Monday, 27 June 2016

ATE AT: The Old Bridge Hotel, Huntingdon

I'm very lucky living in the Midlands...a sentence many would be unlikely to say. But, hear me out.

Living in the Midlands (well, basically the South - 50 minutes from London) means having access to not only to the wide array of brilliant restaurants in London, Birmingham, Nottingham, Leamington, Leicester...BUT, I have the luxury of Cambridge and Oxford not too far away. Huntingdon, part of Cambridgeshire, is about 40 minutes from my house and I have at least one definite reason to make that journey there.

I was invited to a friends 70th birthday lunch at the Old Bridge. This friend, well, he doesn't do bad food. Nor does he do bad atmosphere, bad décor or bad company.

I'll be honest, I wasn't entirely sure where Huntingdon was on the map, but I knew it wasn't far away and I couldn't resist an opportunity to try somewhere new.

I was kinda hoping it wouldn't just be Sunday roast options as I'd had 10 days of eating carby, heavy food in Italy and fancied something lighter - I was in luck.

The birthday boy had hired out one of the rooms so we were in this gloriously decorated room (which I failed to get a photo of!), we were served teas, coffees and Prosecco upon arrival and chatted for an hour or so before being seated to our grand table.

I set my eyes upon the menu and was thrilled to see a variety in dishes - not just roasts; fish options as well as a pasta option!

I had firmly made my mind up on a starter within 10 seconds of seasonal asparagus. I went for the asparagus, hollandaise and poached egg. At least half of the table (a table of 25) went for the crab croquettes, which I'm told were delicious.

The asparagus was cooked to perfection, the hollandaise is number two on by best ever hollandaise chart (nobody will ever beat beetroot hollandaise at Friends of Ours) and the egg was spot on.

For main, I decided on the seared tuna steak (served rare) with baby kale and grilled potatoes with lemon and crème fraiche . Again, beautiful. The tuna was cooked better than I've ever had before, the flavour of the kale wasn't overpowering and the potatoes were cooked with a soft inside and a very slight crunch to the outside - just how I like 'em.

All of the mains looked amazing, I saw a few with venison (apparently amazing), a beef roast (again, amazing), a few people with lamb. Opposite me sat a pasta dish; really tasty filling and al dente, just how it should be.

All in all, an incredibly happy table after the first two courses.
For pudding, I really couldn't decide and, unfortunately, I think I chose wrong (even though it was delicious). I went for the cheesecake with roasted apricots. Don't get me wrong, it was really really good. The cheesecake was the perfect texture, the apricots were okay but didn't completely wow me. But I mean, what do you expect from an apricot?

The other thing I wanted, the strawberry pavlova with basil ice cream. YES, basil ice cream. Sounds great doesn't it...well, that's what I wanted. I tried my friends next to me and the basil ice cream was incredible. Like seriously incredible. So, I had dessert envy, big time. Don't let that put you off the cheesecake though, it is really tasty. Just, the basil ice cream was on another level.
We finished off with teas, coffees and chatter before all heading in our different directions home.

We were made to feel incredibly welcome by our waiter (whose name I've rudely forgotten) and other staff we encountered while dining. The décor of the place is absolutely beautiful, a mixture of country home and estate house with a dash of modern thrown in. It's really hard to explain, but it's just got this great vibe to it - relaxed but an upmarket place to go.

The best news? A three course lunch is only £39. Which, for the quality of food, is an absolute bargain.

I'm already planning my next trip there to see what the rest of the menu is like!

Shout out to Hannah too - we've followed each other on Instagram for a while now and her parents actually own the place (which I didn't know!) It's a real credit to them, such a great place.


Monday, 6 June 2016

VISITED AND ATE AT: Bank Holiday Weekend in Brighton

I love love LOVE Brighton. This is only the second time I've been. The first time was last April with some of my food blogger friends and I fell in love with the place. It's a typical seaside town BUT it has quirky independents - cafes, restaurants, shops, juice bars - I love the Laines. I love the atmosphere. And I particularly like the gin pub we went in). Brighton is always a lot of fun, whether you're going down for the food, the sunshine (we got very lucky with the weather!), the shops or the (sometimes questionable) nightlife.

