Happy New Year! I can still say that, right? I’ll say so because this is my first post of 2023. It’s time for my yearly recap of my best eats of the year. It’s a little more delayed than I’d like, but I totally switched off over Christmas! It’s crazy that 2022 has been the first year since 2019 where there were no lockdowns or major Covid disruptions. It feels like dining out is finally back to some sort of normality. I love revisiting our foodie experiences from the past year – Once again we made some truly wonderful memories made even better by excellent food!
So without further ado, let’s take a look at my favourite foodie experiences and best eats of 2022. As always, the places featured in this guide are in alphabetical order, not in order of preference! You can read my best eats of 2021 blog post here.
Every effort has been taken to ensure the information in this blog post is correct, however, I advise referring directly to the vendor websites and social media pages for the most up to date information. If you do see an error or something is incorrect, please contact me via email@example.com.
Sophie etc.’s Best Eats of 2022
Back in May, we were invited along to Allium at Manor Farm Bourton. Held in the Larder Café, it’s a bi-monthly pop-up run by Chef Andy Tomlinson who has over 20 years of experience working in Michelin-starred kitchens alongside the likes of Simon Rogan of L’Enclume, Mark Birchall of Moorhall and Andrew Fairlie of Gleneagles.
So safe to say, this was an excellent experience. There are three dishes that come to mind when I think of Allium. The first was one of the snacks, a mini tartlet with a potato base encasing crisp, smoked bacon topped with a carrot mousse.
The second was new potatoes cooked in chicken fat with brown crab meat accompanied by chicken skin and horseradish. The flavour of the potatoes was next level and a true celebration of the humble spud!
And the final dish was the rhubarb dessert. I called it a ‘total triumph’ in my initial review and I stand by it. Forced rhubarb was accompanied by a honeycomb made with local honey and sheep’s milk yoghurt. Lemon verbena was a garnish, but also added a little pop of citrus flavour.
Read more: Spring taster evening at Allium at Manor Farm Bourton
Auntie Marlin’s Kitchen at Potterspury House
I very nearly forgot about this gem until I was scrolling through my photos. We went to Auntie Marlin’s Kitchen in January 2022 after a trip to the Cloud 9 Spa. I could take or leave the spa, but the restaurant was so good. If you’re looking for Caribbean food in Milton Keynes, this is it. It’s incredible value as well. We had the platter which featured Curry Goat, Rice n’ Peas, Mac n’ Cheese, Dumplings, roti and jerk wings. We also had mango prawns which were unreal. In fact, I really need to make a trip back here because it was so delicious!
You can view the menu and make a booking on their website.
We’ve been big fans of Baja Cantina for several years now, but 2022 was definitely the year of the Birria Taco. I think there were very few street food events where we didn’t have these glorious, crispy, cheesy tacos. If you haven’t had these before, they are beef brisket tacos that are toasted on either side so they are crisp. The tacos are served with beef broth that you can dip into.
They are honestly glorious and next time you find Baja Cantina at a street food event, make them a priority to order!
The Black Swan Olstead
I took Dan to The Black Swan in Olstead for his 30th birthday in April. It was possibly one of the greatest dining experiences we’ve ever had. The Black Swan is Tommy Banks’ Michelin-starred restaurant, tucked away in the Yorkshire Moors. The whole ethos of the restaurant is all about eating seasonally and sustainably, so everything is grown in the kitchen garden, foraged from the surrounding areas or sourced from farms in the area. It is this ethos that earned them a ‘Green Michelin Star’ in 2022.
We stayed overnight which was a wonderful experience in itself. But the food was obviously incredible. The two dishes that stand out and I still think about, were the BBQ lobster tail and the Sea Buckthorn dessert. I can’t recall the exact components, but I remember absolutely loving them. The Black Swan is absolutely somewhere all foodies should take a pilgrimage to.
The Brasserie at Milton Keynes College
We visited The Brasserie at Milton Keynes College a few times last year, once at the start of the year, once again for Sophie’s Supper Club in March 2022, and then again in December with some friends. The Brasserie is one of Milton Keynes’ true foodie gems. The food and menus are developed by the catering students under the guidance of chefs Nico Baker and James Carr.
I think our visit in December was the best food we’ve ever experienced at The Brasserie. The two dishes that come to mind are the pasta, which was tossed in brown walnut butter and the duck, which was just sensational. Accompanied by pear and a blackberry jus, there was nothing I wanted to change about this dish! It was so good.
Get yourself to a Thursday taste night in 2023!
Read more: Small Biz Spotlight: Nico Baker, Head Chef at The Brasserie
The Cross Keys, Woolstone
If I take a look through my bank statement, I think most of my money went to The Cross Keys in 2022. We LOVE this pub, as you know. It is a fantastic all-rounder with delicious food, great service and a cosy ambience.
