I was invited to try Nelson Street restaurant in Buckingham last month. They aren’t a new addition to Buckingham – in fact, they’ve been there for five years, but they have recently moved away from a bistro menu to a dining experience. The restaurant is on Nelson Street (surprise surprise) and is somewhat tucked away from the high street, but it is a real hidden gem!
They offer two menus – the tasting menu and the discovery menu. The tasting menu is priced at £35 and includes three dishes along with palette cleansers and a handful of amuse-bouches. The discovery menu is priced at £50 and consists of seven courses. You can add a wine flight to each of these menus where they pair a suitable wine with each dish.
I took my friend Gemma for an evening of dining – minus the wining, because we were both driving home! We both opted for the tasting menu which was divided up into three course – fish, vegetable and meat. We had four options for each course and could mix and match as we pleased. If you fancied two fish and a vegetable dish, or two vegetables and one meat, it gave you the freedom to choose. We decided on one from each.
To our surprise, they bought out a selection of amuse-bouches to whet our appetite! To begin, we had a blackened tapioca crisp with a puree, topped with flying fish caviar. This was sweet and savoury all at the same time and had a great combination of textures. The second was a pumpkin puree tartlette topped with parmesan and honey gel. The pumpkin puree was sweet but contrasted well with the sharpness of the parmesan. Then, we had some tiny tacos! The tiniest tortillas with taco meat and green tomato salsa – this definitely left me wanting more! The next mini-dish was fried calamari with a tomato and chorizo mayonnaise. This was good, crispy calamari but the real stand out here was the dip. It was thick, smooth and had an incredible spanish flavour that married perfectly with the squid. And finally, we were also served some home made sourdough bread with homemade butter.
Gemma had a monkfish tail curry which I quote, was “the best curry I’ve ever eaten!” The sauce was spicy but packed full of flavour. The monkfish was an interesting twist on a classic. It was presented in a silver dish on top of a saucepan of rice.
I had the poached cod which was served with squid ink pasta, smoked aubergine and mussel sauce. This whole dish was very aesthetic – it was topped with a ‘mesh’ made from water and flour and died with the squid ink, then topped with green flying fish roe. For those wondering, the squid ink does nothing to alter the taste of the food, it just dyes everything black! The poached cod was cooked to perfection and really melted in the mouth. The pasta parcel contained the mussels which gave the dish some texture. The crispy mesh also gave the dish an extra bit of crunch.
The vegetable course was possibly my favourite! Gemma opted for new season asparagus served with crispy qual eggs and wild garlic mayo. I think this wins the award for the prettiest looking dish! It screamed spring and was packed with fresh flavours. The asparagus was tender and fresh, and the qual eggs were soft boiled so the yolk was just runny. The garlic mayo packed a punch but was softened by the sweet honey gel and edible flowers surrounding it.
I had the butter roast cauliflower which was essentially the most jazzed up, amazing cauliflower cheese ever. The sauce was a cauliflower cheese puree and was served with crispy capers and apple and raisin gels. There was also a mini breadcrumbed round of cheese which made this dish ultimate heaven. I was so upset when this ended! The cauliflower was slightly crispy, and the sauce rich and thick. The whole dish was sweetened slightly with the addition of the gels.
Just before this course, we were served a non-alcoholic cocktail as a palette cleanser. This contained melon and a little apple cider vinegar. It was then aerated so it went frothy when poured. It was a strange flavour, not quite sweet, but there was a hint of sharpness in there from the vinegar. It definitely cleansed the palette and was a nice addition to the experience.
Gemma chose the roast beef, which was served with lyonnaise onion, confit shallot and 50/50 mash. The beef was cooked slightly rare but was still tender and full of flavour. The mash was incredible creamy – no lumps here! This dish was a like a mini version of the best roast dinner ever… I chose the lamb which was served with carrots and a fresh, spinach and mint sauce. The lamb was tender but slightly crispy on the outside which was very satisfying. The sauce it wss served with was really interesting but it did go with the lamb perfectly.
Dessert was not included in the tasting menu but seeing as we still had a bit of room, it would have been rude not to try it… Gemma opted for the cheese board and we were both in awe as they brought out not just a board to choose the cheese – but a chest! A chest of cheese! Amazing. There was a huge variety in there, from goat’s cheese, to locally made cheeses, to brie to cheddar. In the end, she decided on the black bomber – a strong cheddar, brie and a goat’s cheese.
I went for the passion fruit ice cream which was served on pressed pineapple and topped with meringue pieces. This was a summer dream in a dish. The ice cream tasted exactly like passion fruit and had just the right amount of sweet-sharp flavours. The meringue pieces added some crunch and the pressed pineapple added some tangyness to the dessert. It was like a summery eton mess! The perfect way to end a wonderful meal.
Milton Keynes is not exactly renowned for being the home of independent restaurants, especially ones like Nelson Street, so I’m so pleased that there is finally a ‘dining experience’ close by. I think that the menus are incredibly well priced for what you get and the quality of the food was just amazing. Had I not been driving, I would have loved to try the wine with each course – but I guess that means I will have to go back!
Book a table and view Nelson Street’s menu by visiting www.nelsonstreetrestaurant.co.uk
What has been your favourite culinary experience?