Eat with Spencer Pop-Up Restaurant Wharf Distillery April 2017

Find out who is Spencer and why do we want to eat with him? (That’s eat with, not eat him).

Can’t wait for date night!

I am so excited for tomorrow’s date night with my wonderful husband.

We don’t get to go out just the two of us all that often but when we get the chance I cherish the time alone. Quality time just being us, talking, being silly and cracking lots of jokes.

We are going to The Swan at Salford . A cute, village gastropub that in the handful of visits I’ve enjoyed there has proven itself to be well worth the little drive out of MK for. 

I have been invited to check out their weekend specials to celebrate native lobster season. 

Lobster is easily one of my favourite treats to eat. It feels special. It’s romantic (it always reminds me of the Friends episode where Phoebe likens Ross and Rachel to a pair of lobsters destined to be together forever) and it’s just damn tasty.

Between 18th – 20th August there is the chance to enjoy native lobster grilled with garlic butter and skinny fries.

Native Grilled Lobster, Garlic Butter & Skinny Fries.JPG

Between 25th – 27th August you can choose to indulge with butter poached native lobster served with new potatoes and samphire. 

Butter-poached Native Lobster, New Potatoes & Samphire.JPG

Pictures above are what The Swan are advertising. I can’t wait to see how they are executed and taste for myself.

So it feels like the perfect date night ahead. Delicious food (I hope), in a wonderful village pub on a British Summer’s evening and of course, my very own lobster (aww, mushy LouBou). 

 

 

WHAT IT’S REALLY LIKE TO BE BLINDFOLDED FOR DINE IN THE DARK AT CALCUTTA BRASSERIE

It isn’t a secret that Calcutta Brasserie is one of my most favourite Indian restaurants. It was in fact the first ever Indian restaurant I dined in and is now for me what all other Indian restaurants are measured against.

IMG_7493

Situated just off the high street in the market town of Stony Stratford in north Milton Keynes, Calcutta Brasserie is set within a spectacular 17th Century Grade II Listed Chapel which makes for a fantastic dining atmosphere.

I’ve seen Calcutta Brasserie advertise Dine in the Dark evenings in the past and it’s always tickled my curiosity. Now it’s time to finally try one.

IMG_7545.JPG

During the Dine in the Dark evening the whole restaurant has the lights turned down with only tea lights to guide you to your table. When you take a seat you are given a three course meal and also a blindfold, if you wish to immerse yourself completely to the darkness (imagine a restaurant forcing you to sit in pitch black? Sounds messy).

IMG_7547.JPG

I’ve often heard people say that if you lose one of your human senses the other ones get more tuned and work stronger. The concept of dining in the dark is that by taking away your sight you will experience the food by taste and aroma and that alone. Heightening the eating experience on a journey of spice and flavours that you may have never noticed before with your Indian meal.

IMG_7506.JPG

To start, of course is poppadoms with a selection of sauces. These were extremely easy to eat blindfolded and are always a great introduction to an Indian meal.

Next up is the starters, presented to our table as a platter for us all to share. There was Achari Murgh Tikka, Gilafi Sheek, Vegetable Samoa and Mix Vegetable Pakora.

IMG_7516.JPG

I ADORE Indian starters. The Mix Vegetable Pakora is something I haven’t tried before at Calcutta Brasserie and was mouth wateringly tasty. The Achari Murgh Tikka is the most delicately spiced and flavoursome piece of chicken you can imagine. Cooked in the Tandoor, it’s something I must insist you try, especially if you like your Indian food served ‘dry’ rather than in lots of sauce.

IMG_7521.JPG

The main courses were all served in bowls for us to serve ourselves – Perfect. The dishes were Murgh Tikka Lababdor, Kosha Mangsho, Aloo Matter and Tarkari Sabzi. These were all presented to us with Saffron Pilau Rice and an Assorted Bread Basket of Peshwari, Garlic and Coriander and Plain Naan breads.

