My Top Vegan Eats in Milton Keynes

Two chargrilled skewers of vegan lamb piled on a bed of salad with minted sour cream drizzled all over

My Top Vegan Eats in Milton Keynes This is my second year of doing Veganuary and I am loving it! I always feel so much more creative in the kitchen, and love trying new veg-forward recipes throughout the month. But sometimes you just want someone to cook dinner or make sweet treats for you, don’t you? That’s where this guide to my favorite vegan eats in Milton Keynes comes in handy! After extensive (though not exhaustive) research into the MK vegan food scene, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite vegan-friendly breakfast & brunch, lunch & dinner, and dessert & treat vendors around town.   So whether you’re vegan, dairy free, or just veeg-curious I hope this guide helps you find a new favorite vegan treat. Happy vegan eating! Vegan Eats in MK French Affaire Out of Office Coffee, Witan Studios The Quirk Space A Vegetative State The Chester Arms Greedy Pizza Ole Tapas Bar Saf’s Kitchen Walnut Tree Fish & Chips Clare’s Vegan Cakery Fuuudge Nutmeg Kitchen My first experience of vegan treats from The Quirk Space was summer 2020. My in-laws surprised Ben and I with a delivery of sausage rolls, peanut butter cups, and brownies for our anniversary! Every piece was absolutely delicious. The sausage rolls are now a family favorite, I always love a dark chocolate peanut butter cup, and the brownies are some of the best I’ve had.  19.06.20 – Sausage rolls, peanut butter cups, and chocolate brownies from The Quirk Space 29.08.20 – A delivery of freshly baked croissants from The Quirk Space Read More My Top Vegan Eats in Milton Keynes Breakfast & Brunch French Affaire I love visiting French Affaire for a fancy brunch out with my husband or the girls! It is an adorable French bistro that offers several delicious vegan items on their brunch menu including crepes and baguettes. I’ll confess I have yet to try their baguettes. The crepes are just too good! While the only savory crepe on French Affaire’s menu is Falafel, they were more than happy to make Le Chevre vegan for me. Both Falafel and Le Chevre are stuffed with so much flavor I never feel like I’m missing out.   Just make sure you save room for a sweet crepe. The Apple Tatin Flambee is a showstopper! It is filled with caramelly soft apples, and flambeed in Calvados as they place it on the table in front of you.   Location: Stony Stratford   Dietaries: Some vegan items on the daytime menu, none on their evening menu 10.07.21 – La Chevre vegan quiche at French Affaire Out of Office Coffee, Witan Studios Fluffy American pancakes are one of my favorite breakfast foods, second only to waffles. Leslie Knope definitely had the right idea! And lucky for me (and you!) the newest Out of Office Coffee location in MK has delicious vegan pancakes on their all day brunch menu. The fluffy stack of pancakes come topped with yogurt, berries, and granola, making a perfect sweet vegan brunch option. Though if you’d rather start your day with something savory, Out of Office also offer a tasty-looking tofu scramble on sourdough toast.   