Posted in Food, Travel, Uncategorized

Donatello’s – Brighton

A couple of weeks ago my cousin got married in Brighton, it was a very small affair with just a few friends and family members. The weather was really miserable and it poured down throughout so she was unable to have photos on the beach like she was hoping or anywhere outside for that matter! It didn’t however dampen the mood of the occasion and the bride and groom had a joyous day regardless.

After the formalities at the registry office we had a table booked at the Italian restaurant Donatello’s situated in the heart of the picturesque Brighton lanes. I had arrived in Brighton earlier than expected with an empty stomach so actually stuffed my face not long before reaching the restaurant, I was therefore unfortunately too full to try out their delicious looking dishes.

The restaurant itself is really big and caters for weddings and corporate events. As well as the main restaurant it also has a side room where we were seated, an upstairs area, a conservatory and a roof terrace which I imagine would be amazing in the summer.

Our room was bright and airy, decorated with plants and mirrors and had low music playing in the background. Although we were in the window it felt very cosy and private.

The menu had lots of dishes on offer including a wide range of pizzas, pasta and steaks and there is a separate gluten free set menu too. The meals are very reasonably priced with 2 courses for £10 and 3 courses for £12.50.

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My mum is really not a fan of Italian food and never chooses pasta as an option but she went for the lasagne and surprisingly had no complaints, she actually said it was delicious and I must say it did look nice, I’m tempted to go back to Brighton just so I can try it!

Although I had no room for the main meal I did order a dessert (there’s always room for that!) and went for my favourite tiramisu which was served with cream and chocolate sauce.

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Everyone was happy with their food and we had around four members of staff waiting on us that were all attentive and pleasant. I would definitely pay Donatello’s another visit when in Brighton, preferably in the summer on the roof terrace.

Posted in Food, Lifestyle, London, Travel, Uncategorized

Another 10 places to visit in London

 

At the beginning of last year you may have seen that I wrote a post about 10 places I wanted to visit in London. I do love to travel but the majority of my life is spent in London so I want to make the most of all the amazing opportunities and experiences that are on offer in the city. I managed to tick most of the things off the List which I have written about throughout the year and will share below, but I thought it would be fun to see what else is out there and create another list for this year. I’m not normally one for making resolutions but I do like to write a list of things I would like to do or achieve throughout the year so these will be added to that.

Ticked off from last year…

Sky Garden

Definitely one of my favourite places I have visited this year and would love to go back again.

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Emirates Cable car

Great experience although not much to see on the other side!

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Somerset House

I actually went to about three different exhibitions here throughout the year, really lovely setting and has an ice rink at Christmas.

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Kensington Gardens

I didn’t get to see much of the gardens as I visited late in the afternoon but had a lovely stroll around the Palace.

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Borough Market

Another place I have been to a few times, so much delicious looking food in one market!

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V & A museum

I never manage to see the whole museum when I visit the V & A because it is so grand so always ready to go back and have a mooch.

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Afternoon tea

Chelsea harbour was the perfect setting for my first experience of afternoon tea and I am now eager to visit some other posh hotels for more finger sandwiches.

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It is only from looking back at all my blog posts this year that I realise just how much I had squeezed into 2017 and I think having the blog is what motivates me to get out and see the world. I hope I manage to visit just as many places in 2018!

