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!

 

Posted in Food, London, Uncategorized

Southbank centre street food market

If you happen to be around the Southbank between Friday and Sunday and are struggling to decide where to eat you may want to head towards the Southbank centre’s street food market.

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Whether you are looking for a snack, cooked food, a sweet treat or even just a tipple then there is likely to be something here to tickle your tastebuds. We decided to check out the market after our meal at The Archduke down the road. We were looking for dessert but there was so much food to choose we actually thought we should have just went there to begin with.

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We were hoping to find a stall that did waffles and crepes but didn’t see any, there was however loads of cake!

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We chose a selection of these cupcakes from sweet tooth factory (which I had to unfortunately share with my kids) and the they were delicious. We didn’t get to sample anything else but if I happen to be around there again when it is open I would love to try out some other dishes.

Where is your favourite food market?

Posted in Food, London, Uncategorized

Archduke @ Southbank

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Situated right in between Waterloo station and the hustle of the Southbank is Archduke cocktail, steak and Jazz restaurant. From the outside it seems like any other steakhouse but inside it feels a lot more upmarket and plusher than the average burger joint.

We went to the Archduke on a weekend afternoon and got a table for three with no reservation, it was fairly busy upstairs where we sat but still plenty of empty tables throughout the three floors.

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The seating is really comfy and the walls are adorned with Jazz prints, The exposed brickwork and high ceilings add a contemporary touch but it still feels cosy.

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The menu included a good range of dishes including, salads, steaks and a chargrilled section. We went for the double classic burger, chicken breast in a brioche bun and the roast chicken with fries and salad. I didn’t notice any child section on the menu but then I didn’t notice any other children except my own 12 year old and he eats bigger portions than me!

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The food had a good portion size but I was a bit disappointed that my brioche bun seemed to be a normal burger bun and although my burger was pretty tasty, Mr OPC said his was very bland, which may explain why he covered it in English mustard and tomato ketchup.

Although the restaurant seems to be popular for its cocktails I stuck with a coke but the Mr went for an espresso martini which looked delicious.

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We decided not to order dessert as the Southbank street food market was just outside and we thought we would have a mooch and pick up something sweet from there.

The bill came to £65 for the three of us which is pricy for burger and chips but I think you’re definitely paying for the setting and atmosphere as well as the food and it’s nice to experience somewhere different for a change, although not sure I would go back for that price.

Posted in Food, London, Photography, Uncategorized

Live music @ Pizza Express

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You may know pizza express as a place where you go to sit down and eat pizza, well you wouldn’t be wrong but you can also do so much more on your visit. As I have previously posted about, you can attend a pizza making party and create your own dinner before it is cooked and served to you at the table. Well did you know that you can also indulge in your favourite dough balls while listening to sultry sounds of Jazz music from some well known artists and up and coming singers?

There are four locations that host live shows everyday and tickets are available to purchase to attend these, there are also branches across the country that feature free live performances every Thursday. One of these playlist venues is the newly furnished Greenwich Pizza Express restaurant.

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Situated within a world heritage site in the heart of Greenwich the warm blue and brown tones in the décor are designed to compliment the tradition design of the building and the walls are adorned with photographs of artists performing live, including Amy Winehouse who had previously sang at the Soho Jazz club branch of Pizza Express.

I attended Pizza Express with a group of other bloggers to experience the live music performance and sample their food which now includes a much wider range for vegan and gluten free diets.

While waiting for our food to arrive our performer for the evening, Darren Campbell, started his set and I browsed the programme on the table to see who else would be on this month.

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Darren was great, he played a number of well known songs and really blended in with the atmosphere without being over the top. It was nice to have someone singing live in such a small setting and the room wasn’t full so it felt intimate and cosy. Would probably make a great first date for somewhere relaxing with an added something special!