The Murgh Tikka Lababdor was pieces of chicken in the most velvety, buttery, creamy sauces made from tomatoes, onion gravy, butter and cream. Silky smooth and gentle on the spice. It was definitely my hot favourite of the bunch. Not far behind are the others. The Aloo Matter with its punchy, spicy potatoes were perfectly cooked and like having a big cuddle in a mouthful. Being blindfolded, the lamb Kosha Mangsho tasty dark and intense and gave a great contrast to the sweeter and mellower Lababdor. If spicy is your thing then look no further than the Tarkari Sabzi with its zingy, hot take on chickpeas, onions, tomatoes and mixed peppers, definitely one that got your tongue excited.

IMG_7530.JPG

Breads were fresh and tasty and perfect for mopping up those delicious main course sauces and the Saffron Pilau was the perfect plateau for all these dishes to meet upon. As we devoured the Peshwari naan first we were treated to a second one…

IMG_7535.JPG

…at this point, I do need to note that portions are not something you need to worry about at Calcutta Brasserie. There was more than enough to go around and who’d complain about that…!

When the mains were finished there was then two desserts to choose from. Raspberry and White Chocolate Cheescake or Kulfi Indian Ice Cream. I choose the Mango Kulfi, it was the perfect palette refresher after such a rich and vibrant meal. Perfectly fruity without being too sweet. My dining guest ordered the cheesecake and I must say a little thank you as he let me have a bite of his cheesecake to try. It was very tasty but I was glad I choose the Kulfi.

IMG_7537.JPG
IMG_7539.JPG

The whole evening for me was very fun. I must admit that the blindfold wasn’t used exclusively. I chopped and changed between using it and not. Partly because it was hard to manoeuvre the food to my mouth on my own (yes, I’m an oaf) and partly because I was enjoying watching my dinner guests trying to get food in their mouths and seeing their reactions.

FullSizeRender (75)

With the blindfold on, the food really was a more intense and tasty experience. With no eyes and nothing but the taste in my mouth to focus on, I felt the journey of spices in a totally different way to how I would normally enjoy an Indian meal (scoffing and scoffing and scoffing…).  

Would it work with other cuisines like pizza? Probably not but this intoxicating, addictive Indian food is perfect for it.

I love that it opens up the perfect dinner party games too. Try feeding your dinner guest something without them knowing what’s coming and then ask them what they taste? Get them to guess what dish from the table you are giving them. Then ask them to do the same for you. Really get those taste buds working.

For such a novel eating experience the £19.95 price tag for all three courses is extremely good value. The next DINE IN THE DARK is happening on Wednesday 27 July so why not try it for yourself? Details below.

IMG_7504

Calcutta Brasserie
Dining in the Dark
Wednesday 27 July 6.30pm
Costs £19.95 per person which includes a three course meal and of course, a blindfold
To book call 01908 566577
http://www.calcuttabrasserie.co.uk/

 

If you like my ramblings then join me on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram

RESTAURANT REVIEW: BANANA TREE MILTON KEYNES

IMG_7309

Yes, I know I’m slow but what I lack in speed, I hope I make up for in other ways…

Banana Tree has been part of Milton Keynes’ growing restaurant portfolio for two years now, opening about the same time I had my first child. The whirlwind of two years that followed has resulted in me feeling quite shocked and a touch embarrassed that I had yet to venture into the place where the hammock-type seats hang outside in a fun, come-sit-in-me teasingly fashion but finally that was to be rectified.

IMG_7310

Situated in The Hub CMK, Banana Tree can be found opposite Loch Fyne. If in doubt just look for those orange hammock swings.

IMG_7311

The night I visited is just an average Tuesday evening but as I enter I can make a confident guess that this place must rarely do empty. To my surprise it was a full restaurant on the ground floor.