So here is my new list…

  • The photographers gallery – This is one that is carried over from last year and I am surprised I have still not made it, especially as one of my university tutors is a curator there and is always inviting us to events.
  • Matilda – I have been lucky enough to see some great shows in theatre this year, including Kinky Boots, Wind in the Willows and An American in Paris but I have wanted to see Matilda since it was launched so hopefully I will get the chance this year.
  • Imax cinema – Situated in the middle of the roundabout at Waterloo, I pass this cinema all the time but have never been inside. As well as having some really interesting 3D movies they also have the largest viewing screen in Britain so give a real immersive experience.
  • Ballie Ballerson – When you have spent years taking kids to soft play and ball pits then its time to find an adult version and Ballie Ballerson might just be it. With over a million balls and bottomless brunch on offer I think I need to try this place out!
  • Afternoon tea with a twist – After my first experience I would love to try some more afternoon tea experiences and love the quirky looking alternatives like Alice in Wonderland themed or on a bus.
  • The Saatchi Gallery – Another that was on my list last year. They are always putting on new exhibitions so I will be looking out through the year to see if anything interesting takes my fancy.
  • Overnight stay at a hotel – As I have lived in London my whole life I have never had the pleasure of staying in a hotel here overnight, one of the iconic ones would be a pleasure such as the Ritz or Claridges but not sure they would be in my budget.
  • Ghost walk – This is something that has to be done in the winter in the dark and a great way to explore the city in a different way. I love visiting historical places and hearing scary tales as long as it doesn’t give me nightmares.
  • The Jazz café – I do love live music but not really a fan of concert venues as there are just so many people. The Jazz café sounds like more of an intimate space to chill out and also has a restaurant. Will be looking out for future events there.
  • Ice Bar – Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a fan of the cold, if I could hibernate for the whole of winter I would but at the same time I am quite intrigued by a bar and restaurant that is made of ice and gives out blankets to it’s customers, definitely a one off experience that I would like to try.

Looking forward to a year full of adventure and I may just get to explore a bit further than London too! Where are you planning to visit this year?

 

Posted in Food, London, Uncategorized

The charm of Leadenhall market and Pizza Express

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Situated in the picturesque Leadenhall market in the city of London is the newly renovated Pizza Express. Myself and a group of other bloggers were invited along to check out the makeover of the branch and were treated to our own pizza making experience while there. You may have seen my previous attempt at making pizza at the Gloucester road branch and was pretty good and remembering the techniques I was taught the first time round.

We started the evening with some nibbles while getting to know each other before preparing ourselves with hats and aprons for the pizza preparation.

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Stela is the manager of the branch and talked us through a bit of the history of Leadenhall market which has been owned and managed by the City of London Corporation since 1411. Originally it was one of the best places in London to buy meat, game, poultry and fish and because it has kept the spectacular historical look it has attracted the likes of Hollywood and been featured in film and TV including as Diagon Valley in Harry Potter.

To fit in with the character and history of the grade ii listed site, the Pizza Express in Leadenhall recently underwent a stylish refurbishment and Stela took us on a little tour while our pizzas were being cooked.

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The basement area is finished in rich and elegant colours and exposed brickwork, new dark wood timber flooring and artwork that celebrates the history of the area. There is a bar, a section for the pizza making parties and enough room to rent out space for private parties or meetings.

On the street level are the smaller marble tables that are synonymous of Pizza express but they are accompanied by warm, gold pendant lighting and an original spiral staircase. This leads up to a private dining space which is unfortunately not open as yet due to safety issues of carrying food up the ornate staircase.

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Stela with really friendly and informative, you could tell that she has a passion for the restaurant and was eager to please all the customers.

After our tour it was time to tuck into our handmade pizzas. I chose the toppings chicken, mushroom, red onion, yellow pepper and spinach so it was nice and colourful! We finished the meal with either a Baileys, limoncello or Latte, I opted for the latte which was a lovely finish to the meal and warmed me up ready for my cold journey home.

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If you fancy checking out the charm of Leadenhall then go during the week as the city is empty over the weekend with most places closed. The Pizza Express has over 180 capacity so would be perfect to fit in a large group and is open 11:30 – 22:00 Mon – Fri.

*Written in collaboration with Pizza Express, all thought are my own!
Posted in Food, Lifestyle, London, Uncategorized

Wagamama and beauty treatments

Last month myself and Jasmin had a long overdue visit to a beauty clinic to use some vouchers that she had bought for my birthday in May. We decided to make an afternoon of it and eat some Japanese food for lunch after our treatments.