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We started our meal with a platter of classic Italian antipasto which included a selection of Italian meats, olives and sundried tomatoes. It is probably not something I would have chosen to order so it was good to try something I wouldn’t normally eat and I particularly loved the bread with Calabrese sausage and buffalo mozzarella. There were also vegan dough balls and bruschetta for the vegans among us.

For a main course I chose the pollo pesto which is a penne pasta with a pesto and béchamel sauce, chicken, mushroom and a nice added crunch of red onion. The pasta wasn’t as hot as I would have expected it but warm enough to eat. It was really tasty and flavoursome and something I would order again. The other dishes looked equally as delicious too.

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I was actually feeling really stuffed after eating the whole bowl of pasta and finished my meal with a latte while a few others went for the sticky toffee Bundt cake – if only I didn’t eat those starters!

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I had a really lovely night of food, drink, music and company.

I often go out to eat and then cant be bothered to go onto another venue because I am stuffed and just want to relax. If you are the same then the live performance at Pizza express is the perfect way to combine your evening all in one sitting.

If you want to find out more about the Pizza Express live or to see what artists are performing at a branch near you then check out their website. If music isn’t your thing there are also some comedy shows included in the line up too!

 

*written in collaboration with pizza express, all thoughts and opinions are my own!

 

Posted in Food, Lifestyle, London, Uncategorized

A movie on the roof

Last year I went to watch The wolf of wall street in the park. It was my first experience of an outdoor movie and after leaving halfway through after nearly catching frostbite I thought it would be my last.

Fast forward to 2017 with an invite to the rooftop film club and I think how bad can it be? Well it did include deckchairs rather than sitting on a blanket on the grass and they do provide blankets so possibly warmer than previous experience.

The rooftop film club has four venues across London and I attended the Bussey building which is a rather old, industrial concrete building that has been saved from demolition by being turned into a top arts venue.

After breathlessly reaching the sixth floor we were told to enter the left hand side which is where the rooftop bar is situated. As the event was in collaboration with Corona we were given a bottle to enjoy accompanied by some tapas from Rockadollar dogs to eat while taking in the stunning sunset views of the city until the film was ready to start.

Luckily the weather at this point was quite mild and there wasn’t a raindrop in sight. We were given a fleecy blanket although it was quite thin so I’m glad I wrapped up for the occasion. We were also given a pair of headphones like the ones used for the silent discos with adjustable volume so you can listen to the film as loud or as quiet as you like, it also drowns out the sound of other people talking and doesn’t make you feel so self conscious about making a noise as you would in a normal cinema. An added bonus is that the headphones also keep your ears warm!

The views on the screening side were just as great and the deckchairs were more comfortable than I expected. The movie on show was Romeo and Juliet (it seems outdoor cinemas have a thing about Leonardo DiCaprio) and most of the films on show are cult classics from across the decades.

I hadn’t previously watched The 1996 adaptation of Romeo and Juliet and it was explosive to say the least, a lot more action than I was expecting from a love story but the visual cinematic version definitely brought the story to life. The rooftop was a perfect setting for the movie, as the wind blew in one of the scenes you could see and feel the wind blowing around you which made you feel cold like you were there with the characters. Sitting under the stars watching aeroplanes sail above makes for a rather romantic evening of movie watching, and if it was warmer it would have been a perfect date night. As I am adverse to the cold I think I will look forward to my autumn evenings on the sofa and wait until summer comes back around before attempting another outdoor movie night.

Tickets for the rooftop film club are £15 which includes the headphones and blanket but there also membership options available.

Have you ever experienced outdoor movie watching?

Posted in Food, Lifestyle, Travel, Uncategorized

Fruit picking with Fruit Shoot @ Home cottage farm

With the stress of back to school looming we were invited by Fruit Shoot to take part in some fruit picking at Home cottage farm which made a lovely final summers day out.

