Friday, 12 June 2015

Grain Store, Kings Cross

The girls and I took a trip to Grain Store in Kings Cross last night as a catch up but also to celebrate an engagement!

We managed to book a table in advance but had to choose between two sittings, we went for the earliest, which was 6:30pm and we were asked to return our table by 9pm. The restaurant itself is much bigger than I expected with an open plan kitchen. Service is slow as these guys are rushed off their feet but this suited us as meant we could have a leisurely catch up.

We went through four bottles of Prosecco between six of us, which wasn't a cheap option at £32 per bottle, however, it was a special occasion so we went with it! Everyday they have a starter and a main course special. We went for three of the special starters between six of us, which were a crab, avocado and cucumber salad topped with a dressing made from chili, garlic, ginger and sesame oil. It was delicious but slightly lacking in crab. The starters were £7.50 per portion.

For mains we all went for different things. Personally I tried the roast endives in Kimchi butter with courgette spaghetti and hot smoked sea trout. It was delicious and I would recommend it. It felt light and healthy and didn't leave you with that uncomfortably full feeling. However, I do think £16.50 for this dish is a little pricey. Other dishes ordered, which all looked nice were the hot seaweed sushi with glazed pak choi and the baked aubergine & peppers. We also had a couple of sides of fries, which went perfectly with the meal.

The total bill was £48 per person so this definitely is not a cheap option for a meet up with friends. The restaurant is loud and busy so book ahead but we did have a great night. The toilets are also equipped with Ren products, which is a bonus for me!

After dinner we decided to lounge in their outside area for another quick beverage before home time. We chose a round of Aperol Spritz, which as usual were delicious, however, they came to £11 each including service, which again I think is a little steep.

All in all this is a great little place to try some healthy and inventive options. It's also great if you are dining with vegetarians or vegans as it gives everyone a chance to pick from several dishes. However, be warned, this is a pricey evening so budget appropriately.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Cowshed

I spent a very luxurious and relaxing evening at the Cowshed Spa in Shoreditch last night! Some very generous friends clubbed together and bought the hubby and I a voucher for a Moody Massage each.

Firstly, I did find Cowshed a little hard to find, it's located at No. 1 Ebor Street but there is no sign on the door, you will walk through a door into a lobby and then turn left into another door to access Cowshed. I have to admit I was a little confused and did have to check a couple of times I was in the correct place.

However, on arrival the staff were super friendly and the spa was rustic, trendy and beautiful. I was sat at a table by the pedicure / manicure area, which looked lush and I cannot wait to come back and treat myself to some pampering in the large chairs, with head phones, TV's and plenty of pillows. It looked so relaxing. I filled out a brief medical history form and was seen promptly for my appointment.

I was taken downstairs to the treatment rooms, which have a quiet ambiance by my friendly therapist. I was asked to choose from four different massage oils. There was sleepy cow to enhance calm, grumpy cow to uplift, lazy cow to help sooth and wild cow to invigorate. I went for wild cow, I just loved the scent of the oil. After undressing and laying on probably the most comfy massage table I have every experienced the lights were dimmed and the music played quietly in the background.

The therapist asked me to breathe deeply three times whilst holding lavender close by, which was very calming. The massage wasn't deep tissue and not the most amazing I have ever experienced. However, it was insanely relaxing and just what I needed to unwind. She concentrated on back, neck and shoulder before moving to arms and hands followed by a scalp massage. Next I was turned over for my legs and then more scalp and neck.

All in all this was a lovely experience. Cowshed is on the more expensive side with a 45 mins Moody Massage at £60. However, this isn't just about the massage, it is about the entire experience so if you feel like a pick me up or have a loved one to treat I would not hesitate to book in here. You will leave refreshed, relaxed and thoroughly pampered.



Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Eating in Bratislava, Slovakia

The girls and I were very impressed at the quality of food found in Bratislava! I thought I would share a few of our discoveries to help you plan your trip.

We loved this place so much we ate here twice. Urban House have two establishments in the Old Town but choose the one on Laurinska if it is sunny as it has a large outside space in a pedestrianized area. The cafe is so cool and quirky with a hammock, lounging areas and proper dining tables. There are Cow Shed products in the bathrooms too! Come here for coffee, cake and wifi or for a full meal! They have a delicious array of homemade still lemonades, the ginger one has a brilliant kick but my favorite was lavender and blueberry with fresh mint.


This place is great for vegetarians and I can recommend the halloumi burger with portobello mushroom. Another great dish is the mezze platter with warm pitta breads, delicious olives and sun dried tomatoes, olive oil, hummus, couscous and tapenade. The goats cheese salad was another delight and our all time favorite was the avocado buschetta. They also do a great green smoothie here and the staff are amazingly friendly even offering buy 2 get 1 free cocktails in the sunshine after our lunch.

Another must try is Foxford in the Old Town, a stones throw from Urban House. There are a few tables outside with umbrellas and blankets if it gets nippy. Inside is amazingly quirky with kitchen utensils turned into lampshades, tables to look like different biscuits and a really cute shop selling every cookery book under the sun. Again you will find an array of homemade still lemonades and sharing platters with dips. We chose a curried sweet potato and our favorite, which was sun dried tomato tapenade with delicious soft brown bread and a variety of vegetables. We also had a couple of vegan salads and a delicious smoked salmon and cream cheese triple layered sandwich. Everything can be bought in small or large portions depending on how hungry you are feeling.

Pop your head into Mondieu. We didn't eat or drink here but we did take full advantage of their chocolate offerings. The best we tried was a crystallized orange slice covered in dark chocolate but they have caramel and nougat and all sorts on offer at a very reasonable price so is an ideal place to stop off for a quick sugar fix!

