Last week was my Birthday and once we put aside the problems of having a birthday so close to Christmas (rubbish presents, nobody wanting to come to your party, your best friend telling you that he’s probably going to be too busy to remember so it’s best if we just never talk about it again. Ever*.), then it’s always something to look forward to, right? These days, birthdays are a perfect excuse to tick off another restaurant from the “must visit” list. This year, we stayed local and went to Olivier’s. I always saw it pitched right up there in terms of swank factor, not only because it’s the in-house restaurant to the frankly gorgeous Woburn hotel but also because it’s located in the centre of Woburn and within a few minutes drive of Paris House, the Black Horse and the Crooked Billet. To survive going head to head with such serious competition is quite an achievement and so I was looking forward to suffocating my Birthday despair with the addictively merciful pillow of post-Christmas gluttony. Continue reading “Olivier’s Restaurant at the Woburn Hotel, Woburn – Review”
SuburbanGent and I recently had the opportunity to live out an opportunity that doesn’t come around very often now that we’re grown ups and all that. A couple of posts earlier, you may remember that we were invited to check out the City Stay Apartments and so while we were there, we thought it would be a pretty good idea to try to make it the best night of it we possibly could. We gathered together everything we could and tested as many as possible to bring you what we would consider to be everything you need for the Ultimate Night In.
Needless to say just like most things in life that we put our minds to, we prepared thoroughly and proceeded to give it full beans.
Mention The Don Indian restaurant to most people in Milton Keynes and you’ll either be greeted by a vacant stare, or a “oh, that’s that place tucked away in the train station isn’t it?”. I’ll be honest, I was of the latter; The Don is situated in a unit in the town’s train station that has been home to a number of Indian restaurants over the years, most famously the site of the Jaipur until it moved across the road.
However, it was perhaps wrong of me to dismiss The Don as just another run-of-the-mill Indian tucked away, after all a recent Best Newcomer award at the Milton Keynes Food and Leisure Awards 2016 and a string of positive word-of-mouth recommendations suggests that something quite good was afoot from the new owners and worth taking a look at. Naturally, I jumped at the chance to take a look for myself when the opportunity presented itself and the chaps invited me down to sample a meal.
Whether you’re a young professional attending a corporate event or client visit in Milton Keynes, a cool and hip (yes, hip) socialite going out to soak up the sights and sounds of our town or perhaps something in between, at some point you are likely to want overnight accommodation. Life on the road with business isn’t much fun and crashing somewhere unfamiliar without home comforts and space isn’t much better either. Let’s be frank… that Travelodge can be a bit grim.
Sure, the hotel market in Milton Keynes covers everything from budget hotels to the dizzying heights of luxury (that’s the Holiday Inn to you and I… *eye roll*) – and yes, such a thing as Airbnb does exist – but you’re likely to end up either be very disappointed, struggle to feel at ease in somebody else’s home, contract some form of mattress-based disease or spend a small fortune on a pretty mediocre overnight stay. And you are better and more demanding than that.
You can imagine then our interest when the people at City Stay Apartments got in touch, offering us the opportunity to come and try out one of their two-bedroom executive managed apartments located in central Milton Keynes. We’d been looking for a location for our #UltimateNightIn (more on that in a future post), so we jumped at the chance to see what an executive apartment could offer us.
What price can you put on enthusiasm?
Take for example, the Antep Kitchen. It opened on the corner at the end of the Highstreet opposite Tesco a few months ago. It replaced a very dodgy curry house, which had, in turn, replaced several equally dodgy establishments serving up dull, unexciting takeaways with an atmosphere to match. To make their mark, and somehow having taken inspiration from Wolverton’s hardly burgeoning Turkish population, someone thought it would be a great idea to open a restaurant demonstrating just how toss the British idea of a kebab actually is. On the face of it, it’s clearly a staggeringly insane plan born from the mind of an utter lunatic, but wait. Something very odd is happening in Wolverton. Small, independent restaurants that create and serve with passion, skill and authenticity are thriving. Suddenly tapping into the British love for a good grilled shish that you don’t have to eat out of a factory molded pitta bread isn’t quite as crazy after all and so we found as we walked through the doors and into one of the busiest restaurants I’ve visited in a long time.