IMG_7312

As we had to wait a few minutes for a table Mr LouBou and I took a seat in the bar area. I really approve of Banana Tree’s bar area, it’s self-contained and doesn’t make you feel like you’re crashing someone else’s dinner date by just ordering and enjoying a drink.

I am of course off the strong stuff as I am pregnant but Mr LouBou took full joy in ordering from the Happy Hour Cocktail Menu with a promise to enjoy them for the both of us (thanks, really). Cocktails from this menu are BOGOF (of the same variety) all day Sun-Thurs and 12-7pm then 9.30pm till close on Fri-Sat. Which is exactly the sort of cocktail promos I like to swallow.

IMG_7326

Mr LouBou ordered the cocktail One Night In Bangkok. Mekhong (Thai Rum), peach schnapps, passion fruit and vanilla. He found it super fruity and refreshing and happily glugged them down. ****!

IMG_7316

IMG_7318

We were then shown to our table and had a quick menu peruse and ordered the Prawn Cracker Basket. After studying the menu extensively for days before going I didn’t need long and was excited to just dive straight in.

IMG_7332.JPG

IMG_7342.JPG

For starters we ordered the Crispy Seafood Money Bags and Steamed Chicken Dumplings.

IMG_7339.JPG

Both these dishes impressed and were well cooked. You could really taste the prawn and white fish inside the money bags and the steamed dumplings were extremely soft and pleasing. Only thing to note, if like me you are used to grilled dumplings then they might seem a little squidgy and thick in contrast to the crispy, crunchy finish you might be accustomed to. Still a different way of having them and by no means a bad one, the vinegar sauce that they are served in is damn tasty.

IMG_7344

For mains we ordered the Gaeng Keo Wan Green Curry with Chicken and the Crispy Chicken With Mango & Sweet Lime Sauce.

The Gaeng Koe Wan Green Curry (Thai green curry to me and you) was bursting with chicken and an array of colourful vegetables. It was creamy and full of a gentle yet powerful heat that didn’t linger on your palette.

IMG_7354.JPG

The Crispy Chicken was the perfect sweet, sour and sticky mess that I was hoping for. On top was the most delicious Vietnamese pickle. If I had my way, there would have been a lot more of that on the plate. Nom.

IMG_7350

The server did advise us that the main dishes were served up without any accompaniments and recommended we ‘combo up’ with the Banana Tree House Combo supplement which can be added to any dish from the Regional Specialities or Stir Fries part of the menu. For the extra £3.95 you get the Indo House Salad with Crushed Nuts, Sweet Corn Cakes, Indo Cracker & Aromatic Spiced Rice. Woah, it was a big plate of food after adding the combo but boy was it worth it.

Tasty little sweet corn cakes, an aromatic spiced rice and a moreish crunchy nut topped salad. I found it excellent value munch for money.

Fit to burst I refused to leave my evening at Banana Tree without at least attempting a few mouthfuls of a dessert. Feeling modest and full we ordered one portion of Banana ‘Frotiteroles’ to share.

IMG_7361.JPG

With my wicked sweet tooth I started to wish I had left more room so I could have cleared the plate but it wasn’t to be. Delicious crispy nuggets of hot banana fritters covered in chocolate caramel sauce and served with vanilla ice cream. They were so good! I want a plate of them right now. Sniff.

IMG_7365.JPG

But that’s where the evening ends. Home time. Back to reality and my less aromatic and definitely not as exciting cuisine at home.

Banana Tree is definitely the kind of place you’d be happy to go hang out with friends for a few drinks sat on those swings, have a business lunch, go for cocktails with the girls and then decide to eat, a date night or a big party meal. I do love these ‘social’ eateries where they can be tailored to a dozen situations and still do it well. 

I am guessing you are either reading this saying “Yes, yes! I know Banana Tree is that good” or if you’re yet to visit, I hope I’ve tickled your curiosity and now let me insist, you must try.

