Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Pub review | The Star, Ingatestone


The Star, Ingatestone, Pub, Essex, Traditional, Sandwiches,
The Star, Ingatestone, Pub, Essex, Traditional, Sandwiches,
As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, I booked a Friday off work and treated my mum to lunch. After some research and recommendations from work colleagues, she decided we should go to The Star at Ingatestone. It’s a really lovely village only about 10 minutes from us and I decided to drive. I had never been there before, but I’d heard it used to have a reputation as a ‘rough’ place. I’m pleased to say it has clearly undergone a transformation and we had a thoroughly enjoyable lunch.

The interior is so cosy and traditional pub: wooden beams, low ceilings and an open fire. The bar area is really open with tables for two and four set up, as well as seating at the bar. There’s also a snug area with tables, which is where we had planned on sitting – but there was no room, it was a busy Friday afternoon.

Ellen, who served us behind the bar, was friendly and accommodating. After placing our drinks order, she passed us some menus and said she would come and serve us. I’m used to having to order at the bar in pubs, so this was a really nice touch, especially considering how busy it was. We sat directly next to the bar, where the atmosphere was lively – but we were still able to hold a conversation.
The Star, Ingatestone, Pub, Essex, Traditional, Sandwiches,
The Star, Ingatestone, Pub, Essex, Traditional, Sandwiches,
At lunch time, you have a choice of menus: the main menu and the lunch menu with sandwiches, starter portions and light bites. Both mum and I chose from the deep-fill sandwich section – is there honestly anything better than a proper pub sandwich? I don’t think so. Each is served with a side salad and you have the option of white, granary or ciabatta bread. Mum chose the chicken & creamy coleslaw ciabatta, which was huge. The ciabatta was freshly baked and the chicken was also warm. I decided to try the tuna, red onion & mixed peppers sandwich on granary. It was packed with filling and so lovely. The bread was so soft and thickly sliced. We were also given the option of adding chips to our order, but the sandwiches were sufficient enough.

The food was reasonably priced and considering the real lack of decent pubs around Brentwood, I would thoroughly recommend The Star if you’re in the area, or even as far as Chelmsford. I’d love to return for lunch, maybe even on a Sunday. On Monday, they also run a quiz and curry night for £5 per person – a bit of fun. Plus it’s really nice walking around the village afterwards, particularly on a nice day.

Love, Lucy xx

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Beauty | The Libbie Club – March 2016

Libbie Club, Subscription,Beauty, Latest in Beauty, Libbies,
Libbie Club, Subscription,Beauty, Latest in Beauty, Libbies,

After receiving the February box and completing all the tasks required, The Libbie Club sent me the March box in the post. Each box contains three products and it’s down to the Libbies to test them, review them and then shares the offers associated with them. If you manage to persuade someone to buy any of the products, you’ll then receive the next month’s box. You can find this month’s offers on my page – and if you spend over £30 by the end of March, you’ll receive £5 off and free delivery by entering code: FLASH530. So why not treat yo’self this Bank Holiday weekend?

 

The March box contained:

-       Ciaté Nail Polish

-       Hyasoft Instant Moisture Boost

-       Double Dose of Genius Skincare Set

Libbie Club, Subscription,Beauty, Latest in Beauty, Libbies,
Libbie Club, Subscription,Beauty, Latest in Beauty, Libbies,

Product: Ciaté Nail Polish

Mini review: I am a massive fan of Ciaté and particularly love their nail kits. I think in my collection, at least a third are Ciaté polishes. Each one is always highly pigmented, long-lasting and the brush is such a good size, making it easy to apply. This particular colour (Mistress) was bright and perfect for adding a pop of colour/making a statement. It remained chip-free for a week.

Offer: Mani Must Haves Kit - FREE Mistress Nail Polish (includes Knight in Shining Armour Overnight Nail Mask, Perfect Paint Job Corrector Pen with three replacement tips and Speed Coat Fast Dry Top Coat) - £30.

Libbie Club, Subscription,Beauty, Latest in Beauty, Libbies,

Product: Hyasoft Instant Moisture Boost

Mini review: I loved this product and noticed instant results. The cold can really take its toll on our skin, and by incorporating this product in my daily skincare routine, I noticed a massive difference. I used it alongside my day and night cream and my skin looked more radiant and felt softer. It gave my complexion such a lift. The gel formula isn't sticky; instead it's light and fast-absorbing. The neutral scent also makes it ideal for sensitive skin, or those with problem areas.

Offer: 20% off Hyasoft Instant Moisture Boost (30ml) - £15.20

Libbie Club, Subscription,Beauty, Latest in Beauty, Libbies,

Product: Double Dose of Genius Skincare Set

Mini review: Individually, I liked these products, but together, I didn't find they made any difference to my complexion. The milk was light and soaked into the skin nicely; it definitely re-hydrated me and gave me a boost. The oil was too rich and instead of reviving, ended up making my skin greasy. I used these morning and night and when applied in the morning, I noticed my make up wasn't as flawless and didn't stay put. These are much better used at night, to allow them to work their magic while you sleep.

