Mrs P and I never wanted to go to Trinity. A couple of weeks ago we didn’t know it existed and that’s because a couple of weeks ago it didn’t. As we sat on the beach in Whitstable enjoying a drink and a native wild oyster or two (well I enjoyed the oysters, Mrs P threw up a little bit in her mouth at the thought of eating them) we decided to make the most of our anniversary with a spot of dinner, as is standard in the P household. We considered our choices; my man SuburbanGent loved The Beach at Bude but we wouldn’t get there in any sort of reasonable time frame and his other tips for a hotel get away such as The Grovesnor or CitizenM are all interesting but didn’t really pop my fizzle. I wanted something new, something fresh. I wanted Cambridge.
You know how sometimes things just pass you by? I mean, those times that you know something is going on but you just don’t understand it. I find that recently this is happening to me with increased regularity, for example; planking, ripped jeans and clean eating are all things that I see are happening, but honestly? Why? I have nothing against the advocates of any of these things, I hope they ride the trend wave as far as possible, but when all is said and done? Chances are, I’ll probably not be eating a plate of spiralised corgettii in a pair of trousers that I paid someone else 200 quid to cut up for me while lying down across two chairs.
And sometimes, such as it is with pubs. We all know I like a pub, yes, yes I do. As the sun makes its way out from behind the clouds for the Official British One Week of SummerTM like a snail making it’s way towards the forbidden cabbage of it’s dreams, I find myself slowly but inexorably drawn down to the pub garden and believe me, I’ve tried a few; The Maytime, the Black Horse, the Swan or even the Hand and Flowers all have their individual characters ready to provide you with liquid refreshment on a mildly warm summers day.
In case you haven’t worked it out, we are rapidly approaching summer, y’know that hot yellow thing in the sky that makes us rush out to our BBQs, green open spaces and the alcohol aisles in the nearest supermarket. For us Londoners, this means, where beer gardens are at a bit of a premium, it’s time to head to the roof and get drinking!
Rooftop bars are very much on-trend right now no matter what the weather and fortunately London is blessed with many of them; who doesn’t love a gorgeous view over a tasty beverage or two? Now, I’ve been a top sport and have
drank my way around researched London’s top rooftop hotspots to share my favourites with you, you good people. It was tough, but somebody had to do it.
Good Lord, what a year it’s been! A year later, a year older and we have learned a huge amount about blogging, eating and having amazing friends. We’ve written about so many different things that looking back on the 90 odd posts we’ve shared with you it’s too hard to mention them all so we thought we would give you another chance to check out a couple of our favourites that you might have missed the first time.
I’ve been lucky enough to visit Paris House a couple of times and for those of you who have also managed to find the time, and lets be honest the cash, to eat here you will know that it’s quite a special experience. The house is sat in the picture perfect grounds of Woburn Abbey with deer frolicking this way and that and who doesn’t love a good frolic every now and then? So when Phil Fanning (Chef Patron of PH) invited TwoMenAboutTown down to take a look at the newly refurbished décor and the re-imagined Spring menu, I bought a suit and asked only two questions: when and can I get covered in mandarin custard? Lucky for me, the answer was yes to both.
I’ll admit that talking about coffee is not the most normal way to start a post about tea. However, I’ve never been called normal in my life and I’ve got no intention of starting now, so grab a seat and let’s have a chat over a cuppa. You know when you go into a coffee shop and order ‘a latte please, with half-whole milk, split quad shots, a shot of decaf, no foam and a squeeze of caramel’? Then they look at you and say: ‘Sure, no problem.’
I think you know that secretly, deep down, underneath that Middle Class, almond juice infused, lentil pasta covered exterior you know that’s a bit weird. Yeah, I thought so. There isn’t a single other drink that people contaminate on such a regular basis in such odd and complicated ways. I mean you wouldn’t do that to a cup of tea would you? I would never pollute a lovely cup of tea with something so abnormal or strange as soya milk, for example. Why is it even called milk for goodness sake? It’s never seen a cow in it’s unnaturally long shelf life. No, that’s not for me, not a chance. No way.
…Or so I thought.
