New Italian American restaurant comes to Liverpool One

Food

For a while, The Red Hot Buffet space at the end of Chavasse Park has been vacant and ive been thinking for a while how much of a shame that is because it’s such a big space with loadssss of potential. Anyway, behold: Smoke n Dough.

I was asked to try Smoke n Dough a few weeks back and after seeing pictures of the absolute feasts people were having, i was so ready to try it for myself. The concept is pretty unique combining fresh Italian flavours (dough) with slowly cooked meats (smoke) and an array of everyone’s favourite side dishes. There’s also a killer cocktail menu, more wines than France and a decent dessert menu to have a go at. Sound good? It is.

Firstly, we were brought over our first course which consisted of fresh breads, pizza slices, breadsticks and an array of salads, meaning we could chat and nibble with a cocktail whilst we waited for our meat – smoking slowly by the chefs in the open kitchen.

After our first course, the meat was brought over. The tables are especially designed so that a hot plate can stay warm in the middle of the table, piled high with everything from steak and pork to chicken skewers and sticky wings. On the side, we were brought deliciously creamy mac and cheese (a real winner in my book), crispy onion rings, rich peppercorn sauce, corn on the cob and even mash potato. Amazing.

This probably goes without saying but if you’re paying a visit to Smoke n Dough – go hungry. There’s so much to eat, id say almost as much as a buffet style restaurant but with the intimacy of a sit down meal and a higher quality of food. With a grand interior, professional and friendly staff and PLENTY of food, this is the perfect venue for everything from a date night for two to a huge group meal – a great addition to everyone’s fave shopping space!

Passing on the Love at the Thorntons Liverpool One Store Relaunch

Food

I feel like Thorntons chocolate has always been a little bit of luxury, loved by everyone. It’s that feeling of being inside warm and dry on a rainy day, that contentment as you settle to watch a movie on a Saturday night in and that roaring fire and glass of red on a Friday night, delicious and comfortable all rolled into one.

We’re all familiar with the smooth and creamy taste of a Thorntons choc – whether you’re a Viennese Truffle lover or a Coffee Cream fiend or perhaps you love a good old toffee cased in milk chocolate. Whatever your poison, Thorntons is a fantastic way to show someone you care and so when Thorntons got in touch to ask if i could help them pass on the love with the opening of their newly refurbished Liverpool One store – who was i to say no?

Even just approaching from the outside, it’s clear to see how much of a massive improvement the new store is. Light and airy with tones of gold and cream, it’s interior coincides perfectly with Thorntons’ luxury demeanour – the one we all know and love.

Arriving into store, we were handed empty Thorntons bags and were told that although empty now, by the time we’d finished our new shop experience, they’ll be overflowing with goodies. First up, we made our way to The Craftery, a counter full of all of Thorntons best chocolates. The Craftery allows you to fill a box of chocolates with your own personal preferences. I chose six chocolates – some of which have always been a firm favourite Thorntons choice of mine (strawberry creams and pralines hiiii) and some new creations that i was itching to try (the Speculoos being one). I honestly think this is such a cool idea and whether you’re making a box for yourself (like me) or gifting it to someone else, you can make a box of chocolates full of favourites. The boxes are tied up with a gorgeous gold bow – just to give them that extra special touch.

As well as crafting our own chocolate box, we also created a chocolate block – a super nice idea which consisted of choosing five blocks of chocolate to sit together in a little box, which would then sit perfectly on a book shelf. The flavours again, were a mixture of new and old and amongst my choices were the fudge brownie, the eton mess and the pistachio – heaven. As well as creating chocolate blocks we were also treated to a good old Thorntons tradition – icing chocolate. I made an advent calendar with my name on (my first ever one!!) and a little heart iced to my boyfriend – because im cute like that.