We drove down on the Saturday, after spending Friday night at Ferguson's. Saturday bank holiday driving was MENTAL. It took us over 4 hours to get there (for a 3 hour journey). We were grouchy and just wanted to be by the sea. But, we got there eventually. We stayed at a trusty Air B&B and I would 100% recommend you stay here too. The location was perfect - minutes away from the seafront, a 15 minute walk to the shops/centre and a really quiet home away from home.

We arrived, unpacked and decided to head out for food. By this point we were starving and I'd already scoped out where we should go. Luckily for us, Franco Manca had just opened the night before. I've never made it to the London ones despite wanting to go for AGES. So with only a 20 minute wait for a table, it seemed too good to be true. We sat down, ordered a few bottles of red, some olives and garlic breads between us while we browsed the menu. Ems and I went for the ham, wild mushrooms one, H and the boys had meaty, peppery ones.

I was more than happy with this. It was absolutely delicious. The toppings were full of flavour and the base was perfect. I will 100% be back for one of these babies. Following on from this, H and I shared some ice cream. We then thought it would be a great idea to order three rounds of shots (limoncello and grappa). The staff were fantastic and even gave us the shots for free (which is SUPER nice for a group of 6!)

We went to a pub round the corner (I forget the name, it was opposite a tacky Wetherspoons) and Ems and I drank Hugo cocktails  - Prosecco, apple, mint and elderflower - they were beeeeautiful. We stayed here for a while before heading off and doing something VERY touristy. We grabbed a few cans of beer and a bottle of Prosecco and drank on the beach until the early hours. You know what? I loved it. It was so peaceful (surprising for a Saturday night, especially on a Bank Holiday).

The next morning with a few sore heads, we had a bit of a lie in before heading The New Club. Now I'd been here last April with the foodies and it was a bloody disaster to say the least (COMPLETELY unseasoned avocado is NOT my thing). A year and a bit on, they seem to have sorted their shit out a lot more. I went for the same thing but as it now had basil pesto with it, I figured it had got to be better. And it was. The crusts of the sourdough were definitely a little overdone but it was miles better than before. The boys had fry ups, Ems had a veggie breakfast - all said they were impressed.

We had a little wander up the beach front with our friend Chloe (who is now a Brighton local) and went onto the Pier (which I hated, too touristy...I know that's what it's all about!). We wandered around a few shops before ending up in a cool little pub. The Office (on Sydney Street) currently hosts an impressive 25 gins behind the bar with all the old favourites plus a few new ones I'd never heard of. I think it's only just recently that they've decided to focus on gins, I could be wrong? They also did a few ales/beers so the boys were pretty happy too. AND they serve food, Thai food. We had some calamari and spring rolls and they were delish! I mean A GIN PUB. What is better than that? We stayed there for a while, H got shat on by a was all quite comical.

We'd decided that evening to head to Wahaca. I'd heard really good things about the other locations and I LOVE Mexican food. We all went for some tortilla chips, guac and salsa to share. The boys tried the pork scratching, which actually didn't look so bad. I had multiple Mexican Mule cocktails (amazing), the others drank a mix of cocktails and beer. Mains-wise, two of the boys had a few bits from the Mexican tapas and the rest of us went for burritos. I opted for the pulled pork. Overall, I was bit disappointed. It was too spicy for me. I could tell that the flavours were really good but the kick of the spice afterwards was just too much for me. To make up for it, H and I shared ice cream (again!) this time the salted caramel. AMAZING! Cannot recommend this more. So if you took out the main, everything else was great. All of the others thoroughly enjoyed theirs though so it's just me being a total wuss!

From here, we went to the East Street Tap. Such a cool place! The music was great, the atmosphere was on point for a night out AND it wasn't too busy. In all honesty, I expected Brighton to be waaay busier considering it was Bank Holiday weekend. We were all flagging a little bit after the night before and with a 10am Air B&B checkout, we figured being slightly sensible for once in our lives was fine.

After a slightly longer snooze than the night before, we checked out and headed over to The Breakfast Club. Both Ems and Chloe had never been (and the boys didn't care where we ate all weekend as long as the food was good and there was meat on their plates!). I love the Breakfast Clubs - the food is always consistent, the music is always cheesy and it's just a nice experience eating there. We had to wait 10 minutes for a table, again, I was amazed it wasn't busier! We were seated in one of the booths upstairs and left to browse the menu.

