The Park Pub & Kitchen Bedford

A singer from The Voice in the garden, impressive decor and a sophisticated ambience but how does The Park Pub & Kitchen Bedford perform in the, er, kitchen?

Happy 1st Birthday Rev de Cuba MK!

Last night I attended Revolucion de Cuba’s First Birthday Fiesta to mark a major milestone for the popular MK nightspot. 

Has the curse of The Theatre District been broken? Read on to find out… 

RESTAURANT REVIEW: BANANA TREE MILTON KEYNES

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Yes, I know I’m slow but what I lack in speed, I hope I make up for in other ways…

Banana Tree has been part of Milton Keynes’ growing restaurant portfolio for two years now, opening about the same time I had my first child. The whirlwind of two years that followed has resulted in me feeling quite shocked and a touch embarrassed that I had yet to venture into the place where the hammock-type seats hang outside in a fun, come-sit-in-me teasingly fashion but finally that was to be rectified.

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Situated in The Hub CMK, Banana Tree can be found opposite Loch Fyne. If in doubt just look for those orange hammock swings.

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The night I visited is just an average Tuesday evening but as I enter I can make a confident guess that this place must rarely do empty. To my surprise it was a full restaurant on the ground floor.

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As we had to wait a few minutes for a table Mr LouBou and I took a seat in the bar area. I really approve of Banana Tree’s bar area, it’s self-contained and doesn’t make you feel like you’re crashing someone else’s dinner date by just ordering and enjoying a drink.

I am of course off the strong stuff as I am pregnant but Mr LouBou took full joy in ordering from the Happy Hour Cocktail Menu with a promise to enjoy them for the both of us (thanks, really). Cocktails from this menu are BOGOF (of the same variety) all day Sun-Thurs and 12-7pm then 9.30pm till close on Fri-Sat. Which is exactly the sort of cocktail promos I like to swallow.

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Mr LouBou ordered the cocktail One Night In Bangkok. Mekhong (Thai Rum), peach schnapps, passion fruit and vanilla. He found it super fruity and refreshing and happily glugged them down. ****!

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We were then shown to our table and had a quick menu peruse and ordered the Prawn Cracker Basket. After studying the menu extensively for days before going I didn’t need long and was excited to just dive straight in.

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For starters we ordered the Crispy Seafood Money Bags and Steamed Chicken Dumplings.

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Both these dishes impressed and were well cooked. You could really taste the prawn and white fish inside the money bags and the steamed dumplings were extremely soft and pleasing. Only thing to note, if like me you are used to grilled dumplings then they might seem a little squidgy and thick in contrast to the crispy, crunchy finish you might be accustomed to. Still a different way of having them and by no means a bad one, the vinegar sauce that they are served in is damn tasty.

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For mains we ordered the Gaeng Keo Wan Green Curry with Chicken and the Crispy Chicken With Mango & Sweet Lime Sauce.

The Gaeng Koe Wan Green Curry (Thai green curry to me and you) was bursting with chicken and an array of colourful vegetables. It was creamy and full of a gentle yet powerful heat that didn’t linger on your palette.

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The Crispy Chicken was the perfect sweet, sour and sticky mess that I was hoping for. On top was the most delicious Vietnamese pickle. If I had my way, there would have been a lot more of that on the plate. Nom.

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The server did advise us that the main dishes were served up without any accompaniments and recommended we ‘combo up’ with the Banana Tree House Combo supplement which can be added to any dish from the Regional Specialities or Stir Fries part of the menu. For the extra £3.95 you get the Indo House Salad with Crushed Nuts, Sweet Corn Cakes, Indo Cracker & Aromatic Spiced Rice. Woah, it was a big plate of food after adding the combo but boy was it worth it.

Tasty little sweet corn cakes, an aromatic spiced rice and a moreish crunchy nut topped salad. I found it excellent value munch for money.

Fit to burst I refused to leave my evening at Banana Tree without at least attempting a few mouthfuls of a dessert. Feeling modest and full we ordered one portion of Banana ‘Frotiteroles’ to share.

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With my wicked sweet tooth I started to wish I had left more room so I could have cleared the plate but it wasn’t to be. Delicious crispy nuggets of hot banana fritters covered in chocolate caramel sauce and served with vanilla ice cream. They were so good! I want a plate of them right now. Sniff.

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But that’s where the evening ends. Home time. Back to reality and my less aromatic and definitely not as exciting cuisine at home.