Banana Tree Milton Keynes
Holkham Walk
The Hub
Milton Keynes
MK9 2FS
01908 676993
Date of visit: 05.07.16

 

If you like my ramblings then join me on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram

THE BLACK HORSE WOBURN: ONE REFURB AND A FIVE COURSE EXTRAVAGANZA

On Monday I was invited to a press evening to commemorate the reopening of The Black Horse in Woburn after a complete refurb.

Black Horse Woburn Exterior 1

I must admit that Woburn is quite unexplored by myself despite its huge collection of very highly rated pubs and restaurants. Growing up in the north of Milton Keynes meant I had always favoured ‘that end’ of MK and was quite oblivious to what a beautiful, characterful place Woburn is.

I can’t say much about the changes that have happened from the refurb at The Black Horse. Monday night was my first visit but I’m sure it won’t be the last. It’s a very pretty pub set in a very old building in the heart of Woburn High Street.

Inside is exactly what you picture a well-looked after country pub should look like. Beams, traditional features, lots of locals supping away like it’s their second home. The décor is stylish, chic and it makes you feel comfortable and cosy without feeling like you’re squished in like sardines.

Black Horse Woburn Bar 3.jpg

Bubbly was being offered to all the guests when we arrived but as I am currently pregnant, I had to sadly decline in favour of sparkling water. Boo hiss.

All the guests had a nice mingle whilst we became acquainted with our surroundings. It was great to see fellow bloggers Jo from Girl Eats World and Rob from RobsRibs along with some other old faces.

We were then led to the rear of the pub where it was more formally set out as the restaurant for dining guests. Lovely luxurious velvet and tweed chairs, leather booths with cushions for extra comfort. These were all in shades of red and orange which struck a lovely vibrant note against the dark walls which were adorned with copper cooking accessories. I love me a copper saucepan and I really liked them being used as wall décor in the restaurant. These I’m told were sourced locally from The Antiques Association in Woburn.

Black Horse Woburn Eatery.jpg

Then it was time to take our seats and strap ourselves in to see what the chefs were going to present to us. We were told that this evening was giving the chefs a chance to showcase dishes from the new summer menu on offer at The Black Horse. As my eye gazed excitedly down the menu that was left on our place sitting, I counted FIVE courses with tasters of numerous dishes on each of them. I knew then that I was not going to be leaving the night with a hungry tummy.

FullSizeRender (69)

I’d like to note a couple of things before we begin with the food. First that the two chefs in the kitchen seemed to be serving a usual dinner service as well as the separate press event. Second, how often is it that you will be serving up four different dishes on the same plate? Please remember this was a press event and taster courses show casing a variety of dishes and that’s why you might think the plates look a little weird in combination.

First up we were presented with a deli board to share. On the board was slices of Rare Roast Beef, Spiced Tomato Houmous, Puttanesca Olives, Cheddar & Sunflower Seed Palmiers, Whitebait with Lemon Mayonnaise and a Warm Mini Loaf.

FullSizeRender (70)

Deli boards are a personal favourite of mine, having choice and different things to nibble on is how I enjoy my food. The homemade houmous and rare roast beef were particularly pleasing.

IMG_1990

Then it was onto the starters tasting plate. Ibérico Chorizo & Cheddar Croquettes and Tomato Chutney, Salt & Pepper Cornish Squid with Saffron Aioli, Marinated Mushroom, Bean & Radish Salad with a Golden Beetroot Dressing and Brixham Crab Mayonnaise & Heritage Tomatoes with Toasted Sourdough.

IMG_1998

The croquette was tasty, nice and cheesy but sadly there wasn’t any tomato chutney served on our plates, I think the croquette with the chutney would have been dreamy. The aioli wasn’t to my taste and not the predictable accompaniment to squid but the star of the plate was that modest mushroom, bean and radish salad with a golden beetroot dressing. It was very tasty and I could have easily polished off a full size portion.