After allllll of the chocolate fun (and an overflowing goodie bag) we headed to the cafe where Thorntons are now serving a delicious afternoon tea for just £12 per person. The sandwich and cake selection is served beautifully, with each cake representing a Thorntons chocolate. With the afternoon tea comes hot drinks – we sampled the salted caramel hot chocolate topped with cream and chocolate sprinkles and it was honestly the best hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted. This, with a baked in store brownie so gooey it was falling apart, is EXACTLY why you should head into the Thorntons cafe.

It’s safe to say we were well and truly spoiled as we made our way around the brand new Thorntons Liverpool One shop – from the beautiful interiors to the delicious food and of course, the amazing chocolate, I would definitely recommend popping in for a visit. If you’d like to pass on the love yourself and treat someone special to some gorgeous Thorntons chocolate (or treat yourself!) click here for some fab discounts and vouchers!

Until next time, Thorntons.

This was a paid partnership with Thorntons.

Bottomless Brunch at NYL Liverpool

Food

If there’s ever been a greater invention than someone putting the words bottomless and brunch together in a sentence then i wanna know about it. Being the type of basic bitch that lives for bottomless brunches, when NYL got in touch to invite me for unlimited gin, a continental breakfast buffet AND a hot meal off the menu i was there already. What a fabulous idea.

After a super busy Saturday morning (why do plans always all fall at the same time?!) i finally headed down to NYL and was more ready than ever for a delightful afternoon. If you’ve never been into NYL before then you need to. The interiors adhere to true NYC style; light and airy but with hints of gold giving it an overall appearance of grandeur and luxury. We took a seat in the booths in the main dining area and dug straight into the goodie bags that had kindly been left on our seats (full of gorgeous little treats and our very own NYL lounge mug). Perfect.

Pondering the menu was accompanied by some live music that was playing on the mezzanine of the bar. Not the kind of live music that totally intrudes on your conversation but just the right amount of buble as we sat and sipped our Liverpool Gins (rose petal for me, always).

Like most bottomless brunches, NYL allow you 90 minutes of gin or prosecco sippin’ but also allow unlimited trips to the continental buffet (er HIIII chocolate popcorn brownies, jars of nutella and gorgeous fruit platters) as well. For our hot meal, we were presented with the NYL brunch menu which has a bit of something for everyone included on it (pancakes, vegan full english, french toast, benedicts, you name it). I went for the sweet potato benedict which was essentially super crispy sweet potato fritters topped with perfectly poached eggs, ham and hollandaise – it was top notch tbh. We also went for the pancakes which were served with toppings of your choice, clotted cream and maple syrup. On top of this saw us making countless trips for more delicious brownies, cakes and breakfast pastries and so for £35 per head, NYL’s bottomless brunch really is a no-brainer for a special occasion (or even if you just fancy a lil treat).

As far as bottomless brunches in Liverpool go, this one, in my opinion is definitely up there. From the absolute interior GOALS of the venue itself to the gorgeous food and unlimited gin balloons, im already planning my next trip back. Thank you so much to NYL lounge for having me!

Let’s be Honest about Honest Burgers

Food

Honest Burgers has been open for a couple of months on Bold Street and after hearing nothing but amazing things from people who have visited the new restaurant as well as one of their several London venues, I’ve been meaning to get down there for a hot minute and scoff one for myself.

I was invited down after work with blogging pals for an event aptly named ‘meat and potatoes’ where we were told we were going to learn (from the founders themselves) all about how Honest Burgers was founded as well as order our own delicious burger off the menu. And that is exactly what we did. Oh and we also drank gin. A lot of it.

The Honest Burgers event was a Wednesday after work affair and so naturally, all day I was scrolling through the menu and picturing the burger I was going to devour later that evening. 6pm ticked around s l o w l y and eventually we were welcomed into the brand new restaurant with a smile and a Three Graces Pink gin – perfect. We sat around at the far side of the restaurant on stools and high tables as we listened to Honest Burger founders Tom Barton and Phil Eles who chatted through everything from the humble beginnings from which Honest Burgers was founded (a small tent at an 18 year old’s garden party) and their simple, ‘no-nonsense’ but bloody delicious menu to how they’re able to serve their burgers the best way: pink.