Banana Tree is definitely the kind of place you’d be happy to go hang out with friends for a few drinks sat on those swings, have a business lunch, go for cocktails with the girls and then decide to eat, a date night or a big party meal. I do love these ‘social’ eateries where they can be tailored to a dozen situations and still do it well. 

I am guessing you are either reading this saying “Yes, yes! I know Banana Tree is that good” or if you’re yet to visit, I hope I’ve tickled your curiosity and now let me insist, you must try.

Banana Tree Milton Keynes
Holkham Walk
The Hub
Milton Keynes
MK9 2FS
01908 676993
Date of visit: 05.07.16

 

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WHAT REALLY HAPPENED ON MY BIRTHDAY WEEK

It was my Birthday just over a week ago so of course I started celebrating days before and continued it days after. It’s the rule isn’t it?

My thirty third birthday. All the threes. (Less of the cheese).

My biggest birthday event of 2016 was my first ever Brazilian blow dry that I had last weekend at Toni & Guy Milton Keynes. I was a diva and just had to have it done a weekend early so I was primed and ready for the big weekend. If you missed my previous blog you can read all about it here. 

On Monday (still a good six days until my Birthday) Mr LouBou and I piled into the car after a half day of work and made the journey to South East London to the O2 Arena. We were on our way to watch MUSE! The real deal. I was stoked at getting tickets (thanks to one very cool mother-in-law). After enjoying a quick dinner at GBK it was time to pile into the arena. It was possibly one of the best live shows I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Muse put on. They played the entire track The Globalist complete with a massive drone going around the arena and the special effects during The Handler which made it look like a massive pair of hands appeared above the stage and were controlling the band members like puppets on strings was incredible! After a very long and foggy journey drive home to Milton Keynes we were exhausted but wouldn’t have changed it for a second. What a fab way to spend a Monday evening.

Thursday I got an early Birthday gift whilst visiting Debenhams, some new make up! I was so excited that I finally got the time to sit down with one of the Mac girls and get foundation colour matched properly (my skin tone is as changing as the English weather) and now I feel super girlie that I have some decent cosmetics in my kit again.

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On Friday I knew Mr LouBou had arranged for us to go out for dinner with my closest girl companions. So when Friday afternoon came and once the little one was napping I enjoyed some glorious time in a Lush comforter bubble bar bath and got myself relaxed and ready for the evening.

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We went to eat at Missoula in The Hub and although this bar is every piece chic and fabulous to look at it, I must admit I was let feeling a little deflated by the food and my dinner guests unfortunately shared my sentiments. Sadly for this blog as I slipped into Birthday switched off mode and I don’t have any photos but if you can imagine a “grilled” seabass being served completely limp with very soft flappy skin akin to it having been microwaved you might just begin to share my experience. Friday night’s at Missoula they offer 50% off bottles of Prosecco which did help the disappointment of what was lacking with the food but I’m not sure I would hurry back to spend an evening here when I know what else is on offer in the near vicinity. 

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After Missoula we all piled off to Revolución de Cuba in The Theatre District. In the past couple of weeks The Theatre District in Milton Keynes has taken quite a bit of flack due to the closing down of the Wetherspoon pub The David Garrick which has been another milestone in the demise of a once thriving entertainment spot. What Rev de Cuba has done since it opened last year is given The Theatre District ten free extra lives. Once inside you forget its unfortunate situation and are wham bam in the middle of an energetic, thriving and enjoyable bar. Theatre District take note, this is what the people of MK want and deserve!

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Cocktails were a must, it was my Birthday weekend. So I had fun trying the new additions to their cocktail menu. I particularly had a soft spot for the Backhanded Compliment. Santa Teresa Gran Reserva rum shaken with lychee, strawberries, vanilla, and cranberry. Absolutely delicious. Expertly made. The new take on the Pina Colada was also very tasty! And of course I was sensible and was home at a reasonable hour and was up bright eyed and bushy tailed for the following day (honest).

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Well, actually being awake at a late hour, feeling a bit delicate and extremely ravenous is more the truth. I am just not 18 anymore and I can handle that, I just wish my body could! Saturday was mostly spent conserving energy and nibbling. I couldn’t and didn’t want to indulge in too much food as my parents were throwing me a super cute Birthday tea late in the afternoon and I wanted to be all guns blazing in the stomach room department for that.

I always figure that as an adult you can go out and choose exactly what you want to eat, where from and at what time so when it’s your Birthday you should have something a bit out of the norm and what’s better than a nostalgic party food spread at your childhood house with your family around you? Plus my little one absolutely loved it. Fingers sandwiches, sausage rolls, Vol-au-vents, crisps, crudités and more. It was a lovely spread and I rolled home with a full belly and happy soul.

