Thursday, April 27

YO! Sushi New Menu | Bournemouth

On Tuesday, I was kindly invited down to YO! Sushi in Bournemouth for a tasting event of the brand new menu, Flavours Of Japan. The delicious new dishes range from the succulent Chicken Katsu Sando to Tokyo Banana Cake. They've gone back to Japan for this new menu to curate a line-up of authentic street food, crafted from the freshest ingredients on the high street – and I couldn't wait to try it out for myself.


Now, let me be honest here...I don't particularly like sushi. I know what you're thinking "...but you went to YO Sushi?!". It was last summer when I visited YO! Sushi for the first time, and as you sit next to the chefs and can see them cooking up your dishes (one of my favourite parts about the restaurants), I asked one of the experts to recommend me a dish that I might like. To my surprise, there were loads. See my post HERE from my first experience and personal favourites!

When I received the press release with these new dishes, I knew I'd like it all and jumped at the opportunity to try them. So, without further ado, let me introduce you to the fabulous new foods!


Chicken Katsu Sando
I'm fully aware this looks like a basic Chicken sandwich but it's actually a traditional dish they have in Japan and tasted amazing. Originally the staple snack of street vendors and food carts across Japan’s network of Bullet-trains, they've put their own fresh spin on it. The tonkatsu sauce and Japanese mustard inside made it super tasty and extremely moorish, I'm inspired to try and recreate at home! We tried this dish first and I liked it so much, I didn't think anything else would top it!

Rating: 5/5


Sweet & Sour Cod Nanbanzuke
This was amazing. AMAZING. I could have eaten bowls and bowls of it. Another Head-Chef masterpiece. Fresh pieces of cod, fried until crisp and dipped into a tangy “Nanban” sauce. This dish takes sweet and sour to another level, it was so easy to eat and I'll 100% be having this again on my next visit.

Rating: 5/5


Seared Beef Roll
Who says sushi has to be raw fish? This roll has tender beef wrapped around fresh, homemade tsukemon pickles with a dusting of shichimi powder for that added kick. I'm going to be honest, I'm not a pickle lover and the powder on top was a little spicy for me. When I say I don't like sushi, this is normally a dish I wouldn't have but I spent a good ten minutes discussing and appreciate the art of Sushi with my table and the chefs. It was so delicate, well put-together/presented.

Rating: 2/5


Izakaya Pork Teriyaki
I had a love/hate relationship with this one! I'm not a huge fan of pork belly, but the flavour were delicious. A delicacy in the back-street bars of Japan’s Izakayas, this Pork Teriyaki uses perfectly tender slices of pork belly served in a sweet and salty teriyaki glaze. Paired with a soft-boiled egg, I liked it but didn't love it as much as the first two dishes.

Rating: 3/5


Fruity Beef Katsu
This dish was created by one of the top Head Chefs as part of their ‘Fresh Tastes of Japan’ competition. They’ve given their Katsu a fruity twist, combining seasoned mince beef in a crispy panko crumb, fried until golden. Then topped off with a generous drizzle of fruity Tonkatsu sauce. I really enjoyed this one, it was easy to eat and the mince was cooked perfectly.

Rating: 4/5


Oska Style Squid
I don't order or ever eat much Squid, so I wasn't sure how I'd feel about this one however, I can confirm that it was absolutely delicious! I never thought I'd love homemade crispy-fried squid. They’ve gone Osaka-Style with smoky bonito akes, aonori, beni shoga, mayonnaise and tonkatsu for a tasty nish. It's worth noting that the squid is 100% responsibly-sourced too. The only thing that threw me off? The Crispy bits on top looked like they were moving...

Rating: 4/5


Tokyo Banana Cake
I knew I'd love this. I love my desserts and anything with banana is always a winner in my opinion. The Tokyo Banana Cake has fresh cream swirled into a delicate banana sponge topped with chocolate. You can see why this dessert is traditionally given as a homecoming gift in Japan. I liked it so much I might have had my friend Georgie's too (she can't have dairy so..more for me!).

