My husband happened upon a great coffee shop whilst he was out in the Bedford area. It seemed to have everything a family could need in a coffee shop and so therefore taking the opportunity one Saturday morning to take the kids there, off we scooted over to Bedford (Denham). It took about 25 minutes to get there from Milton Keynes; which is not bad for a good coffee shop – it would have to be worth it though…
The inside was spacious, tastefully decorated with comfy seating (yes always a pre-requisite for me). They had a great menu (including pizza), not just a standard coffee shop menu, but which also included cocktails and other late night beverages; as they do indeed open late – another rarity and much welcome in my household. Most importantly for us though were the capacious grounds on which the cafe sits. Opposite and able to be seen from the window is a large park, on another side is a mugger (an enclosed football pitch), and on the other side a large field.
The photos above were indeed taken from the window where I was happily sipping my tea and perusing a novel, whilst being able to watch my children play. They ran in and out about every 10 minutes or so, took a sip of their hot chocolate and then ran out to play again – it was a very civilised morning, one that many a parent dream of.
We were there at brunch time, so I had tea and toast, but I could not resist the halloween cupcakes on display – and they did not disappoint any of us – they were delicious. My husband has also been in the evening, and though they closed early that night, because he was the only customer, he said it was a quiet and congenial place to meet a friend and/or read a book (though probably not at the same time).
I live quite close to the Red House, so I have been a few times for a drink, which I can highly recommend, it is one of my favourite places for a hot chocolate, though I must warn you it more of a dessert. However, this time we decided to try a roast dinner; as we haven’t had a roast in a long time. Firstly, have to say how nicely decorated and how warm and inviting the Red House is; and I love all their nooks and crannies, every corner you turn there is somewhere else to sit, it’s like a rabbits warren.
We Brits do love our roast dinners right? When we arrived I was surprised to learn that the roast dinner was a carvery, help yourself kind of deal, which I must admit made me a bit nervous, as I was worried it might turn out to be toby carvery style.
The good news was that though it was a help yourself carvery it still tasted absolutely delicious; the food is not left out too long, so doesn’t end up being dry and tasteless. They have a small carvery area so they only let up two tables at a time – so no long queues.
The beef was cut thinly and was flavourful and moist. The roast potatoes were just how I like them – well cooked, browned but still fluffy on the inside; they had mash which I love as part of my roast, the yorkshire puddings were huge and fluffy and the vegetables were tasty, not boiled of all flavour. There were a lot of vegetable to choose from, though I personally would have liked some peas and brocolli. That being said they had: cauliflower cheese, red cabbage, leeks, roasted parsnips two types of carrots (boiled/steamed and roasted).
It was a perfectly lovely roast dinner for £15, I think being a carvery it should probably cost a little less, as this is how much made to order roast dinners cost in some places. However, food costs are so high right now it is hard to know what is a good deal anymore.
My husband had the vegetarian option with sausages on the side (just to confuse the chef), he loved his roast too and he is fussier than me when we eat out.
The desserts were especially pleasing, probably the best was my dads cookie dough, which arrived in a mini frying pan; the cookie was soft and delicious. I had a biscoff cheesecake which was delightfully creamy, my daughter enjoyed her first banana split and my son had a brownie sundae. My husband was saddened by the icecream flavours on offer; they only had the three standard flavours (chocolate, vanilla and strawberry) which is surprisingly retro and disappointing. He therefore opted for a latte instead. The waitress did say they would have more exciting icecream flavours in the summer, so all is not lost.
Since the weather is starting to warm up, I would definitely recommend the new outdoor seating area, which is covered and lit with twinkly lights, there are heaters and more importantly, they have the standard wooden picnic table seating BUT it is covered with padded leather seating – it is so comfortable! They also have a BBQ area and an outdoor bar, so definitely a lovely option for spring and summer.
While it is a little nippy I would highly recommend their hot chocolate, as I said before, it is more like a dessert; it is served in a pint glass, had a big chunk of brownie in it; plus it tastes super delicious.