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Then my actual BIRTHDAY!

I woke up on the dot of the time I was born thirty three years ago. Spooky? Probably. But 8:44am was a lovely lay in, just the right amount of sleep privileges without feeling like you’ve wasted your day in bed and missed your whole birthday. Little presents and cards in bed included some lovely thoughtful gifts from my family.

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A new pen and notepad as I go through so many with aimless scribbles, notes, shopping lists, things to remember.

A bottle of Benefit Maybe Baby perfume. This perfume is one of my all-time favourites. I was distraught when it was discontinued by Benefit a few years ago but my amazing husband spotted its return at the Benefit counter this past Christmas season and as that bottle had just finished I was so happy to receive this replacement. If you’ve never smelt it I highly recommend you visit the Benefit counter, it’s seductive, sweet and musky. LOVE!

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A giant birthday cookie from Millie’s cookie. What is more amazing for someone who loves cookies than a foot long cookie?

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Where’s the Lush I hear you say? Of course there was Lush gifts! A massive box of amazingness which I will do a separate blog for soon! 

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As a family day out we packed up a picnic and went off to Bicester village and had a fun afternoon looking at shops and eating our picnic outside. I managed to find a cute Barbour shirt that I fell in love with for a snip at £34.95 in the outlet store there. YAY!

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Little update before I had a chance to post this blog. When I got home I realised the staff member that served me in the Barbour store had forgotten to remove the security tag. I was of course livid as I hadn’t been planning on going back to Bicester any time soon but back I went and they were very apologetic and gave me a decent discount off the shirt and a discount off another shirt that I had been eyeing up on my previous visit. So I’m happy with the outcome but still grr! Have you ever had tags left on clothes you’ve purchased?

After shopping my parents kindly took on babysitting duties and Mr LouBou took me out to Taipan for a slap up Chinese banquet. It was my first time eating there and for sure will not be the last. I can say with certainty it’s the best Chinese restaurant I’ve eaten at in Milton Keynes for a long time. Look out for the goss when I share my thoughts and photos on it soon!

So that was my very enjoyable birthday time with my friends and family. Lots of fun, amazing gifts and fond memories made. What more could a girl ask for? 💖

Blind folded and let loose with a bottle of rum

Last night I was invited to a media evening/bloggers event at Rev de Cuba in The Theatre District, Milton Keynes. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet some other bloggers who until last night, I’d only corresponded with on social media. Namely, Jo from Girl Eats World and Rob from Robs Ribs, both local food bloggers and really good company. It was also great to catch up with Vicky, The Powderpuff Room beauty blogger and also to see a few MKFM buddies, Lia, Vicki and Darren.

This was a launch event for Rev de Cuba for their new cantina (grub, to me and you) and cocktail menu.

We started the evening with the most delicious, frozen rhubarb cocktails, which tasted as good as they look. We sipped these whilst admiring and getting the low down on the cocktails from their new menu. Rev de Cuba is all about the rum and these new specials specifically focus on golden varieties of rum. All the cocktails are beautifully presented and are a treat for the eyes as much as the tongue. Just look at them!

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I was speaking with one of Rev’s cocktail makers Misan, when I recalled my bad experience trying mojitos. Actually, my first ever mojito put me off the whole idea of them. Mint that was smashed to smithereens that ended up shooting up the straw and destroying my palette with extreme, harsh mint flavours and nothing much else. I didn’t know why everyone was so hell bent on going crazy for them. Misan was so shocked that she marched me straight behind the bar and showed me exactly how she makes a mojito and then got me to make my one for myself. I am by no means a cocktail making expert, although I do find myself well experienced in the enjoyment of drinking them. I was then quite taken back by the subtle and refreshing taste of the classic mojito even made by my own amateur hands. They might not my most favourite drink on offer but they are definitely not the unpleasant experience I remember from all those years back. Thanks Misan!

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Then with three other volunteers, I took part in the most hilarious bar game. Split into pairs, one of us was blind folded and had to stand behind our partner at the bar. The blind folded contestant then had to reach around their team mate to make a mojito whilst not being able to see a single bean. I was the one who was blind folded and it was so hard trying to find everything and make a drink with nothing but my team mate Vicki giving me instructions on where to find things. It was so much fun and I’m so glad that I didn’t pour rum or lime juice all over her!