Rating: 5/5
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So there we go! I was so impressed with the food, service and atmosphere, I love our local Bournemouth store. The stories, inspiration and thought behind the new foods made me fall in love with YO! Sushi even more. I'll be back very soon. Huge thanks to YO! Sushi & the Bournemouth team for having me.

*Complimentary Meal/Press Launch
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Wednesday, April 19

Wonderland | Mayflower Theatre, Southampton


I've been super lucky to see a few shows recently, and I have really fallen in love with the Mayflower, it's the biggest theatre on the south coast with over 2,300 seats in the auditorium. The staff are always so warm and friendly, and I know I'm guaranteed to have a great evening. When I was kindly invited to see Wonderland yesterday, I honestly had no idea what to expect. There have been so many adaptations of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, that I was intrigued to see how it would be portrayed on stage.

Following sold out seasons in Tampa, Texas and Tokyo, the multi Grammy, Tony and Drama Desk Award nominated Frank Wildhorn’s Wonderland receives its UK and European premiere in this brand new British production. Hailed by the New York Times as “inspirational”, Wonderland is an enchanting adventurous exploration musical of who we are, who we want to be and the power of everyday magic in our lives.

It follows Alice as a divorced single mother, played by Rachael Wooding at Mayflower Theatre from 18-22 April 2017. In the tradition of the best stage musicals, Wonderland boasts a catchy score full of songs by Frank Wildhorn.

After reading the press release, having many tweets telling me the show was amazing, and learning of the awards it had won and the actors they'd cast, I did have high hopes which sadly, did not live up to my personal expectations. At half time, myself and the fellow Southampton Bloggers discussed what we thought so far, and we were all a bit torn. I was very 50/50 with it. There were elements which I really enjoyed, but I mostly found it cheesy, and lacking that real magic and imagination Alice is known for.

Rachael Wooding has an exceptionally good voice however, she gave me goose bumps! No surprise as she went to the live finals of Britain's Got Talent last year, and did make a good Alice. She wasn't the only good voice however, Wendi Peters (Cilla in Coronation Street), played Queen of Hearts and was brilliant. I was disappointed she wasn't on stage more to be honest, as she was cast so well and her voice was equally as beautiful. Finally, Natalie McQueen as Mad Hatter was another huge talent. Rachael & Natalie's (Alice & Mad Hatter) duet of ‘This Is Who I Am' is a song I'd genuinely listen to over and over again. Their vocals together was amazing.

Overall, the show was very polished, I didn't spot a single mistake and the choreography with perfectly in sync. However, I found I was comparing it too closely to the original Alice story that I know and love, and therefore didn't enjoy it as much as I know others might. It's a little cheesy at times, but bright, fun and worth a watch if you'd got little ones too.


Tickets for Wonderland are on sale from Mayflower Theatre Box Office tel: 02380 711811 or online at mayflower.org.uk.
*Complimentary Press Tickets.
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Monday, April 10

Beauty & The Beast Afternoon Tea | Town House at Kensington Hotel, London


Located in the heart of one of London's most most desirable neighbourhoods, Town House at The Kensington Hotel is located on the corner of two of London’s iconic thoroughfares, Queen’s Gate and the Old Brompton Road, and is spread across three classically designed drawing rooms, serving locally-sourced, seasonal modern British cuisine.

With open fires found in nearly all the hotel’s ground floor reception rooms, entering The Kensington feels rather like walking through the doors of a lovingly restored London mansion. The beautiful high ceilings and heritage décor make it feel extremely welcome.


To celebrate the upcoming release of the highly-anticipated Beauty and the Beast film, Town House at The Kensington is offering a special Afternoon Tea with a twist. Named Tale as Old as Time, complete with Lumiere, Cogsworth (although he was too delicate for the table!), Mrs. Potts and Chip Potts dishware, it's a perfect treat for any Disney fan.


