RSS Feed

Restaurant Review – The Hinds Head, Bray

Restaurant Review – The Hinds Head, Bray

Ian and I were counting down the days to this meal and when we found out our friend Karen was free to join us too, were looking forward to it even more! The Hinds Head is one of Heston Blumenthal’s pubs that has been awarded a Michelin star since I last ate there a couple of years ago. It is a gorgeous 15th Century building that keeps that cosy pub feel without any pretentiousness.

I started with a G&T made with Hendricks, my favourite gin. It was served beautifully with cucumber, black pepper and a rose…stunning!

IMG_0206 IMG_0207

The three of us decided to share a few starters which included a hash of snails (delicious!), a Scotch Egg, Devils on Horseback and potted shrimps. I think starters are often one of the best courses and these were a great way to have a little taste of everything. I know snails may not be everyone’s cup of tea but these were gently cooked in garlic butter and served on a lovely slice of sourdough bread.

IMG_0208 IMG_0209

For my main course I had a fish pie with ‘sand and sea’. I was slightly puzzled when I was told this can come lukewarm with the fish still slightly uncooked and translucent or piping hot. Now I would always order my meat rare when offered but rare fish was a first for me and just didn’t appeal! Anyway, my ‘piping hot’ pie arrived and it was packed with fish (smoked pollock, cured salmon and prawns) and the ‘sand and sea’ turned out to be a creamy foam and crunchy breadcrumbs, both of which added a lovely texture.

IMG_0210

My friend Karen opted for the fillet of stonebass with crushed Jerusalem artichokes, mussels and a cider butter sauce.

IMG_0211

Ian had the duck which was served pink with beetroot, barley and turnips. We couldn’t resist a side order of the infamous triple cooked chips too!

IMG_0212

I was so glad I saved room for pudding as this was a good ‘un. I was torn between a few options but the waitress recommended this warm chocolate melt-in-the-middle pudding served with an amazing orange marmalade ice cream. I’m not even ashamed to admit that I didn’t share a mouthful of this either!

IMG_0213 IMG_0215

Karen and Ian had a cheeseboard but were much kinder than me and let me try some too.

IMG_0214

I absolutely loved our evening here and for a Michelin restaurant, it was really reasonable considering we had three courses. It is the second time we have eaten at the Hinds Head and I would return without hesitation. In fact, our friend rebooked to go back there within a few weeks’ time!

Beauty Review – A Hand and Heel Duo

A beauty review today of a hand and foot cream from Soap and Glory that I have been using and loving.

IMG_0227

During my half-terms, I really treat myself to lovely scrubs and serums each morning and night but as soon as I am back at work, this beauty routine can slip somewhat. However, one thing I have found that works for me is to keep my bedtime routine beauty products by my bed so as I am writing in my journal, reading or listening to a podcast before bed, I can slather on various potions.

IMG_0303

I have kept these two pink tubes on my bedside table and used them religiously for the past few weeks and have noticed a real difference.

First up is the Soap and Glory Hand Food. This contains shea butter and macadamia oil which are really moisturising but don’t leave a horrible greasy residue. This has a lovely sweet smell to it in their ‘Pink’ fragrance and has kept my mitts soft over these cold months.

IMG_0228

Heel Genius is easily my new favourite foot cream. It has a lovely refreshing scent that also sinks in really quickly. It is non-greasy and boasts a whole range of ingredients that are known for their moisturising qualities such as glycerine and macadamia oil. I hate it when flip flop weather arrives and you wish you had spent the winter taking a bit more care of your feet so I am using this product now to avoid the panic!

IMG_0229

I always get one of the huge Soap and Glory hampers around Christmas time so have about three more tubes of these hand and feet helpers in reserve (did someone say hoarder?!) but the good news is that they are really reasonably priced in Boots and usually have a 3 for 2 deal on too. x

Restaurant Review – Taplow House Hotel

It feels like I haven’t done a good restaurant review for ages! I think that’s probably because we keep eating at places I have already reviewed or just places that don’t lend themselves to a good blog post.

Anyway, today I wanted to share the amazing meal Ian and I enjoyed at Taplow House Hotel when we stayed there recently. We had a three course meal included in our hotel stay which I always like as it means you don’t have to have that argument about who will be the designated driver!

IMG_0184

We started with a good bottle of Merlot while we perused the menu. There were 4 or 5 options for starter, main and dessert which were a nice variety of meat, fish and veggie dishes. The dining room was beautifully decorated but I have to say there wasn’t much atmosphere…maybe that was simply because it was a Wednesday evening though.

I am going to get my other niggle out the way now because I really couldn’t find fault with the food. The night we ate at the Taplow House Hotel, there was a large party in the other room which meant the service in the restaurant suffered a bit. We actually had to wait for almost an hour for our starters which normally would really annoy me but because we were ‘on holiday’ I didn’t mind too much as we were enjoying our wine and conversation.

