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Cross Keys, Milton Keynes

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user reviews of Cross Keys, Milton Keynes

please note - reviews on this site are purely the opinion of site visitors, so don't take them too seriously.

An attractive old thatched pub that no doubt at one time was in a pleasant village near the canal, but now unfortunately is surrounded by the concrete jungle. Inside it would appear that it’s recently been refurbished, and whilst this was pleasant enough, it has perhaps lost some of the character that it may have had previously. It’s quite a contemporary design, and certainly seemed a little out of kilter with the exterior.

It’s divided in to two rooms, with the “village bar” on the right and a lounge to the left. On a recent midweek evening visit, there was nobody in the lounge, but a few punters in the bar. This has a fairly small wooden bar counter in the corner, and this was quite tricky to get to due to a few locals (and their dog) propping it up, and none of them showed any propensity to move so that I could actually get there to order a pint. Bar staff seemed friendly enough once I had managed to get there.

The floor is red tiling, and the walls mostly pale green plasterwork with exposed stone along the front and a few beams on the ceiling. There is a fire place to one side, but all this had in it was a basket of logs and some fairy lights. A bit of a missed opportunity on a snowy January evening. As previously mentioned this looks as though it may have been recently done up, and the furniture in particular looked very new. The lounge to the left was perhaps more geared up for dining, and featured a wood laminate floor and some wood panelling on the walls.

The “bistro” menu offered a reasonable selection of pub grub dishes such as Fish & Chips, Burger, Beef Pie, Sausage of the day, etc., although with most of the main courses around the £10 mark, it is perhaps priced slightly above your usual bar food. My Thai Green Curry was decent enough, if slightly on the spicy side, and consisted of an unspecified fish rather than the more usual chicken, along with (as the menu was keen to point out), lemon rice and a braised spring onion.

Beer choice seems somewhat diminished since the previous reviews. As far as I could see there were only three pumps on the bar and these were all from the Young’s stable with their Bitter, Eagle IPA and Bombardier. The solitary cider was Symonds Founders Reserve.
Blackthorn - 23 Jan 2013 22:52
Beer choice is certainly excellent, and very well kept. However the pub does seem to attract an unusual amount of pond life as other reviewers have said. This sadly is how pubs are going these days, particularly in MK - it's only the chavs who seem to have the money to go out regularly, so they end up becoming the regulars. A shame, because the Cross Keys is in one of the better areas of MK and never used to be like this. To be fair though it has changed hands numerous times in the last 20 years and I'm sure that has some bearing on the situation.

Oh, and the saloon bar could do with a thorough repaint and refit, it's looking very tired.
gherkindangler - 23 Jun 2011 21:21
Now that I am having to spend more time working in the MK area., Im at least taking the opportunity to search out some decent ale pubs and came across the Cross Keys on a more beer oriented review site I utilise.
In this respect I was not disappointed. And the Cross Keys is one of the very few establishments I have come across where the hand pumps have been trebled clipped. This is probably due to the fact that there are groups of three hand pumps only on two sections of the bar and there were 9 beers and ciders available. Being a CW branded pub these included Bombadier and Eagle IPA, but these were supplemented by Wadsworths 6X, Youngs London Gold, Directors, and two brews from the Potton brewery, namely the Shannon IPA and ShamblesBitter and the latter was a very well kept pint.
Internally it is a nice layout with a bit of character and with the ample outside seating area and a very large car park this is a very good pub for a drink.
But I too was not overly enamoured with some of the locals, although my experience was nowhere near as serious as the reviewer below.
Now I do not begrudge locals giving you the once over when a stranger ventures into their pub, thats just human nature. But I do take exception when popping back to my car to retrieve my forgotten wallet, to be eyeballed again by morons as I both left and came back and then to be given the treatment again when I finally left.
Look, its a single bloke in a suit who has chosen your pub to have a quick evening beer before making the journey home--- Get Over It !!

Gann - 22 Apr 2011 09:39
Never before have I changed my view on a place so rapidly nor so dramatically as I have about this pub.

In my last review I spoke of the good ales and hearty food. Unfortunately I neglected to mention the primordial pond life that frequent this pub and treat the place as their very own branch of the BNP - a party whom they probably don't vote for on account of not being racist enough.

Allow me to elaborate. On my last visit to the pub a remark was made by a bar monkey about "strangers", which I put down to a particularly unfriendly local jealously guarding his precious pub as the last remnant of his pathetically worthless life. It occurred to me however that this might be intended as a clumsy racial slur.

I am not one to wave the race card with abandon. Indeed I find the practice abhorrent and regressive. However upon my second visit to the pub and looking forward to spending some hard earned cash on some decent grub it was abundantly clear to me that the remark was neither a one off nor a result of heightened sensitivity.

Casual racism from locals is not, of course, the direct responsibility of the landlord/landlady. However for remarks of this nature to be permitted in what was admittedly a very empty pub would suggest at best insouciance on the part of the landlord or at worst the active encouragement of an atmosphere in which such ignorance is permitted to flourish.

A shame then, that what could have been a very positive experience of an English country pub has to become the castigation of a backwards environment. When I said in my last review this is how pubs used to be, I didn't mean to refer to attitudes that should have died out with Queen Victoria

So if this sounds like your type of pub, don your best KKK outfit and get down there. You won't be disappointed. But if you live in the 21st century or have any decency, don't bother.
PhantomPower - 12 Apr 2011 19:50
This is how pubs used to be. Great selection of 20, yes 20 real ales and ciders, albeit that on our visit they were in the midst of a beer festival. Otherwise it's Charles Wells beers, which are fine. The pub appears to hold regular beer festivals once a quarter, next one around the Summer solstice.

In the days of frozen, prepared and homogenised chain-pub "food" it was refreshing to see a good selection of pub grub favourites, home cooked by a very friendly chef who came out to check if we wanted cheese and/or salad in the burger, and whether we wanted extra gravy for the (delicious) steak pie. Nice touch, sadly missing from the overwhelming majority of pubs these days. Food prices were modest too, burger costing under 6 and pie under 7. Decent pub grub all in all, definitely something of a rarity in a town dominated by dull chain pubs /restaurants

Beer was kept well and I loved the fact that you can take away in a free of charge container.

The pub itself is easy to reach off the main Childs Way road into central Milton Keynes. Credit to the landlord/landlady for posting signs along the main roads advertising the beer festival. Plenty of evidence of attempts to make the pub a proper community hub too, which isn't the easiest thing to do in Milton Keynes.

In summary, a fine traditional pub and I will certainly be back!
Phantom_Power - 26 Mar 2011 13:22
Lovely traditional pub in an old part of Milton Keynes very close to the centre (Buses 17/18 stop a few minutes away). Great beer on offer as current landlord seems to be a real ale fan. Was at his beer festival yesterday. Also has a large beer garden with playground.

Serves food each day except Monday (although believe they do pasties even then). Wouldn't say the food is anything to get excited about but does the job.
rwjc22 - 24 Mar 2011 02:35

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