Eight Belles (Bletchley, UK)

One of the items that had been on my “England To-do” list for several years is to actually visit Bletchley Park, and to be honest, The Imitation Game actually lit a fire under me to make it a priority this trip. So near the end of our visit, we took a day trip by train up to Bletchley, and had a thoroughly pleasant visit to Bletchley Park (which has been nicely refurbished in recent years after decades of mild neglect). If you at all like encryption and “spy stuff”, it’s quite a nice destination: Enigma machines, decryption “Bombes”, and the like.

And like just about any National Heritage site I’ve been to in England, there seem to be two rules about these sorts of places: they are expected to have some sort of cafeteria, and the cafeteria must serve up a particularly dismal rendition of traditional English fare. So after seeing a few tourists noshing on some limp fish and chips with questionable-looking mushy peas, we instead decided to walk back towards Bletchley, and around a half klick down the road, we came across the rather pleasant Eight Belles.

While a lot of British pubs seem to have fallen by the wayside, the Eight Belles is nicely maintained, reasonably popular (we arrived at 1300, well after the main lunch rush, but there was still a healthy assortment of patrons), and has a very pleasant set of publicans and waitstaff working the place. The beer list, while somewhat limited, was decent, with a handful of good Real Ales available as well.

While several items on the menu did sound attractive (I do have a weakness for a good Ploughman’s Lunch, for example), with a good selection of basic pub lunch fare, I ended up going for a simple roast beef sandwich with chips. And, in this case, I wasn’t disappointed: the resulting sandwich was served up with an ample layer of juicy, rare roast beef with a light schmear of mayonnaise and a hint of horseradish, and served with a good pile of crisp chips dusted with an herb mix. I’ll have to say, especially compared with the nearby cafeteria, this was a particularly pleasant lunch, especially for five quid. Add in a pleasant waiter who gave us a few other hints about the area, and I’d love to stop by and check out the dinner menu if I ever find myself up by Bletchley or Milton Keynes again.

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