The chat was super interesting and as well as informing us all about using the ‘chopped’ rather than ‘minced’ method with their beef patties (to get them super tender) Tom ans Phil also shared with us the art of cooking their super crispy rosemary fries which they make from scratch everyday and were once described by Jay Rayner as nothing less than ‘edible crystal meth’ – not that he’s ever wrong but on this occasion, he was really, really right (I haven’t done crystal meth but I totally get what he meant). We sampled the burger meat patties (wow) as well as a bowl of the rosemary fries (wow again) and asked any questions we had about the restaurant (which has expanded into Liverpool from London and I for one am very grateful it has). With question time over (and about 4 gins later) it was time to order our burgers.

The beauty about Honest Burgers menu is that the burger comes with the chips at a decent price. You can order sides to go with your meal (bacon gravy, chicken wings, enormous onion rings etc) but you can get a decent meal without paying for additions – something that Tom and Phil feel is important. The menu is simple, including a beef burger, an American version with bacon and cheese as well as a chilli burger (there’s also a plant-based an chicken option). As well as the core four beef burgers that roll out across all of their restaurants, Honest Burgers run 36 specials which are a little more creative and involve a number of different flavours. The specials in Liverpool include the Teaxs (in collaboration with Bulls Eye BBQ sauce) and the almighty ‘Liverpool’ – a collab with none other than creators of the halloumi fry, Hafla Hafla. Described by a fellow foodie as a ‘Chinese, on a burger’ there wasn’t really any question that I was going to order this bad boy. Honest beef, halloumi, Hafla Hafla salt n pepper, spring onion and lashings of Sriracha mayo this shit was GOOD. After a few bites of my burger, an onion ring and handfuls of rosemary fries dipped in bacon gravy, I came to the decision that this was the best burger i’ve ever eaten. Yep. I said it. With everything from the freshly cooked amazing quality beef, to the Asian flavours, slightly melted halloumi, crispy, salted rosemary fries, this was just INSANE. I felt emotional.

It’s safe to say I’ll definitely be returning to Honest Burgers (how soon is too soon?) to give another burger a go. Maybe one day I’ll find a better burger but, as it stands at the moment, there’s nothing that’s compared, and that’s my honest opinion. Until next time, Honest Burgers.

Let it bloom: Bloom Bar and Bistro comes to Liverpool

Food

What was once The Verdant on Allerton road (known and loved by many for its boujee interiors and ability to host a beautiful baby shower) has closed down and in no less than five days has transformed into a beautiful bar and bistro complete with gorgeous floral decor, a huge gin and cocktail selection and an impressive menu of delicious-sounding food from brunch to dinner. I was invited down to their super busy, super fun launch party to get a taste of what Bloom is going to offer to Liverpool’s bar and restaurant scene. Clue: ya gonna love it.

Although The Verdant was loved by many, the bright, welcoming yet totally instagrammable Bloom reveals a more stripped back and in my opinion, much improved restaurant. The bright decor and beautiful flowers allows for a warm welcoming where guests will feel just as much as home grabbing a coffee and a bit of breakfast as they would sipping an elderflower bellini at the bar. We were greeted into Bloom’s gorgeous interior with a glass of prosecco and some chilled out live music as guests chatted and soaked up the restaurant’s new, totally enjoyable atmosphere.

After taking some photos seriously, you gotta it’s gorgeous and oh so instagrammable, we were treated to a huge array of canapes, from halloumi skewers, cheesy nachos, salt n pepper chicken and sweet potato fritters, all of which were delicious and can be found on Bloom’s new menu. As well as savoury snacks, guests also helped themselves to a fabulous cupcake table as well as little slices of white chocolate cheesecake – which was insane, btw.

