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Food, Lifestyle

Restaurant Review – Backwell House, Bristol

June 29, 2017

Just a few miles from the busy city centre of Bristol sits the beautiful Backwell House and I was lucky enough to visit and try out their new menu on a stunning weekday evening a couple of weeks ago.

It’s hard to put in to words just how picturesque Backwell House and surrounding grounds are but if you take a look at the pictures below, you’ll get a pretty good idea.



We were greeted with drinks by the entrance before being given a tour of the House and gardens by Guy, the Managing Director of the Hotel and Restaurant. I would usually summarise the tour in the same post as the restaurant review but that wouldn’t do this place justice so I’m going to write another post at a later date to showcase all the quirky details and the wonderful gardens.


After the tour, we were seated in this huge dining room reserved just for the Bristol bloggers group and we each had a goody bag filled with gifts from Backwell House and local suppliers which was a lovely touch. Before long our Starters were being brought out and I’m the worst for getting food envy so even though my dish looked great, I also wanted to try everyone else’s as well! I started with the Pressed Backwell Pork with New Season Peas, Pancetta and a Tarragon Emulsion (this sounds better if you read it in your best Masterchef voice). The crackling was a bit awkward to eat politely so not a great option for a first date. I ended up picking mine up and just going for the chomp! The rest of the dish was really tasty and set the tone for the rest of the meal.


Next up was the Cornish Cod with a Brixham Crab Bonbon, Crab Bisque, Kohlrabi and Pak Choi. I’m not usually one to pick fish but I thought I’d give it a go and definitely wasn’t disappointed. The whole dish tasted really fresh and no flavours were too overpowering. I was sat next to Rebecca who had the sirloin steak which looked immense so I couldn’t resist taking a few pictures.



Now for dessert I had to choose the strawberry cannelloni just because I was so intrigued. I had no idea what to expect but it was a nice refreshing end to the meal. The cannelloni was served with cute little meringues and some Cheddar Valley strawberries.


The atmosphere of the evening was great, everyone was chatting between courses and hearing stories of Backwell House from the staff. The chef, Ross Hunter, came out to see us afterwards for a little Q&A session and he was so modest! I told him to get on Masterchef: The Professionals! It was good to hear that all the food was sourced locally, including some from the very gardens of the house.

Our hosts for the evening, Guy and Felicity, were ridiculously accommodating and couldn’t do enough to make sure everyone was having a good time. I’ve been to a few blogger evenings now and this was one of the best. You can tell how much Guy loves Backwell House or ‘his baby’ as he calls it and I’m sure every visitor will leave just as happy as I did. Just go!


I received a complimentary meal at Backwell House but all views are my own. 

Food, Lifestyle

Restaurant Review – The Square Kitchen, Bristol.

May 20, 2017

Last month I was invited to try out the new Spring menu at The Square Kitchen in Clifton along with a few other local bloggers. I love eating out so I was excited to try somewhere new. Bristol is full of so many hidden gems when it comes to restaurants and for someone who has lived in Bristol their entire life, I feel bad that there are so many places I’ve never visited!


The Square Kitchen is situated in The Berkeley Square Hotel off Queens Square.  It’s a private members club aimed at the creative industry but luckily members of the public can also visit.


It was cocktails on arrival for the bloggers and I was glad to see a good selection of mocktails as I was driving. Cocktails and bloggers meant an awful lot of photos had to be taken before we could drink. Did you even have a cocktail if you didn’t take a picture of it?


Before we sat down to eat, Heather let us have a nosy around her room as she was staying in the hotel for the night. The room was absolutely perfect for a short stay and I’m pretty sure I could actually live there haha! There was a definite Alice in Wonderland theme going on in her room as you can see from the pictures below. They know how to make food and drink look appealing! Also – how cute is the kitchen area?!


After a quick visit to Heather’s room, it was time to sit down to eat. The quirky interior theme continued to the restaurant with beautiful art work and low hanging lights which look good but did nothing for the pictures I took of my food!


We started with ham hock and piccalilli appetisers before our Starters came out. These were completely unexpected so felt like a real treat. I felt like I was a judge on Masterchef as the presentation was so pretty – a definite theme to the whole meal!


I decided to be brave with my choice of Starter and went for the seared scallops with serrano ham chips, a clam salad and caviar. This looked really delicate and came with some lemon spherification which is something I only know about from watching posh chefs on TV! I enjoyed the starter, especially the scallops because they’re such a rare treat.


For my main I chose the herb and parmesan gnocchi which was served with butternut fondant and a parmesan tuille. The gnocchi was beautifully rich and the butternut fondant was so smooth it was almost creamy. I wished there was more of this dish it was so tasty.