Ems and the boys went for the All American Pancakes, Chloe had the Berry Pancakes and I went for my standard Eggs Florentine with a side of bacon (I always have this at TBC...boring I know!). We had a pitcher of orange juice and a coffee each and it felt like the food didn't take too long at all.

Everybody was very full and very happy with their breakfast so I was pleased that my restaurant suggestions had gone down well. From here we had another wander around the Laines, grabbed a few Ben's Cookies for the car journey back and a juice from 42 Juice.

I loved our weekend in Brighton. Of course I did, it was all involving tasty food and gin! I can't wait to go back to Brighton, I'd even live there if work would let me!

Tell me what your favourite things are to do in Brighton - food, bars, shops - I want to hear all about it before I go back!xo

Friday, 3 June 2016



It's a loooong while since I've done a Five For Friday (mid-March to be precise!) I figured the last week has been loads of fun, so why not talk about it.

I've got another good weekend coming up to - The Foodies Festival in Birmingham, a potential picnic and getting some jobs done at my Dad's house (which may sound boring but I'll be relieved when I've had a huge clear out). Next week is a busy one too. Giving blood on Monday, meetings allday Tuesday, Thursday I'm in London allday and Friday I fly to Italy for 8 days. 

This month all of my trips start. I've got 4 and a half days in Riva Del Garda and 4 and a half days in Florence. I love this time of year, I have at least a week away each month, plans all over the UK too as everybody is more sociable in Summer and the lighter mornings and nights help. Although, the weather the last few days has been grim...

SO, this week's Five For Friday...

Brighton - I went to that lovely seaside town with my boyfriend, my best friend, her boyfriend (his best friend) and two of their friends. We met mine and Ems uni friend Chloe and basically just ate a lot of nice food and drank a lot of nice gin. It was so much fun and I love Brighton even more now. If you check back here tomorrow morning, I'll be telling you in detail about my trip.

Trashy TV - Specifically Love Island. I know, I hate myself. I hate myself SO much for liking this. BUT, in my defence, I know one of the guys on there (we went to uni together and he was in my first year friend circle) and my housemate knows the ex of one of the girls. So I mean...really I'm just showing my support. Seriously though, I'm addicted. It's like a cross between Beauty and the Geek and Shipwrecked (oh how I loved C4 Shipwrecked all of those years ago...) 

New Shoes - I work in footwear...I can't help loving new shoes. I've been a bit naughty this week and bought three pairs of beauties. I bought this pair and this pair from Esska, a company I work with at a couple of shows and I FINALLY got my hands of a pair of Clarks Originals desert boots, purchased through Tower London as they had some money knocked off.

New Restaurant Alert - Technically last week but I think it's fine for me to mention it as I've not done a FFF for so long...H and I went over to Ferguson's in Rugby and had THE best meal. Cannot recommend it enough.

New Blog Layout - I've gone and got myself a new blog layout. It's still got some tweaking to be done but I'm happy it's had a bit of an upgrade. I'm hoping to have it a little easier to navigate over the next few months but with two house moves, loads of trips away and weekend things planned, it's unlikely it'll be for a while. I'm having some with the coding though, apparently my previous template and changes I made to it are overriding some of the new stuff. This is why people like me should not play with HTML!

Have a lovely weekend/week whatever you get up to!


Wednesday, 1 June 2016

ATE AT: Ferguson's, Rugby

It's funny really, most people you'll speak to in your life will know somebody from Rugby, or a friend of a friend at least. Apparently, according to my boyfriend, it's one of those small places everybody has a connection to - distant or not.

When I was approached by Oyster PR to test the three course menu over at Ferguson's, the lovely lady asked if she could 'tempt' me over to if it were some far away land but, more likely, because most people say ' what is there to actually do in Rugby?'

BUT, I've found a reason to go (other than my boyfriend being a Rugby local) and that reason is food. Food at Ferguson's, more specifically.
I always get slightly nervous before reviewing restaurants, which sounds kinda ridiculous considering I love food, I love eating out and what's better than trying somewhere you've never been before? I guess I get nervous for the chef because this is their livelihood, most likely their passion too. I'm not and never will be one of the blogging big timers but still, a review is a review.

Anyway, nobody needed to be nervous. Ferguson's is wonderful, really wonderful.

Now, let's get stuck in...

