
Kaspa’s Desserts opened towards the end of March, located in the Theatre District occupying (up until this point) a largely vacant unit by the former Post Office, bringing a much-needed injection of excitement to the area that is really only paralleled by Revolucion de Cuba and the Taipan.
In credit to Kaspa’s Desserts, they’ve done a good job decking their unit out, the design clearly mimicking that of an American 50s parlour; pink neon and American-typography signage adorn the walls, mixed in with exposed industrial ducting ceiling give the place a surprisingly warm atmosphere. Popping along on a sunny Saturday afternoon, I found Kaspa’s Desserts swarming with customers of both dining-in and takeaway persuasion, staff advising upwards of a 25 minute wait for a table.
As a man who wants instant gratification in almost all walks of life, especially satisfying a sweet tooth craving, I plucked for the quicker takeaway queue, ordering icecream and a crépe for the road. As you do.
After a twenty minute wait, in which I was ushered to stand in an unlit stairwell to avoid “getting in the way” (always a hallmark of customer service), my icecream was finally ready and presented to me. Lacklustre I must say, a standard chocolate-dipped waffle cone filled with decidedly average chocolate and cookies n’ cream icecream; so unforgivable and “meh” that I’m struggling to think of anything else of note to mention. RobsRibs on a separate visit was even more damning in his verdict, suggesting his was composed of one average-scoop and one on par with a Mr Whippy.
A quick trip for some Ben and Jerry’s or Baskin Robbins would have produced a better icecream, not to mention Giovanni’s Downtown Gelato in Central Milton Keynes.
All the pink neon and quirky Americana can’t save that performance I’m afraid.
But it would all be saved by the promise of a milk chocolate crêpe, right?
Sadly, the crêpe was fundamentally let down by the chocolate sauce, so syrupy and lacking in viscosity that it just tasted disappointingly cheap; I wasn’t sure whether to drink it or pour it into the oil reservoir in my car. Understandably this development also caused havoc in the cardboard takeaway box that the crêpe was swimming in, not to mention the untold damage it did to the chinos I had on. Never before have I had to utter the words “I promise it’s just chocolate”.
Think less delicious crêpe, more slop in a box. That’s not a euphemism.
A resounding double whammy disappointment.
Kaspa’s Desserts, Milton Keynes: Verdict
Ultimately, the thoughts contained within this review are merely a reflection of how Kaspa’s did on a (very) busy Saturday afternoon; the chaos unfolding before me in the open-kitchen on a busy Saturday trade, confusion with orders and inconsistency of desserts leaving for tables are (hopefully) opening niggles that are only to be expected early-on, the pressure no doubt magnified with a huge turnout of Milton Keynes shoppers to boot.
However, what’s being served up didn’t strike me as anything fundamentally special, if anything pretty low in quality and not something I’d make a special return visit for – surely the point of a good dessert restaurant, no? Kaspa’s should be somewhere you make a special visit to but it just doesn’t feel like it’s achieved that.
Yes, Kaspa Desserts brings something new to the Milton Keynes dining table, but I am frequently reminded by RobRibs, “being the only one offering choice, doesn’t make it a good choice”. I think I’m probably a little disappointed with the level of ambition from Kaspa’s, leaning heavily on what I believe are cheap ingredients that let down what should be a dreamy calorific experience. Perhaps I need to give the shakes and wider menu options a go, but on the face of it, Kaspa’s Desserts isn’t really for me. Could do better. Much better and a chain promising so much should know better, especially at the prices charged. They’re lucky that I got to them first as I know RobsRibs would have been a LOT more damning.
No doubt Kaspa’s Desserts will remain successful in Milton Keynes and packed out with youthful teenagers seeking sugar-comas, but there remains the opportunity and room for somebody to get on with opening a really decent dessert restaurant in the meantime.
Theatre Distrct, N3 804-806 Midsummer Boulevard, Milton Keynes, MK9 3PU