Nestled away on a little back street around the corner from St Pauls cathedral is Primas Beauty clinic. The entrance of the clinic takes you straight into the reception/seating area which is very inviting with a relaxed atmosphere. We had booked in advance for a facial and pedicure and were told that we would each have a treatment and then swap over for the opposite treatment which made sense but then meant we wouldn’t have the experience together which was a shame.

I started with the pedicure, unfortunately it was a dry treatment so I didn’t get to soak my tired feet but the beautician was really lovely and very conscientious. The treatment was supposed to be for 30 minutes but she took nearly an hour, maybe I just needed a lot of work done!

I was really looking forward to the facial but it wasn’t quite the experience I was hoping for! It started off very relaxing, I had my face cleansed and then the lady put a face mask on which was fine, she then covered my eyes and explained that she would leave it for 15 minutes to dry, she covered me with a blanket and went off. That’s when I started to feel really uncomfortable. I was laying flat on my back which I’m not used to as I always lay on my side and because my eyes were covered I started feeling paranoid that someone was watching me, all of a sudden my heart started racing and I felt like I couldn’t breathe and realised I was having some sort of panic attack. I sat up and took the pads off my eyes and took a few minutes to calm myself. I’m glad the lady had left the room otherwise I would have looked a bit weird and probably felt worse. When she returned and took the mask off I felt fine but a bit stupid, I mean probably one of the most relaxing experiences I’ve had and I start having a panic attack over it? Even though it was a horrible experience it in no way reflected the service at the beauty clinic and I wasn’t going to let it ruin my birthday treat so we continued our plans for lunch.

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Just a short walk past the cathedral and we came across a Wagamama restaurant. I have eaten takeaway from Wagamama before but this was the first time I had eaten inside. It was mostly made up of long tables but we had a booth. I love how minimalistic and spacious their restaurants our compared to others that try to fill every available space with tables.

My go to dish whenever I eat Japanese is Chicken Katsu curry, I love it! But I thought I would be a bit adventurous and choose something I had never tried before so I went for the Yaki Udon.

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The dish is made with udon noodles cooked in curry oil with chicken, prawns, chikuwa, egg, beansprouts, leeks, mushrooms and peppers. garnished with fried shallots, pickled ginger and sesame seeds. Now it looked really tasty and had some great flavours which I enjoyed but the actual noodles freaked me out a bit. I felt like I was eating worms because they were so thick but this also made them really filling which meant I didn’t have to eat too much before I was full. It wasn’t entirely bad but I did spend the whole time wondering why I didn’t order Katsu curry!

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I also thought I would have a change of drink and chose a peach iced tea instead of the usual coke and this was a great decision, I would actually go back to Wagamama just for this drink as it was so nice.

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Jasmin chose the Pad Thai which was similar flavours to my dish but a lot lighter to eat and she polished it all off! We decided not to order dessert but I have since heard that they have really nice sweet treats on offer including Banana Katsu so I think another trip is in order.

So the day wasn’t entirely flawless but it was still lovely to spend some quality time with my big girl and visit some new places. We ended our day with a walk across the millennium footbridge and down the Southbank before heading home.

Posted in Food, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Chimasu – Asian snack box

Subscription boxes seem to be the thing of the moment, you can get every type from beauty, stationary, food and toys. They are a great way to try a wide selection of things that you may not necessarily purchase individually or even know about and the Chimasu box is no different.

I pass Asian supermarkets all the time but probably wouldn’t know where to start looking if I went inside so I have never bothered. I love eating out at Asian restaurants or ordering a takeaway so when I was asked by Chimasu if I would like to try out there subscription snack box, which contains snacks from Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines and Singapore… I couldn’t say no!

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When the Chimasu box arrived I was surprised it was so small but it was definitely packed full of stuff and contained both sweet and savoury goodies.

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As my kids love to try new foods we decided we would all do the taste testing together. I am quite fussy with what I eat and some of the flavours did worry me a bit…Cuttlefish, soy sauce, shrimp and seaweed are not the flavours I normally pick when choosing snacks!