I like to occasionally mix-up the monotony and occasional loneliness of working from home (which I have been doing for 2 years now thanks to Covid-19), by sometimes treating myself to a more lively working location. The New Day Cafe is perfect for this for many reasons:
It is centrally located (CMK)
It has great (free) wifi
It has plugs and booths to work at
It has snazzy looking furnture
They make an amazing hot-chocolate
Although one could work at any cafe in MK (in theory) this one has a work-vibe, perhaps because it is at the bottom of an office block. I often see other people on their laptops too, so I don’t feel self-conscious. It is definitely not a place to take the kids as it is not really aimed at them and would be distracting to those who are working, but I don’t mind, my kids have loads of cafes they can eat in.
Another perk for those who love light – this place has floor-to-ceiling windows, so it gets a tremendous amount of light.
The food menu here is limited in choice but they offer just enough breakfast and lunch options for its clientele. I love their breakfast baps (bacon and hash browns) and cookies. They do have a great drink selection and one of the best hot chocolates in town because it is Biscoff flavour, it is absolutely delicious. It can get pretty busy in the mornings so I recommend giving it a try later in the day.
So if you are looking for places to work or study, this is a great option.
At the weekend I took my kids and my mum to Stony for a bit of light shopping and a nice breakfast. Stony has a lot of great eateries, and this is another that I have never tried before. For anyone who is confused, it used to be called “The Coffee Bean”.
How to describe the breakfast? The food tasted like diner-style, tasty, basic but delicious with a low price but, they have the benefit of being in a great location on Stony Stratford high street, and it does not look like a diner; in fact it looks and feels pretty special inside as it used to be a chemist and it looks like it dates back at least 100 years. It has beautiful original apothecary drawers that hold herbs and medicines; retaining most of its features/shelving makes it very warm and appealing. And for an extra bonus, we found a load of hand-written messages on napkins inside the drawers (yes my little one was being nosey). She found pictures and wishes and notes, it was so lovely.
It was busy (being Saturday morning) but we managed to find a seat inside; although they also have a large outdoor area, which is heated as an added benefit and they have blankets; so no need to worry if it’s too busy inside.
The price point was very good value, surprisingly so for Stony. Mum and I had the early bird breakfast special (which is served between 8am-11am) which is a 6 piece breakfast, although technically it was really a 7 piece if you count each hashbrown, but really 8 piece if you include the toast; and unlimited tea or coffee. So a “6” piece breakfast with tea and toast for £6.50, now you really cannot go wrong for that price; and my eggs were runny, as I requested. They also offer 4, 8 and 10 piece breakfasts – I love being able to choose, because I am fussy! They had a lot of options that you don’t get everywhere like black pudding, fried toast and the option of fresh or cooked tomatoes.
They have a great kids menu for lunch and mains; lots of good options. I would have liked an alternative for kids who don’t eat cooked breakfasts (like my fussy 5 year old), pancakes are a definite winner for kids – just for future reference (in case the Bean read this). My son had a kids cooked breakfast; and I ordered a toasted tea cake for my daughter; they were both very pleased.
Seating is a bit basic, but that doesn’t tend to bother other people like it does me, and it can be a bit of squish inside, particularly when full, but it felt warm and inviting and it seemed friendly and like they have a lot of regulars.
They also have a great selection of home-made pastries and cakes; the caramelised onion sausage roll was delicious. The cakes were nice, though a little on the sweet side for me.
Parking: Short and long stay car parks at O’dells yard and similar are nearby but a few minutes walk.
Booking: It appears they only take walk-ins.
Website:Facebook only, but appears to be kept up to date.
The Swan at Salford is a high-end country pub, it is tastefully decorated inside and out; with new outdoor furniture and a canopy, and super comfortable seating for dinner and in their pub/lounge. Salford is less than 10 minutes outside of Milton Keynes (depending on where you live), there are two main routes to get to it, either through Wavendon or through Broughton. This is not a place I get to eat at very often, but when I get the chance, it is always a delight.
I have a thing about comfy seats, and some of their seating is about as comfy as you can get. Along the windows on one side, they have what looks like a long blue leather sofa, sit there! It is so comfortable.
