Dinner · Eating out · Sunday roast dinner

Black Horse Pub (Great Linford)

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.

Additional Information

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).

Booking: Online

Dinner · Eating out

Mini Review: Greek Affaire (Stony Stratford)

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.

Dinner · Eating out · Pub

Review: Navigation Pub – Stoke Bruerne

I’m a big foodie, but sometimes a pub or restaurant is not so much known for their food but for their location. The Navigation at Stoke Bruerne is that kind of place for me. Stoke Bruerne is a beautiful little village, 10 minutes outside of Milton Keynes and the Navigation is situated right on the canal between a lock and a bridge. It is a picturesque place to have a drink and a little wander.

They have a large and well equiped outdoor area (including an outdoor bar) and they have a lovely little play area for the kids; which my 4 year in old, in particular, enjoyed.

The pub is very large and has lots of nooks and hidden tables in corners, it also has a lot of tables outside, some under cover and tables right next to the canal. It is a nice family pub, ten minutes out from Milton Keynes.

I have to be honest and say that the food was about on par with the cost. It was low cost pub food, and tasted fine but not special (in general). The standout would probably be the desserts, which everyone enjoyed.

The kids and I had nachos to start, then mum and I both had lasagne and chips. Dad had scampi and chips. The kids had sausages and chips and chicken nuggets and chips. I found the menu quite limited, but it has been a reduced menu since Covid.

For dessert we had a sicilian lemon muffin cheesecake, a chocolate icecream sundae and my little girl had a SpongeBob icecream pot. The desserts were well received by all.

Overall I would recommend this as a low cost eating out option, great for kids and lovely on a beautiful day if you can sit outside and have a drink by the canal.

Note: There are two pubs called “Navigation (Inn)” within 10 minutes drive of each other, both next to the canal! The other one is in cosgrove, this one is in Stoke Bruerne.

Additional Information

Address: Stoke Bruerne, Towcester, NN12 7SY

Website: https://www.navigationpubtowcester.co.uk/

Booking: Online

Cafe · Cakes and Desserts · Eating out

L’Atelier by French Affaire (Stony Stratford)

I remember hearing that this great new place opened up during Easter this year; and all I could see on social media was crazy long queus for the “waffles on a stick”. I waited until the crowds calmed down a little and realised that this little cafe is more than just waffles. They have taken the best from French Affaire (in my opinion) and opened up a cafe selling the one thing that truly makes them special – pattiserie. Every time I have eaten at French Affaire it was always the desserts that stood out for me. Therefore it is exciting so see a little spot that sells only their incredible desserts.

I have been for a take-away and I have sat inside, both are great. Though the inside is small it is worth it, if you can get a table, as the seating is classy and very comfortable. They have even managed to fit a small toilet into this quaint space.

I took my kids along at the weekend recently as a little treat. I had the strawberry, white chocolate and pistachio delice dessert with the strawberry mousse filling (which I have had before) and it is was absolutely devine, utter perfection. In fact it looked so good I almost felt bad for cutting into it, but it does indeed look as good as it tastes.

My husband had the brioche feuilletee with a caramel filling (they also had nutella and raspberry filling), which he enjoyed. It’s kind of like a brioche donut. The fillings are generous with all the desserts.

The kids shared a waffle on a stick, which after tasting I almost, almost wished I had ordered. They had a waffle with chocolate sauce and smarties and chocolate balls. You only get one topping included, so I paid extra so they could choose a topping each.

The price tag here is higher than a traditional (english) cafe, but I believe the price reflects the level of skill and French artisan that goes into the cakes and pattiseries. The price range on the cake stand was from £3.95 to £4.95 per pattiserie.

It looks elegant and it tastes elegant. This is a place to go for a little taste of French luxury.

Afternoon Tea · Cakes and Desserts · Eating out · Lunch

Review: Teapots (Olney)

Teapots is an institution. Even though I live in Milton Keynes I have been hearing about Teapots my whole adult life. Any time any grown up had a birthday or special occasion, Teapots would often feature, okay not everyone, obviously, but everyone I know loves Teapots. So I guess this is a review for those who have not heard of Teapots – though I don’t know who you are or where you have been living – maybe you are new to the area…welcome!

