The Garage, Buckingham
Fancy dinner at a petrol station? The Garage is all pared back industrial-chic with a creative foodie flair that makes it much more than just a pitstop.
Yes, technically Buckingham is in, err, Buckinghamshire, but it’s worth holding your nose and crossing over to the dark side for this one. In a former life, The Garage was an actual garage, beloved of the motor racing contingent for decades with Silverstone only a couple of miles up the road but, after it eventually closed, the building stood empty for thirty years. As it is grade II listed, the vintage petrol pumps had to stay, as did the original building frontage, so it has a quirky, retro appearance that is satisfyingly replicated inside with exposed brickwork and stripped wooden tables. They’ve been open since 2016, and we’ve reviewed them on Muddy before but we figured a few years in it was time to check up on them.
Cool and casual, with a relaxed and chatty service that belies the superb quality of the food. You’ll find Buckingham hipsters (is there such a thing?) and university types propping up the zinc-topped bar, alongside cosy couples and tipsy Mums on rare nights off (raises hand) holding court on leather dining chairs and banquettes and road testing the cocktail of the day (The Garage Paloma, FYI: tequila, oleo saccharum, grapefruit and soda, £5).
SCOFF AND QUAFF
The food at The Garage is posh nosh. It’s a happy balance of light, modern cuisine and hefty steak frites, but with everything a little bit extra. Think Pecorino and truffle hand cut chips, garlic samphire and lobster champagne sauce with your catch of the day.
I started off with a smoked salmon, prawn and crayfish parcel with lemon and dill creme fraiche, toasted croutes and dressed baby watercress, (£9.95) which was beautifully light and refreshing and went down very well with a glass of the house Prosecco (£7.50). It proved a popular choice, as two of our party of four chose the same, although it should be said that the menu isn’t vast, which is always a good sign. Diner number four opted for the duck liver and port parfait with spiced fruit bread, sloe gin chutney, dressed leaves and crisp onions (£9.50), which arrived artfully displayed on a rustic wooden chopping board. The starters were deceptively manageable, and failed to prepare us for the enormity of what was to come.
I ordered The Vurger (£12.50). Since the building has also had a previous incarnation as a church way back, I wasn’t sure whether this was an attempt at witty wordplay on the virtues of the church assistant, or just a portmanteau but, yes, it is indeed a vegan burger made with courgette, beans, spices, veggies and hot sauce on artisan vegan bread served with a mountain of sweet potato fries. Even I couldn’t eat them all and I invariably clean my plate, but I truly wished I could have done.
Two of our party chose the marinated halloumi (£18.50), which came with a bruschetta stuffed portobello mushroom, dressed watercress and crispy shallots, salsa verde and skinny fries (you could chose thick cut chips and bearnaise sauce instead). It tasted amazing, but was very heavy going and the amount of cheese was somewhat overwhelming.
Our rogue orderer opted for the lamb navarin (£16.75), served with celeriac mash, sauteed tenderstem and celeriac crisps, which was perfect comfort food on a chilly night but it was all too much and none of us had any room left for dessert, despite a great looking menu which included a deconstructed lemon meringue with passion fruit sorbet that I’m banking for next time. We were still the last to leave the restaurant, of course, and the poor staff were very gracious and patient with our gigglish behaviour.
OUT AND ABOUT
Buckingham Old Gaol Museum is a great family attraction in town, National Trust Stowe (above) is just a few minutes drive and The Silverstone Experience, quite a new interactive motorsports museum at Silverstone Circuit, is under ten minutes by car. National Trust Claydon is also well worth a visit, so there is plenty to entertain close by.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Meeting friends, romantic soirees, working lunches and family gatherings. Upstairs is a function room with space to accommodate around 50 guests.
Not for: The Garage is not particularly geared up for small kids and there’s no outside space.
The damage: Pretty reasonable, our bill came in at just under £200 for four of us, including wine and service. Cocktails are £8.50 and wine starts at around £25 a bottle.