We didn’t order any starters, but for our mains, we had chicken parmesan, beef burger and steak and chips. My chicken was delicious but when I saw the steak, I instantly wished I had ordered that instead.
My mum had steak and chips and said it was absolutely delicious and my dad had a burger, he said that it was very tasty but too big – well if that is the only problem then we have no problem. The service was a little slow that night, but it appeared there was only one waitress, so that was understandable.
The desserts were particularly special. I had the molten chocolate cake and it was absolutely stunning. I was perfectly happy as larry eating my delicious lava cake until my mum gave me a piece of her cheese. She totally ruined my dessert; that cheese was put down everything and pay attention to me kinda cheese. That was I can barely form words kind of cheese. Wow. So the cheese board was amazing, but that cheese, in particular, is called “Blanche”. According to the menu, it is a multi-award-winning (you bet) soft goat’s cheese. I didn’t even think I was a big fan of goat’s cheese, but I am a convert. So if for nothing else, please do order the cheeseboard the next time you are anywhere near the village of Salford.
Now is my opportunity to recommend a whole bunch of great eateries that I have been enjoying all year (or for many years), many of which haven’t made it to a dedicated blog post. So if you want to know what and where you should be eating in 2022, look no further…
Best Chinese take-away: Sam’s Chinese in Peartree Bridge, MK6 3BX (01908 695695)
Okay so the location has a lot to be desired, but Sam’s has been my go-to chinese take-away for the last couple of years. They are generous with their meat in their chow meins and I can recommend their curries, ribs and satay.
Absolutely delicious and authentic italian pizza, this is my husband’s favourite, he loves thin bases. I love the tomato and garlic bread in particular, as it is difficult to find that anywhere. I also appreciate that they seem to understand young children and offer plain pasta, my 5 year old is still in her plain pasta phase! The only downside I have found is that even though we live within 3 miles of the take-away, they will not deliver, even though it says they deliver within 3 miles.
You may have noticed if you have read more then one of my posts that I love brisket and Percy’s BBQ do a great brisket burger; in addition their gravy is outstanding and don’t get me started on their malt milkshake (which arrive in a cute bottle), so delicious. If you like malt, like I do, you should also try their malt icecream cookie dessert.
Definitely my first choice for a cream tea (and lunch), and if you have a tighter budget, teapots is definitely more cost-effective and the scones are worth every penny. They also have amazing homemade cakes.
We have been meaning to try this lovely little cafe for the longest time; and it’s only round the corner from us, so no more excuses (I said in my head to no one in particular).
Well, I was right, it is all three of those things, a cafe, lovely and little. Little being the downside because it was terribly busy when we visited on a Saturday morning; in fact, there was only a sofa available to us; so we took it and hoped a table would open up…and it did.
What beautiful decor – for me anyway, it is definitely on the girlier side of the spectrum. Like Madonna meets pinkie pie (from My Little Pony) meets boudoir. Sav and I loved it.
Even better is they made her a unicorn milkshake, which was not technically on the menu. Nate had an oreo milkshake, Colin had Biscoff and I had a Biscoff Hot Chocolate. Well, the milkshakes (and the Hot Choc) were special, they all tasted delicious and they really did look the part too; I shall definitely be coming back for more milkshakes.
For brunch (which they serve all day) I had Biscoff pancakes, Nate had Oreo and Sav had Nutella and strawberries. Once again they looked and tasted great, big fluffy, American-style pancakes and the portions were generous, in fact, I couldn’t finish all of mine.
Colin’s breakfast looked delicious too, however, he said that the flavours were not quite right for him, and it was a little under-seasoned. He had the Salmon, avocado, and poached eggs on sourdough toast. I almost wished I had ordered that, it looked so delicious, and I love me some sourdough.
We took some brownies on our way out of the door; Sav’s unicorn brownie looked good and she loved it. However, my Biscoff brownie was fine but nothing out of the ordinary, taste-wise. However, they had a lot on offer, so I definitely plan to try a few more…they look so good and they change the line-up pretty frequently.
