Friday, 28 August 2015

Restaurant review | Mason’s, Brentwood

I rarely go out in Brentwood and when I do, I try and avoid the High Street. Last weekend was a beautiful reminder of how good some of the restaurants in the area are. I hadn’t been to Mason’s since my birthday last year and everything about that evening was memorable. I remember going to Mason’s for a family meal when it first opened and the fire alarms went off as we sat waiting for the starters to arrive – it’s come on a long way since then; more recently undergoing a little re-furb. And it now serves afternoon tea (yep, need to check that out!). I’d promised Jake I’d take him so I’m pleased to say that’s now been ticked off.

We had booked for 7:15 and upon arrival, the resident pianist was playing and we took a seat in the bar area while we waited for our table. I’m actually devastated that I drove, because the cocktail menu looked amazing (with lots of champagne cocktails, plus my favourite: pornstar martini). It was lovely relaxing in the company of others soaking up the ambience, especially with live music being played. There’s seating outside in a courtyard now too, but we sat inside.
Tomahawk, Steak, Masons, Brentwood, Brasserie, Fine Dining
Earlier in the day, I had seen on Twitter that Mason’s would be serving Tomahawk steak from this evening. At a large 48oz, they’re made for sharing, but I’m sure someone, somewhere, could manage it. It wasn’t long before the meat was presented to the table and it looked a lot more impressive than the photo online. It was always my intention to have steak (the fillet steak with prawns sounded good), so we decided to give it a go – choosing to go straight to a main course and not order starters.

It’s a good job too that we didn’t: the steak arrived ready-sliced on a board with rocket and served with two portions of chips, a mixed salad and selection of roasted vegetables (the evening’s special, served with every main course). There was so much food and understandably, we couldn’t eat it all. The steak went, of course – and it was cooked to perfection. We asked for it rare and the waitress explained it couldn’t be cooked any more well done than medium because of the time it would take. I think it took 30-40 minutes to cook it rare. But it was very good.
Tomahawk, Steak, Masons, Brentwood, Brasserie, Fine Dining
I did manage to save room for dessert and I actually wanted everything on the menu! I chose the white chocolate & raspberry blondie which was incredibly sweet and probably a bit too heavy after eating so much. I couldn’t manage it all and the slice was quite large. It was served with homemade honeycomb which was amazing – and actually tasted like pure honey! Jake went for a lighter option in the duo of sorbet (mango and passion fruit), served in a brandy snap basket. Like everything else, the presentation was excellent.

I had totally forgotten how good the food, service and overall experience are at Mason’s. The staff are attentive enough, without lingering over your table – and they’re so friendly in interested in you as a person, rather than a customer.  The layout is good as well – there’s lots of different sections as the seating is all open plan. We sat in an area with a few other couples, while larger parties occupied the back room. That way you can enjoy an intimate, relaxing meal, without having the noise and bustle of louder groups. It was a good touch to see the Tomahawk before ordering and I think, had we not seen it, we’d have ordered something else. The menu changes regularly and it’s good to see local produce on there (including pigeon!).

The meal was reasonably priced, faring cheaper than the likes of Smith’s and Alec’s. Next time, I’ll leave the car at home!

Love, Lucy xx

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Haul | Bomb Cosmetics

Bomb Cosmetics, Bath Blasters, Bath Bombs, Bath Melts, Bath Mallows,
Bomb Cosmetics, Bath Blasters, Bath Bombs, Bath Melts, Bath Mallows,
Hey lovelies,

Quick haul post today and here’s something I never thought I’d say... Sorry Lush, but I’ve cheated on you.

Bomb Cosmetics are a company I’ve heard so many people rave about on Instagram, particularly for their candles and bath bombs, but I’ve never actually bought anything from there – favouring Lush every time. Last Christmas, my mum added a few of their festive-themed fizzers in my stocking and I loved the scents, as well as the quality. With free delivery on orders of £25, I just couldn’t resist and at a fraction of the price of Lush, you get so much more for your money. I even bought my friend the Strawberry Patch gift box, a really pretty wrapped box full of sweet strawberry bath treats.

I think I could have quite easily bought everything – I was sucked in by bright colours, fruit and sweet themes, and cute names. In the end, I settled on a mix of bath bombs and bath melts. Products which contain essential oils or cocoa/shea butter often feature high on my wish list and I love their moisturising qualities which prevent the skin becoming dehydrated while bathing.

Cha Cha Cherry Bath Mallow - Feel the rhythm of the Cha Cha Cha and let the cherry fragrance sweep you off your feet! Containing bergamot & mandarin essential oils, this fruity ensemble will make you want to jump for joy.