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We then all sat down with little plates and cutlery (and by this point in the evening, hungry tummies) and was introduced dish by dish to the new Cantina Menu.

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There was a two types of meaty sharing boards followed by a varied selection of tapas dishes. My firm favourite, as mentioned in a post about a previous visit, is the quality of their guacamole. Seriously tasty and moreish, I would come here for the nachos alone. The chicken thighs tapas dish was also good, with nice crispy chicken skin. I also checked out their meat balls and they were also soft and pleasing!

Then it was time for mains, including beef and chicken burritos, burgers and chimichurri chicken skewers (try saying that after a few cocktails). All perfectly acceptable and stomach filling.

Rev de Cuba has such a wonderful ambience inside. It doesn’t pretend to be fine dining so don’t come rocking in and expecting caviar and pan fried duck breasts. However it is the perfect place to meet friends, have a few cocktails and enjoy something different from just typical British pub grub.

As ever, Rev de Cuba. It’s been an absolute pleasure.

 

Have you visited Rev de Cuba yet? Read this first.

Yes, I’m late to the party but I like to call it fashionably late.

Revolución de Cuba opened in the Theatre District in Central Milton Keynes last October. A Cuban-inspired restaurant/bar that is passionate about rum and cocktails. With so much in common, how can we not get on?

So today, I got my chance to visit. It was with no fancy intentions, just husband and wife wanting to enjoy an early supper, a cheeky drink and add some cheer to an otherwise normal Sunday.

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Snaps to the interior designer. When you enter you are greeted by the light and spacious modern interior, you forget what you left on the outside of the door. The Theatre District, once the hub of entertainment and nightlife in MK is now looking a little tired and has lost its appeal to of all places, one named The Hub. But when you see places like this opening up, you think the Theatre District is not ready to give up without a fight.

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Their cocktail menu is ridiculously appetising and I was impressed that even Guyana was represented in their rum store. Guyana is a small West Indies Country that holds half my heritage as it’s where my Dad was born and although I’ve not yet had the opportunity to visit, I am extremely proud of the quirky place that can call itself the West Indies, South American and Caribbean, all at the same time.

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We ordered Totally Tropical Punch which came in the prettiest cocktail glass I have yet to see in Milton Keynes. It might not be to everyone’s taste, it did strike me as a touch 80’s and the sort of thing you might find in your Nan’s unused drinks cabinet BUT I LOVE IT. My husband, not so much.

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Sipping our cocktails we started to kick back and relax and looked for the food menu. The menu itself is unique, it looks like a newspaper and is a brilliant prop at helping you feel you’re sat in a beach restaurant on holiday. We’ll order food soon, after another cocktail and a read of the paper, dear. The menu is filled with a selection of tapas dishes, large plates, chicken and anassortment of burgers.

I love picky food and like a savoury selection box, tapas suits me perfectly. We ordered six – as the menu suggests for a main meal. Patatas Bravas (fried potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce), Nachos del Sol (nachos), Mojo Chicken Quesadilla (chicken quesadilla), Gambas Pil Pil (prawns in butter, chilli, garlic and lime), Ropa Vieja Tacos (lamb tacos) and Pork Belly Skewers with a side of Artisan sourdough breads.

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The quality of the food was good for a restaurant/bar, which I’m sure come Friday and Saturday nights is all about the rum and less about the rum mayo. We both agreed that the Patatas Bravas was the tastiest we’ve tried in the area. The prawns were good and not overcooked like many restaurants are so guilty of serving up. The Nachos were moreish and the sweet slaw served with the lamb tacos suited my love of pickles perfectly. I know you can’t expect much to be said about bread, but the Artisan Breads that were freshly cut for us were very tasty and came with two contrasting butters. Top tip – stick to the white butter, it’s delicious.

We finished and the table was cleared promptly, here is where I will put my only niggle. In a very quiet restaurant we were left with empty glasses, full of excitement to order more drinks and waiting to be tempted by the desserts and there was no one to serve us. Now, going back to my earlier remarks of feeling like we were on holiday – If we had been then we would not have been in any rush, but with babysitters and life waiting back home we didn’t have all night.

However, my desire for dessert was not to be thwart and after having to go to the bar to order our sharing tapas style pudding it was worth the wait. I felt it was good value for a sweet selection of treats that were a pleasingly modest size for after a good meal.

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It was then time to say goodbye to the relaxed holiday atmosphere and make our way home. Has my service experience scared me off from visiting again? No. Do I want another cocktail? Hell yes.