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Home cottage farm is a small family run ‘pick your own’ farm on the outskirts of Uxbridge. We travelled to the farm on the busy tube network which accompanied by four nosebleeds from Kieron made for an eventful journey. It was worth it to enjoy the tranquillity of the country surroundings, wading through raspberry bushes and apple trees. We were accompanied by other bloggers and unfortunately we arrived slightly late so the raspberries were sparse by the time we reached them with our basket, but it made it fun having to search for the perfect berries to pick.

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We had the option of picking blackberries, raspberries, apples and plums but didn’t want to carry too much as we had a long journey back via rush hour mayhem so we just stuck with the raspberries and apples.

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Although it was pouring down with rain on our journey the sun made an appearance later in the afternoon and we were treated to a lovely picnic on the grass with lots of healthy goodies to indulge in. We were accompanied by author and master baker Holly Bell who was a finalist in The Great British Bake Off and made us some delicious treats that were free from refined sugar and instead filled with the natural sweetness of fruit.

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We had a selection of savoury treats followed by loaf cake, muffins and my favourite, this succulent and sweet flapjack that I never would have guessed contains no sugar! This was all washed down with refreshing Fruit Shoots in a range of flavours. We were given the recipes and a children’s baking set so we could make them at home or come up with our own delights. As this recipe is really simple (and I’m no Holly Bell) I will definitely be trying this out!

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The message of the day is that you can enjoy sweet treats without having to compromise on your health and that real fruit is a great alternative to other artificial sweeteners and refined sugar.

Did you know that Fruit Shoot is made with real fruit?

There is real fruit in every drop of Fruit Shoot and each and every one is filled with multi-vitamins. Better still, there isn’t any added sugar, artificial colours or flavourings at all.

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As somebody that eats far too many unhealthy snacks this was a great opportunity to find alternatives and I am going to attempt to give up refined sugars and enjoy more natural substitutes instead.

Do you have any tips for giving up sugar?

*written in collaboration with fruit shoot, all opinions are my own
Posted in Food, London, Travel, Uncategorized

Jimmy’s world grill @ O2

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After our adventure on the Emirates cable car which you may have seen on a previous post, we returned to Greenwich in search of something to eat.

As well as being one of the countries largest music and events venues the o2 is also home to a vast amount of food and drink establishments including well known restaurants such as Harvester, Nando’s and Pizza express. We decided we wanted to try something a bit different and opted for a mixture of food at Jimmy’s world bar and grill.

We thought the £9.99 price was really reasonable although I was surprised that this didn’t include soft drinks like similar buffet restaurants I have been to. I suppose the price would be higher because of the prime location. Children under 10 are half price and children under 3 are free which is great if you have little ones! unfortunately I don’t!

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The restaurant itself is really large and seats 400 people. It was about half full when we arrived so seemed to be a popular choice for visitors to the o2. Usually you are given a 2 hour slot but because of the time we arrived we only had 50 minutes, this is because between 4 and 5 o’clock the restaurant changes over to the evening menu and so we had to leave by 4. If I had known this before going in I probably would have eaten elsewhere because I then felt like I had to rush my food and didn’t really get the opportunity to browse all the dishes that were available.

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When we were shown to our table we were told that a waiter would come and take our drinks order and we could help ourselves to food. The waitress didn’t arrive until we were on our second plate of food which is another reason why a place that is so big should offer an option to include drink in the price so you can help yourself.

The food was tasty and filling but I was expecting a much wider range (maybemore is available in the evening as the price does go up then) I think because the food is kept in large lidded metal containers it puts you off trying out different meals because you cant be bothered to lift them all up to see what is in them We stuck with the curry and the pizza dishes but wanted to leave room for dessert too.

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As our table was quite far from the food I asked the kids to bring me dessert while they were getting theirs. They thought the ice cream was really nice but wasn’t impressed with the options on offer.

Our experience of Jimmy’s wasn’t really great but I would go back because I think if we had more time we would have enjoyed our meal more and got better value for our money.

There are six branches of Jimmy’s across the country, have you ever visited any?