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We started with the savoury snacks

The Soy sauce rice crackers reminded me of those round almond bakes which I love, this meant I got a bit of a shock when I bit into it and it was a completely different texture and taste. I actually really liked the crunch of it but wasn’t too keen on the flavour. My eldest son was probably the biggest fan of those and finished them off.

The Yummy flakes just reminded me of fish food but they were like miniature prawn crackers and were really cute, didn’t last long though as they were so small.

I was a bit worried about the cuttlefish snacks as I wasn’t sure what cuttlefish tasted like but was pleasantly surprised. These were actually my favourite snack in the box, not too overpowering and we decided they were a cross between Skips and Pom bears.

The seaweed and the wasabi peas were both something I hadn’t tried before and I found them both really strong, especially the wasabi peas! They taste just like peanuts flavoured with mustard and although I am a fan of mustard I can only take it in small doses. We all kind of felt the same about these except my eldest son who finished them all off!

We always have noodles in the house as the kids love to snack on them, the ones we were sent were spicier than normal but still just as tasty and there were no complaints from the kids.

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Sweet Snacks

The Pepero sticks are one of South Korea’s favourite snacks and are long crispy biscuit filled with smooth chocolate, they went down way too easily and I could have done with another box.

The small panda biscuits were covered on one side with chocolate and a panda face, very cute and we all loved them. We expected the koala bears to be similar but they were filled with a fruity flavour and although they were just as cute I found them a bit too sweet.

Most of the Asian snacks, both sweet and savoury, were very light and flacky in texture so I was surprised by the black thunder chocolate bar that was dense and really chocolaty – my kind of snack!

The Chimasu box is available to purchase online as a one off box or a subscription and you can update your preferences to make sure you will get the snacks that you enjoy. We loved having the opportunity to try out things we have never tasted before and it was fun seeing all the expressions on everyone’s face as they tried something new. I’m not sure I loved all the things enough to make the most of a whole box for myself but I’m definitely considering it as a gift for my son who seemed to finish everything off!

If you would like to purchase a box for yourself or someone else as a gift then you can use the code PRETTYCITY122 which will give you £6 discount off your first box and a bar of Japanese KitKat!

*I was sent a Chamasu box for review purposes, all opinions are my own!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Food, London, Uncategorized

Frankie & Benny’s – The Strand

Frankie and Benny’s is described as a New York Italian restaurant and bar and has over 250 branches. The food is a mix between popular American dishes and traditional Italian ones with burgers, pasta and pizza just a few of the options on offer.

We decided to pop into Frankie & Benny’s restaurant along the Strand before our trip to the theatre to watch Kinky boots. We didn’t have any booking and were told we could use the Tastecard for 2 for 1 dishes on a certain menu.

The restaurant had a 1950’s American Italian theme with dark wood and warm mood lighting. The walls were adorned with traditional family photos that fit the theme and we were given a seat in a comfy booth by the friendly waiter.

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To get us in the mood for an all singing and all dancing evening we started our meal with a couple of cocktails ( I was very tempted to try one of those freakshakes) which went down nicely! Although they were so nice that a fly decided to nosedive straight into Jasmin’s purple rain, luckily the barman was happy to replace it for a fresh one!

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We skipped starters as we didn’t want to be late and thankfully the waiter was really quick to come and take our order. I chose the BBQ chicken cheese wrap with fries while Jasmin went for the pasta dish – chicken and prawn alfredo.

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The wrap was really packed with filling which made a change from usual wraps which are very doughy from the wrap itself. The pasta was full of plump prawns and chunky chicken which made both dishes really filling. Even though the dishes were 2 for 1 we decided to share a dessert because we were so full from the main course.

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With a mix of rich brownie and chocolate brownie ice cream this was a perfect dessert for sharing and was a nice treat to the end of the meal.

Finishing just in time for the start of the show we left feeling fully satisfied. Would definitely like to try some other branches of the Frankie & Benny’s chain, particularly for one of those freakshakes!