Modern meets (or should we say ‘meats’) industrial in Milton Keynes’ newest (and maybe one of a kind) hip meat and beer joint, Craft & Cleaver. A menu of meatilicious perfection awaits any diner – from ribs, brisket and burgers, to chicken, sausages and fried fish.
Our waiter for the evening Charles (or Charlie – in his words, “whatever you prefer”) was all that you wanted him to be – attentive, knowledgeable and provider of good recommendations. The latter being particularly important due to the sheer variety available on the menu.
We opted for Charlie’s recco to start – a Tailgate Dip starter to share. “What on earth is that?” I hear you ask. In it’s simplest form, it was tortilla chips and cheese fondue. But oh boy, was it more than that! The fondue itself comprised of corn, artichoke and chipotle, resulting in a unique flavour to dip those multicoloured chips into.
As we were chomping on our sharing starter, we perused the drinks menu (which is just as vast as the food menu). The usual array of cocktails, beers and wine was joined by some quirkier options – such as Peanut Butter Tequila, Pickleback (Bourbon with a pickle brine chaser) and alcoholic slushies. We always think it’s important to remember the designated drivers too, so we thought we’d also try one of the virgin cocktails – our choice, High School Crush (a refreshing combination of strawberry puree, ginger beer and lime) was so good, we ordered another. Who needs booze eh?
And the fun didn’t stop there. The mains were yet to come.
First up, the Chicken Waffle Burger. Buttermilk fried chicken, smashed avo, spinach, mayo and maple syrup, all housed in two bacon and cheese waffles. Perfect for people who are fed up of brioche buns everywhere they look. Plus it was the manager’s favourite, so why not?
Next up was Hogtimus Prime – which was a challenge in itself to complete. A burger stuffed with pulled pork, shredded rib meat and a bacon mac & cheese patty with BBQ sauce, mayo, mustard and cheese. I struggled to finish, but this was in part, because I wanted to leave room for pudding.
Finally, we had a BBQ pit beans side. It could be compared to eating a campfire. Ok, perhaps not – but the smokey, full flavoured beans with bite-size chunks of bacon thrown in paired perfectly with both burgers.
All burgers come with 50/50 fries (normal and sweet potato), homemade ‘slaw and house pickles. Other mains include tacos, salads, nachos, ribs and sea trout. And if you’re struggling to choose, you can also get combos – combining two meats and two sides of your choice.
We had to make some room for dessert, so didn’t opt for Charlie’s second recco of the Bourbon Caramel Chocolate Pot (although it sounds amazing if you hadn’t just eaten a whole pig) – so instead we opted for the Lemon & Raspberry Cheesecake and some good old fashioned scoops of ice cream.
The cheesecake, was a dense New York style creation (another challenge after the starter, main and side that preceded it) which was topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, filled with white chocolate chips. The ice cream scoops of salted caramel and peaches & creams were refreshing, albeit it a little small.
Overall the experience was difficult to fault. Yes, the drinks could’ve come a little quicker. Yes, the ice cream scoops could’ve been a little more generous. But actually, who cares when the quality and diversity of the food and drink was so good.
Vibrant atmosphere, attentive staff and lots of meat. You won’t leave feeling hungry!
Craft and Cleaver is located in The Hub, Milton Keynes, between Travelodge and Pizza Express. There is a 12.5% service charge for parties of 8 or more. Some meals can be adapted for gluten free, dairy free and vegan diets. www.craftcleaver.co.uk