Anyway, it is impossible to sum up 15 years or so of what I have experienced, so I will simply base this review on my latest visit. However, I do have to say that I have never had a bad meal here, and their cream teas/afternoon teas are epic and never disappointing. Plus their home-made cakes that they bake fresh every day, are so good that we almost always go home with a bag full and a much lighter bank balance. Cakes freeze well.

Today we stopped by for lunch. The kids had pancakes, husband had a savoury pancake and I had a toasted cheese and ham sandwich. I do not normally like sandwiches, as anyone who knows me well will tell you, but I absolutely love their toasted sandwiches, they are thick and lushious and full to overflowing with filling. The ham is super thick and the cheese is strong. It also comes with a side salad.

My husband had a mushroom pancake; and he is super fussy (when we eat out). He said, “ahhhh that is why I love mushrooms”. He also described the sauce as carbonara-like, very creamy.

My son ate his chocolate pancakes very quickly, and he would have finished of his sisters pancakes if I had let him. My daughter has a smaller tummy so she only ate half, though we took it home and she ate the rest later; they both loved them.

After lunch we had a cream tea. I had a plain scone, which is a treat, because usually I have to take the raisins out. It arrived still warm and moist. They provide a generous portion of cream and jam. Husband ordered a cherry scone and a blueberry and lemon scone. He was offered lemon curd, which worked well with the blueberry scone. The tea was nice but I should have requested loose-leaf tea. I thought it would come as standard, but alas it did not, so a note to self for next time.

Service was very good, the owner interacted with my children, which I appreciated, and played a little joke “So these chocolate pancakes are for mum and dad?”.

Before we paid the bill we took some cake home with us. If you see the cabinet full of home-made cakes, you just cannot say no, so even though we were full, we took some home. I have had their chocolate cake before, so I went for that again, and it was absolutely delicious. My husband chose a whole bunch of cakes.

We absolutely love Teapots and it will continue to be one of our regular haunts for random treats as well as special occasions. If you have never been to Teapots, I advise you to give it a try, you will not be disappointed.

Additional Information

Bookings: By phone 01234 712392

Parking: There is parking behind Teapots next to the co-op and in the main town square.

Address: 31 High Street, Olney, MK46 4AA

Dinner · Eating out · Pub

The Barge Inn – Woolstone (Review)

The Barge has become one of my favourite pubs to eat at over the last fews years; it is a beautiful pub located in a pictureque little spot in Milton Keynes in Woolstone; which feels like you are in a Cotswolds village with cobbled stones and thatched roof cottages. Woolstone boasts two lovely pubs, the Barge and the Cross Keys.

The Barge has plenty of seating both inside and out, and a conservatory. They have good parking, their own, plus the parks trust parking right next door.

Currently they have a reduced menu due to Covid. When I visited with family we all had the best meal. I ordered the beef brisket burger; I absolutely love beef brisket and will invariably order it from any menu, though I do not often order a burger, so I was a little nervous – I didn’t have to be, it was amazing. It was so beautifully chargrilled, I felt like I could taste all the flavours of the beautiful meat. My husband had a pie, which he enjoyed, though after he tasted my burger, he sorely regretted not ordering the same.

I was most impressed, however, by the kids meals. My 4 year old daughter is fussy and usually only eats plain pasta, but I ordered her the pasta dish anyway – it was tomato pasta with garlic bread – boy did she love it. She literally scooped up every last morsal of sauce with the garlic bread and then licked the bowl clean. I could not have been more suprised. Although I did taste the sauce (when she wasn’t looking, otherwise I may have lost an arm!) and it was obviously hand-made, it tasted fresh and natural and of course delicious.

My son almost always opts for a burger whenever we eat out; this time I encouraged him to try something new. Although it was not terribly different, he had never tried one before – a chicken burger. It was real chicken, not breaded. He loved it and proclaimed he would have them again and again.

