Good afternoon my lovelies.
Something a bit different for you today - a wee restaurant review. Back when I was a full time features journalist I did a fair few restaurant reviews, it was undoubtedly one of the perks of the job, and James didn't complain much being my just-enjoy-a-free-dinner companion. Sadly in my current employment there are less opportunities for for such fun, so when The Living Room in Milton Keynes offered me a review, I thought it would be just rude not to take them up on the offer.
The MK Living Room opened about four years ago - I was actually invited along to the opening and had a fantastic meal with some of my colleagues - but strangely I have not really eaten there since. For me, The Living Room became a fun, classy, and bustling place to swing by for a few drinks on a night out. Located at The Hub, there are a few other drinking spots locally, but The Living Room always has a good atmosphere and it attracts a slightly older crowd than the likes of Revolution, which I am thankful for! I think I had actually forgot that although downstairs is an energetic bar at the weekends (reverting to a more chilled out one during the week), upstairs is a restaurant.
We visited on a Wednesday night, expecting it to be quiet. So we were quite amazed at how busy the whole place was, from the bar (who I believe were hosting a private event) to the restaurant, that had a steady flow of customers. The Living Room restaurant is almost on, what feels like, a suspended floor, as the tables at the edge slightly overlook the ground floor. This effect on a quiet-to-slightly busy night is lovely, as you can sometimes be lucky enough to hear someone tickling the ivories on the white baby grand piano downstairs. However I expect eating at the restaurant during the weekend, when the bar is packed, might be a slightly noisier experience.
The Living Room change their menu seasonally, and pride themselves on 'traditional favourites with an original twist'. While we perused the menu James & I shared a selection of warm breads with dipping oil. You might notice this isn't featured in the above images, I sort of forgot to take a picture in all the excitement - but they looked like tasty bread, I am sure you can imagine.
James selected one of the new dishes on the menu for his starter, a rich Black Forest smoked cured ham and figs, with a creamy goats cheese mousse and raspberry and beetroot vinaigrette and jellies. Now this might not sound the most exciting course, but after a taste, I can assure you, it was amazing how well these ingredients combined to create serious mouthwatering flavour! I started with some homemade butternut squash and roasted red petter soup, which came with some bread and butter. I love a homemade soup as much, if not slightly more, than the next person, and this one was delicious A smooth texture, with a lovely depth of flavour, my real problem was restraining myself from eating the entire hearty portion, and leaving room for the rest of my meal.
When we chose our main course I was seriously tempted by the 'trio of pork', but in the end opted for the much lighter pan fried sea bass. I love sea bass, but only ever eat it when we dine out - I must investigate getting some to try cooking at home. Anyone got any recipes? This one was served with a meaty lentil casserole and orange scented broccoli. Again, you may think this is a bit of a weird collaboration, but the light and delicate fish was perfectly complemented by the broccoli that was only gently flavoured with the orange, and the gorgeous lentil casserole gave the dish a bit more sustenance. James had duck breast with szechuan pepper and plum chutney, chilli fried bok choi and sweet potato fondant. I am not a lover of spicy food, so I can only rely on what James told me about his dish, which was 'yeah, very nice' - thanks love, informative as always. I can say the duck looked to be cooked until just about still pink (not that you can tell from the photo), and the sweet potato fondant was very good - I love me some sweet potato!
For dessert we thought it only right to go for a sharing board. This consisted of four different desserts, and there was easily enough for four not very hungry people, three peckish people or two total pigs. Ah-herm... so there was chocolate truffle cake, which the menu informed us came with crushed honeycomb, but our honey comb arrived atop of our vanilla ice cream portion instead. The cake itself was rather nice, but needed the ice cream with it to stop it being too heavy. There was also an apple streusel tart, which was popular with James, but I thought could have done with a dollop of custard (I am northern, we like our custard thick, ok?!). The one I was looking forward to trying the most was the 'Basil Grande' Eton mess, essentially a big Eton mess with some cheeky basil mixed in. My jury is still out on this one - I have to say - it tasted quite nice, but the basil flavour kept confusing my taste buds, so I think I might have preferred this one without the 'twist'. Finally there was a coconut and passion fruit crème brulée, which was our unanimous favourite - a really unexpected and pleasant take on a classic, which was light and more-ish.
I really enjoyed our meal out, and I think the prices (anywhere between £3.75-£8 for starters, £10-£20 for a main course, and most desserts around £4.75 each), for the quality of the food, are rather reasonable. I think it is safe to say, we won't be forgetting about the restaurant again!
Do you have a Living Room near you? Have you eaten there & what did you think? Any other recommendations for good places to eat in Milton Keynes or Buckinghamshire?