Location: Central Milton Keynes   Dietaries: A range of vegan and gluten free items to choose from 29.05.21 – Vegan pancakes at Out of Office Coffee Witan Gate Out of Office Coffee, Witan Studios Fluffy American pancakes are one of my favorite breakfast foods, second only to waffles. Leslie Knope definitely had the right idea! And lucky for me (and you!) the newest Out of Office Coffee location in MK has delicious vegan pancakes on their all day brunch menu. The fluffy stack of pancakes come topped with yogurt, berries, and granola, making a perfect sweet vegan brunch option. Though if you’d rather start your day with something savory, Out of Office also offer a tasty-looking tofu scramble on sourdough toast.   Location: Central Milton Keynes   Dietaries: A range of vegan and gluten free items to choose from 05.11.20 – An assortment of chocolatey treats from The Quirk Space 12.11.20 – A vegan sausage roll from The Quirk Space The Quirk Space If you’ve been following me for awhile, you’ll be very aware of my love for The Quirk Space. It’s a cute cafe, shop, and event space in the heart of Olney. It is also the only place that serves nothing but vegan eats in Milton Keynes!     For a light breakfast, The Quirk Space offers great coffee, a variety of vegan milks, and cakes and pastries to takeaway. I highly recommend the croissants! But perhaps the real star of the breakfast show is their “Breakfast Stuff-in Muffin”. The sandwich is stuffed full of the tastiest vegan alternatives to your favourite breakfast sammie fillings. Bacon, sausage, egg, and cheese – all delicious and all plant-based. You can also add ketchup or brown sauce if you like, but it’s perfectly tasty on its own!         Location: Olney         Dietaries: All vegan, can cater to gluten free 17.07.21 – The Quirk Space’s Breakfast Stuff-in Muffin Lunch & Dinner A Vegetative State A Vegetative State is a firm favorite at Milton Keynes vegan events and street fairs, and it’s not hard to see why! They make their own seitan-based meat alternatives to serve up in a variety of deli sandwiches and burgers. If you’re a fan of New York style deli sandwiches, you need to try A Vegetative State’s famous Reuben sandwich! Multigrain bread is stuffed full of vegan pastrami, sauerkraut, Violife cheezy slices, and Thousand Island Dressing, griddled til toasty and melty, then topped with a pickle. It is absolutely delicious and tastes so similar to the “real deal”. As a lover of Reubens I’d prefer more traditional rye bread, but this is a great swap!   Location: Local street food events – follow their socials for the latest popup at a local street fair or takeaway event   Dietaries: All vegan 05.12.21 – A Vegetative State’s vegan Reuben sandwich

