Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Brunching with Gusto

Brunching with gusto
Gusto York brunch

The brunch market is pretty extensive right now as let’s be honest, going for brunch is way better than going out for dinner, but Gusto has just levelled up the pre-lunch dining offering in York. Most people don’t know that Gusto have a brunch menu and it’s an absolute hidden gem, in particular in such a beautiful city in a restaurant just a stone’s throw from the Minster. I was invited down to review their menu and I took my mum along with me.

Gusto York brunch

The menu covers off all of your brunch basics but I decided to go for pancakes as wanted to go for something different – usually I’m a savoury gal at breakfast time. The dish included three pancakes with Greek yoghurt and fresh berries and was absolutely delicious. I’m absolutely rubbish at making pancakes myself (mainly as my last attempt included trying to cook them in a wok...) so having them when I’m out feels like a treat – clearly I’m fairly easy to please!

Gusto York brunch

Mum went for a full English and I must admit, the food envy kicked in a little as it looked so good! My mum has to have a gluten free diet (though she isn’t celiac) and the staff were really good about ensuring that her requirements were catered for. They have a tablet which shows the breakdown of all dietary requirements across the whole menu and this information is available online which is ideal if you’re dining out with a big group or with someone with a specific allergy.

Gusto York brunch

Gusto York brunch

When it comes to drinks, there’s an extensive menu of teas, coffees, smoothies and juices but what I love is that they have Taylors tea on the menu. They’re Harrogate based so fairly local to me and I absolutely love all of their flavoured teas so they’re a perfect accompaniment to breakfast.

Gusto York brunch

Overall? I was definitely impressed by brunch at Gusto and I’d be keen to go back as the prices are very reasonable for a city centre and the setting is absolutely gorgeous. Also, unrelated but the reed diffusers in the toilets of the York branch smell absolutely incredible and that really did add to the experience. (No joke, they're that good).

Are you a brunch fan? Do you fancy a brunch date? Let me know in the comments.


Sunday, 1 July 2018

Wagamama - White Rose

Wagamama White Rose Leeds
I’m already a big fan of Wagamama so I’m sure you can imagine how happy I was to be invited to visit their restaurant at the White Rose Centre in Leeds to review it. I must admit, it’s one of my favourite Wagamama restaurants as the branch sits a little separately from the centre, meaning you don’t feel like you’re eating in the middle of a load of shoppers but at the same time, you can easily hit the shops after work then head for a bite to eat afterwards.

I headed there with Maz for a girly night with plenty of food and naturally we spent about a week planning what we were going to have to eat. Wagamama has a few new additions to their summer menu including a couple of glass noodle salads and even a vegan katsu curry which I’m sure is a gift from the heavens for every vegan out there!

We both decided to stick with what we knew and went for our favourites on the menu. Maz had fried duck gyozas and I went for pulled pork gyozas to start, both of which were incredible. I do quite like that the food in Wagamama just comes out when it’s ready as it makes it feel a bit more relaxed and informal. It meant that we didn’t feel restricted or that we had to leave once dinner was over too - you know when you just need a night of just catching up and properly unwinding? It was one of those nights.

Wagamama White Rose Leeds

For mains, I went for grilled duck domburi which is tender, shredded duck in a spicy teriyaki sauce, mixed with carrots, mangetout, sweet potato and red onion on a bed of sticky white rice and topped with a crispy fried egg, cucumber and spring onions. It’s my absolute favourite on the menu and though it is very filling with the sticky rice, it’s so full of flavour. Maz chose the teriyaki soba with steak which is soba noodles cooked in curry oil with mangetout, bok choi, red and spring onions, chilli and beansprouts in a teriyaki sauce.

Wagamama White Rose Leeds

Wagamama White Rose Leeds

We were both impressed, as always, with the mains but of course made room for dessert as why the hell not? Maz got the white chocolate and ginger cheesecake whereas I went for the chocolate layer cake and a pot of flowering jasmine tea. The desserts were delicious but I’m really glad I finished the night with a tea as I can never resist flowering tea when I see it on a menu.

Wagamama White Rose Leeds

Wagamama White Rose Leeds

Wagamama White Rose Leeds

Overall, we were really impressed by Wagamama at the White Rose, the food was delicious and it was just one of those really lovely evenings that we all need more of.

