New BBQ restaurant opens in The Hub and I road test the grub the Bar-Be-Bou way
What was there in The Hub before Craft & Cleaver MK opened at the beginning of this month?
It was probably a European or pizza chain restaurant which losing wasn’t too much of a disappointment. Whatever was there it was one unit of The Hub that I’ve never been inside.
So, forgive me for asking-
Was this sign always there(!)?
Course it wasn’t(!). When you first walk into Craft & Cleaver your eyes are immediately pulled to this loud neon sign hanging above the bar. If that’s how C&C want to make first impressions, they’ve caught my eye and made me think they’re a touch cheeky. Oh heeey… 👋🏻…
Can we steal some of that cheek to those people from outside of MK who don’t get us describing going into CMK as ‘going up city’ it’s ‘up city, b*tch’. 😛
Standing in the bar area and taking in the rest of the decor, I see imitation exposed brickwork. It’s gotta be imitation because the building has stood for less than 20 years, and I’m pretty sure it is build in steel and glass and not with a single brick. But it adds a style to Milton Keynes that we don’t have. MK’ers will get me.
As modern as exposed brickwork, BEER, and more specifically, the quality and variety of it are now as fashionable as any decor. There’s taps of the stuff in C&C and a whole fridge devoted to different kinds. I’m afraid I really can’t say much about which ones they have, I’m really quite clueless. But I think the choice is there, if that’s your bag.
Later in the evening I met Crafty Beer Bloke who was there dining with Food Tour UK and their other halves. He seemed pleased by the beer selection and they are worth a look at if you’re beer and food mad. Also, SO NICE TO MEET YOU FINALLY MR FTUK! 😁
But back to the past and I was still drinkless and so in my usual style I sought out the cocktail menu pronto.
Can you guess which cocktail caught my eye first?
Well DUH! Say hello to a Bitch Juice.
It tasted nice enough that I ordered a second. The second came looking a smudge different than the first, but I was there on a pre-opening invitation only night, so I reckon the bar staff were still quivering over making cocktails for real customers.
Water was bought to tables in recycled bottles. All different types. Ours used to be a bottle of gin.
Tucked around the corner in the restaurant side of Craft & Cleaver is another neon light sign. Look at this one..
Totes begging to be instagrammed. And dozens of people have already done just that, including me.
As I mentioned. I was in Craft & Cleaver before it officially opened to the public. It was some sort of closed press/media/friends evening that I was invited to and I had grabbed my chum(p) Spencer Ollington (local chef) to come along with me.
When we arrived the place was full of diners, probably pushing the new staff, bar and espesh the kitchen to find their feet quickly and we were ready to put them under even more heat. Time to dive into the food menu.
After a good oogle. Spencer and I ordered the Tailgate Dip, the Halloumi, Mozzarella & Sweetcorn Fritters and the Burnt Ends to share.
Chip n dip was gooey n hot.
The sweetcorn n cheese fritters.
The burnt ends were what I was most excited about trying. I used to watch US shows like Man v. Food and gawp at the burnt ends, bbq food and all other obscenities that Adam Richman used to sink his teeth into but knew nowhere near me where I could sink MY teeth into things like that.
So did these live up the hype? They were good but I think I may have bigged them up more in my imagination. I wanted buttery melt in my mouth beef but you try them and tell me what you think.
For mains Spencer ordered the ridiculous sounding burger called Pit Beast which was served with 50/50 Fries, Slaw & House Pickles.
I ordered from the smoker options, a combo of Beef Brisket and Buttermilk Fried Chicken with sides of Mac N Cheese and BBQ Pit Beans.
I don’t think my photo of the Pit Beast does justice to how freaking big it was.
Spencer was insistent on finishing the bloody thing though. Stomach pride much?
My brisket and chicken was a right meat fest. I reckon the brisket could’ve been softer and juicier and the beans could’ve been a touch wetter but not sloppier, ya get me? Mac n Cheese was one of the best I’ve eaten. Lush flavour. Next time I’m having that and 50/50 fries* for sure.
*50/50 fries are half potato fries and half sweet potato fries so you don’t have to feel like you have to choose between the two. Does that ever happen to you? It does to me and both together makes perfect sense, why has this not been a thing before?
We had a side of Iceberg Wedge with Blue Cheese Dressing too. Give us a gold star. We were trying to be a tiny bit healthy! Huge wedges of iceberg that would be enough to down the Titanic.
Drinks wise. I then moved onto the Bramble cocktail. Recommended by manager Paul who said it was his favourite. I can see why, it’s delicious. Delicious but maybe on the weak side for this cocktail princess. I drank quite a few of them during my evening but couldn’t feel any bad effects from doing so. Except wondering if I was immune to alcohol. God forbid.
I rarely say no when I’m asked if I’d like to see the dessert menu, so as if we weren’t full enough Spencer and I ordered the Bourbon Caramel Chocolate Pot and the Lemon & Raspberry Cheesecake.
I reckon if you eat at C&C you’ll end up skipping dessert. You won’t find the room!
The chocolate pot was served with a s’more that I totes stole off Spencer. The homemade biscuit was so good, so was the caramel sauce. The chocolate was so rich that my stomach was begging for mercy or at least a breather.
The cheesecake was subtle and understated with soft flavours of raspberry.
So there you have it, a different kind of restaurant to sink your gnashers into around CMK. I think when the meat is on it’s A game, it’s going to be knockout.
Thanks very much for inviting me in to experience what you’re all about.