Launching in 2022: Woodland dining with WYLD

AD – PR Experience. I was invited along to the soft launch of WYLD to share feedback and get a taste of what’s to come in 2022! I wasn’t obliged to write this blog post.

When people ask me why I love food so much, my answer often revolves back to the fact that it brings people together. In so many cultures, food is rooted in celebrations, commemorations and family. It is there purely to be enjoyed and indulged in. But there’s also something extraordinarily primal about food. It is essential for life, for energy and for keeping us moving. Rewind thousands of years to humans as hunter-gatherers, food was food in its most basic form and we ate what we could find and what was available during each season. So what if in this era of modern dining, we blended the two? A dining experience that blends together foraging and seasonal eating with a social dining setting?

Introducing WYLD, a conscious and experiential food business with a philosophy to re-establish our lost connection with nature and the source of our food. WYLD’s dining experiences bring people back together, both with one another, and with the natural world which surrounds us. Founded by Jonathan Muston, WYLD is set to launch in 2022. I couldn’t be more excited. This is something that Milton Keynes’ food scene needs! I was lucky enough to be invited along to the soft launch so I can give you an exclusive taste of what you can expect…

About WYLD Dining

WYLD describe themselves as ‘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.

They apply this philosophy via a unique woodland dining experience, hosted in a secret setting in Whaddon. The food centres around seasonal eating, local produce and foraged goodness, along with WYLD venison, a nutritious, local and sustainable source of protein. There’s something for vegans too, they have collaborated with vegan chef @love.ness.x who created the vegetarian/vegan menus for the soft launches.

The founder, Jonathan Muston (Muzz) has spent his life working alongside UK agriculture, so has developed a deep appreciation of the source of our food. He is passionate about re-establishing the lost connection between the food in our fridges, its origin, and what happens in the process to get it there. WYLD began life in 2020, as Johnny started to bring to life the ideas he had for this unique experience.

The concept

The event is held in a secret woodland in south Milton Keynes which has been adapted to accommodate table settings and space for diners to explore. Until last year, the woodland was overgrown with brambles that were actually suffocating the biodiversity of the area. The opening has been cleared with grass seed laid. Walkways through the remaining brambles and woodland have also been created and there are cosy spaces and benches to take some time out and enjoy your pre-dinner drinks. To say it is a complete escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life is an understatement!

The tables and canopies have been built using wind blown timber and coppiced wood from local woodland management. This creates a rustic, cosy atmosphere that many indoor restaurants seek to achieve! I think you’ll agree, that it looks brilliant. The table settings were beautiful and really added to the experience. As we entered the woodland, it was pretty magical seeing the candlelit space emerge from the trees.

Everything at WYLD dining events is cooked outside over an open fire, a firm nod to hunter-style cooking. The ‘kitchen’ has been created using the tree trunks and the BBQ, hot water tank and sink have all been made from upcycled materials. It was all designed and built for purpose so that the chefs can have a fully functioning space to cook and serve the food.

The food

The menu for the soft launch had a heavy emphasis on venison! Personally, I love venison and it is actually one of the most sustainable meats you can eat. I fully acknowledge that a fully plant-based diet is more beneficial for the environment, but I really respect WYLD for bringing an eco-friendly ethos into their experiences. There was a plant-based choice for each course.

To start, Dan opted for the Venison Carpaccio. Thin, flash cooked strips of venison were plated beautifully surrounded by parsnip puree, baby beetroots, sweet potato crisps and parmesan shavings. I think you will agree that this is a stunning plate of food, and Dan really enjoyed it – he is a big carpaccio fan!

I had the pan-roasted wild pigeon breast served on a wild mushroom risotto for my starter which was absolutely delicious and very satisfying. The pigeon was tender with the classic nutty, game flavour. The risotto was delicious as well, mushrooms were a natural accompaniment to the game.

The vegan option was a spiced squash soup served with crusty bread.

For the main event, we both had venison but in different ways! Dan had slow braised venison haunch in a rich red wine sauce with fondant potato and a garlic and rosemary focaccia to mop it all up. This was pure indulgence and exactly the kind of thing you could enjoy on a slightly cooler September evening! The meat was tender and the sauce rich.

I had the venison steak which was served with scallion butter, roasted vine tomatoes and a watercress salad. The steak was delicious, served rare with a slight crust, it was like a lean cut of beef. The scallion butter was punchy. My only critique was that there was no carbohydrate. Dan’s hearty stew was very filling whereas I definitely found myself longing for a potato fondant myself. Had I had the beef carpaccio to start, I may have found myself more affected by the bottomless red wine!

The vegan option was a Morroccan-inspired mezze board with seasonal veg. hummus and flat bread.

We chose one of each option for dessert! For Dan, the apple and blackberry cobbler (also vegan) was made with blackberries found in the woodland. It was the perfect echo of the season. I had the vanilla creme brulee served with butter biscuits. Rustic and smooth, this was a very tasty end to the meal!

In the centre of the space, was a campfire so as darkness fell, we toasted marshmallows and connected with fellow diners. It is exactly the kind of vibe I try to create at Sophie’s Supper Club, so it was brilliant for us to be on the other side of the experience this time around and meet some new people.

We had a wonderful evening with WYLD. It was great to experience something unique and new to the MK dining scene. Dining outside feels really special and the setting was just beautiful with excellent food to match.

I can’t wait to see what’s in store for them in 2022!

To be the first to hear about WYLD’s events, head to their website and sign up to their mailing list: www.wyldgroup.co.uk. You can also follow them on Instagram @we.are.wyld.

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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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2 Comments

  1. A J white wrote:

    Sounds perfect! Any idea what month this will be next year? We have several special celebrations in 2022. Jx

    Posted 10.12.21 Reply