I’ve been to the Akeman restaurant in Tring a number of times over the years and have driven past The Akeman Inn in Kingswood several times, always meaning to stop by for some food but never having the time until now. So on a sunny afternoon after finishing a spot of shopping at Bicester village we decided to catch some lunch and had high hopes for the reputable Akeman brand.
As we hadn’t booked a table we first took a seat at the bar where we were advised there would be a fifteen-minute wait for a table with it being their busiest time which was totally understandable. Seeing as neither of us were drinking we decided to have a mocktail, a non-alcoholic cocktail, for which I asked the bartender what he would recommend. He came up with an elderflower mojito which was absolutely out of this world and tasted just like tutti-fruitties from my childhood, served over crushed ice with mint, it had me licking my lips long after I’d drained my glass. I love traditional mojitos and have tried raspberry a few times which was pretty fruity, but elderflower takes it to an entirely new level and I’m now a fan for life; so quirky and refreshing on a glorious summer afternoon.
Shortly after we were shown to our table in a quaint little cubby-hole beside rugged exposed beams and floral wallpaper. The menu provided many vegetarian options but nothing marked specifically as vegan which is pretty standard when eating out as it’s quite a niche dietary requirement. For my starter I was tied between having the soup of the day or sharing the Focaccia Al Aglio, and after some persuasion from my fellow diner to share the bread I all too easily gave in to having carbs. The Focaccia Al Aglio bread for £4.95 comes dressed with garlic oil, rosemary and Maldon sea salt and fills the entire plate just like a pizza. It was light and fluffy, plumped up and sumptuous with a delicious crispy top that crackled when you bite into it to give way to a tantalising savoury, salty garlic kick. I’m still drooling now.
I then had every intention to follow this with a superfood quinoa salad to be healthy, but once I had a taste of the bread I was like a woman possessed by cravings and threw caution to the wind and went for the vegetarian Verde Pizza option for £8.75. The pizza came on a deliciously fluffy thin base but this time topped with fresh asparagus spears, sliced courgette, pumpkin seed pesto, spinach and ricotta. I used to love ricotta cheese with spinach when I was vegetarian, but as I’ve converted to vegan I asked them to remove the cheese which the chef happily accommodated. I’d say that literally every mouthful I ohh’d and ahh’d over the taste and texture which I could have happily eaten ten times over if only my stomach had enough room. There’s something so moreish and comforting about pizza and seeing as we were out for dinner I conveniently overlooked the calories and carbs and sunk my teeth into some seriously delicious nosh.
The courgette was juicy and vibrant, the asparagus beautifully green and earthy and the spinach wilted smoothly. Despite being incredibly filling I somehow managed to find space for the Fresh Fruit Plate costing £5.45 which comes with pineapple, British strawberries, honeydew melon, grapes and a choice of chocolate or strawberry coulis dip for which I chose the strawberry. The plate was very generously sized and the fruit beautifully fresh, succulent and colourful, a real feast for the senses. It’s the first time that I’ve had hot pineapple as it had been chargrilled and it added a wonderful new dimension to the dessert, intensifying the fruit. The cool honeydew melon was refreshingly sweet and packed with juice and the strawberries and grapes were perfect for dipping in the sticky coulis. I struggled to finish the entire plate, not for want of trying but because I’d already eaten so much, so it became a great share plate for us both as the fruit could have easily have been a meal on its own. My meal at The Akeman Inn was delicious, wholesome and vibrant in a wonderfully characteristic restaurant perfect for whiling away an afternoon, taking the family for a special occasion or having a romantic evening meal.