The service was very good; I loved that the waitresses interacted with my children, asked them questions and made them feel a bit special. It was a busy weekend but we didn’t have to wait for hours; which is good because kids have zero patience.

We have been back many times over the last couple of years, I can highly recommend the roast dinner and the pies.

There are two lovely parks in walking distance; so we often take the kids to the park either before or after our meal. The park nearest has a huge field, which people often picnic on and or play outdoor games. There are also a lot of conker trees; we went conker collecting in the Autumn.

Additional Information:

Address: 15 Newport Road, Woolstone, MK15 0AE

Booking: Online

Parking: on site and next door (parks trust)

Breakfast · Eating out

Codebreakers Cafe – Bletchley (Review)

What a lovely cafe in an incongruous location. The centre of Bletchley is not the prettiest of locations, compared to most of Milton Keynes (and I used to live there, so I feel I have the right to say this). However, it is charity shop heaven and still has a good local butchers.

That being said Bletchley does have a couple of gems and the Codebreakers cafe is one of them. The owners opened during lockdown 3.0 (in February 2021); and they are already starting to make a name for themselves in foodie circles. I was curious, so this week I checked them out for breakfast (which they serve all day), though they have an extensive menu.

They have some outdoor seating, but well the view….I won’t say any more. Inside it is beautifully and minimally decorated based on the Enigma/Bletchley Park theme, with old-fashioned lamp-shades and the best seating I think I have ever come across in a cafe. They have beautiful brown leather seats, which not only look the part but they are so comfortable. I have issues with my back and tailbone so I often feel pain after sitting for a long time, but I would have been happy to sit here for hours. The lack of windows on three-sides means on a dull day it could be quite dark; but they do have lights strewn about all over; which really helps.

I chose the full english breakfast and was pleasantly surprised that they allowed me to switch a few items (have I said before that I am fussy?!). I ordered a pot of tea which arrived in a large cup with the saucer and tea bag on top, allowing you to place your own tea bag – that’s a nice touch.

The breakfast was cooked perfectly and the eggs were runny (big tick). The best part was the toast, it was thick and delicious. I love good quality bread.

The ambience was very nice and it was suprisingly not empty as you would expect on a random thursday morning. There were 5 other tables of people, which I guess means that word is getting around.

There were two ladies serving us and they were very friendly and helpful.

They have food and drinks for take-away and they also deliver in the area. They serve lunch and dinner and I’ve heard the coffee is very good (though I don’t personally drink coffee).

I look forward to coming back again, with my kids.

My highlight from Codebreakers is the seating. The seating is sublime.

Useful Information

Parking: Mini carpark opposite the cafe, additional parking behind the cafe.

Booking: Phone – 01908969550

Website: https://www.thecodebreakerscafe.co.uk/

Address: 176 Queensway, Bletchley, MK2 2SW

Dinner · Eating out · Pub

The Cross Keys (Woolstone) Review

So the family and I have a new favourite pub to eat at. I’d been hearing only good things (“All good things, all good things” Olaf) from my like-minded foodies on Facebook and it is ranked 4th in Milton Keynes on TripAdvisor; and we could see why.

A quick summary: It is beautifully decorated, it is deceptively large inside and has a wide range of seating, both inside and out, the food was amazing and most importantly the service was the best I have ever experienced.

We went to the Cross Keys for an early Father’s Day celebration for my dad and husband, so there were six of us. We arrived at 4:30pm (because we have young kids) it was quiet but not too quiet. They sat us on a sort of high booth with high-backed bar stools; we were not sure at first, bar stools are hard to get onto , but the kids sat on the bar stools and loved them so we decided to stay put.

They had a full and extensive menu, some items were on the pricier side: £55 for a Chateaubriand (to share); but most of the main meal items were between £10-£16 each so we felt it was reasonable for a special occasion.

For starters we ordered: Burrata (and mushrooms) and a camembert sharing platter. The only minor niggle was that they did not provide starter options on the children’s menu. However, I asked if the kids could share a portion of garlic bread, and though not on the menu, they provided it for us, and the kids were happy.