I finished with the chocolate bomb which was an event in itself. A filled chocolate sphere is brought to your table and then the waiter pours hot salted caramel sauce over the chocolate causing it to collapse and exposing the filling inside. Mine was filled with peanut butter parfait and a banana mousse. What’s not to love?


The whole menu was reasonably priced for the quality of the food, it’s definitely somewhere you should consider for a nice meal out without a stuffy atmosphere.


Food, Lifestyle

Beauty & The Beast Afternoon Tea at Old Down Estate

April 29, 2017

Before I start this post, I have a teeny tiny confession to make.

I still haven’t watched the new Beauty & The Beast in the cinema.

I know, I know, I’m such a bad Disney fan. I don’t even have a good excuse, as always, life has been busy and time has just flown by. I promise I’ll see it soon though. Or maybe just wait for the DVD…

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I got to experience a Beauty & The Beast themed afternoon tea with a couple of friends at the beautiful Old Down Estate. Disney and afternoon tea? What could be better!


It was a beautiful afternoon when we visited so the grounds looked wonderful. You can get married at Old Down Estate and if you were lucky with the weather, you’d get some beautiful photos. Inside was just as pretty and we were quickly shown in to a holding area before our table was ready.


The Beauty & The Beast soundtrack was played quietly in the background to get us in the Disney mood (as if we weren’t already!) and before long we were shown to our table.


Each table had a replica enchanted rose and little figurines of characters from the film. The whole room was overly excited and everyone was taking lots of pictures of their tables. Mrs Potts as the milk jug was a firm favourite of mine. I actually ended up with a really milky tea as I was recording myself pouring the milk and trying to get that elusive perfect Boomerang for Instagram!


There were even more pictures as our afternoon tea came out to us. Alongside the usual sandwiches and scones, the macaroons were sitting inside a Chip mug and we had a chocolate cake shaped to look like Cogsworth. Everything looked really pretty and it’s always a shame to eat it.


I’m actually a bit weird and don’t like many desserts so I was happy with the sandwiches and scones but didn’t like many of the other treats – too much coconut and mousse for my liking. If I’m being honest, I’ve had better afternoon teas but the the Beauty & The Beast theme made this a special occasion.


As we were finishing off our food, a lady dressed as Belle came in to the room. Unfortunately there were only a couple of children in our sitting so Belle had to make awkward small talk with a lot of bemused adults. We still had a picture with her though! Belle then started to sing along with the sound track which again would have gone down better if there were more children to join in.

I liked Old Down Estate and I’d definitely like to see a wedding there, just got to bully one of my friends in to choosing it for their venue!

Food, Lifestyle

Restaurant Review – Jamie’s Italian, Bristol

April 3, 2017

Last Friday, the sun was shining and I managed to finish work at 3pm. Stu had had the whole day off so I quickly got changed and then we headed in to Bristol for our meal at Jamie’s Italian on Park Street. I’ve been to this Jamie’s Italian before and one in Bath but not for a few years so I was really looking forward to visiting again.

Jamie's Italian Bristol Super Lunch Menu
We were sat in one of the American Diner style booths next to the window and with the sun coming in, I genuinely felt like I was on holiday. And I think that’s probably one of the best feelings there is. In keeping with the holiday spirit, I ordered a mojito and Stu got a beer.

Jamie's Italian Bristol cocktails
As it was still early, we could order from the Super Lunch menu which is only £13.95 for three courses! We both love food as much as we love a bargain so both went for choices on this menu.  Although it’s a set menu there’s still a decent amount of options. Stu chose the truffle tagliatelle to start and I got the tomato bruschetta knowing full well that I would be trying Stu’s at the first chance possible.

Jamie's Italian Bristol Tomato Bruschetta

Jamie's Italian Bristol Starters
Both starters were delicious. Mine was really fresh and perfect for Spring. Stu’s was a lot richer but really comforting. You can’t beat a simple pasta dish and this was amazing.

For the main event, I went for Gennaro’s Chicken Club (Gennaro is one of the Greedy Italians – great duo!) with spicy fries and Stu had the Italian Steak and Fries. Both portions were a good size and we commented that it’s really good value for a lunch menu. The spicy ‘nduja mayo on my main was a real highlight for me, especially with my fries!

Jamie's Italian Bristol Italian Steak and Fries
Jamie's Italian Bristol Chicken Club
We’re both pretty full by this point but there is always room for dessert in my eyes. With no cheesecake in sight, I was forced to choose the Epic Brownie. And let’s be honest, it was an easy decision because it was truly epic. Just look at it. LOOK AT IT.