Washing down our tasters was a selection of gin, prosecco and bellini’s, all of which could be retrieved with the cuuuutest little flower tokens, found wrapped around the stem of our prosecco glasses. I opted for the elderflower bellini which was honestly divine and far far too easy to drink (hence snoozing so HARD the next morning). The bar menu is, like the food menu, full of delicious options, with something for everyone to choose from. I have it on my to do list to return for brunch AND cocktails (probably not at the same time but hey who knows).

Overall, if Bloom’s gorgeous launch party is anything to go by, this bar and bistro is going to be a pretty special addition to Allerton Road, combining delicious food and cocktails with an impressively beautiful interior. Whether you’re popping in for brunch, fancy a cocktail, want a date night dinner or need a fab venue for a party, let it Bloom!

Sunday Roastin’ at Il Forno

Food

You may know il forno for incredible pizza, pasta, tiramisu and THAT cheese wheel, but what about everyone’s favourite meat and two veg? The humble roast dinner has made its way to the top end of duke street covered in gravy and smelling amazing, and I went to give it a whirl.

The Il Forno Sunday Roast menu gives you the option to choose your own beef, lamb, pork or chicken roast or to whack it all together on a sharing platter for two, so we went for option B. Our sharing platter was also served with a delicious bottle of wine and side dishes of our choice. We went for the mac and cheese (don’t knock it), red cabbage and creamed spinach to accompany our platter. It arrived on a huge plate, piled high with four different meats, colourful roasted veg, crispy roasties and two huge, fluffy Yorkshire puds. On the wide were two pots of rich, jus like gravy. Heaven.

Now i know us Brits can be fussy about our roast dinners because, as many people will say, nobody quite makes them like at home. And whilst i’ll agree with this statement (even tho i can’t remember the last time we had a roast at home) I think there some pretty bloody good ones on the Liverpool foodie scene (some shocking ones as well but we won’t go there). I was sceptical (they’re the pizza and pasta kings but roast dinner?!) but they smashed it. Loads of meat cooked to perfection (the beef was actually medium rare which was a delight) and the Yorkshire puddings were soft and fluffy just as they should be. The addition of side dishes such as the mac and cheese also added a nice touch and it was safe to say there was MORE than enough food to go round – just as it should be on a Sunday.

With my dinner pipe very much full, but my pudding pipe still empty (something we used to say as kids) we were offered the dessert menu and poured over the options. From chocolate bombs to babana splits and boozey tiramisu, it really was a tough call. In the end we went for the melt in the middle chocolate fondant and the chocolate mousse cake (i forget the proper Italian name for it) and both were as indulgent and as decadent as you’d expect and were a truly delightful end to a slap up meal.

If (like me) you’d never consider Il Forno to satisfy your roast dinner needs, you should definitely re-consider. Whilst they’re perfect to visit for a Friday night of wine n pasta, they’re also a fabulous option for your Sunday afternoon dinner needs.

Bongo’s Bingo is BACK – and better than ever

Food

Probably the less said about why Bongo’s Bingo has moved out of the camp n furnace the better, but if you’re unaware of what went down then all i have to say is: where the hell have you been?! ANYWAY, after always being huge fan of bongo’s and all that comes with it, i was more than ready to try out their brand new night in their brand new venue and can safely say i wasn’t disappointed. LET’S PLAY BINGO.

For those that don’t know, Bongo’s Bingo has moved to Content, a brand new venue tucked away in Cain’s brewery. Although smaller than the Camp n Furnace, it doesn’t pack any less of a punch and in true Bongo’s Bingo style, the show went off with a bang. From Apple Sours and Coco Pops to Philip Schofield, mobility scooters and the humble Henry Hoover, the prizes were as good as ever and with confetti canons and throwback tunez – i was a lil bit relieved to see the atmosphere of the Bongo’s we all know and love was still the same.