My husband had the burrata and he said it was special, he said he would go back just for that. My mum and I had the camembert sharing platter which tasted as camembert should – a strong cheesy, saucy flavour. It was cooked perfectly so that all the cheese was molten. We had a generous portion of warm bread-sticks to dip in and a tasty caramelised onion chutney.

For the main course I had the carbonara – it was risky to order a classic italian dish from an English pub menu. But the risk paid off; it was beautiful. It looked fantastic and tasted even better. Even though chicken is not traditional for a carbonara; it cut through the saltiness of the bacon; so it was a nice addition. There was plenty of creamy sauce and an abundance of bacon and chicken. They were not stingy at all! My only tiny tiny amendment I would make to this item is so ask the chef render the fat on the bacon to make it crispy, there was a lot of fat and it is an acquired taste. However, I digress it was delicious; and my husband (who tasted mine) said it was probably the best carbonara he has had in about 10 years (he loves carbonara).

My husband had the risotto with prawns which he was enjoying just perfectly, until he tried my carbonara.

The ribeye steak came with skinny chips, a cooked tomato and two very large onion rings. My mum did not order a jus or any sauce but wow the steak tasted amazing without any additional flavouring (I tasted it too). Mum said that it was so flavourful and the steak just melted in her mouth.

My dad said the haddock was beautiful – man of few words. It came with thick-cut chips, peas (usually pea-puree but they adapted it for him) and tartare sauce.

My son – Nate had the beefburger, which was huge, it almost looked like an adult meal. One second he picked up the burger, and the next second it was gone; he inhaled it! My daughter – Savannah had the tomato pasta dish (spaghetti). She gave it four thumbs up (that means her thumbs and her two big toes were in the air!).

For dessert I had the chocolate cake, which was pleasing and had a uniquely flavoured icing. It came with a large scoop of pistachio icecream.

The husband had a trio of icecream, which he enjoyed.

Mum and dad had the cheese plate; which was very large; and since I tasted all three cheeses I can say it tasted good. It was served with a bucket-load of crackers, chutney and celery.

Service

They were completely full as it was a Saturday night; and yet the service was very good. I have to give a special shout-out to Aaron who served us and Michelle who interacted with our daughter (even though she was serving other tables). Aaron was a brilliant server, quick, efficient, remembered everything and he was attentive. So much so that when hubby ordered a floater coffee, and it arrived with a lotus biscuit; I didn’t know I had spoken out loud about being jealous, but I must have because a few minutes later 3 lotus biscuits arrived next to me! It was very kind and showed how they went above and beyond.

Michelle interacted with Savannad (my 4 year old) several times through the meal, she noticed that she couldn’t really see her food and brought over a cushion; she noticed she was struggling with the cutlery so brought her a small fork and spoon, and chatted and made her laugh. I was surprised because Sav is usually shy with strangers; but she warmed to Michelle straight away. It was so lovely and so beyond anything I have ever experienced anywhere ever; that it made us all want to go back. We felt truly special. And they were at full capacity (it was a Saturday night); which makes the special attention even more surprising and pleasing.

Outdoor Seating

Recently, The Cross Keys invested in a new outdoor seating area. They have an abundance of tables and booths, all under cover and an outdoor bar. It was raining on the day we visited but there were quite a few people sat out there. We plan to try the outdoor area next time.

Useful Information

Parking: On site, but when full you can park in front of the pub, or 2 minutes walk to parks trust parking (next to the play park).

For bookings you will need to call 01908 528145.

Website: https://www.crosskeysmiltonkeynes.co.uk/

Address: 34 Newport Road, Woolstone, Milton Keynes, MK15 0AA

Breakfast · Cakes and Desserts · Eating out

Nonnas Restaurant – Woburn Sands

It’s my husband’s birthday so as a treat we decided to try brunch at Nonnas; in their new outdoor area which includes a garden bar. It looked beautiful and so inviting; like an English country garden in full bloom. The outdoor alfresco dining area has now tripled in size (however, they no longer have any on-site parking) and they have a mix of booth-type seating, and tables in the sun and under a canopy; so an array of choices.

