Milton Keynes - The Hub - Ryan Review
This Nando's is located in "The Hub" complex in the centre of Milton Keynes, which means Milton Keynes Central train station is just under one mile away, so an easy 15 minute walk - and it is also well sign-posted by car.
Within The Hub complex there are really just bars and restaurants (I'm guessing that's why it's called the (social) hub!), but there is also a Bannatyne's gym. As this is within the centre, it does mean the Xscape complex is only a quarter mile walk away where there is a Hollywood Bowl (opening October 2013) and a Cineworld, along with many other eateries (Ask, La Tasca, KFC etc) and clothing shops (Trespass, O'Neill, Quiksilver etc). There's also a SnoZone, Airkix and rock climbing and a few late night bars (such as SnoBar and Revolution). There's a further Odeon cinema a couple minutes walk from The Hub and a Tenpin bowling alley by the train station.
There is plenty of reasonably priced parking throughout Milton Keynes - but the rates do vary between car parks. The parking at The Hub is split into two (well sign-posted) sections: Premium and Standard. Premium is £1.20/hr as this is right by the sqaure/restaurant entrance. The Standard parking area is all the way to the end (left) when you enter the parking section and is only 30p/hr standard - and, for the sake of an extra minute walk, you can save some money. Both sections charge from 7am-6pm Mon-Sun. On this occasion however, the parking in both sections was free on a bank holiday!
This restaurant is a very modern looking and open. As you enter there are four tables/chair sets to your right and past these are four tables in the first outside seating section. To your left and also as you follow the separating wall round (past the tills that are in front of you) there are another 20 or so table/chair sets and then a further 10 tables outside in the second outdoor seating area.
If you keep following the walkway past the tills/cutlery/drinks machine round to the right, there are then a couple booths in a lowered section. Keep following the walkway down the steps to get to the toilets, which are separate rooms with their own basin/handdryer etc - two marked for men and two for women.
The restaurant is generally very spacious and if separated, there is room for over 50 tables. The decor is also very nice. Metallic light shades of all shapes and sizes - suspended on long (12 ft) rods from the decorated ceiling. Also, something that is a bit different, there are 8 or 9 coloured mosaic boxes on the wall above the till point - getting smaller in size as the wall bends rounds.
Toilets were also nicely decorated, with the walls being tiled with blue and gold tiles. Overall, very nice - but would be better with a bit more colour in the branch I think - still a 4 overall though.
The restauarnt was half full, so I had a free table by the door and went to get a drink of water. I'd just run the MK Marathon and was feeling pretty dehydrated so was gulping the water down... I also had a couple members of staff come over and ask if everything was okay as they could probably see the buckets of sweat literally pouring off my face. Well no, I felt dreadful so went to the toilets to take care of it. I was gone for probably 10 minutes and in that time the restaurant had filled to capacity and was completely chocked full of parents and their kids. I cannot believe none of the staff cracked as they must have been at the end of their tether. There were dozens of kids shouting, screaming, crying and stomping. Here are just a few examples of conversations:
1. "I've told you all 20 times now... If you don't be quiet, you're not getting any cake. Right, that's it - no cake for any of you.... Oh excuse me, can we have three cakes please?" Well done, that'll teach 'em.
2. "Thomas, I've asked you several times now, can you stop jumping on the furniture please - you've just knocked this man's drink over." Well, how's about you go get some paper towels yourself, mop it up and get that man a refill and then give your kid a smack.
3. "Erm, excuse me, your kid has just thrown his crayon into my chicken". "James, you've dropped your crayon." A few moments pass. "Actually, he didn't drop it, he threw it and it landed in my chicken and I just passed it back to you without a sorry or thank you from you." "Well it's okay he doesn't want it anymore." "Oh that's okay then. Let's everybody start throwing crayons into everyone else's food. But hey, it's okay as we don't want them anymore." "What's your f****** problem?" "Well it's great you can swear infront of your three kids, but I'm afraid if you can't actually see what my problem was, there's no hope for you or your kids." Luckily for me, this happened on the tables next to me so I got a front-row view.
Anyway, I went back to the toilet to cool down again and by the time I came out, the lovable rogues next to me had gone - at which point I felt good enough to go and order my food and it took 8 minutes to come.
In those 8 minutes, my appetite kicked in and I'm glad it did as the food was delicious! It was very close to being the biggest portion of (half) chicken I've ever had and it was cooked to perfection. It was smothered with marinade, hot and very moist on the inside and the skin was charred just enough on the oustide. The rice was in abundance and very hot and moist - and the chips were piled just as high and were hot and crispy. I may have been looking at this through rose-tinted glasses as I was in need of some fuel, but ohhhhh yes, this was truly sumptuous!