Muddy eats: Vibin’s cafe bar and grill, Buckingham
Is there anything lovelier than a successful new start-up? I was in Buckingham a few months back and spotted Vibin’s bar and grill in its panicky final stages of getting-readiness for opening the following day. Vibin himself was just the most charming, down-to-earth and – frankly – hopeful guy, just praying that his investment and hard work would pay off.
Anyone who’s ever had the dream of opening a bar, pub, cafe or restaurant will tell you that it’s way harder than it looks to pull off a success, but on the basis of my meal a few weeks back at Vibin’s he’s onto a winner. Yes it helps that there are few serious food contenders in Buckingham (the excellent Nelson St Restaurant being the obvious exception). Yes, it’s in a busy shopping thoroughfare with plenty of football. But rubbish food and service will squash these advantages in a flash.
What Vibin’s offers I think is good value quality. The interior downstairs is tasteful and ‘clean’ without particularly offending or impressing (though I did like the mis-matched painted furniture and the cute cushions). I think this is by far the easiest space to fill along with the alfresco table out the front that were massively popular (but note to Vibin – ditch the chunky plastic patio furniture for something a bit more bistro, it will give out a much more accurate vibe).
There’s an upstairs area with a chairlift/full disabled access that feels modern and yet slightly dated at the same time. Something to do with all the shiny black I think. But though it’s not my style particularly, it’s not overly off-putting – in the evenings it might look rather glam – and I’d still use it. I can see if you’re local to Buckingham it’s a great space for private dining and parties.
The point of difference for Vibin’s is its grill – think burgers, steaks and selected fish along with crowd-pleasing fare and snacky bits like sandwiches and rosti. It’s an extensive menu actually, starting with a massive range of breakfasts, from filled croissants to omelettes through to full English, then moving through to the grills and then a large evening menu of anything from cajun-spiced sea bream to a 100z ribeye steak. Evening service requests 30 minutes grace to serve your meal if you haven’t ordered starters, which shows you the pressure the kitchen is under with such a large menu, but I rather like the willingness of the whole thing and ultimately the proof is in the eating.
And talking of which, he’s what I scoffed. I took my 8 year old daughter with me for a girly day out (bless her for being wildly excited about having three inches cut off her hair, buying a new pencil case and school shoes) and she was almost delirious with joy at ordering the Vibin burger. As well she might, as it was nearly the size of her head.
I went for the Cajun spiced fillet of seabream, caponata vegetable, tomato & herb salsa, just to try out the coals (or more likely the electrics), and it was absolutely delicious – moist, interesting. and healthy without being too hairshirt.
Desserts were some kind of chocolate and pear tart for me and an Eton mess for my daughter, neither of which moved the earth but they did gratifyingly stretch the belly and tasted just right.
I’m yet to mention the service actually but it was charming and felt sincere. Just normal decent people trying to do a good job.
It was a quiet Tuesday in Buckinghamshire when we visited but Vibin’s had several tables eating inside and all tables taken outside which was great to see. I really enjoyed my lunch (and I’d be interested to hear from any readers who’ve had a dinner experience) and if lived closer I’d definitely go back for an evening experiment.
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: Girly goss lunches, business meetings, coffees and snacks alfresco , big groups upstairs, coffee and cake drop ins. Romantic meals might work upstairs on an evening if there’s enough other-table-action to sustain the atmosphere – but it’s worth a go.
Not for: Mums and toddlers inside. The interior is smallish and open plan – no room to swing a baby (oh sorry, is that the wrong analogy?) though the outside pedestrianised area is perfect for youngsters. Maybe not for gourmands – it has all the makings of an authentic, good quality local restaurant but anyone looking for Michelin flair may leave empty handed.
£££: Reasonable. There’s something on this menu for everyone, with most evening entrees between £5-7 and mains £10-16. Burgers with all the trimmings are £10.50 – a steal.
Vibin’s Cafe bar & Grill, 15 Cornwall Place, Buckingham, MI18 1SB. Tel: 01280 308150/ 07515151259. vibins.co.uk.