Review: The Akeman Inn, Aylesbury
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Well, well, well!
I was very interested to review this place, newly opened in the last few weeks, because I had been in under its previous guise as The Cook & Fillet and had left feeling unable to put it on the blog because it wasn’t quite ‘Muddy’ enough.
I’m often asked by readers if I ever feel I can’t write about places or events and the answer is, er, YES, and more frequently than you might think. I have a policy on Muddy not to trash people’s businesses – because everyone can have a bad day – but I’ve been to theatre shows I’ve walked out at half time, pubs with service so bad I’d never recommend them, and the list goes on.
The old Cook & Fillet had been beautifully appointed, but felt to me cavernous and cold. I wasn’t sure if or how The Akeman Inn would create a different vibe but it’s amazing what a clever architect, dark paint and chesterfield sofas can do!
I was a bit worried from the outside, as it looked a bit chainy with a black barn-type theme, but I was sold as soon as I came in – I can’t think of anywhere else like this within 20 minutes of my house. Look at the interiors, they’re stylishly done don’t you think?
You can see from all the different eating zones that it’s still a big place, but everything feels much more intimate and boutiquey, and they’ve injected interest in all areas with cool wallpaper or flashes of colour, without being too in thrall to being trendy.
Of course, all the styling in the world counts for nothing if the food is rubbish. The Akeman Inn sticks sensibly to crowd-pleaser staples – I predict their state-of-the-art pizza oven will be a massive calling card. Both my lunch date and I had pizzas and they were really superb. Mine (below) was a chilli chorizo, while my friend had the anchovie, olive job with extra mushrooms.
We had treacle toffee pudding for afters, which I admit is hard to ruin but the sponge was light and soft and was demolished faster than the Didcot towers. Akeman Inn is geared up for kids with the usual crayons and wordsearch and colouring in on the back of menus (word to all restauranteurs: double the size, we’d like the kids to stay busy twice as long!), plus a basket of books and toys for littlies.
The Akeman Inn’s position from the main road is a little precarious – the A41 zooms by, so keep an eye out and be careful on the turn-in (apparently by Spring there will be a new driveway, more grass outside and deeper parking away from the main restaurant).
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: relaxed dining with friends and family. I’ll be using it for early evening meals or Sunday lunches with the kids, they’ll totally love it. Plus it’s a great pitstop for coffee lovers on the way to work – it opens at 8am.
Not for: Country idyll gastropub seekers (the A41 is too near for that); Michelin foodies looking for exquisite offerings, this is more crowd-pleasing classics done well.
£££: Reasonable. Mostly £7.25 – 10ish for a pizza; fish n chips £12.99, sirloin £19.99.
The Akeman Inn, Kingswood, Aylesbury, HP18 0QJ. Tel: 01296 770318. akemaninnkingswood.co.uk