Not too long ago I saw a whole family sitting in a restaurant checking their phones over dinner. That’s both parents, plus all 3 kids, staring at their own little glowing glass screens for over 30 minutes solid. Now, I’m not here to judge them – I have no idea of their personal circumstance, perhaps these moments of quiet reflection spent enjoying the never-ending torrent of self-esteem destroying news feeds and twitters streams are a welcome relief from all the chat chat chat they do at home. But I suspect not. Imagine my amazement then when I came across their perfect restaurant, the one place that contained everything they needed. That’s right, a restaurant with computerised interactive tables complete with ‘fun’ activities and games so nobody has to speak to anyone else ever again! I couldn’t wait to see what I had been missing. Would this fulfil my every edible and social need rolled into one not-quite-affordable package?
SPOILER ALERT: It didn’t. At all.
I’ve been very excited recently about Buckingham’s recent welcome onto my local eating consciousness with Nelson Street leaping to the heady heights of my ‘Places Rob tells people to go for a posh dinner out without spending enough money to make a Russian oil oligarch cry’, and that’s a very popular list let me tell you. But, that’s not where the fun ends, oh no. Because Nelson Street is only one half of Louis and Tom’s most excellent plan to haul Buckingham up by it’s blue rinsed, Daily Mail veined trouser braces. They have also decided that we need a new smoke house. And do you know what? They’re right.
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.
Some people have been known to say that there is a distinct lack of posh dining in and around North Buckinghamshire. Some people have been known to rant a bit too much after a few too many (small) glasses of social beverage about the lack of choice in fine dining restaurants available within easy driving distance of their house. Some people are likely to get into arguments with people they don’t know on Twitter about their insistence on confusing ‘expensive’ with ‘worth the money’. Well, those people should just go ahead and shut their smart mouth because Nelson Street has decided to invite itself to the Buckingham Fine Dining party.
The truth is that generally speaking, Buckingham hasn’t been exactly world famous for it’s culinary credentials up to now. For those of you who haven’t ventured that far out, Buckingham is about 20 minutes west of MK and while as we all know, Milton Keynes has it’s own chain-related problems, it has been undergoing a quiet and steady improvement process with Camerons, the Antep Kitchen among others hitting up some very respectable plates, and that’s not even mentioning the burgeoning street food and food festival scenes. But, Buckingham? Well, with an average population age of 154* I think it’s safe to say that they don’t exactly embrace change.
Milton Keynes is blessed (and I use the word only politely) with almost every chain restaurant the UK has to offer and I’ve probably eaten in pretty much all of them. We are the seeming growing go-to destination of choice for companies looking to stretch out of London with Smashburger and a Revolution De Cuba scattered amongst the bazillion Nando’s but then who can also forget the amusing if unfortunate Chimichanga incident of 2016? So some might suggest that it’s not 100% bad news. In fact, despite the over indulgence of Bella Italia and GBK’s I’m going to say it; some chains are ok – cue gasps of horror from all my hardcore foodie friends (I’m looking at you Mike…). In fact, I’m going to go further, some chains are positively nice (oh no, I may have gone too far. Mike is already on the speed dial arranging an intervention). I stand by that though, it’s true, it’s because food is entirely subject to the context of when and how you eat, or drink it. And of course, who you eat and/or drink it with. So it was with no pre-conceived opinions and only a hunger for a good plate of grub, I entered Browns* to see which side of the pitch they were kicking from.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, subscription services have boomed in recent years; whether it’s snacking options like Graze, craft-beer delivery service Beer52, meal plans from the likes of HelloFresh, fragrance from Secret Scent or even socks from Quiet Rebellion, it would seem the sky is the limit with stuff you can now get posted to your door.
Clearly, the options vary wildly and whilst perhaps not for everybody, they serve a purpose – by their nature subscription services like the above are highly giftable, they’re quirky and they’re fun. Think novelty factor.
What get’s more novelty then than a subscription to a cheese toastie service, billed as “the uber of grilled cheese sandwiches”? Yeah. You read that right… cheese toasties, straight to your door. Mind blown. Hold onto your hats people.