Mother’s Day Treat – Afternoon Tea at Milliennium Hotel, Mayfair

15 Apr

I have eaten my fair share of Afternoon Tea’s over the last few years; some of them incredible and others totally forgettable. It baffles me how some establishments feel that they can serve below average food and charge extortionate amounts for what is essentially just a few slices of bread with minimal filling and unappetising cakes.

Not all of them are tarred with that brush though and one that I attended recently has shot to the top of my list. It was Mothering Sunday and me and my mum, who had come down to London to visit from Nottingham, joined me and a number of other bloggers and their mums for a luxurious afternoon tea at The Millennium Hotel in Mayfair.

After wrestling with what felt like the whole world on the walk from Oxford Street tube, we turned left and ventured our way down into Mayfair. The streets became wider, less busy, the cars more expensive and the atmosphere far more relaxed. To my knowledge, my mum hadn’t visited Mayfair before so I strolled her along a few of the impressive streets and across Grosvenor Square. We eventually ended up at the hotel for a prosecco reception and a tour of the hotel, which I really enjoyed, if only to catch a glimpse of the grand function room and amazing views of Grosvenor square from the bedrooms.

By the time we sat down to eat, we were starving and anticipation was high. My mum is one of the friendliest and most talkative people I know and she wasted no time getting to know our dining companions. After choosing our teas, we were served a range of crustless finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream, jam and a rather unconventional lemon curd, plus a range of cakes and pastries, including a fruit tart, a mini crème brulee and macarons, which all arrived on beautiful Wedgwood Wild Strawberry crockery. A lack of savoury food is a real bugbear of mine when it comes to afternoon tea and one of the best things was the fact that as soon as we had run out of sandwiches, a fresh plate was brought to the table. It took us a few plates to fill up before moving onto the sweet stuff but we made sure we left enough room!

After a couple of hours we were well and truly stuffed. I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon and my mum loved it even more – the company, the food, the hotel, the location. It couldn’t have been more perfect.

Full Afternoon Tea – £24.95 per person, based on a minimum of two people

Celebration Tea – £34.50 per person, based on a minimum of two people

Flesh & Buns, Covent Garden

7 Apr

In association with match.com

London is a great city for dating. I can guarantee that no matter how hard you try, you will never be stuck for an idea, particularly when it comes to dining out.

Personally I always prefer a casual dining experience when it comes to dating as I find stuffy service awkward at the best of times and I would say the best areas in London for this are Soho and Covent Garden, the Kings of casual dining.

My newest date spot is Flesh & Buns, which I visited last week with my mum. Yes, I know that it technically wasn’t a date, but the thought about it being a great date venue was in the back of my mind throughout the meal.

Flesh & Buns is the second restaurant by the guys behind Bone Daddies in Soho and is situated just off Covent Garden’s busy Neal Street. The basement restaurant screams cool from the minute you set eyes and ears on it as the unmistakable logo protrudes off the side of the building and music blares out of the speakers on the walk down the stairs.

Once inside the restaurant diners can choose between a booth, a round table, or a seat on the long bench, which sprawls across the length of the room, all of which offer a view of the impressive open plan kitchen and bar areas at opposite ends of the restaurant.

The menu is split into sections – raw and snacks, small dishes , flesh & buns and sides. We wanted to try as much as possible so ordered asparagus, broccoli with yuzu kosho mayo, soft shell crab, flat iron steak and enough buns for two. I was tempted by the lobster tempura special, but at £35 a portion, I thought better as I preferred to have more dishes to try. The broccoli and sashimi were the stand out dishes, the sashimi some of the freshest I have ever had the pleasure of tasting. The flat iron steak was tasty, but ever so slightly chewy, which made it hard to eat once inside the bun. We weren’t complaining, though, it just meant our buns were better eaten deconstructed.

As well as a pretty amazing food offering, Flesh & Buns serves a good range of drinks, including Japanese beer, sake, cocktails and for the none drinkers out there, some pretty delicious non alcoholic juices, in particular the ginger and honey nectar.

The restaurant is slightly on the pricey side compared to sister restaurant Bone Daddies, but for a hot date, Flesh & Buns is the way to go. Just go easy on the sake!

Flesh & Buns
41 Earlham St
London
WC2H 9LX

Flesh and Buns on Urbanspoon

Headmasters Blow Dry Review – 90′s Style

26 Mar

Hot… And Not Bothered, as it was affectionately known, was a Brit Pop, garage and cheesy pop fun filled extravaganza held at Biddle Bros in Clapton. It was my first 90′s club night, a resounding success and we’re looking forward to planning the next evening.