Overall I would say it is a lovely little cafe, that I will try to visit again, but on a less busy day. The staff were very friendly and helpfully found us a seat when we arrived and made a special drink for our daughter. If it is not too cold, they also have some outdoor seating. Another bonus if you have kids, is that there is a park right around the corner, you know to burn off 1/8 of a milkshake. 😉
Another bonus is that they do a lot of special events; some that I noticed on their Facebook page included: Princess tea parties, Christmas afternoon tea, Christmas wreath making, dessert night, mummy meet-ups, The Greatest Showman bottomless brunch, and other movie-themed brunches/teas. So it is a must to keep checking their Facebook page because they seem to have a new dessert/new drink or new event almost every week…which is pretty exciting really. In fact, I just saw a Baileys hot chocolate on offer, which I haven’t had in years, so I might just have to pop over soon.
Address: Unit 3, Knebworth Gate, Giffard Park, MK14 5QD
Ahhh street food. Thank the Lord for street food, and thank you more for whomever had the genius idea to start the food truck craze in Milton Keynes – I would like to shake the hands of this person. Instead, I metaphorically shake the hands with the team over at “The Good Times Cafe” who run the monthly Eat Street MK events.
I have been attending these street food fairs for many years. For those of you who have not been, this is what you can expect: Eat Street MK is a collection of food trucks based at York House in Stony, but they are not just a collection of food trucks. There is an ambiance of a special event; there is food (great food), usually alcohol, music, places to sit both inside and out, and the knowledge that you are supporting small businesses and supporting local. If you love food, this is where you should be. Each vendor specialises so you receive the best of what they have to offer. A whole stall devoted to cheese toasties (for example). There are more options than your stomach will have space for; but if you think of it as tapas, you should be able to enjoy 2 or 3 dishes at least, and if you take some home, even more.
The events usually run on a Friday evening (monthly, but not in Winter) from 5pm, however, sometimes they have random events. It is best to check their Facebook page, as all events are listed there with the list of vendors. Some of my favorite food truckers include: Taco Shack, Good Times Cafe, Eat is Greek, The Rub, Kings Comfort Food, and Chocolate Mill MK.
I was so happy to see a Saturday event in October (it usually runs on a Friday), it meant I could take my kids, I love to share good food with them.
This month between the four of us we tried: a hamburger from Sizzlers, nachos and tacos from Baja Cantina, Biscoff brownies from Jo’s Cake Co, Beef Rendang, Chickpea curry from Banana Leaf and finally the Raclette from Good Times Cafe.
I was very pleased to try the raclette, I mean its cheese and potatoes, you can’t go wrong. It was delicious, my only piece of advice, particularly if you have kids; eat it straight away, eat it hot. I haven’t eaten anything hot since 2011 (my son was born in 2011). However it was still delicious, and their cheese toasties, just in case you haven’t tried them; are a small piece of heaven.
My husband had two dishes from the Banana Leaf (over the weekend) and declared them to be exceptional.
My kids shared some nachos and a beef burger between them. This is my only tiny peeve; many of the vendors do not have child-sized portions; even though this was a daytime event and a lot of children were present. It was difficult to find something for them, so they had to share an adult-sized burger. They did have, however, a sweet vendor – Sweet Sinsations and a brownie stall, so my kids were delighted to try both. The sweet vendor lady was particularly kind to my children; and chatted away with them amiably. My 5-year daughter will talk endlessly if I allow it, so I had to drag her away.
I also had a taco from Baja Cantina – delicious, and the Biscoff Brownie I had from Jo’s Cake Co almost blew my socks off it was so good. In fact, I enjoyed it so much, I wished I had bought another one. Savvy enjoyed her Halloween swiss roll from them too.
We were lucky to arrive early and grabbed one of the seats in the middle, which is well needed with young kids. The inside wasn’t open on this occasion, but it usually is, and I prefer it because it’s warmer in the winter, they have a bar and they have toilet facilities.
I like that you can have amazing food but spend far less than in a restaurant; in the summer it is a dream to be able to sit outside in the sunshine and enjoy the pleasant atmosphere. In the past they have not run these in the winter; but it appears that there will be a Christmas Market this year, which is exciting.
