Monday 29 June 2015

Food Review: Gas Street Social Bottomless Brunch

Brunch is an activity in itself. Neither a breakfast nor a lunch, brunch is a lazy weekend activity for two that allows for a decent lie in and social time with friends.

Gas Street Social has launched the Bottomless Brunch at it's shiny new venue in the Mailbox. Available on Saturdays and Sundays from 9am-1pm, there's food and drink as well as a fabulous jazz band playing in the background.

That's exactly what I was able to enjoy last weekend when I grabbed a friend and took her out to enjoy a girly brunch.

Taking a coveted booth seat, we sat down to examine the menu and were overwhelmed with options. From the £3 all you can eat bread and spread option to the steak, burgers and salad, this brunch encompasses everything from breakfast to lunch options for those who just can't decide.

So what does the Bottomless Brunch entail? Well, the bottomless part actually refers to the unlimited Mimosa's and Bellini's available for two hours at a cost of £15 pp. A total treat for a birthday, anniversary or celebration, I would advise that you partake in some hearty food too before crashing out!

After ordering a Bellini and a Mimosa so we could try both, myself and Jess ordered tea whilst we looked at the menu. I was tempted by the granola and fruit but in the end, we went for the Gas Street Works and Full Vegetarian.

The Gas Street Works came with Cumberland sausage, smoked streaky bacon, free range egg cooked how you like, roasted plum tomato, Gas Street Social beans, black pudding, mushroom, sauteed potato and toasted Hockley bread as well as a cup of Union coffee or tea.

My Full Vegetarian came with sweet potato cake, free range eggs, roast plum tomatoes, flat mushroom, sauteed potatoes, Gas Street Social beans, Hockley bread and a cup of Union coffee or tea.

Both of our breakfasts were delicious and we were really impressed with the provenance of the ingredients.

We also really enjoyed the live music and the atmosphere was fantastic!

Overall? An indulgent weekend treat that's a great excuse for getting social.

*I was invited to dine at Gas Street Social as a guest of the venue.

Thursday 25 June 2015

Marco Pierre White Wimbledon Themed Afternoon Tea

Wimbledon is just a few days away, and for those of you who want to take part in the festivities without having to leave the city, Marco Pierre White Birmingham has created something special.

Famous for the Level 25 Terrace, host to many parties, events and glittering gatherings, the terrace is a beautiful spot to enjoy views of Birmingham and beyond and soak up the summer sun.

This is exactly what I did along with a few fellow bloggers where we were able to bask in the June sun and enjoy afternoon tea, a glass of champers and the finest British strawberries to boot.

To get into the spirit of Wimbledon, Marco Pierre White has launched a Strawberries and Cream themed drinks package. You can enjoy a basket of strawberries and thick, clotted cream and a glass of Lanson Champagne for £15pp based on two sharing. Alternatively, you could purchase a bottle for £70 and receive the strawberries for free. The standard afternoon tea is also available so you could stick to fruit or indulge in sweet pastries and delicate sandwiches too to make it extra indulgent.

We were so lucky to be able to enjoy a lovely sunny evening on the roof terrace in prime position on one of the outdoor sofas. I was able to try out the gluten free version of the afternoon tea which is available when booked in advance, My favourite part was the indulgent desserts and the apple crumble cake in particular!

The spot is perfect for people watching, lounging and generally relaxing, and I can't recommend it enough, especially for a special treat.

Will you be at Wimbledon or are you planning on staying out on the terrace?

Monday 15 June 2015

Food Review: Cafe Rouge Mailbox New Summer Menu

Cafe Rouge has quietly had a facelift. Along with all the new and exciting developments happening at The Mailbox, which incidentally should be re-opening soon, the French bistro chain has been refreshed and now has a separate private dining area.

They've also launched a new Summer menu at the same time, and I was able to try what's new at a tasting event at Cafe Rouge Birmingham Mailbox.

I love Cafe Rouge, mainly for their perfectly cooked steaks (minute steak medium thank you). However, they do also offer French classics such as Confit de Canard and Boeuf Bourguignon and switch things up with new dishes every six months.

Taking a seat in the new private dining area, we started off the tasting menu with a Plateau a Partager. This included Rouge Olives with cornichons, caper berries and roquito chillies, charcuterie, pate, goats cheese and rocket salad and would ordinarily come with bread (I had mine without to make it gluten free).

I was then very generously treated to full sized versions of three of the new summer dishes on the menu, in my case the Crevettes, Super Salade with smoked salmon, butternut squash, beetroot, artichoke and chicory and also the Filet De Saumon. The Super Salade was my favourite out of the two salmon dishes as I just loved the combination of sweet butternut squash, vinegary artichoke and smoked salmon. The Filet De Saumon was served with Asparagus, baby plum tomatoes and pea shoots which all made for a very light and healthy meal. I also thoroughly enjoyed the prawns which were huge! Perhaps not as healthy, these were however delicious and served shell-on.

To round off the evening, we were also able to indulge in a trio of mini desserts including the Strawberry and Black Pepper Sorbet, Fondant aux Chocolats and of course, Creme Brulee. Although the Chocolate Fondant was sadly not gluten free, I was able to eat the other two desserts. The Creme Brulee was exactly as you'd expect from Creme Brulee and the sorbet tasted purely of strawberry to me, so perhaps we were served a different sorbet.

I did also indulge in a glass of Prosecco (it would be rude not to) which was delightful and there was a wide range of drinks from speciality French beers to that French favourite Orangina available too.

The new Cafe Rouge menu is a mix of French classics and lighter summer dishes that are perfect for lighter evenings.