It wouldn’t have been a 90′s night without the fashion to go with it. My friends Lex and Olivia rocked the best 90′s looks and I wore a black mini dress but jazzed it up with a new ‘do’ by James at Headmasters in Mayfair, who refreshed the colour and gave me a 90′s inspired blow dry from the new blow dry menu.

Before:

I usually go for a polished blow dry with bouncy waves but considering I was hosting a 90′s night, James suggested we go for a crimped look. I agreed and he set to work. How did he do it? He rough dried my hair, separated it and plaited sections. He then got a pair of straighteners and straightened each plait a few times over. Following this, he took them out, roughed up the hair and rubbed product through it to smooth the frizz.

After:

My hair is a bit unruly and didn’t respond the same way as the model on the picture, but I was happy with the outcome. The colour was beautiful and my usually straight style had been transformed to resemble the 90′s popular ‘bed head’ style.

You can see the new Headmasters blow dry collection here.

Foodie Milan for The House of Peroni

11 Mar

A few weeks ago I was approached by The House of Peroni. They wanted to know if I was up for being sent to Milan to review a couple of restaurants for the magazine. What do you think my answer was? You guessed it, YES! So a couple of weeks ago, I packed a rucksack and headed on my merry way to one of the world’s most fashionable cities for a couple of nights.

I was in Milan to try U Barba for lunch and Cascina Cuccagna for dinner. But I knew my trip would not be complete without sampling the incredible aperitivo on offer, so I arranged to meet a friend of a friend on the Friday evening and trundled alongside the disused canal on Ripa di Porta to meet her at Rebelot for aperitivo, a gin based cocktail and to sample three dishes from the sharing menu.

The cosy and atmospheric restaurant, which shares a kitchen with Al Pont De Ferr, a Michelin starred restaurant a couple of doors down, was the perfect introduction to the Milanese food scene. Not only was the aperitivo offering of a plate of cured meats and grilled pardon peppers a delight, the three plates that we shared were beautifully presented and a total steal at 18Euros.

Everyone knows that I have a sweet tooth and a trip to another city wouldn’t be complete without snooting out the best bakery. So on the Saturday I edged my way through the hustle and bustle of paparazzi, Italian stars and Ferraris walking down Via Montenapoleone, Milan’s most fashionable street (it was fashion week when I was there, afterall) and paid Cova a visit. As soon as I entered, I could feel a wave of indecision come across me but, undeterred, I made a beeline for the pastry cabinet where I chose three small perfectly formed mini pastries, which were placed on a gold tray and wrapped up in the most elaborate fashion! As soon as I left, I found an empty bench and ate all three in quick succession. Delicious.

Sadly that was all I had time for but my fleeting visit has given me a taste for the Milanese way of life and I’m already looking forward to planning another trip.

My U Barba review will be live tomorrow on The House of Peroni website and keep your eye out for Cascina Cuccagna, which will go live next week!

Five Guys, Covent Garden

6 Mar

Us Brits love a queue. It’s just as well, as every good no bookings cheap eat restaurant seems to have one.

I am not a massive fan, though. I would rather not spend an hour of my life salivating and unable to concentrate on anything else other than getting inside and sliding my order in quick, sharp. Whenever I see a queue, I’ll recoil and either visit another day, or go back outside of peak hours.

I visited Five Guys a couple of weeks ago. I had seen the queue many times as I walked past but never plucked up the courage to join it. But I did and was prepared to let misery take control. I was pleasantly surprised, however, when after just five minutes, we were in. What I didn’t realise was there there is a huge seating area downstairs and it’s not exactly the kind of place you will sit and lounge around for hours, so I imagine the turnover is quite high.

The concept is simple – choose your burger (hamburger, cheese burger, bacon burger or bacon cheese burger) and choose as many toppings as you like. If you want all of them, your burger would be stacked HIGH. There are also hot dogs and sandwiches available, but most people around us seemed to be munching on burgers. There are two types of fries – cajun and Five Guys special fries, which are cooked in no cholesterol peanut oil, making them healthier than your regular fries. There are also 100 drinks flavours on offer from a self service machine and free refills. Bonus.

Our burgers arrived and they were massive. The large fries were served in a large drinks cup and overflowed into the brown paper bags that they were served in. Definitely American sized portions!

As well as thoroughly enjoying the burger and fries, I was particularly interested in the drinks machine. I tried a few flavours of coca cola and lemonade, which was a novelty and I felt like a child getting all excited about the huge variety of sugary drinks available.

I enjoyed Five Guys and liked to hear about the quality of the food and the fact that there are no freezers, so you know that you’re not eating anything that has been frozen.

Five Guys does what it says on the tin and I’d definitely return to get my burger fix.