Jamie's Italian Bristol Epic Brownie
Whoever came up with the idea of putting popcorn with a brownie needs to be knighted. They are a genius. This was the perfect way to round off the meal and I’m definitely going to try and recreate the epic brownie at home.

A special mention has to go to the staff at Jamie’s Italian in Bristol. They’re all really helpful and can give you lots of information about the dishes. Thank you for making us feel special!

Have you visited a Jamie’s Italian? What did you think?

I was invited by Jamie’s Italian to review the restaurant but all views and brownie loving are entirely by own. 

Food, Lifestyle

Brunching in Bristol with Cox and Baloney

March 16, 2017

Bristol is into Brunch. We’ve got bottomless brunch, boozy brunch and budget brunch options galore.

Along with a few other Bristol Bloggers, I was recently invited to Cox and Baloney in Stokes Croft to sample their new brunch menu. Obviously I jumped at the chance and had the best Sunday morning ever drinking copious amounts of tea and eating some wonderful food.

Shamefully, I hadn’t heard of Cox and Baloney before but this one visit has cemented itself in my top brunch locations in Bristol. The interior is BEAUTIFUL. The owners must have had so much fun shopping for all the vintage teapots and accessories. They even had a cuckoo clock which actually worked! I fell in love with the gold wall and am pretty tempted to rethink some of my ideas for my house now.

Before I talk about the delicious food that we were served, a special mention has to go to the tea. Cox and Baloney make their own tea bags so they have an amazing selection of brews including a prosecco tea (definitely designed with me in mind!). Each time a tea pot came out we were told how long we should allow it to brew for and given a little sand timer to keep track. It was little touches like this that made the whole experience at Cox and Baloney so special.

Now, THE FOOD.

Whether you’re into your porridge or your pancakes, Cox and Baloney have you covered. Every dish was presented beautifully and tasted just as good as they looked. They even challenged my view on tofu by serving us scrambled tofu on toast. This sounded so weird to me and looked like a slightly more green scrambled eggs when it came out. I was a bit hesitant but pleasantly surprised when I tasted it. It was incredible! Who knew?! The chef wouldn’t tell us how to make it (who can blame her?) so I’ll have to visit again to get my scrambled tofu fix. Now, that’s a sentence I never thought I would write…

My favourite dish was probably the pancakes which come served with seasonal toppings. I love a fluffy pancake and these came close to being as good as Stu’s homemade ones. Obviously the brunch menu also includes crushed avocado and poached egg on toast because what’s the point in having  brunch if you can’t take a video of the perfect runny egg?

I left Cox and Baloney feeling very full of tea and food but had the best morning with some fellow bloggers. If you’re ever in the mood for brunch (and when would you not be?) and in the Bristol area, I definitely recommend checking out Cox and Baloney. I’m sure I’ll be a regular now!

Food, Lifestyle

Restaurant Review – Miller & Carter, Cribbs Causeway

February 4, 2017

You may have heard of Miller & Carter, it’s a nationwide chain with a good reputation. When Stu and I heard that a new branch had opened in Cribbs Causeway we couldn’t wait to try it out. We decided to visit to help celebrate our 7 year anniversary last month. Not that we needed an excuse!

The Cribbs branch is in a building that used to be a Harvester and it turns out Miller & Carter and Harvester are from the same parent company. I don’t mind Harvester (got to love the unlimited salad bowl!) but Miller & Carter is much more up my street.


Our visit fell in Dry January which I decided to do this year so I was pleased to see that their were some ‘softails’ on the menu. I had the Minted Cranberry Spritz which was a light and refreshing contrast to the rich food we were eating. I’m a nightmare for choosing a drink based on the glass it comes in and the Miller & Carter menu has that handy silhouette next to each drink so you know what your drink is going to look like. Stu also likes this so he doesn’t end up with a ‘girly drink’.


To start, I had the salt and pepper calamari which came with lemon aioli and I think Stu had the pulled brisket croquettes but I can’t actually remember haha! This is why I should take photos of what we both eat!


Being a steak restaurant, there’s not much point in going to Miller & Carter unless you’re a fan of meat. There are other options on the menu but if you’re visiting a really good steak restaurant, you should be having what they specialise in. Stu and I decided to go for one of the sharer steaks, the Chateaubriand. It was heaven on a plate. Just, beautiful.

If you’re not a fan of meat then I recommend you look away from these next few photos…


How nice is the presentation?

With each steak you get to choose which sauce you have and also which sauce you have on your lettuce wedge. Yes, a lettuce wedge. Literally, a wedge of lettuce comes with your steak. I’m sure this is some well known combination but to me it was totally random but actually quite nice to have in between all the rich, heavy food. If you have a sharer steak like we did, you still get to choose a sauce each rather than having to share.

To finish, I had the cheesecake (obviously) and Stu had a coffee with a mini chocolate pot. I was really full but I can never resist a cheesecake. It’s nice to make the evening last a bit longer as well.


We both had a really nice evening at Miller & Carter and I’ll definitely return. The cocktails are calling my name!

Have you been to a Miller & Carter near you?

Food, Lifestyle

Restaurant Review – The Hankridge Arms, Taunton

January 22, 2017

Earlier in the month, I ate at The Hankridge Arms in Taunton for a belated Christmas get together with family. We chose The Hankridge Arms because it’s a good meeting point between my home in Bristol, and Torquay where my Dad lives. According to their website, The Hankridge Arms is “Taunton’s best kept secret”. I guess this is because you don’t expect to find a country pub minutes from the M5 and next to a retail park. Although the pub looks a little out of place, it doesn’t disappoint once inside.


The Hankridge Arms was originally a 16th Century farmhouse and has retained a lot of the original features. Expect oak beams, low ceilings and huge fireplaces. Anywhere that has an open fire is a winner with me so I was so pleased to be sat on a table next to fire. The whole feel of the pub is cosy and traditional so you would probably expect classic English pub food but the menu was actually very modern.


I always suffer from food envy in restaurants and find it difficult to pick something on a menu. I want to have the best option available and like to get lots of food so always check out what comes with a meal. The curry came with naan bread and poppadoms so it was a no brainer for me!



All the meals were beautifully presented so although I was happy with my food, I will still jealous of  everyone else. I also like when restaurants serve food in quirky ways, even if it isn’t actually very practical. For example, the brownie came with a chocolate mousse/sauce concoction served in a mini bottle and it was slightly too thick to just flow out and we didn’t have a small enough spoon to help it out. But it looked good so who cares haha!

We all enjoyed our time in Taunton and I would definitely recommend The Hankridge Arms for a good family meal. Sitting in front of the fire is perfect on a cold day and we could have spent hours there.

Food, Lifestyle

Recipe – Peanut Butter Baked Cheesecake

December 7, 2016

I made a baked cheesecake!! And it tasted amazing!


I am the world’s biggest cheesecake fan. I could eat it all day every day and still want more. When we eat out, I always sneak a peak at the dessert menu first to see if there’s any cheesecake on offer as it will affect my meal choice.

Anyway, back to the recipe for this Peanut Butter Baked Cheesecake. A baked cheesecake may seem like a but of a faff but trust me, it’s really easy to make and is worth the extra time.

Ingredients

For the base

150g (One packet) of Oreo Cookies

50g Salted Pretzels

1 tablespoon of cocoa powder (I used Hot Chocolate powder, same thing right?!)

50g unsalted butter (melted)

Vegetable oil to grease the base of your cake tin

For the filling

500g full-fat cream cheese

200ml double cream, whipped to soft peaks

100g light brown soft sugar

300g crunchy peanut butter (or smooth if you’re weird like that)

2 large free-range eggs, plus 1 large egg yolk

For the topping

50g dark chocolate

Mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

Utensils Needed

An oven (obviously) pre-heated to 150°C

A 20cm loose bottom deep cake tin

Whisk

Wooden Spoon

Mixing Bowls

 

Method

  1.  For the base, bash your cookies, pretzels and cocoa powder until they form fine crumbs. This will be much quicker in a blender but is a great stress reliever with a wooden spoon! Next, add in the melted butter mix together. Press the mixture over the oiled base of your cake tin and put in the fridge to chill.
  2. For the filling, in a large bowl  beat the cream cheese, double cream and sugar briefly until smooth, then beat through the peanut butter and finally the eggs until the mixture is smooth. Don’t over-beat or you’ll lose the texture. Spoon onto the chilled base, then bake on the middle shelf of the oven. TOP TIP – Put a pan of boiling water in the bottom of the oven to keep your cake moist. 
  3. Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes or until set but still with a slightly wobbly middle. Allow to cool in the oven to avoid cracks in your beautiful cheesecake! After cooling, remove from the oven, then carefully run a knife around the top edge. Chill overnight in the fridge.
  4. Just before you’re ready to serve, remove the cheesecake from the tin. Melt the dark chocolate in a bowl in the microwave on a low setting then, when runny, drizzle all over the top of the cheesecake in a squiggle pattern. Scatter the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups over the top while the chocolate is still soft.
  5. Take a picture to show everyone that you’re basically Mary Berry and then scoff yourself silly with cheesecake.