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.
The Grand is a highly luxurious property that I was hugely excited about staying in, up against personal 5* experiences at the Fairmont Dubai, Kempinski Budapest, Ritz-Carlton in Singapore, not to mention most-excellent stays at The Beach at Bude boutique hotel and the Excellence Playa Mujeres resort in Mexico. However, The Grand is perhaps the most iconic and well known amongst it’s more modern aforementioned contemporaries, romanticised as a hallmark for service and Victorian-era suave sophistication and charm.
I was keen to see whether The Grand would live up to it’s reputation, looking to enjoy the sights and sounds of Brighton from a plush and comfortable stay along the seafront.
2Whether we like it or not, Brexit is coming. Soon no-one will be able to tell us how curly our bananas need to be or what protection we need to give to the most vulnerable in our society, we can make those mistakes all on our own: Lucky us. Here at TwoMenAboutTown we’ve always liked Country Clubs so the thought of leaving one makes us a little bit sad, even if the membership was getting a touch too expensive. Therefore, before the possible glory or potential horror that awaits us arrives once the principle of freedom of movement is removed, we thought we would say goodbye to our European Cousins in our own special way; as it is already well known, the boys have criss-crossed the globe from Canada to Dubai and are not afraid of a bit of long haul travel, so RobsRibs has only gone and decided to visit all 28 EU member states* to give them a damn good cheerio before the fateful day itself as only he knows how.
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.
A while ago GO Outdoors in Milton Keynes had a small flammable problem and had to shut up shop for a while. They maintained a temporary residence over the road but it was only to buy them enough time to give the original site a top-to-toe DIY Big Build style make over. The manager Oliver and the team invited a few of us unelected guardians of the public zeitgeist (or bloggers if you want to get specific about it) over on opening week to have a nosy around, see what we thought and put a few tweets their way. But while I was getting round to answering the PR request to say yes, the kicker came in – would I also like 100 quid to buy anything I wanted from the store while I was there?! Umm, yes. Yes I would.
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.
It’s a Tuesday night, you’re in fabulous company, it’s late and you’re a couple of glasses of champagne down – but you’re not ready to curtail the night. London is your oyster. You’re young, your reckless and you’re looking for a good time (with your trousers on*). The answer? You my friend need a round of crazy golf!
*You may choose to play crazy golf without your trousers, but I suspect the management at Swingers will ask you to leave.
Swingers had been on my ‘must do’ list for sometime, so obviously I was rather excited to get my best putting game on, even after a drink or two.
You may have seen my recent musings on The Bellroy wallet (more specifically the note sleeve), a recent purchase venturing into the exciting world and dizzying heights of simple and stylish money transportation. More specifically, I wanted something that wouldn’t bulk up my pockets (oh, hello sunshine…) and would still offer the practicalities of carrying all my necessary debit, credit and store cards. Saving you the effort of reading the review, although you’re SORELY missing out if you haven’t, I was pretty happy with the Bellroy purchase at £65.00, it ticked all the boxes. That’s where I thought the story ended.
Curiously, the good folks at A-Slim soon got in touch, full of gusto and confidence that their offering was every bit as good as the Bellroy wallet, but at a fraction of the cost, offering to send us one for the purposes of a review. “Yeah, we’ll just see about that” I thought rather smugly to myself, “I bet it won’t live up to the hype”.
When I was fourteen I think it’s safe to say that I wasn’t a complicated child. I was born in an era without iPads, or virtual reality and I used to watch the kids on ‘Why Don’t You’ wishing I lived in the city and could go to play ice hockey or absail down an office block. But the closest I ever came to anything more exciting than throwing stones into the local pond was the dry ski slope half an hour away and that wasn’t much good for anything other than extreme rope burns.
These days, I would like to think that I’ve got a bit more depth than a 14 year old but when Qwerkity dropped us a line and said, ‘we’ve got loads of stuff for kids, adults and anyone in between, do you want to take a look at something for us?’ I was proved wrong. Within moments, I saw ‘Make Your Own Robotic Arm’ and I was sold. Grown ups don’t get to play with enough toys in my opinion, we’ve forgotten how to enjoy them, so this was my opportunity to remember and I loved it.
Readers of our travel spots such as our review of the Excellence Playa Mujeres, boutique Cornwall hotel The Beach at Bude or even the Fairmont Dubai will know that we love a bit of luxury here at Two Men About Town. Stained mattress in a seedy motel we are not.
We’re big fans of business or first class when travelling – who isn’t – but the travel budget doesn’t always stretch to warrant lavish excess. And by always stretch, I’m not sure about you, but I don’t have a spare few thousand readily sat in my bank account for an upgrade. Sadly.
Never you mind though you fellow fancy-pants traveller because it’s still entirely possible to enjoy some luxury when travelling at the fraction of a cost of a business-class ticket. “How you crazy madman?” I hear you ask. Well, here are a couple of top tips…
Well what do you know? Despite the irony of not actually being a business, we only went and got ourselves invited to the Milton Keynes Business Achievement awards 2017! That’s right, first there was the MK Digital Awards and now, another awards dinner and celebration for all that is great and good in Milton Keynes has come our way! Did we deserve it? Probably not. But the price for suffering through a lovely evening filled with lovely people, not to mention all the wine and dinner at the Doubletree Hilton, was a bit of tweeting and this post. So because we rather like doing our bit to support local businesses making good on their successes (and it’s fair to say that we also like lovely evenings, lovely people and plenty of wine and dinner) we thought; lets do this.
Regular visitors to Two Men About Town will be familiar with my penchant for opulence and luxury, where my wallet allows; whether it’s the demanding inner-diva in me (probably) or just a desire to be spoilt, I love beautifully designed items, attentive service and experiencing something that’s just a little bit special. Call me Mariah.
This desire for luxury is no different when it comes to travel, where I’ve been fortunate through leisure and corporate pursuits to have stayed in some beautiful hotels around the world such as the Ritz-Carlton in Singapore, The Grand in Brighton, Kempinski in Budapest and Excellence Playa Mujeres in Mexico, all hallmarks of memorable service and pure luxury.
It’s against a tough backdrop of comparison then that the Fairmont Dubai finds itself, up against some of the finest properties in the world; but how does it stack up?