Rest in peace, Caldecotte Arms – the place of many a summer breakfasts, lunches al fresco and comfort food Sunday dinners in midwinter.
Look, I have absolutely no problem with gastropubs fast spreading around our new city of Milton Keynes. Prince George remains my favourite. I have frequented Black Horse a few times. The Plough in Simpson despite the bland decor gets my vote with the menu. It is gastropub-ification gone wrong that upsets me. And that’s exactly what has happened to the once brilliant Caldecotte Arms.
Of course, when we made out way over to Caldecotte Lake on a sun-drenched May day we were none the wiser that Caldecotte Arms was no more and in its stead stood Caldecotte Pub and Grill. You see, the trouble is Caldecotte Arms wasn’t dog-friendly so over the long winter months we’d given it a miss in favour of dog friendly pubs to get our pub food and full English kicks. With the summer arriving on a gorgeous May weekend there was our chance to return to one of our favourite pubs for lunch al fresco.
Despite the gentrification, sadly Caldecotte Pub and Grill was still not dog-friendly so we took a seat outside. After all, the temperatures were in the mid-20s and the lake views are always gorgeous.
We hit the first hitch when we picked our food. Upon reaching the bar to order, Mr O promptly informed me that Seafood Grill which I was really looking forward to try was not available for the garden tables and we had to order from the measly garden menu. Seriously? Take five steps from the bar and down a small flight of stairs you’re already in the garden, so what’s the big deal?
Alas, I had to settle for fish and chips while Mr O ordered a burger. With no breakfast earlier, we were starved, so we also agreed on cheesy garlic bread to share.
Second disappointment came in the form of the starter which caused some confusion served with Mr O’s side of chips – just missing the burger main. There was one sad looking, lonesome slice of garlic bread on a side plate served with a cup which contained a grand total of ten chips.
“Who serves garlic bread with chips?” Mr O said, still not clued up to the fact that he had just splashed £2.59 on a slice of cheesy garlic bread.
“I guess you will find they’ve cut down the portions,” I replied, still shocked we were having to pay for one slice when once at Caldecotte Arms the same figure got you four slices.
Then started the endless wait for the missing burger.
It took about 20 minutes for my order to arrive, at which point we figured as soon as Mr O’s burger arrived, it was all well and good and we can go about enjoying our meal. But the kitchen clearly had other plans.
Five minutes, then ten minutes, a whole 15 minutes later there was no sign of the burger. Tired of ‘they must be catching the cow’ and ‘it grew legs and ran off the plate’ jokes, we finally decided to pull the waiters up on our missing food. A few giggles later, they proved completely useless.
“I will go check” offered Tweedledee, while Tweedledum said, “Oh it might be another five minutes,” giggling.
Another five minutes, and hallelujah! Finally Mr O got his hands on his burger as I had finished digesting my lunch. Classic Cod and Chips, while delicious, was a whopping £9.29. Suddenly the idea of takeaway from my local chippie seemed like a way better idea.
Out of curiosity I step inside to check out what else might have changed. To be fair, the decor is brilliant. With some simple touches, some art on the walls, upholstered furniture, a bread bar, the place seems so much more stylish.
Does it justify the over priced, meagrely portioned food? The jury is out, along with Doodles, so that’s just another cross against Caldecotte Pub and Grill.
Maybe we will check it out next summer with the hope that the management may have come to its senses or it may have changed completely. As for you, by all means, go check it out for yourself, if you want to splurge but there are plenty of traditional and gastro pubs which serve just as great food for far more reasonable prices.