Read on to see the newly refurbished LAS IGUANAS
at The Hub Milton Keynes…
Afternoon Tea in the City (Centre)
Browns in The Hub is a Brasserie & Bar that exudes style and refinement. A place where even the staff look the part in stylish suits and serving outfits.
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.
Situated in The Hub CMK, Banana Tree can be found opposite Loch Fyne. If in doubt just look for those orange hammock swings.
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.
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.
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. ****!
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.
For starters we ordered the Crispy Seafood Money Bags and Steamed Chicken Dumplings.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Date of visit: 05.07.16
As a girl who was born into this crazy town –which I call a city, duh- I have this belief just like lots of my fellow MK’ers. We know our area, we helped create it and watch it grow, we believe we are MK. Born in the early 80’s when MK was just a child itself, it’s been a wonderful journey of us all growing up together. Place and person.
Now we know the stick that being from Milton Keynes gets. Those outsiders who just don’t quite ‘get it’. The slanderous calls of MK being nothing more than concrete cows, a soulless place without heart, and of course, those roundabouts. We can handle that, we all know that MK just fits us. It works and we love it.
But what I think is bittersweet now we are older is we see what MK is capable of, much like a mother sees in their child. Whilst MK has been very busy over the years attracting major businesses and investments, large modern retail parks and an iconic shopping centre. We are of course proud of all those things, we’re all pleased to see the progress but we’ve also been secretly disappointed and have complained that we don’t seem to nurture our home-grown enterprises. Some will go as far to say that CMK has lost, before its even really begun to create, its own identity.
Maaya, an Indian restaurant opening in The Hub doesn’t scream the stuff of front pages or breaking news. MK is home to some four hundred restaurants or more. So what is the big deal you ask?
First off, it’s an independent restaurant and the product and hard-work of four local businessmen, each with fantastic credentials. With two restauranteurs, a PR company owner and an IT Business Consultancy expert. It sounds a perfect mix of expertise.
Now let’s not forget opening anything within the grey blocked walls of CMK ‘the city’ to us MK’ers is not to be taken lightly. Rents and rates commanded in this area are a big part of the reason why I believe, we as a town have been labelled as sterile or without personality. Unique one off shops and restaurants can dream about opening up there, but normally it remains in the dreamlike state. We hear time and time again about chain restaurants opening up its fourth or fifth site within MK and we all collectively let out a sigh. Uninspiring, we are letting ourselves down. We know, MK is better than this.
You’ve got to hand it to the owners of Maaya then, opening up the first independent restaurant in the very trendy and popular The Hub with such style, finesse and most importantly, great food.
Last Thursday, I ate from their banquet menu and was so impressed with the quality and freshness of the food. Then last night I was lucky enough to be invited to their VIP launch evening and rubbed shoulders with The Mayor of Milton Keynes, a local pop singer and a pakora or two… yum.
Maaya has a great location with the perfect city ambience inside. It feels modern and swanky, without making you feel uncomfortable or unwelcome. What sounds like it has come straight out of London is the very impressive Chef’s private table which is upstairs on a balcony overlooking the restaurant. Perfect for Birthday parties or special occasions. When you dine at the chef’s table, the chef himself serves your food. It’s a wonderful touch.
So people of Milton Keynes, foodies, hungry bellies, cocktail sippers. This is what we’ve been crying out for and it’s here. A non-chain, high quality, local restaurant in the most exciting area. It cannot be the last but it sure is the first for The Hub.
Eat, drink, live MK. Maybe we are one step closer to stamping our concrete cow hooves over this *cough* city.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.