AD – This meal was gifted in return for this review.
The Wavendon Arms is a popular bar and country style pub in Wavendon, Milton Keynes. It’s part of Mitchell’s & Butler’s pubs, which is a small group known for decadent dining destinations and great food. The Wavendon Arms is one of the latest pubs in the group to go under a transformation: The interior has had a huge facelift and the menu has had a refresh. I was lucky enough to be invited to the preview evening at The Wavendon Arms a few days before it opened to the public on the 18th of May. And what a launch it was! Each guest was able to invite up to four additional guests to experience the new pub. My lucky guests were my work pals, Rhea, Laura and Gemma. Each of us was already fond of The Wavendon Arms – also affectionately known as ‘The Wav’ – so we were all really looking forward to seeing the transformation and how it compared to its former self.
It’s not just the interior that’s had a fresh coat of paint! The white exterior has been upgraded to a beautiful teal blue colour paired with copper accents. It definitely stands out as you drive by. We didn’t get to see it, but there is also a new Secret Garden area which has replaced the outdoor seating. It features private, covered outdoor seating so I’ll definitely make sure I check it out next time I visit! We were greeted by warm lighting and an exotic painting which gave us a taste of what was to come!
On arrival, we were ushered to the bar where we ordered a cocktail each. The cocktail menu has plenty of the classics from a Pornstar Martini to a Mojito, as well as some special creations. Rhea ordered a Hendricks G&T which was impeccably presented. Laura had a Pineapple Daiquiri which was beautifully tropical. Gemma ordered a Cosmo Twist which was … well, a cosmopolitan with an orange twist! I matched my cocktail to my jacket and chose a blood orange and passion fruit collins which came in a beautiful crystal cut glass topped with mini passion fruit. This was so refreshing and featured Tanqueray’s Sevilla Orange gin.
Whilst we were enjoying our cocktails, we were served some canapés which were mini versions of some of the dishes on the menu. From Massaman chicken skewers to lobster and crab bonbons to miso aubergine, there were some seriously tasty bites on this platter! My favourite was probably the Massaman chicken and the miso aubergine. Safe to say it got me very excited for the main event!
Away from the bar is the main dining area which totally stole the show! The new decor combines solid oak with jewel tones and cocktail-inspired leafy prints. It’s like a jungle paradise inside! We say in what I think was the prettiest part of the restaurant, as the roof had lots of skylights, creating a bright and breezy interior. I absolutely loved the deep blues and golds – it was giving me serious inspiration! It’s very modern and refined yet opulent all at the same time which makes it feel like the perfect destination for cocktails with the girls or a casual lunch.
Food at The Wavendon Arms
So now onto my favourite part – the food! The menu has been completely revised and is inspired by social dining and drinking. Personally, I love this concept and think more restaurants should offer sharing dishes and plates because it makes for such a social meal. I love getting my friends together and catching up over good food. There is something for everyone on the menu: Expect classic pub dishes but also some funky dishes inspired by world foods and flavours.
To start, we decided to order several plates from the ‘small plates’ section of the menu. This gave us the opportunity to try a lot! I was super disappointed that they didn’t have the bao buns. Unsurprisingly, they had been super popular so there was already none left – gutted! They are on my radar for next time…
The small plates section is divided into meat-free, land and sea so you can choose from one section or across all of them if you fancy .a bit of everything! First up was the Panko crusted fried brie (£5.75) which came with a sloe gin chutney. I mean, what is there to say about this dish other than it was bloody delicious? You can’t really do wrong with deep fried cheese. Next, was the seared wild atlantic scallops (£11.95) which came with lobster and crab bon bons in a pea and truffle oil velouté. This was one of my favourite dishes: the scallops were buttery and tender, and the bon bons were rich and full of flavour.
We also had some Tempura squid (£7.95) which was served with a preserved lemon aioli. This was one of the more underwhelming dishes – the squid was crispy but I like fried squid to be quite chunky and there wasn’t a huge amount of flavour here. The Massaman chicken skewers (£7.50) were another highlight, however. They came with a pomegranate and tzatziki dip which contrasted nicely with the slight heat and nutty flavour. I did find myself wanting a little more mint in the tzatziki though!
