Casual fine dining at Alpha at Oscars, The Hub MK

AD – PR Meal. My meal at Alpha at Oscars was complimentary. I was not contracted or obliged to write a review or feature.

Oscars first opened a few years ago in The Hub, Central Milton Keynes. If you’re a long term reader, you might remember my original review from September 2019. We really enjoyed the food but it just felt like something was missing. That said, it was a welcome addition to the Central MK food scene, a slightly more refined dining offering in a good setting. In early 2020, Alpha Solutions announced they would be taking over management of Oscars, so it would become a members-only restaurant. Little did they know that the hospitality sector would be faced with the colossal challenge of closure during a global pandemic, so unfortunately things have not quite got moving yet. However, we are 18 months since Alpha took over the restaurant, and ‘Alpha at Oscars’ now boast a new menu and new stance. I was invited along to an influencer’s lunch to meet the team at Alpha at Oscars and try the food offering. If you are sceptical like I was of the ‘members only’ element of the restaurant, do keep reading this review because I have some good news for you!

About Alpha at Oscars

You may be wondering who Alpha is… Well, they are a business solutions company with a business network and membership. ‘La Dolce Vita’ is the membership you need to access any of their ‘Alpha at’ venues – of which Oscars is the first. Other levels of membership also give you access to other discounts at various businesses and access to events, mostly in London.

Situated in The Hub, Alpha at Oscars claims to ‘provide a high-quality dining experience in the City’s first private members restaurant and club.’ They use locally sourced produce such as Woburn Country Foods, which is great to hear, and it does feel as if they have retained some of the family-owned elements whilst offering something different.

Is Alpha at Oscars ‘members only’?

For the most part, yes, but the good news is that anyone can dine at Oscars at the moment. Bear with me whilst I explain…

So the La Dolce Vita Clubcard (£25 per year) is the membership you need to dine at Oscars whenever you like as well as access the other benefits of the membership.

Now, the initial sceptic in me says that I don’t particularly want to pay to be able to enter a restaurant or venue. I also don’t think Milton Keynes is the right place for a members-only restaurant either – No one likes being told they have to pay extra to visit a restaurant they may only go to once a year. I also think it creates a little too much of an ~ us and them ~ vibe which is not always pleasant.

The team at Alpha at Oscars have clearly recognised this and ‘discerning members of the public’ are now able to dine there during specific times. If you are a non-member, you can visit Wednesday – Friday, 6pm – 10pm and from 12pm on Saturday and Sunday. They are perfectly acceptable dining hours, and I can see this working in Oscars’ favour because they can still maintain the exclusivity during business hours, but then open to everyone during peak dining out times.

At the moment, it’s open to anyone until the end of 2021, but having spoken to the manager, I believe it could continue.

It’s worth saying that during the week (Monday – Thursday) the dress code is business attire (collars and no trainers) and no under 18s are allowed. At the weekend, the dress code is smart casual with no sports or leisure wear and well-behaved children are allowed to accompany.

Dining at Alpha at Oscars

Since I last visited, the menu has naturally had an overhaul. From what I had remembered, the food was very good but the menu was limited with little choice for vegans and vegetarians and non-red meat eaters.

Now, you can find an extensive range of classic dishes on the menu with a modern twist using locally sourced produce. From small plates and starters to sharing steaks, I would describe it as ‘casual fine dining’ and it certainly bridges a gap in the market in Milton Keynes where you don’t quite want a tasting menu but an A La Carte menu featuring refined delicious food will serve just fine! It is clear from the quality of the menu and the quality of the food that the chefs have invested time and effort into perfecting this.

At the event, we tried some ‘light bites’ and starters from the menu. From the light bites section, we had Beetroot falafel with hummus (£6) and Beer battered cod goujons with tartare sauce (£6). Both plates were really tasty. The falafel was flavoursome and moist. The cod goujons were quite big but made with a beautiful quality fish, encased in a light, crispy batter. We also enjoyed some Tomato & Rosemary Focaccia with Olives & Oils (£4.50)

From the starters, we were served Chilli & Mango Breaded Prawns (£8.50), Burrata (£7.50) and Scallops (£10.50). Unsurprisingly, both the prawns and scallops went down a treat. The prawns were crispy and breaded with a little mango under the batter for a dose of sweetness. It was served with a zesty, crunchy Asian salad. The Scallops were the prettiest dish, served in the shell with crispy Brickhill ham, black pudding crumb and garlic butter. Simple yet delicious, they shone!

For the main course, we chose something off the menu. The manager recommended the British lamb rump ((£24) and the Lemon Sole (£21.), so most people on the table went for one of these dishes! The recommendation was a hit though. The lamb rump was pan-roasted giving it a gorgeous, slightly chewy crust. It was served with dauphinoise potato, carrot purée, parsnip crisp and redcurrant sauce. It was quite the perfect meal.

For the fish-lovers, the Lemon Sole is an indulgent yet light lunch. A fresh sole fillet served with tomato and samphire with buttered new potatoes. You can decide whether to have it with or without lemon beurre blanc sauce. It was fresh, light and very tasty.

Dessert was another try-a-bit-of-everything affair. The dessert menu has something to indulge everyone: Belgian chocolate tart, Lemon cheesecake, Torta Del Nonna, Apple Tart Tatin (all £6.50) and a cheeseboard (£10.50) I was a big fan of the lemon cheesecake. It had a beautiful flavour and the raspberry sorbet was delicious! The Belgian chocolate tart was also lovely, albeit a little on the rich side so make sure you share that one.

From left to right: Cheeseboard, Torta Del Nonna, Apple Tarte Tatin.

I really enjoyed my experience at Alpha at Oscars. It was great to meet the team properly and hear about their plans for the restaurant. Despite my initial reaction to it becoming ‘members only’ I do think this will suit a certain type of clientele and I am very pleased that they have made it more accessible to everyone because the food really is quite special.

I will certainly be returning to Alpha at Oscars with Dan. It is great to have an independent venue in The Hub that serves great food like this. I can see it becoming popular as a bar venue in the evening as well – their cocktail menu really is something!

Will you be visiting Alpha at Oscars?

Find Alpha at Oscars on 309 Avebury Boulevard, The Hub, Milton Keynes, MK9 2GA. It’s open Monday – Wednesday: 12pm – 6pm, Thursday – Saturday: 12pm – 10pm and Sunday 12pm – 5pm. It is open to discerning members of the public Wednesday – Friday, 6pm – 10pm and Saturday and Sunday all day. To view menus, book and find out more about La Dolce Vita by Alpha, visit oscars-mk.co.uk.

DISCLAIMER: This meal was complimentary in return for an honest review on my blog. This does not affect my opinion. Click here for my full disclosure policy.

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