Onto our (much anticipated!) starters…

IMG_0187

I had a dish of lightly whipped goats cheese which came with salt baked and pickled beetroot, green apple, sesame seed sponge, blackberries and leaves. The pairing of goats cheese and beetroot is a favourite of mine and this was one of those perfectly balanced dishes with a lovely variety of flavours and textures.

IMG_0188

Ian had the grilled mackerel (which were smoked in-house) which came with avocado, celeriac remoulade, mouli, pickled mustard seeds and shiso cress. Again, this was a well-balanced dish with the rich fish matched well against the accompaniments.

I think you can usually judge how good a restaurant is after you’ve had the starters and I have to say we were both really impressed with what we had had so far.

For my main, I really fancied fish so ordered the fillet of cod. This was a huge portion (not complaining!) and it just flaked away perfectly. It was served with artichokes, cockles, mini turnips, squid ink gnocchi and a smoked herring roe butter sauce. Whilst it did look a bit messy on the plate, this dish was incredible! The rich sauce brought everything together and I thoroughly enjoyed every mouthful.

IMG_0189

Ian opted for the lamb which again looked a bit messy on the plate but more than delivered on taste. There was a braised neck of lamb fillet and loin as well as sweetbreads served with pearl barley, charred baby leeks, celeriac and a lovely rosemary gravy.

IMG_0190

Onto pudding now and I had the white chocolate cheesecake which turned out to be a delightful deconstructed version and one of my favourite dishes of the night. The filling part of the cheesecake part was one of the balls sat atop the biscuit crumbs, the other being a rich vanilla ice cream. Surrounding the rest of the plate was a combination of chocolate ganache, shards of milk chocolate, hazelnuts, cocoa nib sherbet and cocoa marshmallows. It was truly delicious and every mouthful was different.

IMG_0191

Ian doesn’t have as much of a sweet tooth as I do so opted for the cheeseboard which had a nice variety of local cheeses, crackers and a chutney.

IMG_0192

If this hotel was nearby, I would be back to this restaurant in a flash. Although the atmosphere and service left a bit to be desired, I absolutely loved the food here and that would be enough to tempt me back. x

Our Drinks Trolley

When we redecorated our conservatory, we were left with an awkward space where we needed a piece of furniture but I wasn’t too sure what…fast forward to an impulse purchase at IKEA and this white and silver drinks trolley came home with us!

I love the idea of having a little drinks cart to allow any guests to just help themselves to a drink meaning you don’t have to be rushing around and waiting on people all night. By having your spirits on display I think it also eradicates the chances of those weird bottles we all end up buying on holiday…watermelon schnapps anyone?!

IMG_0260

Here is the trolley in all its glory. Whilst it does have wheels, I can’t see myself ever using them and this is very much a stationary piece of furniture!

IMG_0255

As you can see, there are three shelves with a very handy sliding tray hidden underneath the top shelf.

IMG_0256 IMG_0257

Ian’s parents very kindly bought us this huge Kilner jar which proved to be perfect for serving Pimms when we had people over last summer. It is quite large but pretty enough to be on display all year round and is another great way to allow people to just help themselves…I’m sounding like such a lazy hostess!

IMG_0259

I decided to use the bottom shelf for our large bottles of spirits, the middle shelf for small bottles and cute glasses and the top for more glasses, straws, stirrers and our cocktail shaker.

IMG_0264 IMG_0263 IMG_0262 IMG_0261IMG_0266IMG_0267

Getting this trolley sorted and looking pretty has inspired me to start looking for some new cocktails recipes…any recommendations?! x

IMG_0265 IMG_0266 IMG_0268

This Week’s Nails – Lilac and Sequins

A really fun but slightly fiddly manicure this week!

IMG_0144

I’m trying to take better care of my nails and include a good base coat when wearing nail varnish. I own several but am sometimes so keen to try out a new colour that I can be a bit lazy and skip this step.

IMG_0274

This week, I used Orly’s Bonder which is perfectly described as a ‘rubberized basecoat’. It dries as a sort of matte glue-like finish and is meant to ‘grip’ onto your nail varnish meaning it will last longer and won’t transfer any colour to your nails either.

IMG_0276

For the main colour, I used the Illamasqua shade Jan which is a beautiful creamy pink-hued lilac. This gave excellent coverage in two coats and I continue to be impressed with the polishes from this brand.

For my accent nails, I decided to try out this gorgeous bottle by Ciate in Tinsel Trail. Described on the bottle as ‘sequins’, these flecks are loose (as opposed to being suspended in a clear nail varnish) pieces of diamond-shaped tinsel in a holographic silver and electric blue shades. They are really vibrant although you do need a bit of patience with the placement…and don’t sneeze or cough as these will be everywhere!