Offer: Double Dose of Genius Skincare Set (2 x 10ml) - £20

 

Please visit my Libbie Club page for more amazing offers from brands including Maddi Alexander, Vita Liberata, La Montana and Bourjois.

 

Are you a Libbie? What did you make of the March box?

 

Love, Lucy xx

 

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Thursday, 24 March 2016

OOTD | Lunch with Mum


Oversized top – New Look (available here)
Ripped jeans – Pink Boutique (available here)
Plimsolls – New Look (available here)
Necklace – Cherry Diva
Handbag – Ted Baker

Is there any better feeling than new clothes arriving, trying them on and then realising that they can be worn together? After sorting out my wardrobe, I went a little crazy and bought loads of new bits. Last Friday I booked the day off work and treat my mum to lunch. This outfit was perfect for that casual trip to the pub – although there was a sign outside saying ‘smart dress only’ and I suddenly felt bad.

Spring is always my most hated season for fashion: the weather is always unpredictable and I’m never sure to go with light layers, while worrying I’m wearing too much or too little. I love floaty fabrics and oversized items, so this top was ideal. The material is so light and it could have easily been worn untucked, but I thought it looked better tucked in and roughly pulled out. The jeans are my current love. I’ve honestly never owned a pair of ripped jeans, in fact, I’ve not worn jeans in years. And I need a similar pair in white. Cherry Diva is the place to go to for statement necklaces, it’s where I buy most of mine – they’re always so affordable! And of course, I don’t go anywhere without my trusty Ted B bag.

Love, Lucy xx

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Restaurant review | Buddha Bar, Knightsbridge



Buddha-Bar, London, Knightsbridge, Sushi, Pan-Asian, Teppanyaki, Japanese
None of my friends like fish or sushi, so when Gemma came down for the weekend, there was only one type of cuisine we were going to be having! There are so many Japanese/sushi restaurants on my list, but having had memorable meals at the Prague and Budapest restaurants, I wanted to go for something special and so, booked a table at the Buddha Bar in Knightsbridge. Even though I had left it late to book, I was pleased to find my requested time of 7pm still available.

Buddha Bar specialises in pan-Asian cuisine and the menus at each restaurant are fairly similar. If you’re not into sashimi or sushi rolls, there are plenty of other options including wok-fried meats and vegetables, rice and noodles and curries.

I was so surprised by the size of the London restaurant and think I read somewhere that it seats 450. There’s seating around the bar, as well as the main dining area and booths. There’s even a private dining room. The decor typifies the franchise, with dragon motifs adorning the walls and giant Buddha statues. The lighting is fairly dim, which makes it perfect for that intimate experience – perfect for an occasion or date night, or in our case, mate night.
Buddha-Bar, London, Knightsbridge, Sushi, Pan-Asian, Teppanyaki, Japanese
I’ll begin with our drinks at the bar – the mixologists are amazingly talented! It was definitely worth waiting 10 minutes for our cocktails to be brought over. I always feel awkward watching while the ingredients are shaken and blended. I chose the Kiwi Kukama: citroen vodka and bitter lemon, with elderflower liqueur, fresh kiwi and cucumber. It was a lovely pastel green colour and went down far too easily. The fruit and cucumber added a crisp freshness. Gem went for Bubble Wap (I’d had this before so can vouch for her when she says it was amazing!) – a fruity concoction of strawberry and raspberry purees, vodka, champagne and elderflower liqueur, with the slightest dash of rose liqueur to finish it off. While we sipped our luxe cocktails, we spoke to the sommelier who asked us about our preferences, before recommending a wine to order with dinner. We were even lucky enough to sample this before ordering a fresh bottle later on.
Buddha-Bar, London, Knightsbridge, Sushi, Pan-Asian, Teppanyaki, Japanese
Buddha-Bar, London, Knightsbridge, Sushi, Pan-Asian, Teppanyaki, Japanese
To eat, we began with a couple of starters: crispy duck spring rolls and beef satay. The beef was so tender and cooked to perfection; it was like actual steak on skewers and served with a beautifully nutty, but spicy dipping sauce. I could have easily eaten more than two skewers. The spring rolls were equally as good, packed with duck and cucumber – and the hoi sin was so moreish.
Buddha-Bar, London, Knightsbridge, Sushi, Pan-Asian, Teppanyaki, Japanese
We also shared a few main dishes between us – which arrived on the same platter, garnished with pickled ginger and wasabi. The varying colours made the plate look appetising and I just couldn’t wait to dig in. The mixed cucumber and avocado maki rolls were light and fresh, the perfect dish to begin with. I love vegetable rolls, but had never had the two combined in one before – they were so good. The signature Buddha Bar rolls (pictured in the middle) were wrapped in cucumber, rather than seaweed and topped with the tastiest tangy sauce. Each roll contained a mixture of salmon and tuna and I’m sure there was crab in the middle, it was so succulent.  Rainbow rolls are one of my favourites and the ones at Buddha Bar are unreal. Each one was topped with sashimi and caviar – the bright green, orange and black made them look so pretty and almost too good to eat. They tasted better than they looked – but unfortunately we couldn’t eat them all. 20 rolls between two was definitely too much, especially after having starters as well.
Buddha-Bar, London, Knightsbridge, Sushi, Pan-Asian, Teppanyaki, Japanese
We didn’t have room for dessert and instead, relaxed with the last of our wine. Even though you are allocated a time slot, the staff never rushed us and we didn’t feel as though we needed to leave straight away. The service throughout was excellent, from the moment we confirmed our reservation, to sitting with our drinks at the bar and the waiting staff who looked after us so well. My only complaint for the whole evening would be that service charge was added to our drinks bill, which seemed a bit unreasonable given we were also eating at the restaurant. This meant that two cocktails came to over £40, which is a bit silly.