We were seated and then asked to order at the garden bar. They have quite a large breakfast menu but to the disappointment of my husband and children, they only serve sourdough bread/toast across all their dishes. I love sourdough, but it is an acquired taste. I think they should include regular bread on their menu, at least for children.

That being said, what arrived for us all looked magnificent, a real work of art. I ordered the poached eggs, bacon and brie on sourdough toast. I’ve never though of that combination, but it tasted delicious. The only downside was that the poached eggs were not runny (even though I asked for it). Hubby ordered green eggs and ham, the kids had yoghurt and cheese on toast.

I really enjoyed my breakfast; and the atmosphere was so relaxing, I felt like I was on holiday. The kids found a way to entertain themselves, playing with their ice-cubes. My 4 year old said look mummy I have made a ka-bob (out of her ice cubes).

On display at the garden bar were the most sumptuous-looking doughnuts. Now, I am not a big fan of doughnuts, but they had four different flavours on display and none of us were able to resist. Between the four of us we tried all four flavours: jam, chocolate, passion-fruit and cream and lotus biscoff. They were utterly devine; so good we took some home for later. In fact I think we spent half of the bill on doughnuts!

Nonnas has always been a favourite for dinner, but now with their new outdoor area and quicker serving times, it has now become one of my favourite breakfast/brunch places. The kids loved it too, and they can be moany about going out for meals. So win-win. I cannot wait to go back.

You can book a table using their online booking system. Post code: MK17 8SY. They have no on-site parking, so I have always found a space on Hardwick Road, there are no double yellow lines so it is okay to park there, if you can find a spot. There is also the square by the town council and the library on the high street as alternatives.

Cakes and Desserts · Eating out

Travel: Brockenhurst – The Buttery

I recently took my mum away for a little getaway to the New Forest; as she had never been there. I was hoping she would see the famous ponies – but it seems that even the ponies are on lockdown! We didn’t see a single pony this time. However, we did see some roaming cows which was pretty cool.

The best bit of our trip was our little foray over to Brockenhurst. I have to say that Lyndhurst appears to have deterioated some since I visited in 2014, I don’t know if Covid has led to most of the lovely shops in Lyndhurst closing down; but the last time I visited it was so pretty and they had lovely boutique shops that they no longer have. Plus the old hotel at the end of the high street really detracts from its beauty.

Brockenhurst, on the other hand, is just as beautiful as I remember it. The only downside is the lack of ponies. We didn’t stay long as it is very small; but we did stay for lunch and boy am I glad we did. We tried “The Buttery” even though there was a fairly long wait to get in (about 20 minutes). There was nothing particularly memorable about the decor, the service was slow (which they did warn us about) but they had the most most-watering, most unforgettable carrot cake I have ever had in my life. And I was completely unprepared.

I ordered chilli and chips, a pot of tea and a carrot cake. Whilst waiting for my my chips to cool down, I thought, I’ll just taste the carrot cake (mum had popped off to use the facilities). When mum got back she found me in a trance.

“What’s wrong” she said

“What?” I said in somewhat of a daze

“What’s wrong?” she repeated. I brought myself slowly back to Earth and said:

“Try………..this………….carrot cake…………..now (just a small bit though.)”

My mum tried a small bit of the carrot cake and swooned.

I then took another bite and was making noises akin to “When Harry Met Sally”. I had to stop.

I reluctantly decided I should eat my chips before I indulged in my dessert; but I kept a close eye on it the whole time and then when I had eaten enough chips to not cause offence to the kitchen I inhaled the carrot cake and promptly bought another slice for later. Mum also bought a slice, and she is diabetic, so she has to closely monitor her sugar levels. Though she said she would gladly endure a diabetic coma to eat the entire carrot cake.

I wish I could describe the taste; it was moist and it was creamy but it really was beyond description.

The weird thing is that neither of us really like carrot cakes, usually. But this was another level. So if you are ever in the area, in the New Forest; run right now and enjoy this marvel.