Have you been to Wagamama recently? Will you be going soon? Let me know in the comments.


Saturday, 9 June 2018

Brunching with Pie Minister

Brunching with Pie Minister
Bottomless brunch pieminister

You know the only decent pie restaurant on the highstreet right now? They’ve only gone and launched a bottomless brunch haven’t that. Needless to say I was pretty chuffed to be invited to indulge in the dreamy combo of brunch pies and a tipple or two. Or three. Or y’know, leaving feeling pretty tipsy on a Saturday afternoon.

I headed to the Leeds restaurant with one of my best gals, Jenna, (she’s a friend from way back in primary school), for a catch up, carbs and some Saturday fizz. We were there to review, but at £20 a person for 90 minutes, I’d say that it’s probably the best value bottomless brunch deal in Leeds right now. For that, you get a brunch main and bottomless prosecco, Aperol Spritz, Mimosas or Bloody Marys. Oh hello you delightful combo.

Bottomless brunch pieminister

We both started off with an Aperol Spritz each as neither of us had tried it before but I decided to move onto prosecco and Jenna switched to mimosas. I must admit, I was impressed with the service as a lot of places offering bottomless brunch will only bring you another drink when you’ve finished your first but our glasses were never empty. Our waitress even came over just before our 90 minutes was due to be up to get us another drink.

The brunch menu isn’t absolutely massive but it does have two brunch pies (one meat, one veggie), skillets for those wanting something less carb heavy and of course, avo on toast. The menu covers off gluten free and vegan dietary requirements too which is great to see, plus there’s enough variation to please the pickiest of eaters. Jenna and I both went for a brunch pie, Jenna going for meat and me choosing the veggie option, and both were served with braised beans and fried bread. The ‘Morning Glory’ pie which Jenna had was free range sausage, cheddar and potato hash top pie with cheese b├ęchamel, a baked egg, tomato and crispy bacon. Mine (the Munch Brunch) was smoked cheese, veggie sausage, mushroom and potato hash top pie with a baked egg, tomato and halloumi. Let’s be honest, I was sold with the halloumi.

Bottomless brunch pieminister

Bottomless brunch pieminister

We both seriously enjoyed the food, the pies were tasty and the braised beans were the perfect accompaniment. It felt like proper ‘brunch’ food as it was breakfast food in a lunch-y setting. We did the 11am sitting which worked perfectly for us as we didn’t have to get up super early but we also then had the rest of the day afterwards too.

At the moment, Pie Minister is serving bottomless brunch every other weekend and they have sittings at either 11am or 3pm. For more info, check out their website here

Will you be indulging in a bottomless brunch soon? Let me know in the comments!


Thursday, 7 June 2018

Escape Hunt: Going head to head

Escape Hunt UK - Leeds The Light
escape hunt leeds

Escape rooms are officially my new favourite thing. Escape Hunt recently launched in The Light in Leeds with a World War Two themed room called Our Finest Hour which I was invited down to review (you can read that here), and they just launched a second room called The Fourth Samurai which is a Japanese theme. Naturally when I saw that it was launching, I jumped at the chance of trying out the second room, but this time, going head to head.

The first time we went, we attempted the room in a group of six, which meant that at times, we were more than a little frantic but worked well together as a team to escape the room with a couple of minutes to spare. This time, we worked in teams of three – as there are two rooms which are identical, it’s a great opportunity to bring in a little competition. I’d say friendly competition but we were definitely very competitive! I teamed up with Hannah and Juan and we were against Hollie, Maz and Luke.

The three of us were led into our first rooms where we were briefed by our games master who explained that we had been captured, were in a cell and our mission was to return the stone which made a Samurai very powerful back to where it came from.

I think that as it was our second escape room, we had a bit more of an idea of how to play the game than when we did the World War Two themed room as that had been a first time for all of us and we were all a bit over whelmed. I can’t give away the secrets or the clues, but we all really enjoyed working our way through four rooms and escaping with just a few clues from our games master.

When we reconvened after the games, we debriefed as a full group and worked out where we all had strengths and weaknesses. Whilst there were definitely stronger skills on each side where we could have done well as a team of six, given the nature of the rooms, I think we would have peaked at around four team members. This is the World War Two room required quite a lot of teamwork, whereas this room was less reliant on multiple team members doing different things at the same time.