With a jug of ‘Fizzecco’ on the table (pretty sure this is lambrini but i am not complaining – it only adds to the throwback element of the night IMO) our red felt tips and bingo books to hand, we were ready to play Bingo. Despite our ‘lucky tickets’ being, well, not so lucky (my ticket is NEVER lucky) and not getting any lines never mind a full house, we had an absolute ball. Whether you’re off on a group night out, a girl’s night or even a date night, Bongo’s honestly never fails to be fab. And despite my concerns that their new venue might make it different to the Bongo’s Bingo I know and love, i didn’t need to worry. Jonny Bongo, Slutty Susie, Horny Heidi (and dangerous Dave the security guy) are here to stay in their brand new Cains Brewery home and im MADE up. Until next time Bongo’s – 88. 

Christmas comes early at Il Forno Liverpool

Food

There’s no denying that when it comes to restaurants in Liverpool, Il Forno is a classic that has been loved by many for years and years. Its authentic, delicious Italian menu never fails, whether that’s to enjoy a prosecco brunch, inhale a pizza or to dive head first into a tiramasu (or all 3 if you’re feeling extra). Now that September has arrived, it’s time to think about Christmas (those who disagree are total scrooges who should not talk to me) so when Il Forno asked me to head down and sample their holiday offerings, who on earth was I to say no?!

In true crimbo style, we arrived at Il Forno to a glass of prosecco, a christmas cracker and the smell of cooking food. We sat on long tables and one by one, each course of the Christmas menu was brought out to sample, starting with the starters….obviously. From chicken liver pate bruschettas (amazing) to smoked salmon and ricotta, juicy scallops wrapped in bacon and the most incredibly soft, flavoursome parmagiana we were in food heaven from the first course – seriously, the food just kept coming, each plate more delicious than the last.

For the main event, we sampled (with red wine) everything from flaky seabass and cod and succulent lamb shank and mash potato to traditional Italian dishes in the form of smoked salmon pasta and homemade spinach ravioli. All of the portion sizes were super generous (exactly what you want at Christmas) and each and every dish was of an extremely high quality – kudos to the chef! For me, the standout main dish was the pacherri dello zar – a homemade pasta with smoked salmon sauce and a black and red caviar. Honestly, just try it.

Id eaten SO MUCH food, but obviously was right in the mood for dessert and it’s a good job I was cos Il Forno went IN. From the Il Forno Chocolate bomb (filled with coconut cream) to hot apple strudel and super boozy, creamy Tiramasu, i died and went to dessert heaven right there on Duke Street. Fave was the chocolate bomb but i would honestly devour each one all over again. If there’s anything that says ‘fuck the diet, it’s Christmas’ it’s THESE dessert dishes.

We’re halfway through September and, in my opinion, it’s time to prepare for the best time of year. Christmas is the season of all things getting fat and eating good food. After tasting Il Forno’s Christmas offerings, I can guarantee you’re not gonna be disappointed. Bookings are now open, so don’t miss out!

Afternoon Tea at Bistro Franc

Food

Having been to Bistro Franc for allll the food and wine in recent months, i was more than ready when they announced they’d be running a French style afternoon tea (including prosecco) in their restaurant and with bank holiday Monday coming up, i couldn’t think of a better time to classily combine carbs and alcohol. And it didn’t disappoint.

With coffee and tea served in the cutest tea pots and the option to upgrade to prosecco (which we did, of course) Bistro Franc’s afternoon tea really set the scene for an afternoon lunch. The main event was served on a gorgeous slate cake stand with savouries and pastries on the bottom and decadent desserts on the top.

The sandwich selection was delish and a little different from your traditional flavours with toasted wraps full of cheese, roasted chicken and the veggie option packed full of roasted veggies and humous. On the same tier was a selection of continental french delights including mini croissants and cinnamon whirls accompanied by a huge dish of cream cheese frosting which i assume was for spreading but i lived my best life by dunking my croissant straight in (obviously).