Thank you to Cafe Rouge for inviting me!

*I was invited to dine as a guest of Cafe Rouge

Friday 12 June 2015

Clarins Beauty Discovery Evening at Selfridges Birmingham

Shhh, here's a secret. Not many people know that Selfridges Birmingham Beauty Hall has rooms for beauty therapy treatments. Discreetly tucked away in the corner between Dior and Chanel, the Clarins Spa offers luxurious treatments right in the middle of the Bullring.

I was lucky enough to be invited to a Beauty Discovery Evening at the Clarins Spa. Arriving at the counter, I was taken over to the Spa reception where I was welcomed by Trudie. Walking over to the rooms there is an area for relaxation with seats and magazines.

In the treatment room itself is a very comfortable spa bed, a beautiful lighted mirror and even a wardrobe for your clothes! So often there's no room for your belongings so it was great to see the space had been so thoughtfully designed.

Trudie analysed my skin before the treatment (dehydrated and congested) and then asked me what results I was looking for (glowing, clear).

She then explained that I was about to enjoy a 15 minute version of the Clarins Tri Enzyme facial using many products that are salon only and not available to purchase elsewhere. The treatment included a mask and even a hand and arm massage.

The treatment itself was more than relaxing, with ambient music and low lighting. Not just that, but the products were expertly applied with a light touch and the arm and hand massage was just wonderful.

Trudie afterwards explained what products were used including the Double Serum and Lotus Face Treatment Oil.

The Clarins Tri Enzyme Facial was pure bliss and I can't wait to go back for the full hour and 25 minute treatment. It was so relaxing and the combination of facial and massage was an indulgence that we could all do with making time for.

I then went back the following week for the mini makeover as we had ran out of time and I got to try some Clarins products. After I mentioned that I thought that Clarins was all about subtle, natural amke up, Amy showed me that this isn't the case! I was under the impression that Clarins make up came only in neutral pink and beige tones, so Amy showed me how to use Clarins products to get a full makeup look.

Using Instant Light Radiance Boosting Complexion Base in Champagne first to illuminate the skin, Amy then used True Radiance Foundation in 107 with SPF15 all over to even and illuminate. The Everlasting Compact Foundation in 107 was then used to set my foundation although this can be used on it's own as a full coverage powder. Then, we used three Ombre Minerale Eyeshadows in Nude, Tea Rose and Auburn around the eye to achieve a light smoky eye look that I loved! I am yet to find a black smoky eye look that suits me but I loved this subtle yet sexy take on the look. This was finished off with the Truly Waterproof Mascara.

The Golden Rose Eye Shadow was then used as a highlighter (genius) and a beautiful compact called Blush Prodige in Sunset Coral was used on the cheeks.

To finish, the Lip Definer in 01 Day was used all over the lip and Rouge Eclat Lipstick in Sweet Rose on top. The Lipstick in particular really impressed me for it's hydrating, non sticky finish.

I couldn't believe the finished look! A million miles away from the pink and pretty look I thought I was getting, I'm so glad that Amy introduced me to some of the beautiful products such as the Blush Prodige compact and challenged my perceptions of the brand. The finished look was very sexy and smoky so thank you to Trudie and Amy for looking after me!

*I was invited to try out the above as a guest of Selfridges

Monday 8 June 2015

Food Review: Marco's New York Italian Kenilworth

Marco Pierre White is one of the biggest names in gastronomy and following an illustrious career in the kitchen, famously handed back his Michelin stars and turned his attention to business.

Following the opening of Marco's New York Italian in Stratford Upon Avon, the newest venue to open it's doors is Marco's New York Italian in Kenilworth.

I was lucky enough to be invited to dine at the restaurant just over a week ago and was excited to see the restaurant and also to visit Kenilworth for the first time.

Not far from Leamington Spa and out in the leafy countryside, Marco's New York Italian is inside the Holiday Inn Kenilworth. With an on site car park it was easy to find and reach and is right in the centre of town. Famous for that stripy chair, the restaurant featured all the usual Marcos touches such as an impressive wine rack and images of the man himself.

The restaurant itself was comfortable and roomy and perfect for groups, couples and families.

After an introduction from the restaurant manager, we sat down to some very glamorous drinks (I had a non alcoholic cocktail on this occasion) and took a look at the menu over a sharing basket of bread and olives (none for me sadly).

Having already dined at Marco's Stratford, I decided that I wanted to try something different to what I had last time. I was able to see an allergens menu first and was very impressed with how clear and easy to use this was. Despite being tempted by the sharing platters, I went for the Baked Field Mushrooms with spinach and blue cheese and a 10oz Rib Eye Steak for mains.

I'm so glad I chose the mushrooms to start as they were divine; thick meaty mushrooms with salty smattering of blue cheese melted just enough on top.

Next, my steak arrived customised to my liking. In an attempt to be good I ordered new potatoes instead of lazy fries and they were just as good as chips I swear! My steak was decent and the garlic tomato was a nice touch as it's always good to eat your vegetables.

Finally, I chose the most amazing dessert, a Melting Chocolate Truffle Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream. I'm sure everyone who saw this cake had some serious food envy because it was divine. Not only was the presentation perfect, but the cake itself was a warm, gooey, melting pot of chocolate goodness. More please!

I had a great time at Marco's New York Italian Kenilworth and think it would make a great place for lunch or dinner in the village. I'd love to go back and explore the castle and I would definitely drop in for coffee and a cake at tea time or dinner in the evening for a special occasion.

*I was invited to dine as a guest of Marco's New York Italian Kenilworth