Ferguson's is a warehouse conversion smack back in the town centre of Rugby (behind Merchants). It hosts a menu of British and European inspired cuisine with a focus on what's in season. This alone would take me back to this restaurant. I am so into the idea of restaurants that keep their menus seasonal, everything just tastes so much better.

We arrived for our 8pm reservation and were seated at our table. The first thing I noticed upon entering the restaurant was the open view kitchen to the right of the entrance - I love this. I love being able to poke my head in and I love how laidback and personal this approach feels. It's nice that people can see what they may be about to eat as they are led to their table.

The place is decorated beautifully with bare brick, white and grey walls and lots of light. It's almost got a really homely feel to it and we felt happy and relaxed in there straight away.

I'd already taken a look at the menu before we arrived (as I always do) but was still struggling to decide what to order. I had a feeling that the food would be so much more than the simplistic description on the menu.

As we browsed, we were bought a glass of Prosecco (my favourite!) each and some bread with Parmesan butter and a bowl of olives to share. The bread was beautiful, as were its accompaniments.
H and I both decided to go for the scallops, potato, smoked bacon, truffle mayonnaise to start.

The plates that arrived with us looked fantastic. So many places struggle with the presentation of scallops but these were great. The scallops were cooked to perfection, another thing a lot of places struggle with. I'm not usually the biggest fan of truffle but the mayonnaise was lovely and not too overpowering. The purple potatoes were the biggest topic of conversation during the starters. How are they so purple?! The bacon pieces were just right, not too salt. And the herbs were a lovely addition to the meal to add flavour. Neither of us could fault anything about this starter.

For main, I decided to keep up with the fish theme and went for the salmon, potato terrine, asparagus, shellfish sauce, caviar. H went for the lamb, peas, preserved lemon, caramelized onion, potato.

My dish arrived and looked lovely. The salmon was cooked perfectly for me, which is always a bonus. I don't know why some places struggle with overcooking fish. The team at Ferguson's got it just right! The creamy seafood sauce was incredibly flavoursome without being too rich. The asparagus was beautiful - UK asparagus is my favourite thing to eat this time of year. The gratin was lovely and added texture to the dish.

H obviously let me try the lamb. Again, cooked perfectly. We both agreed that lamb can often be chewy but H even described as 'melt in your mouth lamb'. The flavours of his dish were great - the light taste of the peas with the caramelised onion and potatoes were so nice. It just all went together perfectly.

We were both incredibly happy with the first two courses and it's really good to know that there's somewhere like this in Rugby. The staff were super friendly, really attentive and couldn't do enough for us. I glanced into the kitchen a few times and everybody looked really happy in their work, chatting and joking together. It really does reflect well on a restaurant when all the staff are quite obviously enjoying being there.

We couldn't have possibly left without dessert. H went for the shortbread, lemon curd, raspberries and vanilla ice cream and I went for the cherries, meringue and white chocolate. Again, textures of everything were great. I think it's really important when serving up a dish to have a few different textures that compliment one another.

I loved my dessert, the white chocolate on the meringue was so tasty and the cherries gave the dish a really boost.

H thoroughly enjoyed his too. I had a little try and despite my dislike for lemon curd (my Nana always used to put it in cakes when I was younger and it's scarred me for life) it was actually really good. The shortbread had the perfect crunch to it, the lemon curd was nice enough (H loved it, I'm just not very accepting of it!) and the raspberries and ice cream finished the dish off nicely.

We finished up our red wine and beer and decided to call it a night as we were heading down to Brighton early the following morning for the Bank Holiday.

All in all? I cannot fault this place one bit. The food was brilliant - some of the best I've had out in a long time. The staff were so lovely and couldn't have been more helpful. I can definitely say they were friendly without being overfriendly know what I mean? When they're so attentive you literally can't exchange a couple of sentences with the people you're out with because they keep hopping in?? Well there was none of that here - they were great!

I'm even impressed by the prices:
1 course £22.95
2 courses £29.95
3 courses £34.95

I had a chat to David, the owner, on my way out and he was really friendly too. You can tell not only him but everybody that works there is passionate about the food they are serving. The quality is brilliant and I'm sure I won't be the first person to say - I can't believe there is somewhere as good as this is in Rugby!

Thanks so much for having us. We'll definitely be back soon!


**I was invited to review this restaurant for free with a guest but all views are my own. If I didn't rate it highly, I wouldn't blog about it**