Adventure Local: Newport Pagnell

A tall sign made of two beams of wood holding a black piece of metal with the iron bridge, Welcome to NEWPORT PAGNELL, and a car cut out of it that's backed by a white sheet of metal so you can see the images

I have called Newport Pagnell my home off and on since 2017. Ben was born and raised here, and we’ve lived with his parents several times when figuring out our own housing situation. Between living and visiting here regularly over the last few years, I like to think I’ve gotten to know the town pretty well. So here’s a guide to my favorite nature walks, town life highlights, eats, and drinks to help you adventure local in Newport Pagnell! Nature Walks There are so many lovely nature walks to be found in and around Newport Pagnell! All make for nice walks in the great outdoors, no matter the weather. Unless there’s been flooding, in which case you might want to avoid Castle and Riverside! Bury Field – An ancient common ground that has been mentioned in texts going back to 1276 CE. A wide open space with lots of desire paths for meandering, a popular area for dog walks, several good benches to rest on and take in the moment. Castle Meadow – A small green space with multiple picnic benches. Connects to Ousebank Gardens by a nice footbridge over the River Ouzel. “Farmer’s Field” – A section of farmland between Newport Pagnell and the A509 heading to Chicheley. A herd of deer have made it home for the past few months, and I’ve even seen several foxes playing together! Ousebank Gardens – Well manicured gardens near a community center, connected to a lovely old cemetery that sits at the foot of the beautiful St. Peter and St. Paul’s church. Riverside Meadow – The biggest floodplain during peak rainy periods. Also the biggest green area to walk or run through that’s not set too far out of town. A large playground for kids that was recently revamped, and a few popular swimming areas for warm summer days. Tongwell Lake – Just over the M1 from Newport Pagnell, it is one of the famous balancing lakes of Milton Keynes. So many species of birds call the lake home, my favorites are the playful cormorants! A great running route, and lots of benches and picnic tables scattered around it. Town Life This is a truly special town with a thriving high street, plenty of town events, and it’s very own luxury British car brand! Here is just a small list of the things that make this town so much fun to “Adventure Local” throughout Newport Pagnell. Aston Martin Works – We all know of Aston Martins as James Bond’s favorite cars, but did you know that the brand has a historic connection to Newport Pagnell too? A manufacturing plant from 1955-2007, it operates as a showroom and restoration workshop these days. Community Events – Newport Pagnell Town Council and a few volunteer groups have worked together over the last few years to create some wonderful community events. We especially love the Summer Carnival and Firework Night! And Food Truck Friday each month is not to be missed. Market Hill Greengrocer – My in-laws love his eggs, we love all the gorgeous veg he stocks every day. Well worth a nose to supplement your weekly shop. No. 38 Vintage Emporium – Do you love vintage? Do you love small, locally handmade pieces of jewelry and homegoods? Then No. 38 Vintage Emporium is the shop for you! Such an adorable space full of so many gorgeous pieces. Nothing Wasted Refill Shop – The place to go for all things eco-friendly. They stock some lovely sweet things (vegan brownie bites and fudge spring to mind), and as the name suggests, plenty of dry and hygiene goods to refill your stocks at home for a reasonable price. Eats There are so many restaurants in Newport Pagnell. Like, so many. Here are my favorite restaurants in town, based on flavors and willingness to cater to my dairy-free requirements. Capadocia Turkish Restaurant – There are a lot of Turkish restaurants in Milton Keynes, and Capadocia is one of the best. We’ve celebrated so many milestones here – they even hosted our dinner party the night before we got married! They will go out of their way to give you dairy-free + gluten free bread, and are always happy to point out meals on the menu made without dairy products. Kakori – Definitely our family favorite Indian restaurant in town, and there are plenty to choose from. The flavors are are always so fresh and vibrant, and they’re really helpful with picking out dishes that don’t contain dairy. Murati’s Pizzeria Ristorante – A great classic Italian restaurant. You know a place will be happy to cater dairy free diets when it has a dedicated vegan menu, and Murati’s is always happy to oblige. One of my favorites from their menu, the seafood pizza, even comes cheeseless as standard! They offer vegan cheese for pizzas too. Pin Petch Thai Restaurant – A delicious and authentic Thai restaurant. Thai food tends to be mostly dairy free naturally so I always feel safe eating here. They also have a great vegan menu. Pin Petch offers takeaway but the freshness of those meals has been hit and miss for us so definitely book a table when indoor dining is available. Drinks It wouldn’t be a complete Adventure Local: Newport Pagnell guide if I didn’t provide a list of the best places to get drinks in town! The Kings Arms – The best beer garden in town, bar none. They pull a good Guinness, have a decent range of gins, and is my favorite place to get a cider on a hot summer day. Murati’s Pizzeria Ristorante – If you’re looking for a cocktail in Newport Pagnell, Murati’s is the place to go. They make a great Cosmo, and are even offering takeaway cocktails during lockdown. Out of Office Coffee House – Newport Pagnell’s very own branch of the small local coffee chain. They make a mean oat latte, and I’ve been recommended to try an iced cortado from them on a hot