Ice Cream Funday Bath Mallow - One scoop or two? With this ice cream inspired delight, the memories of summer days on the beach are all year round! Whipped with frankincense & Geranium essential oils, you’ll wish you had hundreds and thousands!

Wild Strawberry Bath Mallow - A feast of wild strawberries, with a hint of decadent sparkling wine, combined with geranium and rosemary oils to lead your mind along a forest path of relaxing and indulgent discovery. Relax and let the cocoa and shea butters deeply moisturise.

Cherry Bathe-Well Bath Blaster - An exceedingly good bath, combining fruity summer cherry scents and a hint of cookies! Pure marjoram and chamomile essential oils will help relax and soothe you. A warm fruity accord of lush cherry combined with a rich mouth-watering milk cookie fragrance smoothed by vanilla pod and hints of creamy coconut and white chocolate.

Goodnight Honey Bath Blaster - For a warm sweetly scented bath time, full to the brim with skin calming and soothing bergamot and chamomile oils, to help swiftly send you to the land of nod. A warming vanilla heart over a caramelised honey base.

Strawberry & Banana Milkshake Bath Blaster - Your Strawberry and Banana Milkshake brings all the boys to the yard, there's no Bath Blaster better than ours! The fragrance speaks for itself, but nestled within are pure jasmine and clary sage essential oils to balance and relax. This fragrance combines juicy strawberry with a tangy heart resting on a base of cream and vanilla and mixed with banana milkshake!
Bomb Cosmetics, Bath Blasters, Bath Bombs, Bath Melts, Bath Mallows,
How cute do the Bath Mallows look? Like a cross between a cupcake and a giant marshmallow. I’m totally spoilt for choice on what to use first – and my bath basket is most definitely overflowing now!

What’s your favourite Bomb Cosmetics product?

Love, Lucy xx

Monday, 24 August 2015

Personal | Laura’s birthday

If you’re a Twitter or Instagram follower, you’ll know I recently bombarded your feeds with pictures of my weekend, which I spent in London to celebrate my best friend, Laura’s birthday. Although her birthday is on the 25th, it was the only weekend we both had free and we definitely made the most of it! So what did we get up to?

Laura drove to Stratford and we parked overnight at the Westfield car park. For lunch we went to Ping Pong, where we shared plates of dim sum and I had the most beautiful watermelon martini. Ping Pong has to be one of my favourite lunch spots, as you can order as much or little as you like and it’s a good thing to share rather than ordering tonnes just for yourself. We chose duck spring rolls, roast pork puffs, char sui pork buns, vegetable rice, chicken & cashew nut dumplings and black sesame seed prawn crackers.

Up @ The O2 was great fun! Upon arrival, we watched a video de-briefing and met our guide, before we got our shoes, jackets and harnesses and we were then ready to climb. It wasn’t scary at all, although it was pretty steep – even on the descent. On the way up and down, your harness was connected to a metal wire and there were several points with locks, which was totally confusing. But at the top, it was time to disconnect, admire the views and take lots of photos! I’d thoroughly recommend the experience and I would love to do it again! Thankfully it didn’t rain either.
I had booked a room at the Radisson Blu at Canary Wharf, so we had somewhere to get ready and obviously stay the night! We were totally spoilt with a king-size room, with a large bathroom (including walk in rain shower). We only had an hour to get ready before going out, so here’s a quick selfie!
We had dinner at The Drift, on the bottom floor of the Heron Tower. I’m not going to be dedicating a full post to the restaurant and our meal, but it was lovely. It’s such a cool place to meet with friends for food and/or drinks, with a bar downstairs and a restaurant (with lounge seating for those wanting drinks upstairs) on the first floor. It’s all open plan and very airy, so makes for a great experience. I had a fillet steak, which was excellent and we shared chocolate brownie for dessert (which was gorge). The menu is good, with plenty of choice; service was great; prices were reasonable; great atmosphere – lively but not too loud. I’d definitely go back!
We followed dinner with drinks and first we went to Sushi Samba, which is on the 38th floor of the Heron Tower. I have to admit it wasn’t what I was expecting at all, considering the hype which surrounds it. Both inside and outside were absolutely heaving and I felt sorry for the people eating, with the crowds of people constantly pushing past to get to the patio. Outside was beautiful, with the bar in the middle and seating all around the outside.  The views were incredible too, as were the cocktails. I had the Lychee Cooler (Grey Goose, St. Germain and vanilla sugar, shaken with lychee juice and coconut milk) which was lush. We then went to Steam & Rye just off Bishopsgate, where I had an equally extravagant cocktail in the Five Dollar Shake (topped with whipped cream, hundreds & thousands, mini Oreo and mini Twister Lolly). It was busy, with a live singer when we arrived, followed by dancing girls – it was certainly an experience! It’s definitely a place suited to larger groups!