Everyone’s favourite dish was the chargrilled octopus and chorizo (£11.50) which was served in a pico de garlic salsa and paprika. Octopus can be quite tough and chewy, but this was great quality meat that was tender and full of flavour. The chorizo was spicy and smokey and it was definitely one of the best small plates we had. I would say that these small plates were great between four of us, but had we been paying, this would have been an expensive starter – some of the dishes were over £10 which is basically the cost of a main course, so I think these are definitely best shared between more people to make it more affordable.
It was time for the main event and after all those starters, you’re damn right we still had room! The Wavendon Arms’ new main course menu is split into different sections fo you can see what you fancy. Healthy mains are all under 600 calories; you’ve also got the rotisserie and grill which feature steaks and chargrilled fish. The iconic sharers are designed to be shared between two people and are available every Friday and Saturday. You can get an eight bone lamb rack or a chateaubriand! Then you’ve got your burgers and comfort food classics.
Rhea ordered the diced tuna poke bowl (£14.95) from the healthy mains section. This was a bountiful dish full of tuna tartare, sesame roasted aubergine, avocado, edamame beans, pickled vegetables, jasmine rice all drizzled with a soy and marin dressing. It was a stunning looking main course with lots of fresh flavours! If you are vegetarian or vegan you could also order it without the tuna.
Laura chose the four-bone lamb rack (£22.95) which would have been my first choice too! Accompanied with buttered green beans, dauphinoise potatoes and a minted jus, this was a real celebration of lamb. It was tender and packed with flavour. Definitely one of the best dishes on the menu!
I decided to go for something different and chose the pan-fried pumpkin gnocchi (£13.50) This colourful dish comprised of roasted butternut squash, wild mushrooms, sage butter, amaretti biscuit crumb and goats cheese. On the first few mouthfuls this was really delicious: nutty, sweet and a little salty thanks to the cheese, but I found myself struggling to eat a whole portion of it as the gnocchi itself was quite dense. It’s definitely more of an autumnal dish and probably best enjoyed without gorging on lots of starters!
Gemma had the panko-crumbed chicken milanese (£12.95) which was served with a rocket, caper, Parmigiano Reggiano and toasted pine nut salad, fries and lemon aioli. The salad that topped the chicken was absolutely delicious, packing some seriously fresh flavours. The chicken was crispy and tender, and the fries weren’t half bad either! A great classic dish that will please everyone.
We just about had room for dessert so decided that the most economical way to go about it was ordering the icon dessert platter (£18.95) This came beautifully presented in a rose gold bird cage style stand with three tiers of desserts. On the top tier was a blood orange sorbet, passionfruit and caramelised fig, honey comb ice cream and a bruléed banana and fresh berries. A very fruity dessert and I absolutely loved the sorbet! On the middle tier was a brownie with an almond macaron and pecan praline ice cream. The brownie went down a treat and the ice cream was so delicious! The third tier was the most disappointing – it was a blackcurrant mousse with a mango coulis but it had a really bizarre, jelly like texture. We weren’t a fan of this one!
Laura had the melting chocolate and peanut bomb (£8.95) which was a sticky toffee pudding, peanut butter cream and ice cream. This was a proper showstopper as hot caramel sauce was poured on top as it melted. This was deliciously decadent and very similar to the one that Laura had at The Black Horse Great Linford reopening.
As you can see, the refurbishment and new menu at The Wavendon Arms has truly transformed it! What was a slightly tired pub is now a decadent dining destination that I will definitely be returning to and recommending. The food was more on the pricey side, with the mains pretty much settling around £15 average per head but I do love the social dining concept and something I would love to see more of in local restaurants. It’s now open to the public so make sure you head down and check it out!
To view menus and book a table at The Wavendon Arms, visit www.thewavendonarms.co.uk.
DISCLAIMER: All drinks and food were complimentary courtesy of The Wavendon Arms in return for a review of our experience. It was a press launch night so things are always a little more frantic and refined but this doesn’t affect my opinion.