Adventure Local: West Bletchley

One of my 2020 intentions was to start really getting to know where I live better, to “adventure local” in West Bletchley and greater Milton Keynes. It feels almost like a cruel joke that pandemic lockdowns happened and forced me to live by my adventure local resolution! But it’s also been a blessing. I’ve gotten to explore so much more of the area than I would have otherwise! Most of April and May weekends were spoken for by the end of January, with us planning to visit friends or family in a different city every weekend. It would’ve been a blast, but I can’t say I’m not enjoying feeling refreshed at the end of the weekend either. The end of May officially marked my 3 year anniversary of living in Milton Keynes. And we’ve been living in West Bletchley for 2 years now too! In that time I definitely haven’t explored as much of the city as I’d like. Between spending most weekends with friends in the various pubs of Newport Pagnell when we still lived there, not having a car until last year, and…life getting in the way, we just never made the time. But we’ve got nothing but time now, and we are making the most of it! I’ve enjoyed getting to know our local area so much better over the last few years. We’ve ambled through verdant parks, strolled along historic high streets, indulged in delicious takeaways, and sampled more than our fair share of drinks. But what good is gaining this local knowledge if I don’t share it? So here’s a little guide to my favourite places in and around West Bletchley that are only a walk or short cycle away! Nature Walks: Milton Keynes gets a bad rap for a lot, but one thing it doesn’t get enough credit for is all the lovely nature parks you can find tucked away just off the nearest roundabout. And West Bletchley is absolutely surrounded by them. In fact, 3 parks on my list are so well connected by paved paths and greenery that it’s hard to tell where one stops and and the next begins! Here are our favourite nature parks, in order of distance from our old rental near the H8 Standing Way border of West Bletchley. Tattenhoe Valley Park – A nice stream runs all the way through. There are exercise stations along the paths (for when we can use them again!). Trees line the entire park, creating plenty of shade and making it feel nicely secluded. Furzton Lake – A gorgeous lake to walk around. So many different species of birds call it home, including a nesting pair of swans currently raising 4 cygnets. Howe Park Wood – The forest floor is covered in bluebells during the spring. The trees and trodden paths make you feel as if you’ve left Milton Keynes far behind. Bonus: a cozy cafe and cute instrument-playing frog statues. Blue Lagoon – An old quarry-turned-nature reserve. Desire paths + picnic areas are maintained by mowing, everything else is left wild. Loads of blackberry brambles good for picking during the season. Waterhall Park – One wide, long path lined by mature evergreens in a way that feels very Continental European. More meandering paths. Near lots of fields. We even saw some cows by a stream! Town Life: When people hear “Bletchley” they more often than not think of Bletchley Park. But Bletchley town life has more than just Bletchley Park going for it! Despite only being a few short miles from Milton Keynes city centre, it has a lovely high street. And only a little bit further along, in Fenny Stratford, is the best club in town! Due to the ongoing pandemic, the accessibility of these sites is a bit hit and miss currently. But do give them a visit once lockdown eases! Bletchley Park – A piece of living history in Milton Keynes, an extensive and impressive museum on gorgeous grounds. We spent a day there a few years ago and only saw a fraction of the buildings! Tickets can be expensive, but MK residents get a discount and they’re good for a year so you can go back as often as you like. Very worth the price of admission. Currently closed due to lockdown Bletchley High Street – A great mix of independent, charity, and standard high street shops. Several great butchers, greengrocers, and cafes. Lovely lights during the holiday season Molly’s Pantry – A greengrocer and refill shop. Lovely fresh fruit and veg sourced as locally as possible, and they’ve just added a whole range of dry goods to their lineup too. Stocks lots of natural cleaning and hygiene products. They even offer delivery by robot if you live close enough! Pink Punters – The only LGBTQ+ venue in town, and definitely the best club in MK if you’re looking for a great night out Eats: One of the best bits of my “Adventure Local: West Bletchley” initiative has definitely been trying all the independent restaurants! In no particular order, these are our favourite restaurants and takeaways we’ve found around West Bletchley. The Greedy Pizza – The self-described “little sister” to Fenny Stratford’s The Greedy Italian (sadly haven’t made it here yet!). Incredible sourdough pizza, good vegan cheese, great daily deals. Definitely worth pre-ordering as they can get really busy. Cafe Sen – Authentic Vietnamese food in a whole in the wall cafe. Their special bahn mi is a must if you eat meat, and their crispy tofu is delicious in a baguette or noodle salad if you don’t. Try a Vietnamese coffee too! The Three Trees – Part of a small local chain, good grub in a cute pub. Had a nice steak dinner for a decent price and they were helpful with my dairy free requirements. Made for a lovely date night. The Good Friend – Our favourite Chinese takeaway in Milton Keynes yet. Their crispy fried chicken wings are incredible, the beef ho fun