IMG_1994

For the mains. Thankfully to avoid an obscene mixture of sauces mixing on one plate, we were first served the Roasted Cod Fillet, King Prawn & Cauliflower Thai Curry with Coriander. This was extremely tasty. The fish and prawn were both cooked to perfection and the Thai curry was fragrant and full of flavour. I must note that on the new main menu, the dish is advertised as a Roasted Hake Fillet just in case you come in asking for the Cod Thai curry!

IMG_2006

IMG_2002

Second part of the mains was presented on one plate and was tasters of the Tomato Tart Tatin, Spinach & Sunflower Salad and the Slow & Low Welsh Lamb Shoulder, Heritage Tomato & Sugar Snap Salad with Salsa Verde Dressing.

IMG_2009

Lamb was brilliant with the Salsa Verde and the sugar snaps and tomatoes. It felt fresh and summery and not at all heavy. The Tomato Tart Tatin was sweet! It tasted caramel sweet but with the goat’s cheese cream it felt much more savoury. 

Then came my most favourite course of all. The pudding tasting plate. Or should that be the “tasty pudding plate” either is true and works for me.

IMG_2013

On this plate was tasters of the Iced Cherry Parfait with Amaretto Cherries & Almond Brittle, Strawberry Cheesecake & Poached Strawberries, Valrhona Chocolate & Raspberry Mousse with Pecan Cookies and Warm Treacle Tart & Stem Ginger Chantilly.

I was in heaven. Everyone knows I love desserts but the Iced Cherry Parfait was mouth-wateringly amazing. The Cheesecake great, light and whipped with the most beautiful flavour of strawberry and the treacle tart with that ginger Chantilly was hypnotising. I was worried before the desserts came out that I was going to struggle to fit any more food in my tummy but I’m embarrassed to say I cleared my plate. The Valrhona chocolate mousse was probably my least favourite but I don’t tend to ever lean towards loving chocolate puddings, it had a lovely raspberry flavour in it and the pecan cookie gave it crunch but next to the others it faded away into the background.

You’d think after all that our eating extravaganza was over but no, it wasn’t. Next up was a Cheese Board to share. On the board was cheeses called Tor, Camembert Gillot AOC, Sheep Rustler, Double Barrel Poacher and Blue Monday.

IMG_2019

Amazing to note that the Blue Monday cheese is made by Alex James, the bassist from Blur who stole much of my heart in the 90’s! The Tor goat cheese is also award winning having won Best Goat Cheese at the British Cheese Awards 2015. So you’re in good company.

As I am pregnant, I have to tread carefully where cheese is concerned. Particularly if they are soft or unpasteurised as they could contain dangerous bacteria. So sadly a mix of not being able to fit another thing in my tummy and not wanting to take the risks with the cheeses meant I can’t say much about them, other than everyone else was tucking in and making lots of mmm sounds.

Then after hearing a few words from the Head Chef Harry and his Sous Chef Neal (who had recently won second place in the Chef of the Year competition!) it was time for home clutching our goody bags which were filled with crunch pecan cookies! 

IMG_2022

FullSizeRender (71)

What a lovely evening at The Black Horse Woburn, it won’t be my last, that’s a definite and I can’t wait to see some of these dishes in their full scale masterpieces.

http://www.blackhorsewoburn.co.uk/
01525 290210

If you like my ramblings then join me on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram

FAMILY DINING AT REVOLUTION MK

It was just your usual busy Sunday. Grocery shopping, seeing family and house chores. It has been such nice weather this weekend and as it’s the first full weekend being on British Summer Time I’ve been really enjoying the longer daylight hours.

Being out with young children when it gets dark early in the winter months feels almost a bit wrong. So now the days are longer and warmer, it’s great to be out as a family and enjoy an early evening dinner out together.