The term fine dining, means different things to different people. To some it conjures up the very epitome of elegance and sophistication. To others, it’s an over-priced waste of time and money. For a man of such wide and indiscriminate culinary desires as I, I fall somewhere between the two; I will gladly pay top dollar for a plate of grub, so long as it represents value, similarly there is nothing wrong with a dirty great fry-up for a couple of quid in the right situation. But when it comes to fine dining, what is value? Is it paying 5 pounds for a burger? What about dropping £100 per person on lunch, or maybe even more? The answer, in my totally non-professional and ultimately irrelevant opinion is that they all are – but in very different ways.
So after Gent and I had had several disappointing attempts to find value in any of the restaurants who had been seemingly tipped* to represent the best that Milton Keynes had to offer, we decided that everyone else was wrong and we had probably known better all along. Perhaps one day we’ll revisit the scenes of some of our biggest regrets in the area, but reviewing a place just because we know it’s over-priced yet depressingly under-whelming doesn’t seem very sporting does it?
We like a good pub here at Two Men About Town – no, really, we do – we’ve posted no less than nine posts in three months about local pubs in Milton Keynes, even recently sharing our guide to our favourite Milton Keynes beer gardens; so in the interest of variety, we thought it would be prudent to share another review. Of a pub.
The good people of The Swan Inn got in touch and invited us down to visit and sample their food so obviously we jumped at the chance and headed down on a sunny midweek evening.
The Crooked Billet has been popping up on my radar a lot recently. Not only did they win best pub in Milton Keynes for the second year running at the MK Food Awards earlier this year, but they also held a beer festival back in May that the Family P made an appearance at and which, despite the brief rain interlude, still seemed to be very popular. But we have never eaten there and so when they mentioned a pudding club, Mrs P spotted an opportunity to combine Date Night, with Mrs P Eats a Lot of Pudding Night. A win/win situation if ever she saw one.
In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s pretty warm this week and it’s also the last bank holiday of the Summer. So do yourself a favour, get out of the house and enjoy a Beer/Cider/Alcopop/Social Beverage of your choice in one (or more) of the best Milton Keynes beer gardens you can find. As self-confirmed Men About Town, Gent and I have scoured the local area for the best examples for you to rest up and make the most of what will inevitably become your last chance to see the sun for another 10 months. You. Are. Welcome.
Therefore, in no particular order, we bring you the very best beer garden action in and around Milton Keynes.
Wolverton in Milton Keynes is seemingly becoming the jewel in the crown of the MK independent food-scene; whether it’s Japanese kitchen Akasaka, the new Turkish Antep Kitchen, Murati’s Pizzeria or street-foodies UrbanGrilla or Taco Shack (but to name a few), there are plenty of tantilising culinary delights available to residents of West Milton Keynes.
Despite all of this growth, there remained a real gap in regards to a strong weekend home-delivered breakfast offering, which up until a matter of five weeks ago remained (largely) unfulfilled. But that, as you might have guessed, has just changed. Founded by a husband and wife team who wanted to have a crack at fulfilling this demand, Wrap it and Run was born.We have ourselves a revolution people.
Hot on the heels of our recent Deliveroo coming to Milton Keynes post, with some corporate stuff out the way, we feel that it’s about time for us to return to what we’re all about and love… local artisan food and drink.
Regular readers of Two Men About Town (TMAT) will know that we love the Milton Keynes food scene; whether it’s exploring new ventures such as Taco Shack Milton Keynes, new pizzeria Murati’s in Wolverton, Affamato Pizza, community cafe Heavenly Blends… or more well known but no less special haunts such as The Swan at Salford, The Black Horse in Woburn or Percy’s BBQ Takeaway, we’re blessed in the
city town with a bursting melting-pot of fantastic local business offering home-cooked and locally-sourced grub.
You know what? I fancy a take away tonight. You probably do too but then comes the age old question; curry, Chinese, pizza or kebab? If you think about it a bit more, you might come up with a couple of other options; Thai, or BBQ maybe but what you really want is a plate of pasta or chicken from your favorite restaurant. But the truth is that you can’t be bothered to go out and they don’t deliver… or do they?