Dining out in a pandemic: What is the new normal?

Celebrate:MK editor Jon Boyle has been getting out and about to sample several local restaurants since lockdown restrictions were eased in July. But with rules on one-metre social distancing between tables, PPE and hygiene, what is the new normal for our local pubs and restaurants? Jon explains in this diary piece how the ‘new normal’ varies in each individual venue.

Our local pubs and restaurants are back open, and they need our business more than ever if we want them to survive into 2021.

With this in mind, plus the fact that I feel like an escaped prisoner who has received a new lease of life after three months in lockdown, I have been only too happy to oblige.

But I fully appreciate that many people are not quite yet ready to eat out in public places as Covid-19 doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon – if ever.

So I thought it might be useful to share my personal experiences of the local pubs and restaurants that I have frequented for meals out since July 4th, and what the ‘new normal’ actually looks like…

ENFES TURKISH RESTAURANT

I booked a table on July 4th for the opening night of this stunning new Turkish restaurant at MK1 – owned by some of the guys who launched Deroka in The Hub – and I’m glad this was my first taste of dining out after lockdown as the whole experience was fantastic.

We sanitised our hands and had our temperatures taken on arrival, then we read the digital menu by scanning the QR code (above) on my mobile phone camera.

The rest of the meal felt very normal as the waiting staff did not wear masks, and my mixed shish kebab was incredible. If you like Turkish
food, you’ll love this place.

THE THREE LOCKS

I enjoyed a lovely fillet steak lunch at the classy Stoke Hammond pub, which has installed see-through dividers between each table. I actually liked the added privacy!

BREWDOG MILTON KEYNES

BrewDog has the most strict new regulations out of all the places I visited, with all staff wearing masks and gloves. But I survived my operation with Dr Jason and then enjoyed my beer and wings.

THE LAKESIDE PUB & GRILL

Pub lunches are back at Willen Lake! But like everywhere, you first have to give your name and info for Track and Trace reasons.

THE SWAN INN, MK VILLAGE

My friend Dave has just taken over as GM and he’s off to a flying start. The tables are set well apart and my meal was ace.

THE BETSEY WYNNE

A delicious pork belly Sunday roast in a huge, naturally social distanced beer garden in the sun in Swanbourne. Heaven.

THE BROUGHTON

Like every other venue I visited apart from BrewDog, the waiting staff were not wearing masks, and my boozy al fresco lunch was a joy. We didn’t even need to enter the pub as we ordered our food and drink via the Greene King app, inputting our table number. If you like Punk IPA, you’ll love an ice-cold pint of Ice Breaker too.

Would you like Jon to come and review your restaurant? Email jon@celebratemk.co.uk or call him on 07928 027444.

This feature was published in the August 2020 issue of Celebrate:MK lifestyle magazine. Read the full magazine above or by clicking on this link.

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