I have just returned from a 5-night stay at Cranfield University in Bedfordshire. Why you might ask? The answer – my very talented husband has just embarked upon his Doctorate. This means that we will become frequent visitors to this location over the next four years as David attends periodic meetings with his professors. Using my time to research the local area during my free time, I am sure I will be able to uncover a few gems that are somewhat hidden from the regular ‘tourist’ routes. I am quite delighted to share my first find, The Carrington Arms.
The family run Carrington Arms is housed in a nineteenth century Grade II listed building. The interior has been thoughtfully refurbished during its reincarnation as a restaurant. The owners have successfully combined a traditional style with a modern and comfortable design that makes the most of all the nooks and crannies you find in such an old building. The large garden at the rear of the property provides plenty of additional seating during the warmer months. The property also offers accommodation with16 en-suite bedrooms housed in a building next to the main Inn with a standard double room starting at GBP 45.00 per night.
Tip: When staying at the Inn, it is not guaranteed that you would get a seat in the popular restaurant during the busy evening hours. Plan ahead and make sure you make a reservation to avoid being disappointed.
The Carrington Arms is located in the picturesque, but tiny, village of Mousloe in Buckinghamshire, in the south of England. Around 51 miles north of London, a short distance from junction 14 on the M1, this traditional countryside inn is about a 90-minute drive from central London.
The Carrington Arms is famous for its steak; more specifically its 21-day aged Bedfordshire beef. Most produce is sourced from local suppliers throughout Bedfordshire with a listing of the local merchants on the menu. The extensive menu caters to all needs, with gluten free and vegetarian options. Child sized portions of dishes are also available at a reduced price.
As you are shown to your seat inside the restaurant you will notice the meat and fish counter with the open plan grilling area. Should you wish to eat a steak (as we did) a server escorts you to the meat counter where the chef discusses your meat selection, cuts then weighs your selection in front of you (meat is sold per 100g), and discusses cooking style and side order options. Ribeye is currently GBP 10.00 per 100g/3.57oz. Side dishes include skin on chips (GBP 3.50) Woburn black bacon macaroni and cheese (GBP 3.50) and fried Cardington hen’s egg (GBP 1.50).
Tip: Discuss with the chef how you would like your meat cooked. I ordered my steak medium rare and while it was every bit as juicy and tender as I had hoped it would be, it was certainly less pink than a medium rare steak would be served in the US.
If you decide to pass on the steak option then other offerings include:
Pan-roasted fish of the day served with Devonshire crab potatoes, grilled tenderstem broccoli, with a lemon caper sauce (GBP 14.00)
Gnocchi with heritage tomatoes, roasted red pepper, basil, rosary herb goats cheese, buttered spinach, toasted pine nuts and pesto (GBP 11.00).
Autumn Salad – roasted heritage carrots, pached hens egg, grilled cavolo nero, celeriac, sprouting broccoli, carrot puree, charred leeks, French vinaigrette (GBP 11.00)
Tip: As the grilling area is open plan, the tables nearby can get a little toasty. If you prefer to be cooler while dining, then request a table further away from the grilling area when booking.
If you have any room left for dessert then options include:
Pimm’s and Lemonade – a Strawberry Pimm’s and lemonade jelly, orange espuma, cucumber sorbet, lemon sherbet meringues, macerated strawberries, air-dried orange and mint cress (GBP 6.50),
Chocolate & Pistachio – warm chocolate brownie, milk chocolate mousse, pistachio ice cream, buttermilk panna cotta, chocolate and pistachio soil, with caramel syrup (GBP 6.50)
Raspberry Ripple – raspberry parfait, white chocolate mousse, shortbread, white chocolate crisp, candy floss, honeycomb (GBP 6.50)
David was delighted when he noticed the entire page of cheeses on the menu and so ensured that he had a little room left to enjoy a selection. The cheese is served with bread crostini, apple, and chutney with the option of gluten free bread if requested. Varieties include:
Cheese is offered in selections of 3 for GBP 8.00, 5 for GBP 11.00 or GBP 3.00 per selection.
We were a little naïve and just turned up at around 8pm without a booking. Lucky for us there was one table left. I thought this was quite astounding considering it was a Tuesday evening, but a testament to the popularity of The Carrington Arms. The restaurant is not huge so perhaps that is why we had a variety of servers check on us throughout our meal but all were very cheerful, helpful and attentive.
One thing I absolutely love about eating out in England is how the servers will not remove empty plates until all the people at the table have finished. Our server was always available if we needed anything, but sufficiently allusive to ensure we didn’t feel rushed.
I thoroughly enjoyed my dinner at The Carrington Arms, so much so that I returned for a lunch a few days later. Although prices are certainly a little steep (although I could be biased and be unfairly comparing with US), the quality of food was excellent. A little thing I noticed, that I think makes a huge difference, was the use of real cloth napkins and not disposable paper napkins – they say it’s the little things that make a big difference. The outside area is a delightful setting to enjoy a tipple or two, while the inside of the restaurant offers a comfortable venue for a memorable meal. I loved the menu descriptions, although needed to look up a few of the options, as they were new to me. This restaurant will certainly go down as one I would visit again and encourage you to pop in if ever in the area.
Address: Cranfield Road, Moulsoe, Bucks, MK16 OHB, UK
Telephone: + 44 1908 218050
Hours: Not clear from the website although the following meal times are listed: Breakfast from 7.30am, Lunch from 12 noon, Dinner from 6pm
Cuisine: Gastro pub/Modern English
Other info: Accommodation is also available on site