A few weeks ago, Dan and I headed to check out the newly refurbished Cross Keys pub in Woolstone, Milton Keynes. The Cross Keys is an independent pub run by Hannah and her team and has a very friendly country pub vibe to it, despite being a stone's throw from Central Milton Keynes.
If you ever visited The Cross Keys before, the interior has changed significantly. It's brighter, lighter and modern. It has still managed to maintain the cosy country pub feel despite the modern upgrades. Crossed key illustrations also adorn the walls - see how many you can spot during your meal!
We were welcomed and seated by our waiter, who was very friendly. We ordered some tap water for the table as well as a bottle of wine, which was on recommendation from him! We went for a bottle of Smart Dog 2016 Syrah, which is similar to a Shiraz - something neither me or Dan would usually go for. However, we put our trust in the waiter who assured us it was smooth and full bodied, which indeed it was. I love it when I visit a restaurant and the staff can confidently offer recommendations.
For his starter, Dan ordered the Beef Carpaccio, a prime beef fillet topped with aged parmesan, rocket and truffle oil. This was a fairly rich starter but the portion size was just enough so it wasn't too overwhelming. Parmesan and truffle are a classic match made in flavour heave, whilst the rocket added some kick to compliment the beef which was tender and full of flavour. This starter will set you back £10.
Surprise, surprise, I decided to have scallops! This dish comprised of pan-fried king scallops, a butternut squash puree and crispy pancetta. The scallops were gorgeously buttery and melted in the mouth. I would have never have thought to put scallops with butternut squash but it worked somehow, The richness of the scallops went nicely with the sweetness of the squash, however, the saltiness of the pancetta was needed to bring the dish together. This starter also cost £10.
Hungry and excited for more, our mains arrived! Dan had the lobster tail risotto. Stunning lobster tails, mussels and king prawns sat atop a bowl of saffron risotto. Not only was this a visually appealing dish but it was very tasty too! Dan found this pretty filling too, so despite the slightly higher end price of £17.25, you get a lot of bang for your buck.
I need to stop ordering lamb at every restaurant I go to, but it's my favourite meat so I couldn't resist the slow cooked lamb - especially with the addition of dauphinoise potatoes. This was another hefty portion size (which I would have expected priced at £18.25). The lamb had been slow cooked for 12 hours which was very evident as it just melted in the mouth. The potatoes were creamy with a good dose of garlic. The accompanying veg - purple sprout broccoli and honey glazed carrots - were all nicely cooked and great additions, though I couldn't quite finish the whole portion! The dish was drizzled with a classic mint jus which naturally goes very well with lamb dishes.
For dessert, Dan had the apple crumble with vanilla ice cream - a pub classic! Sweet and sour with a crispy topping this went down a treat. I had the creme brulee which was beautifully presented, topped with a flower and a strawberry. The burnt sugar on top was crisp and sweet, with a beautiful silken pudding below. It was also accompanied by a piece of chocolate chip shortbread which, after my huge meal, did feel a tad unnecessary but was still very tasty. They don't have their dessert menu online, so you'll have to take my word for it that they have a good range of desserts, all priced between £4 - £7.
Overall, the food was a little more expensive than your usual pub, but the quality was reflected by the price. The service was also wonderful and award-winning, with one of their waiters, Aaron Gates, winning the title of the best waiter at the Milton Keynes Food Awards!
We had a really lovely meal at The Cross Keys and I can highly recommend it if you are looking for a family-friendly, country pub close to Central Milton Keynes.
To check out the menu and book a table, visit www.crosskeysmiltonkeynes.co.uk.
*This meal was provided complimentary for review purposes, but this does not affect my honest opinion!