Review: Microsoft Surface 2

16 Feb

I was about to embark on a trip to Melbourne when I got the memo that I was invited to join the Microsoft Loop membership program. As a bit of a tech lover (and, let’s face it, geek), I couldn’t take my mind off it all holiday. When I got to Melbourne, I saw my brother had the Surface 1 and asked him how he was getting on with it. He said he hated it. Not a good start. I had a little play and I couldn’t really see why. My brother (no offense, Matty boy) isn’t really the most tech savvy human being, though. He was, and still is, more into cars than the latest gadget. I, however, was in awe of technology from a young age. I blame my dad and his exciting stories. I’ll never forget being on a family holiday as a child and my dad predicting that one day I would be able to have a video call with my best friend. I was fascinated.

Fast forward a good few years and times have well and truly changed. Not only can I have a video call with my friend, I can speak to anyone I like virtually anywhere in the world. Technology has well and truly revolutionised the way we live. And I love it.

I arrived back from Australia in November and attended the #MSLoop event at the Microsoft Xbox house in Mayfair. I was there with a group of bloggers to pick up my Surface 2 and my Nokia Lumia 1020 (but more on the phone in a later post). We were given a demonstration, set up with our gadgets and then left to our own devices (sorry for the pun) to use them in any which way we wanted. I was extremely excited about the tablet in particular – my new toy.

What first struck me about the Surface 2 is that it is a good looking device. The screen is longer and thinner than the ipad I have been used to. It is also very sleek and looks beautiful with the purple cover that doubles up as a keyboard. This is one of my favourite things about the Surface. I am fully aware that other tablets also have attachable covers, but I haven’t come across any that are as beautiful or functional as this one. As I sit here now, I am typing just as fast, if not faster, than the keyboard I use every day at work.

I am not going to lie, it took me a while to figure this device out. I read a lot of angry reviews about the new Windows 8 operating system last year and I have come to realise why. It’s different. And people don’t like change. It takes a while to get used to anything new, me included, but once you do, it’s bliss. I have listed a few of the features that I love below:

* Switching between apps and dual windows. I can have two windows open next to each other side by side.

* Being able to touch the screen instead of using a mouse (although the cover does have a fully functioning touchpad mouse).

* The interface. The tiles update automatically and you can customise it however you like.

* The stand. There are two settings and it’s really easy to stand up anywhere.

* Microsoft Office. Just as you know it on a desktop computer. Amazing.

* USB port. If I had £1 for every time I wished my ipad had a USB port…

I’m sure there are lots of features that I haven’t uncovered yet. Truth be told, I have mostly used this little baby for typing and blogging. I have hardly used the camera or downloaded many apps, although I have noticed that the range isn’t as broad as Android or Apple. I have loved using my Surface 2 as a tablet (reading and purchasing books from the Kindle app) and as a laptop, creating Powerpoint and Word documents and saving them to Microsoft’s cloud service, Skydrive, so I can access them from anywhere.

Platterform’s Sea Adventure Series – Maiden Voyage

5 Feb

The tail end of last week was very manic indeed. I spent Thursday night trying out the newest nightspot in Hackney, Oslo, which was just named as a top London nightspot by Evening Standard. Friday night was spent trying to dance, but failing miserably because of the lack of melody, at Queen of Hoxton; and Saturday was spent eating and drinking bright cocktails at Platterform.

You may remember my review of Skylodge at Platterform, a Lumberjack themed bar/restaurant, which catered for Hackneyites in the colder winter months. This time, the same team is back, but with a new concept. Platterform’s Sea Adventures will run or 15 weeks with guest chefs taking up residency every 2-3 weeks. We were there to try Chapter 1, Maiden Voyage, which was a fun filled adventure, playing on the similarities between the British, Dutch and Scandinavian palate when it comes to enjoying seafood.

We shared the four course menu, which featured ‘CUPPA SEA & BISCUITS’ – smoked haddock chowder in a mug served with dunkin’ ship’s biscuits, ‘THE PLANK’ – honey pickled salmon, beetroot salad, gherkins, plank of rye, ‘LEKKERBEK’ Dutch style fish ‘n’ chips served with remoulade sauce and ‘KEY LIMEY PIE’.

We also tried a few of the cocktails on offer, which included the impressive bright blue Black Pearl Margarita, which is worth going back for alone. What else is worth going back for is the guys that run it – three chappies that look as though they are thoroughly enjoying themselves.

The next chapter starts on 13th February, when Dave Yorkston of Yorkston Smoke House will be on deck serving his artisinal smoked fish delicacies.

Four course seafood experience with an after dinner drink for £30.

274 Richmond Road, London, E8 3QW

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,599 other followers

%d bloggers like this: