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restaurant review

Food, Lifestyle

Restaurant Review – The Ivy Clifton Brasserie, Bristol

August 17, 2017

Situated on the corner of Caledonia Place in Clifton, The Ivy is a beautiful restaurant that’s been open for around a year round. Stu and I finally got round to going a couple of months ago and now I’ve finally got round to writing my review. We’d both heard good things about The Ivy but I still went in with an open mind because there’s nothing worse than somewhere not meeting your expectations and letting it ruin your night.

Spoiler alert: There was *nothing* to be disappointed about.

We were booked in for a Saturday night so expected it to be busy. It was, but in a good way. We were sat in the main seating area which will leave you wishing you lived somewhere with high ceilings and huge chandeliers. Being busy, there was a constant buzz about the place which always creates a good atmosphere in a restaurant. I hate places where you feel everyone is listening to your conversation and you have to whisper. It wasn’t so loud that we had to shout across the table at each other either so win-win.


Now, The Ivy is more expensive than your standard chain restaurant but this was a treat night for us so we decided to not worry about the price and just pick what we wanted. For me, this obviously meant starting with a cocktail! I had the Lavender Lady which was a pretty, gin based drink. 

Now, the food. Our server was really attentive and explained all the specials to us and made some recommendations which is always a good sign. I like it when someone clearly knows the menu rather than just reading off the whiteboard behind them.


I started with the Tuna Carpaccio and Stu had the Crispy Duck Salad. Both came out presented beautifully and the flavours lived up to expectation. My tuna was so fresh and the miso mayonnaise it came with was phenomenal. I do love miso though. Stu’s dish was just as good (obviously I tried some) and the crispy duck contrasted wonderfully with the watermelon.


I was really torn with what to choose for a main. There was lots of choice on the menu and it took me a while to decide. Quite often, one dish will jump out at me but so many options sounded great. I eventually went for the Aromatic Duck Curry because I was intrigued as to how duck would work in a curry. The menu described it as ‘fragrant’ and that sums it up perfectly. It smelt wonderful and all the flavours really complemented each other. Any curry that uses lemongrass will always be a winner with me. The curry was served separately to the rice and although the rice looked good wrapped up in a banana leaf, it made eating it slightly difficult. I didn’t know whether to dip my forkful of rice in to the curry or to add all the rice to bowl of curry in one go… Neither seemed ideal!


Stu had the Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder which came with creamed potato and vegetables. The lamb looked immense with a mustard and herb crust and Stu definitely enjoyed it. I didn’t try any unfortunately but we can trust his opinion!

We were both feeling pretty full by this point but there is always room for pudding. I could only manage something small and went for the Mini Chocolate Truffles. These came filled with salted caramel and were a perfect sweet treat to end the meal with. Stu had the Lemon Meringue Alaska. This was a baked meringue with lemon ice cream and was served on a lemon curd sauce. All sorts of deliciousness!



With a tip, our meal came to just over £100 which is more than what we’d usually spend but for a three course meal and drinks it was worth it. Sometimes it’s nice to really make an occasion of eating out and The Ivy in Clifton is perfect for those times. It’s so easy to grab a Nandos that it can be easily forgotten that eating out should be an event. So get dressed up and head to The Ivy, no excuses needed.

Europe, The Netherlands, Travel

The Restaurant in Amsterdam that you NEED to know about.

August 7, 2017

When you visit a new city it’s sometimes hard to know where to eat. Especially in a place like Amsterdam where all the streets look the same and it’s difficult to tell one pub from another. If you’re after somewhere a bit different outside of the main city then read on.

Introducing Plekk.


Plekk is a short ferry ride from Central Station in North Amsterdam. The ferry is free and only takes about 15 minutes. When you get across the water don’t be put off by your surroundings. It may seem a bit deserted but you’re only a 5 minute walk away from Plekk. You can’t miss it either as it’s built from colourful shipping containers.


So what’s so special about Plekk? Well, it’s right on the beach for one. You can sit inside but the best seats are the long benches outside. Expect to share with other people but this just adds to the friendly atmosphere of the place. Sit down and look across the water at Amsterdam. We went on our last night in Amsterdam so it was great to look at where we had spent a great few days with friends.


Food wise, everything looked good but we went for some tapas options. We pretty much went for one of everything from the menu and shared 7 dishes between four of us. It’s always difficult to know how much tapas to order but our waitress thought 7 would be enough and it was perfect for us.


Every dish looked and tasted amazing. We had olives, flat breads, chorizo, a cheese platter, padron peppers, boar croquettes and roasted mushrooms. The chorizo was all of our favourites and we managed to leave a piece each to finish with. Because your last mouthful has to be the best, right?


After eating, we took our drinks on to the beach and sat on one of the many huge cushions. The sun was just starting to set so it made for a great view. There was also a silent disco going on and they are always fun to watch. It was great just to chill out and enjoy a drink at the end of our holiday.


We decided to head back to central Amsterdam for some more drinks and managed to catch the ferry back during a fantastic sunset. I hadn’t heard of Plekk before but I’ll definitely be recommending it now to everyone visiting this beautiful city.

 

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

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

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.