For dessert, we were treated to delicious, homemade mini creme brulees, rich strawberry mousse and the creamiest slice of white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake, which finished off our delightful lunch in the best way possible.

If you’ve been to bistro franc for lunch or an evening meal (and loved it as much as me) you should definitely pop in for a spot of afternoon tea, or apres midi as the French would say. It’s perfect for a special occasion, birthday tea or even just cos! Book in now and bon appetit!

Thursday Night Feast at Rocket n Ruby

Food

It’s safe to say that when eating out in Liverpool today, you’re spoilt for choice with all of the amazing places that pop up regularly, and that’s amazing. But there are a few places that really stick with you and you’ll return time and time again, whether that’s for a date night, a girly brunch or just a drink in the sun and for me, Rocket and Ruby has quickly become one of those places. So when i was invited for a press night to sample the dishes on their fab, ever-developing menu (and have a cocktail or 5) i obviously said yes ten times over.

Rocket and Ruby is sat on the corner of Castle Street, next door to sister restaurant and long-time Liverpool favourite Bacaro. From it’s quirky decor to its dusty pink menus, open kitchen and ‘coffee to go’ window, this place is just goals for any instagrammer (ahem) but successfully combines this with an obvious culinary knowledge and some delightfully delicious food.

We met the team from Think (as well as some fab blogger gals) at the restaurant and wasted no time in ordering our drinks: rhubarb rose fizz for me (rhubarb gin and rose lemonade which went down like the most delish juice ive ever tasted and and their better (if possible) take on the classic aperol spritz: the aperol peach punch (this was a thursday evening which is basically friday which is basically the weekend so with all that said and done working our way through the cocktail list was totally and utterly justified). We sipped our cocktails whilst munching on the most delightful olives in the history of olives (i order these every time i come here) and devouring some warm flatbreads and oil whilst we set to work on the menu.

The guys at Rocket and Ruby recommended 4-5 plates between two, so, naturally, we chose five off the menu and even narrowing it down to that was TOUGH. Every dish sounded bloody fantastic but we eventually settled on the following: 

The Harrissa Mac with Buttermilk fried chicken

I KNOW. This was basically as good as it sounds, with a cheeky lil bit of heat added to the mac n cheese which was smothered all over the top of crispy chicken. Diet starts….never let’s face it.

The ham, egg, straw fried and chilli jam

A lil Rocket and Ruby classic and something i always order because what the hell is not to love about a (big) small plate crispy straw fries, runny egg, thick cut ham a lil hint of sweet chilli. I’ll have 5 pls.

The enoki mushrooms with a coconut and avo cream
Light and crispy mushrooms on a bed of rich, smooth avo cream with a hint of coconut sweetness. A revelation.

The sweet n sour fried cauliflower
Crispy battered cauliflower with a sweet n sour sauce, this was just so moreish, with the cauliflower still having a crunch to it, despite the batter being cooked perfectly.

Herb tabbouleh 
 A lil refreshing bowl of goodness packed with pickled cucumber, chilli, goats cheese, walnuts and honey. Delightful. 

DESPITE my top button being undone, it’s no secret this gal can’t refuse dessert, so we ordered the chocolate sponge  – warm and rich with a delightfully creamy banana ice cream and the beautifully light pistachio tart (also w/ ice cream). I couldn’t pick a fave if you PAID ME x

I mean, when Rocket and Ruby say small plates they don’t really mean that small at all and as well as being totally delicious in every way, these generous portions make it amazing value for money. With a creative menu, loads of choice, cocktails galore and just all of the lovely chilled out dinner vibes, it goes without saying that you really should pay these guys a visit. Oh and they also do a bloody fantastic brunch as well – don’t take me word for it. Thank you so much to Rocket and Ruby for a deliciously wonderful evening, i will be back soon to eat you all out of house n home once again.