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 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.
Am I taking this whole pub thing a bit too far? I look back at some of the posts that I’ve put up this summer and I can see that pubs have featured perhaps a little too heavily. I’ve reviewed one or two local boozers, a few further afield and even had a Michelin star or two so perhaps I should try to broaden my horizons a little bit? Then again, I do love me a good pub and we’re getting some absolute crackers around these parts so to put it quite bluntly: bugger that, I’ll review as many as I bloody well can thank you very much! Next on the list then is The Anchor over in Aspley Guise (just outside Woburn Sands), owned by EPIC, who seem to pride themselves on injecting as much personality and individuality as possible into an industry which can certainly suffer from a distinct lack of both. Now in the interest of full disclosure, I should say that the last time I went EPIC over at 185 Watling street as part of a former life, it didn’t exactly ring my bell so it was with some trepidation when I got the invitation and walked through the door at The Anchor.
Now, avid readers will know that we at TMAT have gone through a lot of pubs this summer and we hope to visit a lot more in the coming years. We’ve already seen some good, some really good and some must try harder but if it’s pubs your interested in, then the Mac Daddy of them all, the El Presidente, the Top Dog is the Hand and Flowers. There are a few pubs who have got themselves a Michelin Star, but only The Hand and Flowers has got 2. So it must having something special, it might take you a year to get a table but a three course lunch will only set you back 20 quid.
No, I’m not joking.
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.
The Embankment sits, as the name suggests, on the bank of the river Ouse in Bedford. The family P stopped in a week ago and found ourselves wondering what could be better than strolling along the river on a gloriously sunny day, pausing only to enjoy a drink at a pub overlooking some of the nicer parts of Bedford*? How lucky then when the aforementioned pub is selling lobster in garlic butter! Mmmmmm, how could we go wrong? We all know that everything’s better with butter.
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.
As quintessentially British as a bowler hat in the rain, the Maytime Inn sits proudly at the centre of the smallest village I’ve ever seen. It seems to be becoming a bit of a habit now that Mrs P and I are asked to go and offer our totally unwarranted opinion on the merits or lack-thereof of these little pockets of English heritage and so it was that we were called back to the Oxfordshire countryside for another testing evening, although why all these people want to hear what I think is still beyond me!
Still, never one to disappoint, I have to say that first impressions of the Maytime, were impeccable. I would not have asked for a better evening as the sun beamed down and winding our way down the absurdly small lane leading us into the village actually felt like we were driving into pub perfection – hills and fields on the right, quaint little cottages on the left and a beer garden that smelled of mint and rosemary in the afternoon heat.
Last week I may have mentioned that I went to The White Horse, this week I’m back in Milton Keynes(ish) as Mrs P and I were invited to the Swan at Salford to check on their new Summer menu. Sister pub to the Black Horse in Woburn, The Swan Salford is a different propersition altogether and is situated on the corner of the main road through Salford. Well, I say main road but the village is so small that it only has two roads to choose from so you couldn’t really miss the Swan even if you tried!
I like pubs. Pubs are great because they show exactly where Britain’s contribution to world gastronomy came from. The French may have invented the cafe, the Italians are rightly proud of their Osteria’s and the Germans can hold their heads high with a good Beirgarten, but my heart is down the pub and I feel that hauling these pockets of British social cohesion back into relevance one pint of social beverage at a time is the best way to remind ourselves why it would be a terrible thing if they were to disappear.
Having then set the scene for this review, Duns Tew is about as English a village as you might ever hope to visit. Mrs P and I drove along the high street amusing ourselves with stories of an alternative universe where we could afford to move there. Before long though, we pulled into the White Horse and it was everything I had hoped, the place looked fantastic – and full. Very full.
Have you ever had a bad day? I bet you have. Lost your keys, stepped on some lego, got a parking ticket that kind of thing, right? Well, try this one on for size; I know a girl, let’s call her ‘Sophie’, who works in marketing and she had a big launch that she was responsible for. It was the start of a big rollout so it was pretty important that everything went well. In the morning, she woke up early full of energy and passion for the day ahead and jumped in the car. The journey should have been a couple of hours or so and in her enthusiasm, she started to push it a little but unfortunately, she hit a pothole which turned her wheel egg shaped. Disaster. She was going to be late, but she can deal with that. One quick call and the recovery guys had picked her up and she was back on the road, without a car admittedly but they dropped her off at the venue and organised a rental for her to arrive later. Crisis averted? Well, not quite. The printers called to say that the card she wanted wasn’t available, then it got later and later the launch got closer and closer but still no car.