The Garage, Buckingham
Cool design aesthetics, good food and cocktails on tap - fill up to the top at Buckingham's stylish new restaurant/bar.
Finding it hard to find a decent restaurant/bar with the kind of design creds you require? I’m just about to make your day…
The Garage was just that – a Buckingham garage, just outside the main thoroughfare of this North Buckinghamshire town. It’s located in the cleverly branded ‘Hidden Quarter’, an area that was often overlooked until Secret Message Interiors moved in and rebranded the stretch of shops around them. Wells St, where you’ll find The Garage sits is still fairly innocuous, but the frontage of The Garage will leave you in no doubt that you’re in the right place – with its original petrol pumps and glass windows (it was also a Presbyterian church in a former incarnation), it looks properly cool.
The excitement in Buckingham at having this new addition is palpable, and no wonder – it was packed when I went in for lunch with a mix of mums and kids, business lunchers and sneak-a-quick-glass-in-the-lunch-hourers.
And I totally loved the aesthetic. Large communal tables, distressed leather chairs, a metal and leather bar, and cool glass downlighters downstairs…
and then a whole other area upstairs that feels much more restauranty (and also where you’ll find the chefs in an open kitchen).
Though you’d clearly come in here for a cocktail or after-work Prosecco, food is definitely front of mind here. The menu is relatively limited (which I like) and elegantly-presented. There’s an open grill so rib eye steaks, swordfish, halloumi and beefburgers are offered at both lunch and dinner. For light bites you can get everything from fish finger sandwiches through to Korean beaf steak skewers, so they definitely have an eye to their eclectic local market.
I went light with a fresh smoked trout with a lime zest, baby new potatoes, pea shoots, baby radish and horseradish cream and it was absolutely divine – beautifully presented, no? A little steep at £8.50 but I’d say it was worth it.
Dessert was a glazed tarte au citron, with lime crème fraiche and freeze-dried raspberry pieces. Look at this, below. You would, wouldn’t you?
Yes, definitely. I’m sure The Garage have a firm eye on the brunchy mum brigade, and with its open plan, light, welcoming interior it’s the perfect spot for a coffee and croissant with toddlers, or an after-school early evening family dinner. There’s no outside space so you’d want to factor that in for more rumbustious small people. There’s a dedicated kids menu, with burgers, fish and chips, and other favourites on the menu, so they’re well catered for.
STUFF TO DO NEARBY
I’m always impressed by Buckingham, as it seems to have a real entrepreneurial vibe – the likes of Secret Messages Interiors, Gyre & Gimble coffee shop, Nelson St Restaurant, In Good Spirits bar and Binn Smokehouse are all worth your time and effort. Other than that you’ll be looking for pleasures outside the town – the stunning Capability-Brown designed Stowe Landscape Gardens are literally two miles away, and the National Trust-owned Claydon House, former home of Florence Nightingale (go lie on her bed, they let you!) is a couple of miles further down the road.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: If you’re local, you’ll be wanting to dip on for everything from a social drink after work to a relaxed gathering with friends. From further afield I’d definitely use it as a place to eat with the kids after we’ve been to Stowe Landscape Gardens (we go up there a fair bit). There’s parking opposite for 2o spaces so a good option for those with limited mobility.
Not for: Those looking for white-tablecloth uber-romance. The more restauranty area upstairs doesn’t have quite the design pizzazz of the ground floor. Yes to a relaxed dinner a deux, The Garage will do the trick nicely, but for a special occasion I’d probably not go here to stare into Mr Muddy’s limpid eyes, guzzle a bottle of wine and then argue across the table.
The damage: On the upper side of reasonable. Mains are around £14-18, going up tot £27 for the rib eye steak. Lunch bites are £7-9ish. Beware the extra costs of side salads and chips!