Now that we’ve done two rooms, we all left saying that we felt like we had caught a bug for it. Beating the timer to get out is an addictive buzz and we’re keen to try different themes. Whilst there are a lot of rooms out there which are horror themed, I do think the rooms which are themed make you focus on the logic and puzzles rather than being side tracked by being terrified – but who knows, maybe a horror one would test how we work together under pressure. Or could just be the tipping point that pushes me to use the emergency button to get out – who knows!

Escape Hunt is definitely a great evening out, and with colleagues is a good team builder, especially when there’s a bit of rivalry going on. We all escaped but I was a little bit gutted that the other team made it out 30 seconds faster than us! Though they got more clues than us!

Would you do an escape room? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Dining with DFDS

DFDS King Seaways Explorers Kitchen

When you think of an overnight ferry to Amsterdam, I’m sure for the most of us, the food isn’t really at the forefront of our minds, right? If you’re like me, you’d be heading onboard for a fun night of drinks and entertainment before a whistlestop trip to the ‘Dam the next day (a day in the city is long enough to get some decent shots for the ‘gram, right?) and then back on the ship for your voyage home.

I was invited to try out the Explorer’s Kitchen on DFDS’ King Seaways recently and let’s be honest, nobody is going to turn down an all you can eat buffet with a bunch of bloggers, right? After a slightly frantic drive up from Leeds which saw me going through the Tyne Tunnel THREE TIMES on my way there (cheers Google maps), I arrived and checked in at the port and got my boarding card for the ferry. Disclaimer, the port is actually really easy to get to, but my ability to follow directions is somewhat lacking.

What surprised me about the experience is the quality of the food. When I stepped onto the ship and saw the sheer size of it, I must admit I was a little dubious as surely producing really good food for that many people must be a task and a half for the kitchen staff. In reality? I was blown away. The options pretty much took us around the world with British, American, Nordic, Spanish, Italian and Asian food, so naturally I tried a bit of everything. Mac and cheese lasagne? That can come right at me. On the same plate as a Spanish tortilla? Absolutely.

DFDS King Seaways Explorers Kitchen

DFDS King Seaways Explorers Kitchen

DFDS King Seaways Explorers Kitchen

DFDS King Seaways Explorers Kitchen

DFDS King Seaways Explorers Kitchen

Since getting off the ship, I’ve actually recreated the Spanish tortilla at home because I loved it so much and wanted to share the recipe as it’s such an easy lunch option (plus if you’re on Slimming World, it’s both filling and free).

4 small salad potatoes
6 eggs
Handful of chopped peppers (I go for three colours of peppers)
1 red onion, diced
4-6 mushrooms, diced

  • Boil the potatoes for 20mins
  • During this time, soften the veg over a medium heat
  • Drain and slice the potatoes, use them to line the bottom of a greased flan dish (I used Frylight)
  • Spoon the veg over the top of the potatoes evenly
  • Beat 6 eggs and pour over the veg and potatoes
  • Bake in the oven, preheated to 180 degrees, for 20mins
  • Serve with salad either hot or cold

Spanish tortilla recipe

After we dined on the ship, we had a tour which confirmed to me that should I book a trip ferry to Holland with DFDS, I will most certainly be getting a Commodore Cabin as they are very fancy! With those cabins, you can access the luxury Commodore Restaurant and as it’s a two night crossing, I would definitely do one night in there for a holiday ‘treat yo’self’ and the other at the Explorer’s Kitchen as 20 euros is an absolute steal for an onboard all you can eat.

So tell me, when was the last time you indulged in a really good all you can eat? Let me know in the comments.


Monday, 28 May 2018

Ed Sheeran: The Divide World Tour

Ed Sheeran: The Divide World Tour
Ed Sheeran: The Divide World Tour

You know when you book tickets so far in advance that something just creeps up on you? That’s what it felt like when I booked Ed Sheeran tickets this time last year.

