Dinner at French Affaire, Stony Stratford

AD – This meal was complimentary in return for a review

It’s been a while since I have done a dedicated restaurant review post, but it’s been a while since I’ve been anywhere new and exciting enough to feature! Today’s post is quite exciting because it’s all about a very lovely independent restaurant in Stony Stratford, Milton Keynes that has definitely made a name for itself since it opened. I am of course, talking about French Affaire. You might recognise the name from my MK Food Guides for brunch and date night. French Affaire opened towards the end of last year, bringing a classy brunch affair to the table with their beautiful crepes and Instagrammable interior, making it a worthy contender for everything from birthday brunches to date night.

I was really impressed on my initial visit; the crepes were tasty, beautifully presented and innovative and I haven’t stopped harping on about it since. When I recieved an email saying the evening menu was launching soon I was really looking forward to sampling it! Here’s how we got on at the soft launch of the evening menu…

French Affaire is situated in Odell’s Yard, just behind Stony Stratford high street. It’s a quiet spot and is in a solitary building (formerly home to Cameron’s Kitchen!) When we arrived, the exterior was draped in fairy lights making it look very magical indeed. I can’t wait for the summer; they have set up some seats outside which weren’t too appealing on a cold January night, but on a warm summer evening, it might just be my new favourite spot for sipping on cold G&Ts!

The interior of French Affaire is absolutely gorgeous and it’s definitely the prettiest restaurant in Milton Keynes. Think warm lighting, dusky pink seats, marble tables and botanical accents. All kinds of Instagram friendly.

I decided that now was as good a time as any to break my Dry January in favour of Ginuary, as French Affaire’s cocktail menu just looked TOO GOOD not to try! Dan held strong and had a cold ginger beer, I went for the rhubarb and custard cocktail – rhubarb gin is a favourite of mine! It had a generously sized cinnamon stick as a garnish which made it a definite winter warmer but did detract from the sweetness a little bit – more Christmas custard than rhubarb than I was expecting.

On first scanning the menu, the dishes struck me as decidedly French, which was good to see. There’s nothing more frustrating than a restaurant pitching itself serving a certain cuisine and providing weak adaptions of those dishes or making it too British. It’s not a lengthy menu – there are four dishes to choose from at the moment per course from homely classics like beef bourguignon to a fondue to le macaron.

To start, Dan chose the Foie Gras (£8) – duck liver pate on toasted brioche with balsamic caviar and a shallot confit on a little spoon. The pate was smooth and rich, with the balsamic providing a sharp contract. The confit was almost a chutney and added a nice bit of texture to the dish. This was perhaps a slightly pricier dish for what it was so I would perhaps recommend getting the canapé sharing platter (£6 per person for a range of canapés) if a small starter is your thing.

After wavering between the Fondue and the salmon cheesecake, I made a snap decision on the cheesecake. The “cheesecake” au Sauman Fumé (£8) was a very decadent starter that I’ve never seen anywhere else before! Rich creamy cheese and creme fraiche enveloped smoked salmon and capers, topped with chives. On the side was an avocado and wasabi dressing. The cheesecake itself was glorious. I love smoked salmon and cream cheese so this was the dream. The saltiness of the capers provided some nice contrast and the savoury crumb the cheesecake sat atop of gave a bit of extra texture too. The avocado and wasabi dressing was lovely – smooth, sweet but with a slight tingle on the tongue!

For the main event, Dan settled for the Boeuf Bourguignon (£13), a rich, warming beef stew with shallots and mushrooms in a bed of mashed potato. It wasn’t the easiest dish to photograph, but I can assure you it tasted wonderful. The beef had obviously been slowly cooked which meant it melted in the mouth. The gravy was thick and delicious, and the mash was smooth and creamy. All in all, a very satisfying dish that was very well received on a cold winter night.

I opted for the ‘Loup de Mer’ (£13), a simple, fuss-free plate of sea bass, warm potato salad, baby carrots and tender stem broccoli. I always think fish is a great test as it is so easy to overcook. The sea bass fillet was in fact perfectly cooked. The skin was crispy but the fish was still moist, and although I thought I would have liked a sauce fish, it was cooked so that I didn’t actually miss the extra moisture. The potato salad was tasty, much like a chunky mash with leeks which gave it a hearty texture. It was overall a very nicely cooked and well-seasoned dish that was beautifully presented on a pink plate.

French Affaire

Now, as a French crepe restaurant, I had high hopes for dessert! Dan was intrigued by the apple crumble (£6.50), sold to him as ‘apple crumble with a twist’, which it certainly was! It turned out to be an apple crumble in a rather literal sense. It looked like the poison apple from Snow White – shiny, bright red and oh so inviting! The crumble was inside the apple and was chilled. It was served with warm creme anglaise and ice cream. Hot and cold go together so well in a dessert, so this was a genius pairing. Once you cut open the apple it revealed the centre which had all the classic flavours of a crumble. A very theatrical dessert that didn’t compromise too much on the flavour.

I chose Le Macaron (£6.50) which was an equally beautiful picture on a plate. A giant pink macaron with fresh raspberries and creme patissiere which is just about Instagram heaven! It was certainly lovely to look at and I was very pleased to say it tasted as good as it looked. The macaron itself was light and crisp, with a little bit of bite. Basically, exactly how I wish I could bake macarons…

I was really impressed with French Affaire’s evening menu. It’s well priced, it’s not over the top and the service is wonderfu. I think it is always difficult launching something new, and especially brave inviting someone to sample it on the soft launch, but I think with a little refinement this is a really great menu that brings something a little different to Milton Keynes. During the evening, I spoke to Razvan, the owner, and he has some exciting things planned for 2019, so watch this space!

French Affaire’s evening menu launches on Friday 24th January.

View menus and find more information on their website: www.french-affaire.co.uk

Rating:

*This menu was from the soft launch and may differ slightly following the full launch tomorrow. The meal was complimentary for consideration for review – as usual my opinion is honest!

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This meal was complimentary for consideration of review. This does not affect my opinion.


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