IMG_6163

Revolution at Xscape in Central Milton Keynes isn’t well publicised as a family friendly restaurant. Revolution is a national brand of vodka bars and your initial reaction is vodka and children do not mix (although vodka helps). But this is not the case during the day. Just like many other bars and pubs, food trade during the day is why these places are open from breakfast onwards, and often can be overlooked by families in favour of well-known family branded restaurants. So what are you missing out on? My family and I went in search of answers.

IMG_6140

IMG_6146

IMG_6161

When we arrived we were greeted and shown to our table. The server who seemed to be running the whole of the floor and bar on his own (and well – I hasten to add) was full of cheer and provided our toddler with a colouring book, cup of crayons and a kids food menu. It was nice for him to be attentive and checked we had everything we needed before jumping back behind the bar.

IMG_6150

IMG_6152

The layout of tables is just right. Sometimes bars and restaurants have to fight to fit numerous tables into a small space, it can leave the customer feeling like they’re eating dinner with groups of strangers. Here it feels spacious and relaxed and just what you want for a family meal. High chairs are provided and there’s lots of room for them too.  

IMG_6174

Now anyone with a toddler knows you can’t hang around in a restaurant, so… on to the food.

IMG_6277

The children’s menu is a flat price of £5.95 and includes a main, a side, a veg, a dessert and a drink. I knew that this was going to be a lot of food for the money bearing in mind that our toddler is not even two. But it strikes me as good value for what’s provided. On our child’s behalf we ordered Mac ‘N’ Cheese, sweet potato fries, peas and for dessert, an ice cream sundae with chocolate sauce.

IMG_6147

My husband I ordered houmous with wholegrain and honey flatbread and vegetable crudités and pan fried halloumi for starters.

IMG_6201

IMG_6204

For mains we ordered the Macphilly Cheese Steak and the Cheeseburger. The Macphilly Cheese Steak was supposed to come served in a stone baked ciabatta (so don’t get confused with the photos thinking it looks like a burger) but they had run out of ciabattas in preparation for a new menu launching next week. The server explained to me the lack of ciabatta and offered me a brioche bun instead. I was happy to accept his proposed bun. I’m actually quite a fan of this new trend of brioche buns that are popping up at lots of eateries. They’re soft, they’re squidgy, what’s not to like?

IMG_6217

IMG_6244

IMG_6229

We all (child included) shared the starters. Our child loved the flatbread and houmous and even tried some pieces of halloumi. When the mains came out, his main came out too. You can see from the pictures that there was no skimping on sweet potato fries.

IMG_6212

I really want to take a moment here to appreciate the quality of the fries from Revolution. They were seasoned to perfection. Crisp and fluffy inside and came burning hot from the fryer. It sounds like such a simple component to a meal but more times than not I am left feeling disappointed with my fries and just tend to steer clear of them. These were dangerously more-ish.

On the desserts menu there were a couple of items that really tickled my curiosity. The one I settled on trying is called the Nutella Fluffwich. Revolution’s menu describes this as their ‘famous creation’ of marshmallow fluff and Nutella baked in a sweet dough sandwich served with blueberry dipping sauce, it’s tasty but it’s crying out for a dollop of ice-cream.

IMG_6300

IMG_6306

My husband ordered the Chocolate Mess Sundae which went down a storm with all of us (battle of the spoons) and our child enjoyed bits of both of ours along with his own scoop of ice cream sundae with chocolate sauce.

IMG_6280

IMG_6278

IMG_6297

No meal for me is complete without a cup of tea to finish. Presented in a small red teapot and lovely big cup and saucer it came with a really cute glass milk bottle on the side, I’m a sucker for presentation details like that, it was lovely.

IMG_6253

IMG_6271

Then it was gone 7pm and definitely time for our little boy to go to bed (and for the normality of Sunday night chores to prepare for the next week to recommence) so off we went, absolutely stuffed.

IMG_6183

Maybe this Easter you should try eating somewhere with your kids somewhere a bit out of the norm? You might be surprised what you can find.