A good little place for excellent coffee and cakes / breakfast is W Cafe. It's cute and quirky with lots of exposed wood and very friendly staff. We went for a quick breakfast, some had the healthy muesli option whilst others may have gone for a delicious chocolate filled doughnut and a cinnamon swirl. The doughnuts were 1.10 EUR so this is a very cheap cafe for a treat and highly recommended by myself.

A perfect little hangout cafe is U Kubistu. We didn't actually have a chance to eat here, however, they do incredible morning juices. If you need a healthy pick me up, they have a large variety to choose from, which are freshly squeezed and sold in 100ml shots so you can mix and match and create your perfect sized juice. Again, this place is really reasonably priced and the juices gave us a delicious buzz to start our morning.

A very big shout out must go to Bistro Soho. The restaurant is open until 10pm so no late dinners here. The menu is small, maybe ten dishes to choose from but everything is incredible. Again, you will find an array of flavored lemonades but the Thai food is the reason to come here. All meals are served with steamed jasmine rice and a slice of melon. I had a prawn dish with ginger, chili and garlic, which was as good as any Thai food I tried in Thailand. I tried the banana soup, which was delicious and the beef with green beans was spot on. The tofu and vegetable dish with coconut milk was also a hit. A dish, a lemonade and service was 10 EUR each.


Finally head down to the waterfront street called Pribinova. Here you will find a variety of bars and restaurants, which are the ideal place for lunch, dinner or as we liked to do, a mid afternoon cocktail in the sunshine. There are probably ten places in a row to choose from, all with comfy sofas and umbrellas and waiter service. Cocktails are around 7 EUR each and there is a large variety on offer including the current favorite Aperol Spritz.

I hope this helps plan your future trips to the Slovakian capital. There really are some amazing finds and we only tried a small handful of what was available. Vegans and Vegetarians are well looked after here and there are plenty of healthy options on offer. Every taste is catered for and I cannot imagine anyone will leave disappointed or hungry.

Bratislava, Slovakia

Two of my closest friends and I decided to head to the capital of Slovakia, Bratislava for the weekend! We booked return hand luggage only flights from London Stansted to Bratislava direct on Ryanair for £57.98 per person. We also pre-booked the Stansted Express on their 30 days before travel offer for £16 return each from Liverpool Street station.

Our accommodation of choice was this incredible apartment we found on Air B&B, which comfortably housed all three of us and was a short 5 mins walk to the Old Town:


The apartment cost 122.50 EUR each for three nights. It was spotless and modern with a very impressive roof terrace overlooking the city and a huge bathroom with a separate bath and shower. There was a well equipped kitchen, lovely table to spread out at and two large lounging sofa's. There was enough space for a double wardrobe each to hang our things. 





Transfers to the airport cost between 10-25 EUR depending on what time of day you land, which is super cheap when split three ways and the journey is 10-15 mins max! 

There isn't a huge amount to do in Bratislava, you can take the picturesque tourist trains around the city and up to the castle. We also took a boat ride up the Danube for 10 EUR each from Bratislava to Devin, which has a castle ruin and was a pleasant 90 mins ride on the way and 30 mins on the return. As an FYI beer on the boat was 90 cents for half a pint, BARGAIN! 



You can also take a day trip to Vienna from here for around 30 EUR. However, enjoying the incredible cafe culture and the Old Town is the ideal way to while away the days and we were lucky with over 30 degree heat, which was perfect for gossiping with an Aperol Spritz.

On our last day we decided to get adventurous and took a crazy bridge swing. The below company organised everything for us at a cost of 45 EUR per person:

http://www.stag-bratislava.com/activity-bridge-swinging-bratislava

We were met at our apartment and escorted by public transport to the jump site. We were harnessed in and then literally threw ourselves off of the bridge to swing for a couple of minutes before being winched back up! Each person was allowed two jumps! It was terrifying, however, the thrill was amazing and we were so pleased we took the plunge and felt the adrenaline rush!

video

I would really recommend Bratislava for a little cheap weekend away! A couple of nights is enough and expect a very slow paced capital city. No cars are allowed in the Old Town and it's very picturesque. Maybe also visit in winter for the Christmas markets, which I can imagine are festive and enhance the beauty of this wonderful tiny city.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

ASK - Spice Quay

I am sorry I haven't blogged in a while, things have been hectic work wise so I haven't had much time to either write or socialize! However, last Wednesday night my two sisters, my aunt and myself took some time to have a relaxing dinner at ASK Italian in Butler's Wharf.

I was so pleasantly surprised by this place I had to share. There is a large outside terrace with large umbrellas and outside heaters so even when it's a little chilly you can still enjoy the Al Fresco experience. The view is also amazing looking out onto Tower Bridge in one direction and Canary Wharf in the other. There is also ample seating available inside with large glass windows so you can still admire much of the view.

We went for a reasonably priced bottle of Pinot Grigio and all ordered our mains. I opted for a simple classic Margherita with Bufala Mozzarella, which was served on a board and was massive! It came with it's own pizza cutter for ease and lashings of chili oil. Between the others they chose a gluten free seafood pasta and a lobster and king prawn pasta in a creamy tomato sauce as well as classic Pomodoro. All of the food was really tasty and served quickly.

For dessert we pigged out on gooey chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream and an Italian cheesecake. Again, the desserts were good and by this point we were completely stuffed. We had a taste card, which during the week provides 241 on all food so the bill including service was a mere £16 per head, which I thought was incredibly reasonable.

I love this area of London and there is now a great selection of restaurants. For a splurge I can recommend The Butlers Wharf Chop House and for a good quality meal Browns in this area is also great. However, for a very reasonable mid week dinner I cannot fault ASK. The service was attentive and friendly and I would say this place is well worth a visit.