I have been to this pub many times over the years for dinner, and have found the food consistently good, sometimes outstanding, though the service used to be very slow. Service is definitely not slow any more; and they have expanded their outdoor eating areas and have decorated it beautifully inside.
A beautiful pub, large with a wide assortment of seating inside and out in a gorgeous location on the canal. I think the only reason we do not visit more is simply the price being too high for regular visits.
Our recent visit was for a sunday roast. We arrived at 3:30pm which is a perfect sunday roast time (in my book).
We all ordered roast dinners, except for my son. My roast dinner was lovely, the beef in particular was so flavourful (it mentions that it is 21 day aged beef, yum). I felt that it was a good portion size, and the yorkshire pudding was huge, crispy and delicious (£15.95). Just a few minor notes if one was to strive for perfection:
Firstly, I would have loved to have had mash as an option, as a side order; I simply love mash with my roast and really missed it. Secondly, I don’t think Kale is a good vegetable option on a roast dinner; its definitely an acquired taste; I would have preferred brocolli, cauliflower or courgettes, finally it mentions on the menu that the roast comes with bottomless gravy, but I wasn’t even provided with a gravy boat; I had to request more gravy, which I don’t think I should have needed to do. Just want to stress again that these are minor points; the meal was delicious.
They also offer a trio of meat roast selection, which I might try next time. This comes with pork, beef and chicken. Though this is a few pounds more than the one meat roast (Trio £17.95).
My husband, who has become fussier in his later years, absolutely loved his nut roast (£12.95); and I must say it did look good. Although he did wish to point out that it does not mention nuts on the menu. It actually said it was a fig and dolcelatte roast. Not mentioning nuts in the age of allergies is probably not the best idea, so again a small note.
My 5 year old daughter ordered the kids roast, which I was surprised and delighted by. She enjoyed it all except for the kale; again I don’t know any children who eat Kale; its hard enough getting them to eat brocolli! Although it was on the pricier side for a kids meal (£7.95) it was a large kids portion and the quality was extremely high.
My son enjoyed his cheeseburger sliders and ate every last morsel, so that is a good sign (£5.95).
For dessert my daughter had a scoop of strawberry icecream, my son had a cookie and icecream and my husband and I both ordered a mini dessert with a hot drink.
The prices are on the higher side for pub food, but you do get what you pay for; you get gorgeous surroundings and a delicious high-quality meal in a great location, so what more could you ask for.
Parking: They have a large on-site car park.
Address: Wolverton Road, Great Linford, MK14 5AJ (not to be confused with the Black Horse in Woburn).
We only stayed for one course so this will be a mini review to give a quick oversight on the Greek Affaire in Stony.
I have to say that on first impressions, even the outside of Green Affaire is welcoming. Odells Yard where the Affaire’s are located (French and Greek Affaire) is tastefully decorated and has an abundance of outdoor seating.
Inside it is even more beautiful, I love the teal-coloured suede chairs, very comfortable and we loved the golden cutlery, its a nice touch.
I would say, however, that the decor is somewhat incongruous because your expectations are that you will receive fine dining, and though the food was nice, it was not really in keeping with the beautiful decor. That being said I only tasted two dishes, so perhaps I am being slightly unfair here.
I took my 9 year old son, and therefore we were also able to try out the kids menu (though I use that term loosely as they only had main courses for children). They did not have starters for children so we both just ordered a main meal. My son ordered the Margerita Pitta Pizza, I thought that was a good idea that they tried to keep the kids menu greek, and kids love pizza. He loved it and said it was just as nice as a normal pizza.
I ordered the Moussaka and a side of fries, both were very nice. The Moussaka was cooked perfectly and was delightfully creamy, though the portion size (I believe) was a bit small, so I ordered some fries too. The side salad however looked a bit sad.
I would have liked to have ordered a dessert but they did not have a dessert menu for children. Therefore we had to leave after only a main course. I think if they could have provided even just icecream for children, then families will be more likely to stay for 2 or 3 courses.
If you have been to the French Affaire, you may be slightly disappointed coming here, unless you know what to expect, so I guess this is a review to manage your expectations.