On Sunday, after stuffing my face with a three course breakfast, we made our way back to Stratford, dumped our bags in the car and hit the shops! We also went to the cinema to see Trainwreck, which was hilarious if you’ve not seen it already (go and see it!). I ended up buying a couple of bits in Lush, a new purse in River Island and a cute Aztec print skirt from Stradivarius (my favourite shop). Before leaving for home, we grabbed some food at the international food court and as Laura fancied Chinese, we went to Lotus Leaf. I chose the Malaysian-style creamy red curry with beef (below), which was excellent, if a little on the hot side. There’s so much choice on that floor and it was good ‘street food’.
As you can see, it was a fabulous weekend with my best friend and lots of celebrations. Happy Birthday for tomorrow Laura and see you on the 12th!

Love, Lucy xx

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Health | Keep Me Going Cereal

Keep Me Going, Cereal, Breakfast, Low Fat, High Fibre, Healthy

Keep Me Going c/o Freedom Cereals
For me, breakfast is the most important meal of the day: I have a 45-minute commute to work so I have to eat before I leave in the morning. Anyone that works in an environment will vouch for me when I say that snacks are rife – there’s often a constant supply of sausage rolls, cakes and sweets – so if I don’t eat home, I end up snacking all morning. I’ve tried everything: cereal, toast, homemade granola, overnight oats, sugar-free pancakes and yet, I still can’t find anything that will tide me over all morning.
Keep Me Going, Cereal, Breakfast, Low Fat, High Fibre, Healthy

Keep Me Going c/o Freedom Cereals
That has changed now I’ve found Keep Me Going* from Freedom Cereals. When you look at how many products (particularly cereals) are marketed as being healthy when in reality they aren’t, it’s shocking. When I was at uni, I lived on Special K (because it was always on offer and that whole red swimsuit/drop a dress size ads campaign), believing it was the secret to my weight-loss. In comparison with Special K, Keep Me Going contains 60% less sugar, eight times les salt (say whut?), double the amount of fibre and has a low Glycaemic Index, so you don’t get those energy slumps. I’ve compared it against all the cereals currently in our cupboards and the stats are favourable:

Cereal (30g)
Calories (kcal)
Fat (g)
Sugar (g)
Keep Me Going
Sainsbury’s Pecan & Maple Crunch
Jordan’s Lighter Granola
Krave Milk Chocolate
Crunchy Nut Chocolate Clusters
Crunchy Nut Cornflakes
Alpen Dark Chocolate
At a first glance, the packaging is bright and would definitely stand out amongst competitors on the shelves of the supermarket. The front isn’t too busy with messages and the font is legible – the big bowl of cereal image is also enticing. Information about the brand and product are on the back and this isn’t confusing at all. The product is aimed at all the family and with this in mind, each pack contains a packet of trading cards for children to play with. These are based on the popular game Top Trumps, with an ‘Around the World’ theme, each card is a different country. With its flag on one side, on the reverse are facts, figures and general information on that country.
Keep Me Going, Cereal, Breakfast, Low Fat, High Fibre, Healthy

Keep Me Going c/o Freedom Cereals
Now onto the cereal, which is the perfect size: the oaty pillows are neither too large, nor too small; too hard, nor too soft. When having this cereal with milk, it doesn’t go soggy, even after five minutes of being immersed in liquid. The first day I had Keep Me Going with strawberries, the second with a teaspoon of coconut sugar, the third with blueberries – but my favourite so far is with Greek yogurt, fruit and coconut sugar. Because the flavour is plain, you can get creative, mixing with different fruits, yogurts and other cereals – the opportunities are endless! If you mix it with your everyday cereal, you’re also going to decrease the sugar content. I’m even tempted to blitz the cereal up and add it to my morning smoothie.
Every time I’ve had Keep Me Going so far, I’ve genuinely been full until lunch – that doesn’t mean to say I haven’t snacked, but it’s more eating out of boredom, rather than being hungry.
Keep Me Going is currently available from Ocado and if you click here, you can receive £20 off your order, plus an annual midweek fast pass.
What are you favourite things to eat for breakfast? Will you try Keep Me Going?
Love, Lucy xx

*Freedom Cereals sent two boxes to me FOC for review purposes but images and opinions are 100% my own.