I will definitely be returning to Buddha Bar, after all, there are so many more varieties of sushi I need to sample!

Love, Lucy xx

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Afternoon Tea | Mews @ Mayfair



If you saw my recent update post, you’ll know I booked afternoon tea at Mews of Mayfair for myself and best friend Gemma when she came down for the weekend. I could have quite easily chosen one of my favourites, but settled on somewhere new – and by booking through afternoontea.co.uk, we received a 25% off voucher. Mews is in Lancashire Court, just off New Bond Street, so away from the hustle and bustle. It’s only a few doors down from Victoria Secret and the temptation to dive into there afterwards was just unreal – I managed to resist though.

We sat in the Cartizze Bar and were given a choice of tables upon arrival. I’m used to having afternoon tea in bright, open spaces, so this was a completely different experience. The decor was all about dark oaks, leather booths and minimal lighting, meaning the photos didn’t come out the best. The seating was comfortable, but I felt as though the table was too small – especially considering all the crockery and utensils we had to make room for. We sat away from the bar scene, so it wasn’t as loud as I was expecting, but it would have been nice to sit somewhere else. I’m not too sure if the restaurant area is opened up for afternoon tea, but that may have been better.
As we perused the tea menus, we both got serious food envy; everyone around us must have also been taking advantage of the offer and given the fact we hadn’t eaten all day, we could not wait for our stand to arrive to the table. We both chose black teas: Gemma went for traditional breakfast tea, while I opted for the vanilla infused one. Unlike other flavoured teas, this one tasted exactly how it smelt and once the leaves had infused, it had a strong vanilla/caramel flavour. The teapots were so dainty and because they were made from glass, you could see all the loose leaf at the bottom. My only criticism was the size – they only contained enough water for two small cups of tea and at no point did any member of staff ask if we wanted them refilled. Well, not until we had finished eating and were waiting for the bill!
Luckily we didn’t have long to wait until the cake stand was brought over and our waitress talked us through each tier. I always enjoy the menus more when there’s a theme, or you are served something a little different – I get bored of the usual ham, cucumber and egg sandwiches. We began with those and I pleased to see the addition of a wrap and bagel. The roast chicken & tarragon mayonnaise on onion bread was my favourite savoury, although closely followed by the unusual hummus & roasted pepper wrap. The mini prawns & lemon mayonnaise bagel was so light and almost like a brioche; it tasted quite sweet and wasn’t at all dense. The roast beef with horseradish crème fraiche on tomato bread was super tasty too.
Like most places, we had plain and fruit scones, with clotted cream and strawberry preserve. I don’t think I’ve ever been somewhere and had a bad scone – and these were no exception. The cream was thick and the jam, the perfect consistency. The scones themselves were still warm, soft in the middle, with that lovely glaze and crisp exterior.
I have to admit I was quite disappointed by the desserts and pastries on the top tier. On the plus side, there was two of everything. Nothing annoys me more than paying for ‘tea for two’ but then getting a selection of desserts and then having to play Russian Roulette. The raspberry macaron was definitely my favourite. A good macaron is a beautiful thing. The raspberry ganache was almost jelly-like and the meringue was so crisp and sweet. I need me a box of them. The other desserts included a chocolate brownie topped with caramel sauce, a red velvet fairy cake and a layered dessert which was very lemony.

I would love to return to Mews to sample their cocktails, or even have a leisurely lunch with the girls, but I don’t think I’d go back for afternoon tea. There are so many other venues in and around Mayfair, including Hush around the corner. If you pick up a good deal (like the 25% off), I’d recommend going.

Love, Lucy xx