IMG_0275

I tipped a few pieces out of the bottle then used a nail dotting pen to pick them up and place the diamonds on my nails whilst the nail varnish was still wet. I kept them roughly in lines and tried to alternate between the two colours.

IMG_0143

I always think the true test of how difficult nail art is comes down to whether I, as a right-handed person, can use my left hand to do the nail art on myself. In this case I could so whilst it is definitely fiddly, it is pretty straightforward and if you have enough patience, you can copy this look!

IMG_0140 IMG_0141

I used a layer of Seche Vite to seal this manicure and am pleased to report that this stayed for about a week with no chipping. I love how vibrant these little diamonds look and if I ever find myself with an hour to kill, I would love to try this look out on every nail! x

Sunday Catch-up #8

It has been half-term this week and I have actually struggled to fit everything I’ve done in to this catch-up post. We have seen friends, been away for a little hotel break and tackled a few jobs around the house – all in all a great week off!

This week I have been…

Making: an effort not to overpack

IMG_0174

Going: away with Ian for a few nights

IMG_0176

Wearing: flowery dresses in the sunshine (and the rain)

Eating: two amazing meals out (reviews of both will be on my blog next week)

IMG_0211 IMG_0191

Drinking: the most beautiful G&T of my life

IMG_0222

Reading: research papers for an essay I keep putting off

Watching: the new series of ‘Better Call Saul’ – the verdict’s out at the moment

Buying: a new phone case for my iphone…it’s only a matter of time before it slips out of my hands so I thought I should be prepared

Planning: some new cocktail recipes now we have our drinks trolley up and running!

IMG_0260

Cooking: pancakes…these pesto, bacon and goats cheese ones were delicious

IMG_0172 IMG_0173

Baking: nothing this week :-(

Writing: 30th birthday cards…it’s happening

Favouriting: some at-home work-out routines as I am such a fair-weather runner!

Working on: some new recipes involving quinoa

Trying to decide: what colour to paint our spare bedroom over Easter

Wishing: I had a real one of these

IMG_0269

Enjoying: these beautiful blooms

IMG_0273

Needing: to buy the full-sized versions of these Liz Earle gems

IMG_0225

Feeling: very naughty for taking a long afternoon nap this week

IMG_0205

Giggling at: old stories of what we got up to at university with old friends!

IMG_0223

Our Mini-Break

We’re back home now after a lovely few days away feeling relaxed, refreshed and if I’m being honest a little heavier after some amazing meals out! Not that I feel too guilty though – it was exactly what we both needed and I feel ready to go back to work next week knowing I made the most of my week off.

We were lucky enough to receive this hotel break as our Christmas present from Ian’s parents. We have kind of got everything we need for the house so they often buy us a night away somewhere which is a lovely thing to look forward to in the months after Christmas.

We stayed for two nights at the Taplow House Hotel, near Maidenhead. This is a beautiful hotel, set in stunning grounds with real care and attention to all those little details that make a hotel stay so lovely.

IMG_0176 IMG_0177 IMG_0181

We arrived on a sunny Wednesday afternoon and after unpacking and having a quick cuppa, set off for a wander around Taplow and sample a local ale.

IMG_0182 IMG_0184

That evening, we ate at the hotel (review coming next week) which was really delicious.

IMG_0191

The next morning, after a hearty breakfast of pancakes and pastries (me) and smoked haddock, spinach and eggs (Ian) we set off to Windsor which was a short drive away. It was a bit grey and overcast so we decided to explore Windsor Castle.

IMG_0198 IMG_0200 IMG_0201 IMG_0202

I love a bit of history and this was a great way to spend a few hours walking through the beautifully manicured grounds, visiting the chapel and the tombs, seeing Queen Mary’s Doll House and finally experiencing the grandeur and elegance of the State Apartments. Yes, it’s quite a touristy thing to do but I would definitely recommend it.

After refuelling with a chai latte and a bit of shopping, we decided lunch was in order and enjoyed two bowls of pasta at Carluccio’s (their penne giardiniera is to die for!) before a quick look around Eton then a lazy afternoon nap at the hotel.

IMG_0205

That evening, we had a table booked at Heston Blumenthal’s pub, the Hind’s Head (which was actually one of my first ever restaurant reviews almost 4 years ago!) and managed to combine this with seeing our good friend Karen too…such a great night!

IMG_0211 IMG_0222 IMG_0223

After an amazing fry-up, we drove home yesterday morning and just pottered and chilled out. Ian is working today which leaves me some time to do some school work and start to get back into work-mode…totally not going to spend the afternoon on the sofa watching Grey’s Anatomy! x

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 929 other followers