I’ve been to a lot of concerts in the past for a lot of big artists but this one was definitely a stand out to me (and probably the people who filled the Etihad Stadium in Manchester on four consecutive nights too – a pretty hefty achievement for a guy who seems just as surprised as we are that he made it this big). Normally with a gig that big, you’d expect a massive production, but in reality, he took to the stage with just a guitar and a loop pedal so that he could create all of the backing tracks live on the night. There was no band, no dancers, no pyrotechnics. Regardless of whether you’re a fan of his music, there’s a lot of skill involved in getting an entire arena absolutely bouncing when you’re up there on stage alone. I loved that because of this, each show is unique as the tracks get wiped every night and recreated the next time.

This show was also my first stadium experience which definitely made it different for me. As I’m not a sports fan, I had never been in a stadium before in my life and I think the beautiful weather and being seated in a block fairly near the stage were deal breakers. If we’d been in the furthest block in pouring rain, I imagine it would have been a bit of a shit night! It definitely took a bit longer to get the crowds in the stands warmed up as when you’re seated, the crowds are like sheep – if one stands, they all do, if nobody does, you’re sat for the night. It was maybe two or three songs in before everyone was getting involved but after that, the atmosphere was incredible.

The only concern I’d had on the evening of the show was around the logistics of getting there and back as having never lived in a city with a tram system, there’s always that little unknown of will I make it back in time for my train afterwards. In my mind, it was going to be absolute chaos getting out of the stadium but in reality, it was organised how it would be if it was a match day – you were separated based on how you were getting home (whether you were walking, going to the carpark or getting a tram). As we ducked out just before the end, we managed to get on a tram within 15 minutes of leaving the stadium and it was only for 10 minutes or so to get back to the station. We ended up back around 40 minutes before our train home which worked well for us.

As a gig venue, it was great to see an artist I love perform on a bigger scale and when it was a warm night, for it to be open air as the sun went down, that really added to the atmosphere. But at the same time, I still prefer smaller venues and I think Leeds Arena is probably still my favourite – it’s small enough to feel like you’re not miles from the stage no matter where you’re sat but big enough for it not to be a nightmare getting tickets.

Overall, it was a fantastic evening and we felt like we’d got a great deal paying £50 per ticket to see Jamie Lawson and Anne-Marie too. Would I go back to a stadium? It probably wouldn’t be my first choice of venue but if it was in the summer for a massive artist? Absolutely.


Wednesday, 23 May 2018

How to make an occasion special

Bakerdays Cake review
Bakerdays photo cake

Everyone has that one friend who always goes a little bit extra on a birthday or any occasion, but how do you become that person? It’s always that extra effort that you remember someone making that leaves you feeling a bit #blessed which is why I’ve partnered up with Bakerdays for this post which is full of tips – mainly borrowed tips from when my sister went a bit all out on my birthday.

Get them a cake
Well, obviously! Bakerdays do personalised cakes which can be as big as a party cake or as small as a treat that will go straight through your letterbox. Think posting a cake is risky? Let me tell you, when it turns up in a tin and perfectly intact, it’s not even worth worrying about. The one Bakerdays sent me was actually for my mum’s birthday so naturally I got a photo of her face on it and it was even gluten free as she’s a coeliac). It’s just a personal touch.

Decorating a table
When it was my birthday last month, my sister contacted the restaurant I was having lunch at with her and some friends ahead of time to make sure she could come and decorate the table before I arrived. This was a total surprise to me, but it meant I walked in to a table dressed with balloons and confetti which made it really special.

Make a favour for each of the group
Another thing my sister did was create the equivalent of a ‘party bag’ for me and all of my friends, which was a paper bag with some sweets in for everyone. It’s one of those things which isn’t expensive but the thought and time really does make difference.

Present your meal
When I have guests over, my go-to dinner is Mexican, mainly because it’s my favourite cuisine but also because it’s easy to make a simple meal look impressive. Making your salsa and guac from scratch and laying out the meal in bowls so that your guests can create their own shows that you’re thinking about them, even though you end up doing more washing up.

So, they’re my little tips to going above a little bit extra to be thoughtful on an occasion without going absolutely overboard (though if anyone wants to throw me a surprise party complete with flashmob, I would be overjoyed). Like the look of a Bakerdays cake? Get 15% off with the code GLASSESGIRL15 and surprise someone with their face on a cake via their postman.

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