Like what you’re reading? Follow me on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram to keep up to date with what I’m doing 

My Mother’s Day / Nonna’s / Lush Pampering / Pure Bliss

Yesterday it was my thirty third Mother’s Day as a daughter and my second as a Mother myself. I spent Saturday preparing my own Mother Afternoon Tea at her house with homemade scones and all the trimmings. I gave her a small gift of the Enchanted Eye Cream from Lush as a small token of how much I appreciate everything she does, not just for me but the whole family. She’s already used it a few times and was keen to tell me how much she loved how her eyes have been feeling, so I’m super pleased she’s enjoying it.

IMG_5186.JPG

On the Sunday I was extremely lucky to be given a lie in whilst my husband took the reins and kept our little monster occupied. When I awoke I thought I could smell something cooking but thought I must be imagining it, but when I heard both Mr LouBou and our little boy running up the stairs I saw they were carrying a big plate of cupcakes, they had been busy in the kitchen. I was super touched at the effort (especially that early in the morning). A cup of tea was brought upstairs and I enjoyed tea and cake in bed. It was the perfect beginning to Mother’s Day.

IMG_8521

IMG_8597

I was given my first handmade Mother’s Day card from the child. To you it probably just looks like scribbles but to me it’s perfect. I am definitely cherishing this card forever. My husband had joined in and made me a card too to say thank you for being a Mum to our son. How sweet is that? I was also given some gifts, of course they were from Lush, where else? I was given a big bottle of Yummy Mummy shower cream and possibly the cutest bubble bar Lush has ever made, the Ladybird and my very own Enchanted Eye Cream to try. We then all snuggled down in bed and watched Peppa Pig cartoons until we felt like getting up and active.

IMG_8513.JPG

FullSizeRender (56)

First it was shower time with my new Yummy Mummy shower cream and a little extra pampering with Lush’s Love Lettuce fresh face mask. Yummy Mummy is the first shower cream I’ve used as I usually opt for shower gels from Lush. The cream feels luxurious on your skin, moisturising and left a great scent on my skin that lingered for hours after. It has a dense purple colour, so it looks a little strange but it doesn’t stain your skin and that’s how it packs such a moisturising punch. Definitely going to be looking at more shower creams from Lush now as my skin always leans towards the dry side.

Like all Mums know, there is never truly a day off normality. That’s life and it’s not a big deal. So we then hit the supermarket to get some bits and bobs that were needed, we saw so many people running around with bouquets of flowers in their arms. I am guessing there’s a lot of happy Mum’s out there with cut flowers in their homes today.

Mr LouBou insisted on a pit-stop to enjoy one of my favourite noms. Shrimp tempura sushi rolls from Akasaka, the Japanese/Korean restaurant in Wolverton. It was a good call and kept us going as I knew a table had been booked in advance at Nonna’s for dinner.

IMG_5198.JPG

The afternoon was a mix of sofa slobbing with the new season of House of Cards and playing on the Wii U whilst the child napped. Netflix and Mario Kart are probably my two most favourite past times when it comes to things to do away from beauty/pampering and of course, the child. House of Cards, Forensic Files and Better Call Saul are my Netflix loves at the moment. Time ran away quickly and then it was time to get us all ready and leave for the restaurant.

This wasn’t going to be our first visit to Nonna’s. Our first visit had been back on Valentine’s Day weekend last month. It had been an enjoyable meal but we had felt let down by a few service issues. We had received a personal apology from the owners and because we had enjoyed the quality of the food and the setting of this extremely relaxed and pretty restaurant in Woburn Sands, we agreed to give them another go.

When we arrived we received a lovely warm welcome from the staff and were seated in the back restaurant room. It reaffirmed my admiration for the décor in this brasserie/restaurant. It’s so relaxing. Like you’ve been invited into someone’s home for dinner. Someone who is decidedly chic and full of understated style. I am a sucker for a candle and there’s some dozen of them on each windowsill.