Annual Girl’s Trip to Birmingham

The end of last summer saw the beginning of what I hope to be a tradition for many years to come – an annual girl’s trip! I’ve gone on trips with various friends before, and will do again. But there’s just something special about finding that one group of girls you get on so well with that you all decide to make going away together a regular occurrence, isn’t there? We were all first brought together on a weekend in May 2018, by yours truly, for my hen do in Birmingham. We were a ragtag bunch. Of the 6 of us, I was the only one who knew everyone attending. But a secret (to me) planning group chat, a Friday evening of Prosecco, and a Saturday morning nursing a collective Prosecco hangover while watching the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made fast friends of us all. There were of course other more usual hen do activities. Bottomless brunch? Check! Dinner out? Check! And at an incredible curry house no less – we were in Birmingham after all. Pub crawl into the city that ended at a club? Check! But I like to think it was the morning spent in a cuddle puddle on the sleeper sofa in our Airbnb’s living room, commenting on all the celebrity outfits and moaning dramatically about our sore heads every so often, that really sealed the deal. Fast forward to Spring 2019 The group chat that had been relatively quiet since the hen do perked back up with reminiscing about what a fun, food- and drink-filled weekend we’d had. It struck us all how easily we’d fallen into what felt like a well-established group of friends. What can I say, I know how to pick ’em! It was in that chat we decided a reunion weekend was a must. A Hen Do: Part Deux, if you will. The schedules of 5 20-something women being what they are, we didn’t manage to find a weekend where everyone was free until the end of August. But that ended up working out to our benefit – schools went back in session the following Monday so travel and Airbnb prices were a little bit less than they would’ve been a few weeks earlier. We did talk about going further afield than Birmingham again. But having left planning a wee bit late most of us didn’t have the holiday left to take a longer trip than Friday evening-Sunday afternoon. With all of us scattered around the south and east, Birmingham just made the most sense for a quick trip! Beginning of the Annual Girl’s Trip After a few group chat messages syncing schedules and several cocktail tinnies on the train, we descended upon Birmingham. Our Airbnb was a short walk from New Street Station so we made our way there, dropped our stuff off, and headed to the nearest grocery store to stock up on provisions for the weekend. We decided to cook Friday’s dinner and Saturday’s breakfast ourselves to save a bit of money in anticipation of Saturday’s festivities. A full kitchen is definitely one of the perks to staying in an Airbnb over a hotel. One of the disadvantages, though, is when an issue comes up (say you’d booked a flat claiming to sleep 6 and there was hardly sleeping area for 5…) there’s no concierge at a front desk to help you sort it out. Luckily for us, our hosts were quick to respond. After a short back and forth, they refunded us a bit of the rental fee. We also managed to cobble together a 5th sleeping space out of couch cushions and spare sheets. Friday evening was spent catching up over a quick and easy conchiglie bolognese, plenty of snacks, and copious G&T’s. Saturday’s Festivities We stayed up into the wee hours of the morning catching up, but still managed to be up with enough time on Saturday to sort a lovely brunch of sausage sandwiches and cinnamon rolls. A 1pm start to the festival meant we could also take our time getting dolled up for the day ahead. Such a carby brunch was 1)Delicious, simple, and filling and 2)Good preparation for a day of drinking at Saturday’s main event: The Gin to My Tonic gin festival! I would be lying if I said we didn’t partially pick this weekend in August after we found the festival through a quick search of upcoming events in Birmingham… If you’re looking for a fun and different event, I can’t recommend this one enough. It of course featured loads of incredible gins from near and far. But they also had plenty of other alcohols + thoughtful mixers available for those who aren’t too (gasp! horror!) gone on gin. Tickets were ~£15 through the event, but I found them for ~£9 on Groupon. It pays to search for a deal! With the ticket you got 4 hours entrance, a gorgeous gin goblet, a stainless steel straw, a guide to all the drinks on offer at the event, a pen, and a cute little bag to hold everything. Once inside the venue (the Custard Factory in Digbeth, which was an absolutely perfect space for the event), we picked up tokens for our drinks. We each got 4 tokens for £20 up front. That made each drink, which included a 35ml pour + a Fever Tree mixer, only £5! Considering the cost of the drinks, the various free tasters, and everything we got with the entrance fee, the event was good value for money. And it even helped turn a few of the girls into gin drinkers! Our big breakfast came in handy, as the food vendors in attendance weren’t particularly dietary-restrictions-friendly. I’m dairy free and 2 of the other girls are vegan, so a grilled cheese cart didn’t do the majority of our group any good. We also weren’t sure we’d be happy with only 4 hours, but it was the optimal amount of time. And choosing