Thursday, 24 March 2016

Urban Grilla - Milton Keynes

Passion. What is it? Have you got it? How do you get it? Do you even want it? I would like to think that, unless you are unfortunate to be on significant amounts of medication, everyone is passionate about something, although the opposite is also true that some misguided souls ratchet their passion levels to DEFCON 1. However, I firmly stand by the opinion that any form of extreme view is probably as unhealthy for you as it is for the unfortunate people who find themselves talking to you about the acceptable colour of wild duck eggs, why pencils are a health risk or the fact that it's perfectly fine to give kids an assault rife for Christmas. And I bet you thought Trump was the crazy one, right?

Milton Keynes is not somewhere famed for it's passion or zeal. It doesn't have the history and gravitas of London, Manchester or Edinburgh. What it does have though is a lot of people and people (in general) are amazing. We invent things, change things, challenge and develop things and so long as we don't fall into the trap as described above, this is an amazing and beautiful experience in life. One idea can change how we see the world and open up so many other opportunities we hadn't ever considered before. That's what I love about this place; the sheer weight of people here is starting to force creative entrepreneurism just as it did for all those industrial hubs before it and that is absolutely what I love about Urban Grilla.

Created by Gordon and Zena, a couple who are passionate in every sense of the word and in every aspect of their lives thanks to some significant Greek Cypriot heritage, Urban Grilla is a takeaway BBQ smokehouse that really lives up to it's name. There is BBQ, there is (a lot of) smoke and it's in their house. Their actual house. That they live in. That's bloody genius, that is.  Because, as the Council are pushing for higher rents, massive commitment and more red tape, people are finding new ways to get their talents and products out there. Needless to say that once I had the opportunity, I went round for some meat and a chat.

They are both properly dedicated to developing and uncovering the food talent in Milton Keynes and inbetween catering for weddings and birthdays, they run the Urban Grilla as a takeaway. Now, you know you're in for something special when you turn up and are asked to knock on the window to gain entry.

Once inside, we spoke about food, law and order, education, the Council and more food. Gordon and Zena share as many culinary views as Mrs P and I and you can always tell you're in good company when you end up talking about stuff you never expected to and have to arrange another date for lunch to cover all the stuff you didn't get to talk about. All of us waxed lyrical about the importance of recognising and supporting good cuisine and those who provide us with that. The rise of good local food here in MK is certainly gaining traction and if, like G and Z (see, we're friends already), you don't manage to get out as much as you would like then you want it to be worth the effort when you do. There are too many comestible sink holes of horror and barely edible black holes of culinary despair for anyone to risk trying anything new, and that, dear readers, we all can agree is a disaster. 

So, quite apart from understanding quite how dedicated, genuine and generous people Urban Grilla are, we should also talk about what they have to offer. The menu is limited but well organised and features the favourites as well as something different with some pulled lamb, sweet potato wedges and a whole spatchcock chicken available for your consideration. Mrs P and I had the pulled lamb, pulled pork and chicken sandwiches with a side of coleslaw which served us perfectly well and we weren't overly stuffed.

Immediately I liked the fact that the sauce came on the side, plus the fact it was bloody good sauce. Too often, BBQ sauce drenches the whole meal which a) makes it impossible to eat and b) hides the fact that the meat is too dry. The chicken wrap was good and succulent with enough filling to keep us from going hungry. The pork was massively deep and smokey, too smokey for Mrs P in fact but it took me straight back to Memphis with it's uncompromising declaration of intent. For my personal taste I would want more balance between the smokey and sweet, with a rub that brought a bit more to the party. But then considering the general lack of rub in British BBQ at the moment, I accept that I seem to be in a majority of one on that. The lamb was Mrs P's favourite and was certainly a really nice point of difference. Distinctive and full of savoury lamb-ification I know that Gordon uses is own blend of spices to whack up the seasoning and that really comes through. You'll never be able separate the individual flavours while you eat it but you don't need to, just relax into the enjoyment that someone has done all that work for you.

I know I've gone on before about authenticity and if you are ever in any doubt about what it looks like then here it is. I implore you to order, go and meet these people who are so dedicated to putting out something that they are proud of that they invite you into their own home to serve you. It's real, it's genuine and it's delicious. I can't give you a better recommendation than that.


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