IMG_8559

Massive mummy blogger point to Nonna’s. Not only is it great to see young children welcomed as part of our party, it was also great to see a highchair at our table, already in situ with the chair that had been there before, now long removed. Too many times I’ve turned up at a restaurant that’s been booked in advance for a high chair to have to ask for it once we’ve been sat at our table, even when the server can clearly see that we have a small child with us. It’s highly annoying trying to be prepared and then to have to hold a toddler still who just wants to explore his new surroundings, then having to move chairs and get a highchair in place around other diners, which can then start your meal off on the wrong note. So, thanks Nonna’s for thinking of us, it’s only a small detail but it really goes a long way with us parents. I was also presented with two pretty pink flowers for Mother’s Day and felt very special indeed.

IMG_8589.JPG

We had pre-ordered our food from their special Mother’s Day menu. I had the seafood cocktail, Mr LouBou the meatball and egg soup. We both had the pan fried garlic and peppered Hake fillets for main with a whole variety of sides. Sweet potato mash, triple cooked Tuscan chips, roasted med veg and ham and asparagus croquettes. Our son had garlic pizza bread and pasta Bolognese.

Each dish was presented beautifully. The seafood cocktail was served inside a warm fresh roll which was very comforting. A few chilli peppers inside the cocktail made for an interesting twist and the cucumber balls were dainty and refreshing. Mr LouBou enjoyed his meatballs, the soup in particular was well seasoned and full of flavour. 

IMG_8572

It was the first time for both of us eating Hake fillets. It’s a tasty fish and could tell it was well cooked. The star of the main was the roasted red pepper and thyme sauce that the fillet sat on. It complimented the generously sized Hake well and the pretty purple cress-like garnish was a lovely touch.

Our son, whose toddler tastes can vastly change from one meal to the next, confounded us both with his appetite. He devoured the majority of the supper plate sized garlic pizza bread and had half of his well sized children’s portion of Bolognese (do remember he’s only just over 18 months) he then even proceeded to tackle our sides and enjoyed the sweet potato mash very well.

With the starters and main now demolished and being washed down with a bottle of rose prosecco, we were looking forward to our desserts, although concerned whether we could squeeze them in our nearing-full tummies. But when the food is coming out and tasting this yummy, you’ve got to at least try! I had ordered the warm blackberry and apple pie and my husband the intriguing, chocolate and orange baked risotto. I’ve never heard of a sweet risotto before, but we eat rice pudding, right? It couldn’t be too bizarre, I was sure.

I hasten a guess that a chocolate risotto is a very hard dessert to make look visually appealing. But with the handmade chocolate decoration, I think the chef had a fair attempt. The taste was a great balance of sweet chocolate and bitter orange without being too sickly sweet. The generous slice of pie with vanilla ice-cream crowning the top of it packed a zingy fruity punch that you get from freshly peeled Bramley apples and sharp fresh blackberries. The ice-cream was a pleasant mellower to ensure it wasn’t too tart. The child had a scoop of vanilla ice-cream and I’m sad to say he was the only one to finish his dessert course. We were defeated.

Service throughout the whole meal was attentive, friendly and helpful. I wonder whether after Valentine’s Day we were being taken extra special care of and only a future visit will give a more consistent view of how Nonna’s service is on a regular basis. But when you’re looking at their freshly cooked, well made dishes served at a fair price, I don’t think it’s going to be long before we are back to try something else.

I noticed when we were leaving that they have another special menu for Easter. It’s something I am definitely going to consider.

When we got home it was time to unwind. I enjoyed the Lush Ladybird bubble bar in a hot bath with the little one. I think this Ladybird is going to be one of my all-time bath favourites. A mountain of lovely smelling bubbles with very little needed from the bar and we both came out thoroughly relaxed, pink cheeked and moisturised.

IMG_8593.JPG

IMG_8596

I don’t think I could have dreamt of a more enjoyable day with my little family. Another day, another reason why I am so lucky to have two such amazing guys in my life.