The Cross Keys – Woolstone
01908 528 145
Newport Road, Great Woolstone, Milton Keynes, MK15 0AA
When Hannah Edwards and her partner Zani took over The Cross Keys in early 2016, months of planning finally came to fruition. However, even the most optimistic of individuals would never have predicted that they could take an establishment rated 128 on TripAdvisor all the way to the top three within a year.
We paid a visit to this attractive pub, which is just minutes from Central Milton Keynes, and is nestled in the middle of the village of Woolstone, to see what makes this venue such a success story.
Quite a few establishments are quiet on a Tuesday evening but we were greeted with a bustling bar area, an almost full restaurant and the guests enjoying a drink in the garden were plentiful.
As we perused the menu over an ice-cold beer we immediately noticed there was an extensive choice of appealing traditional pub classics. This is a menu that frequently changes too, to ensure the kitchen can use the best of local produce available at the time.
I decided to start with the relatively simple Wild Mushrooms. English wild Mushrooms pan fried in a garlic and white wine cream sauce served with garlic, and a rosemary and olive oil bread. This was an adorable little way to begin a meal. The creamy sauce had a generous infusion of garlic, a lovely texture and a generous helping of mushrooms. The Ciabbta was the ideal accompaniment for mopping up the remainder of the delicious sauce.
You cannot leave feeling hungry
My guest enjoyed their Bruschetta, sundried tomato bread topped with rainbow cherry tomatoes, black olives and red onion, finished with fresh basil and balsamic glaze. Lovely and fresh, this was full of summer flavours. We would expect the first comment to be “Wow!” when this arrives to your table not just because the colours brilliant and inviting – but also because of how much food you receive. There is little or no chance of ever leaving Cross Keys feeling hungry!
Star of the night
Regular diners to this restaurant, for which there are many, must surely have sampled the main course of 12 hours slow cooked lamb. Slow cooked and served with dauphinoise potato, asparagus, stem broccoli, green beans and carrot puree, topped with lamb jus.
The lamb, as it should be, was the star of this dish if not the whole evening. The medallion of lamb was so amazingly tender. It simply fell apart when touched with my fork. The accompanying jus was a delight. The dauphinoise potatoes screamed “Eat me!” They not only looked fantastic, they were cooked to perfection too and there was another generous helping of garlic. Hearty, warming and comforting, but overall – delicious!
The 8oz Handmade Beef Steak burger, seeded brioche bun, Spirachia mayonnaise, sliced beef tomato, red onion and cos lettuce with skin on chips and homemade relish was the choice of my co-reviewer. They loved the way the tasty, crispy chips were served in a miniature frying basket and adored the generous helping of the hand battered onion rings. The burger itself was chunky, was well seasoned and extremely appetising. Although my guest is not usually a fan of relish, they enjoyed this so much they kept going back for more.
Although full, the desserts were too appealing to miss and the overwhelming choice was the classic French dish of Crème Brulee, served with Shortbread Fingers. This was yummy and the rich flavours of the custard were much enjoyed alongside the home made shortbreads.
We came here to find out why The Cross Keys was such a success story. There are countless positives. Consistency. Value for money. A personable and friendly service. There also is a desire to continually improve and these are just some of the more obvious reasons people return. However, if you meet the team, you only need a short time in their company to see they love what they do. From that love and passion transcends an overwhelming desire to see their guests leave having enjoyed the experience. Put simply, this means you’re in for a treat!
The Cross Keys will be under-going a major expansion in 2018. MK Select will be looking to follow developments and keep you up-to-date with the latest progress and news from this endearing establishment.
Click here to read our feature on James Bird, Head Chef at The Cross Keys.