eating out in Milton Keynes

The Very Good

The Bell & Bear, Emberton

Top quality ingredients, served with invention and style. All in a pleasant country pub environment. Possibly my favourite place to eat at the moment

The Swan Inn, Milton Keynes Village

I need a category for "The Very Good Sometimes". A procession of chefs and simple mismanagement mean this place is sometimes excellent, other times very far short of that level

The Vine House, Paulerspury

Affordable "fine dining" - small but well formed menu - worth the trip into Northants

Cameron's Kitchen, Stony Stratford

A very pleasant space located in what used to be Odells lawnmower showroom. Well thought out menu, some innovative dishes, with attention to presentation and good service. Recognised as the best restaurant in Buckinghamshire 2014. Recently reopened after a fire. Prices a little higher than previously

Akasaka, Wolverton

MK's first real Japanese restaurant. A small intimate space on Stratford Road in Wolverton serving excellent sushi and other traditional Japanese dishes. No avante garde food here - reassuringly traditional. Service can be somewhat erratic and wine markups are high. Just drink the sake....

The Good

Brasserie Blanc, The Hub, CMK

Much improved recently. Now a better choice for fish than the neighbouring Loch Fyne

Carrington Arms, Moulsoe

New owners serving interesting British food; select meats from the counter or a la carte, some dishes being of it cooked in an open grill area. Can get pricey if you get too carried away when ordering

The Old Green Man, Little Brickhill

Solid pub food, good beer, friendly staff

Wagamama, CMK

Noodle bar - quick and inexpensive - "fast food" as it should be done

Calcutta Brasserie, Stony Stratford

Freshly prepared foods and a menu not like every other Indian restaurant in MK. Unique and well worth a trip - you have to see the unbelievably pretentious mural. The usual off hand service you get in most MK Indian restaurants

The OK

Ask Italian, XScape, CMK

Reliable pizza / pasta joint.

The Bell Inn, Beachampton

New owners serving up a mixed bag

La Tasca, XScape, CMK

Moderate Tapas, good value wines

Loch Fyne, The Hub, CMK

Some interesting dishes and improved presentation, but fish not as fresh as it should be

La Collina @ The George Inn,
Little Brickhill

Italian restaurant in a nice pub. Fake Italian accents dropping to more east London. My wife thought the food good, I thought it only OK. Check the bill. They tried to drop someone else's drinks onto my bill

The Wavendon Arms, Wavendon

Good modern pub area with a couple of real ales. Flash eating area which my teenage son liked - I didn't - but the food was only moderate

The Olde Swan, Woughton-on-the-Green

Back into the clutches of Chef & Brewer, and serving chain food with declining service

Purple Goose, Woburn Sands

Menu looks great, but unfortunately it's a case of ambition exceeding talent; the kitchen is unable to deliver on the promise. Together with eratic service and high wine markups mean the evening may not be all you hoped for

Coal, Xscape

Barbeque themed restaurant. Not a destination restaurant but perfectly OK for a meal after the cinema

The Not So Good

The Swan, Salford

Reasonable food but utterly abysmal service completely ruined our evening

The Plough, Simpson

Revamped but not better

The Old Beams, Shenley Lodge

I really want to like this place since it is close to where I live - good McMullens beer, a nice airy space and a very good beer garden - but their food is mediocre at best

Thai Modern, Upper 4th Street, CMK

Nice decor, but more decoration than mediocre food on plate

Jaipur

Pompous, unfriendly service; overpriced food

The Navigation Inn, Cosgrove

Nice canal side location; moderate food; poor service; tired looking (and smelling) building. Needs some investment

Kam Tong, Great Holm

Mediocre food and surly service do not make for a good evening out

The Talbot Inn, Loughton

Returned to its original name and given an expensive refurbishment, this is just what the neighbourhood needed as far as the pub element is concerned. Comfortable drinking area and a number of discrete dining areas. Food, unfortunately is not up to much. Typical reheated pub food

Aqua, The Hub

Nice looking place but food and service are rather mediocre

The Bad

The Old Talbot, Potterspury

Over cooked and totally unimaginative food. One of the most pointless eateries in the area

Royal Thai, Stony Stratford

Bland food, depressing decor, funereal atmosphere

The Ugly

Cafe Rouge, The Hub, CMK

Order your food a day in advance - corporate menu & awful service

Shoulder of Mutton, Calverton

A good selection of well kept ales - laughingly poor food - insultingly bad management. At Christmas we, a party of 14 including 6 teenagers, were asked to leave because we weren't drinking fast enough for the moron who runs the place. 40 years of drinking in pubs around the world, this was a first. Avoid at all costs.

 

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Look through MKWeb and you'd think Milton Keynes was full of restaurants. Well, I suppose it is, but not good ones. The high rents on newer properties, at least in the centre, mean only chains can afford to open there. I do eat in them from time to time, but I prefer to eat where the menu is designed by the chef and not by a marketing department, where the ingredients are sourced locally and not brought in from a central kitchen. And that usually means eating on the fringes of the city or outside its boundary.