DeRoka Restaurant is Milton Keynes’ latest independent to join the food scene. It opened on Monday 4th November and is located in the old Loch Fyne unit. And no – I can’t believe it either – another independent restaurant in The Hub! With Bogota, Maaya, Oscar’s and Blossom Room set to open soon, DeRoka takes the total count up to five indies The Hub, which makes me very happy indeed. For an area of MK that was so saturated with chains, it seems other businesses are finally getting a look in.
DeRoka Restaurant describes itself as a “family-owned, independent restaurant that specialises in exquisite, traditional Mediterranean cuisine.” The family already run a restaurant in Hitchen which opened in 2015 and DeRoka has won three consecutive awards for best Mediterranean in Hertfordshire. Safe to say I was very excited to try this out!
Being brutally honest with you here – there are many many Mediterranean and Turkish restaurants already in Milton Keynes. And they all feel the same. The food in most of them is pretty average and I’ve never been particularly blown away by anything I’ve eaten there. So I think anyone is pretty brave to open another one.
However, when we walked into DeRoka, it already felt different. It was very welcoming, it has a classy, cosy atmosphere (despite the size – Loch Fyne was one of the biggest units in The Hub!) The interior is very very ‘Instagram’ and is clearly targeted at the Millennials and Gen Z among us, however, it’s not too overdone. There is a floral wall by the bathrooms (excellent news) and the soft furnishings are beautiful. It’s slightly girly, but not so much so that you can’t take your boyfriend!
There’s a mezzanine floor if you want a more secluded dining spot, or you can join the diners on the ground floor.
Dan and I ordered a glass of wine each to start the evening. Our waiter recommended the Yakut Bogozakere ÖKÜZGÖZÜ which is a Turkish wine. It’s the most popular Turkish red blend for its good structure and accessible palate. It was very smooth and went down a treat! We also got some pitta which was SO delicious but I had to stop myself from eating too much so we could enjoy the starters…
To start, we ordered the hot mezze platter (£15.50) which consisted of a selection of mezze dishes. The platter was beautifully presented and there was plenty of food for the two of us. We had Kalamar (beer-battered calamari), Borek (Deep fried filo pastry filled with mixture of feta cheese, spinach and mint), Helim, (Grilled halloumi), Sucuk (Spicy Turkish sausage) and chickpea & broad bean falafel served on a bed of hummus.
The best bits were the Borek and the Sucuk – two things I’d never tried before and I’d absolutely order them again. The borek was crisp on the outside with a soft, salty centre of feta.
Everything tasted SO good and was really fresh – and this was something that was consistent throughout the meal. We spoke to the very lovely Ece who owns the restaurant and she said that their suppliers don’t supply frozen – all the seafood and meat is fresh. And what a difference it made. Most food you have in a chain restaurant is frozen – and in some independents – so it was very refreshing to come somewhere and be told that everything wasn’t from frozen.
Next up we sampled the mixed cold mezze platter (£12.50). Two plates turned up with three little dishes on each. This platter featured Kisir (Bulgur wheat with finely chopped red pepper spring onions and fresh parsley), Saksuka (Fried aubergines, potatoes, bell peppers & onions in a tasty, delicately balanced tomato sauce), Octopus salad, mixed olives and some yoghurt dips.
The highlights of this platter were the octopus and the saksuka. The octopus was really tender (it can be tricky to cook!) and it was nicely flavoured with some lemon. The saksuka was just so tasty and there were so many layers to the flavours. This was fantastic for dipping your pitta in!
Okay, so we pigged out and could only share a main course, but to be honest, if you’re going to go for the mixed grill (£16.90), you could probably share this between two anyway! The mixed grill featured traditional charcoal-grilled meats which is of course, a staple in the Mediterranean!
On the mixed grill, you’ll find Lamb shish, chicken shish, Adana Kebab, ribs and chicken wings. There are also some sides of stir-fried vegetables and some rice and bulgur wheat. Every piece of meat was so tasty and so fresh. The wings were my favourite and the shish was really good too. The rice and bulgur wheat was flavoursome and made a good extra. The vegetables were a little quirky – almost verging on Chinese flavoured, but they were a welcome addition to break up the protein fest.
We were next served our dessert (which was complimentary – thank you DeRoka!) It was a platter of Kazandibi (traditional set milk dessert) and pistachio baklava. Both of these desserts are available on the menu. The Kazandibi was a really interesting texture (Dan wasn’t a fan!) It was kind of like a panna cotta, but not? I quite liked it! The Baklava was absolutely delicious – very classic flavours with the filo, syrup and pistachio.
Our experience at DeRoka Restaurant Milton Keynes was really great. We were made to feel so welcome (and others who have visited have also said the same!) and the food far exceeded expectations. I am so pleased that I have another fantastic independent restaurant to recommend in Central MK!
If you love Mediterranean food, you will not be disappointed!
To view menus and book a table, visit www.derokarestaurant.co.uk.
Have you visited DeRoka Restaurant Milton Keynes yet?
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DISCLAIMER: We paid for our meal at DeRoka ourselves, however, the lovely team threw in some complimentary extras. The cold mezze, dessert and glass of prosecco were on the house but this doesn’t affect my opinion.