Dinner · Eating out · Lunch · Pub · Sunday roast dinner

The Red House (Newport Pagnell)

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.

Dinner · Eating out · Pub

Swan at Salford

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.

Additional Information

Parking: on-site

Booking: Online

Address: 2 Wavendon Road, Salford, MK17 8BD

Dinner · Pub · Sunday roast dinner

Cowper’s Oak (Weston Underwood nr Olney)

We tried a pub at the weekend that I have never heard of before but that has great reviews on Tripadvisor, plus the menu looked amazing, so we decided to give it a try, and boy are we all glad that we did! It is not a long drive from Newport Pagnell (where we live) or from MK. You basically drive almost into Olney, then turn at the co-op and it’s 5 mins down the road. 15 min drive.

A lovely looking old pub with charm, kids playground in the garden, open fire, smokehouse menu, great service.

The pub itself is very pleasing to look at; it is a 17th century Grade II listed, like one of those pubs that you drive by and say, oooh we should try that pub.

They have a large outdoor area, it looks like they had a lot going on in the summer, outdoor BBQs, covered eating area, rattan furniture and a large kids play area. The kids loved the garden, it has a climbing frame and slide and two swing sets.

Inside is like a rabbit warren, lots of little areas to eat and drink. We were sat by the open fire, is there anything better in the winter than sitting with a drink (and a book) by the open fire?

The husband had vegetable pie – a pie-roast he called it. He said it was one of the best meals he has had in a long time. In fact, he keeps asking us if we can go back for dinner again; which is rare!

I had the beef brisket in a bun, the brisket is cooked for 9 hours and it was super succulent, however, I think I might try the brisket with the roast dinner next time, I think it might be even more delicious in gravy. The only minor issue I had was that it came out with mayonnaise in the bun; which is not mentioned on the menu. This happens a lot, and though I am not allergic to mayonnaise (egg) some people are, so I wish they would mention it on the menu.

Kids had a beef burger and chicken nuggets which they were both pleased with and scoffed down, but the bit they loved most was the dessert. Nutella-filled doughnut balls – and I had them too and wow were they more-ish. I could have eaten two bowls of them! The kids also had bubblegum ice cream with their doughnuts; which was very kind of the staff because they normally serve that ice cream on its own.

There was so much on the menu I wanted to try, I definitely want to have a roast meal here and try almost everything on the smoke-house menu. The lunch menu looks exciting too, so we shall definitely be returning.

Further Information

Address: High Street, Weston Underwood, MK46 5JS

Website: http://www.cowpersoak.co.uk/

Parking: On-site

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

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)

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