For starter, we had a variety of savoury delights to enjoy, including a hearty Bite-Sized Venison Pie, Cheese Soufflé with Roscoff Onion Pissaladiere, and a rich and delicious Beef Ragu & Saffron Arancini served with Lemon Crème Fraiche. They melted in my mouth. I could have had ten more. Absolutely delicious. We also opted for a glass of Champagne each, as Charlotte & I were celebrating our Disney Dining Reservation Day in preparation for our Walt Disney World Trip in September!


The various sweets and savouries featured are inspired by the characters and scenes of the film. Highlights include Vanilla & Gold Jelly, presented in shot glasses with the ever-symbolic rose petal immersed inside, served with cream poured from Mrs. Potts spout.

Other treats included a Spiced Snow Ball Macaroon; Coconut & Chocolate, referring of course to the classic scene featuring Belle and Beast’s playful snowball fight. Also available is a Chocolate Clock Tart; Chocolate Ganache, featuring an image of Cogsworth’s face. Taken from the song ‘Be Our Guest’, Town House’s ‘Try the Grey Stuff’ White Chocolate Mousse, was super sweet but certainly - delicious! (we didn't even have to ask the dishes, haha.)

As an alternative to scones for this Afternoon Tea, we had Marie’s Sweet Brioche Baguette with apricot preserve & chocolate pot, referring to the local baker from Belle’s hometown in the film. I have to admit, even with the jam/chocolate I found the Brioche dry, and normally prefer scones however, I did like this nod to the film. Clever!


 Full Menu:

Savouries 
Bite-size Venison Pie 
Beef Ragu & Saffron Arancini 
Lemon Crème Fraiche 
Cheese Soufflé 
Roscoff Onion Pissaladière 

Sweets 
Vanilla & Gold Jelly 
‘Try the Grey Stuff’ 
White Chocolate Mousse 
Chocolate Clock Tart 
Chocolate Ganache 
Spiced Snow Ball Macaron 
Coconut & Chocolate 
Speculoos Dress 
Marzipan 

A Selection of Sandwiches 
Potted Argyle Smoked Salmon & Crème Fraiche 
Roast Devon Red Chicken with Cranberry 
Cucumber & Cream Cheese 
Egg Mayonnaise & Cress 

Marie’s Sweet Brioche Baguette 
Apricot Preserve & Chocolate Pot

£35 per person or £45 with a glass of Champagne.


The Tale as Old as Time Afternoon Tea Menu will be available until end of November however, I believe it is currently sold out. You can however check the website for any cancellations and leave your email for details if this changes! I had an amazing afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed all elements of it. A real special treat.


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Thursday, April 6

Miller & Carter Review | BH2 Leisure Complex, Bournemouth


Last Friday night, my boyfriend Benji & I were invited to dine at Miller & Carter in the new BH2 Leisure Complex area of Bournemouth. Conviently located in the centre of town, the complex has an Odeon Cinema, a new car park and is next to Bournemouth Gardens and close to the beach, ideal for an after dinner walk. I've only heard good things about Miller & Carter, and had walked past the outside a few times since recently opening, so I was very excited. I am huge meat lover, and steak is one of my favourite dinners, so I knew it would be good, but I didn't appreciate just HOW good. So much so, I've invited one of my best friends Gary to go back with me tomorrow.


We booked for 7.30pm and arrived a little early, kindly greeted by the staff at the front desk, and instantly shown to our table by the window. We had a view across the street for a bit of people watching, one of my secret guilty pleasures! We were slightly below road level though, so had some privacy at the same time. Miller & Carter really have a great location in the new BH2 Leisure area.

When we sat down, I instantly noticed the seats were super comfortable. I have a really bad back, so it's one of my pet peeves when a restaurant has poor furniture and I feel rushed to want to leave because I'm uncomfortable! The ambiance and atmosphere was really lovely, it wasn't not too quiet or too noisy, and although a busy Friday night, it didn't feel crowded. We could easily have a conversation and not hear the people behind or next to us either.