Two experiences spring to mind from last year – The first was Dan’s 30th birthday celebration. They smashed six beef wellingtons out of the kitchen, perfectly cooked, along with 20 other meals that went down a treat. The second experience was the sharing roast we had when we were craving ‘something British after we returned from Portugal. This is one of the best value roasts in Milton Keynes, at £35-ish for two people. The quality is amazing and we’ve always had a great experience here.
Cornwall Place Kitchen, Buckingham
The Chef’s Table at Cornwall Place Kitchen should definitely be on your hit list for 2023. I was invited along to an influencer’s dinner in October, which was SUCH a treat and just the most wonderful evening of food. I still recall the earthy, rich, nuttiness of the Mushroom Risotto served with a Cheese Soufflé, Jus and Thyme Cracker and the paired wine, which was the ‘Penny Red’ from Halfpenny Green Wine Estate in Staffordshire. Dreamy.
Read more: The Chef’s Table at Cornwall Place Kitchen
Mii & U, Bradwell Abbey
Second to The Cross Keys, I reckon Mii & U in Stacey Bushes has also had a fair share of my wages. This year, I discovered the Chilli Beef Ramen which is just delicious! tender sirloin steak in a spicy ramen broth. Delicious. And if I haven’t mentioned them here before, you must try the Takoyaki. A tasty Japaned street food dish, these little dumplings are stuffed with chives and octopus and they are the absolute dream!
Read more: An ode to Mii & U Oriental
Tuk Tuk Thai, Fenny Stratford
A late entry for 2022 was Tuk Tuk Thai. It opened in November in the old Fenny Kitchen unit and is a very welcome addition to the area. The food is amazing, and perhaps some of the best, most authentic Thai I’ve had in MK. Specifially, the Beef Massman curry is unlike anything else I’ve tasted! It is rich, creamy, nutty with a gentle heat. I’ll be going back again for more!
Watch my Reel about Tuk Tuk Thai.
Taninos Wine & Kitchen, Lagos Portugal
We went to the Algarve in September for a week. Sadly, we made the mistake of staying in Albuferia (never again!) but we did make a day trip to Lagos which was far more up our street. Think tiled walls, beautiful streets and lots of little bars and restaurants to happen upon. We stopped at Taninos which was a tapas bar overlooking one of the cobbled streets. We ordered a selection of tapas, but the stand out dish was the pumpkin, goats cheese and honey. This might as well have been a dessert, it was sweet! But the goat’s cheese added a welcome saltiness and it was such a delicious bowl of food.
Here is the location link if you want to find Taninos for yourself.
I’ve reviewed many new restaurants in Milton Keynes this year, but Rai is definitely the best one I’ve had the pleasure of visiting. It’s not often that I can’t get through my front door quick enough to edit my photos and write about the experience! It was some of the best Indian cuisine we’ve ever eaten. The salt and pepper prawns were amazing, huge and succulent. The Avocado Bombay Bhel was the stand out dish for us. It was a take on Bhelpuri, a popular street food snack in Mumbai. It’s crisp, tangy and fresh and I can’t wait to go back and eat it again.
If you visit one newbie this year, make it Rai!
Read more: Why you must visit Rai Woburn for the most beautiful Indian cuisine!
Vero, Stony Stratford
Vero was another welcome addition to the indie food scene in 2022. Replacing Greek Affaire, Vero is a Ciccetti restaurant. If you’re going expecting classic Italian food – don’t. The menu features Venetian Ciccetti (small bites) and small plates. The idea is that you order a variety of dishes to satisfy your appetite. Our favourite dishes were the Triangoloni and the Sardine in Saor. This is such a gorgeous place to eat and one we will be frequenting more in 2023!
Read more: A Taste of Venice at Vero, Stony Stratford
WYLD is a a conscious and experiential food business with a philosophy to re-establish our lost connection with nature and the source of our food. The dining experiences aim to bring people back together, both with one another and with the natural world which surrounds us. 2022 was their first full year in operation.
We went for the second time in July on my birthday, and it was one of my happiest memories of the year. The food was stunning and I just love the sustainable ethos behind it all. My favourite dish of the evening was the crayfish, chalk stream trout, dill pickles, cultured cream and land cress. It was a true celebration of seasonal flavour. The crayfish was beautiful with a nutty flavour slightly reminiscent of lobster. The cultured cream was quite something and was almost goat’s cheese-like in both flavour and texture. The pickle was beautiful and cut through what richness the dish had.
WYLD is definitely something to experience this year – Stay tuned for future dates!
Read more: A magical birthday dinner: Returning to WYLD one year on
I hope you enjoyed reliving my favourite foodie experiences and eats from 2022.
If you want to discover more amazing places to eat in 2023, join my Facebook Community Group, Eat & Explore MK and share your reviews, recipes and recommendations with fellow foodies.
What were your best eats from 2022?
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