I loved the ability to see the chef's cooking away too, I got an instant friendly vibe of their chemistry working together, and when I started taking a few photos, they joked to me about getting their best angle. A lovely way to stay the evening!

Our waitress Rhianna introduced herself, and didn't rush us making our wine and food choices. She was absolutely fantastic, and a real asset to Miller & Carter.


Drinks
Benji & I love our wine, so we went for a bottle of The Bulletin Zinfandel Rosé which was very reasonably priced. It was selected as 'highly recommended' on the menu and rightly so, it was gorgeous! Sweet, light and easy to drink. I'd definitely order it again. Their wine list had plenty of great choice, and our waitress was very knowledgable on what she recommended ordering too.


Starter
For starters, I had to try the king prawns (£6.95). Being in Bournemouth and living by the sea makes me a huge seafood lover, and these did not disappoint. Cooked in garlic butter and served with toasted ciabatta, this was a perfect starter. Benji went for the baked cheddar mushrooms (£5.75), also in a creamy garlic and cheddar sauce with a piece of garlic ciabatta. I could have eaten a whole bowl of these! Delicious.


Main
The fillet steak was a no brainer for me (£23.50). It's generally my favourite meal to order and it did not disappoint. I asked for it to be medium cooked, and I can confidently admit it was pretty perfect to how I like it. The portion size was generous too. I opted for the peppercorn sauce, whilst the meat was served with parsley butter, seasoned fries, a slice of onion loaf (just like a onion ring, so delicious!) and a balsamic glazed tomato. Miller & Carter also serve it with a lettuce wedge and your choice of seasoning, so I went for garlic mayonnaise and parmesan.

As you can tell, you can really tailor your steak experience, there's even extra options for extra sides however, this was absolutely plenty of food. Benji went for the 50 day aged grain fed ribeye (£19.95), with the beef dripping sauce as recommended by our waitress Rhianna. We later found out this is hugely popular, and I can totally understand why. A perfect combination!


Dessert & After Dinner Cocktails
I have a huge sweet tooth and anyone who knows me understands I love my dessert. I normally give up starter for dessert, but this was a special friday night treat! Generally when I read a menu, there's always one thing which jumps straight out to me, but the Miller & Carter Dessert menu is to die for. There is so much fantastic choice! Therefore, it was inevitable I opted for the tasting plate (£8.95) including a selection of the Chocolate Brownie, Raspberry Crème brûlée, Glazed Passion Fruit Tart and fresh berries. I am not joking when I say I was in pure heaven. Benji went for the Raspberry CCrème brûlée too (£5.25), and it was definitely the best choice. Madagascan vanilla glazed brulee, with fresh raspberries and a raspberry sugar crunch, served with a home baked vanilla biscuit. I am definitely ordering it again next time, it was beautiful. The brownie was a little dry and definitely needed the ice cream, but the Passion Fruit Tart was a perfect palate cleanser. A close second favourite!

As we were keen to try a bit of everything, we also ordered a cocktail each. I had the After Eight-Thirty, a silky, smooth and refreshing Baileys, Crème de Menthe and Crème de Cacao, shaken with cream. Once again, I'd order this again. Baileys is one of my favourites. Benji went for a Vanilla White Russian, an updated classic, Smirnoff Vanilla vodka shaken with Tia Maria, milk and cream. I have to admit, he was very torn for choice between the Chocolate Martini and Espresso Martini too, we'll give our verdict on those next time!


I enjoyed our dinner so much, that I'm already going back less than a week later. For the quality, service and general ambiance, I feel our meal was good value for money. It would make a perfect date night or birthday/anniversary meal. I have absolutely nothing bad to say, it was genuinely a gorgeous dinner and we both thoroughly enjoyed our evening. If you'd like to be in with a chance of winning a £100 gift card to eat at a Miller & Carter near you, head on over to my Instagram, it's only open until next Tuesday! Be sure to follow their Instagram & Facebook too.

Huge thank you to Miller & Carter, big welcome to Bournemouth and I look forward to coming again soon!


*This post is kindly sponsored by Miller & Carter.

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