Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Taking on the challenge at Man vs Food Grill House, Middlesbrough

I've been extremely lucky to be invited to try out a couple of exciting restaurants and bars recently including Sunderland FC's Riverside Brasserie and the Potting Shed in Northallerton. Another invite popped into my inbox last week which was for the new Man vs Food Grill House opening in Middlesbrough. With locations already in South Shields, Newcastle and Consett, Middlesbrough was just another string to its bow lower down in the country. Boasting massive portions, extreme challenges and amazing meat, it was time to try...

I popped down after work the day before it's official opening with my friend Kirsty. Having booked the earliest slot, the restaurant was relatively quiet when we arrived but soon enough it was full of excited people ready to get their first try of this exciting new venue.


The menu is pretty vast with options from burgers to full sandwiches, meat platters and parmos. With so much choice it was hard to decide what we were going to try. After quite a time browsing the menu, I decided on the brisket pickle 'bad boy sandwich' whilst Kirsty chose the pulled beef. When they arrived we were both plesantly suprised by the sheer size of the portion we were being served. My sandwich was piled high with meat, pickles, coleslaw and chips, and with this I got a portion of chips and a side of pit beans. Kirsty's pulled beef was in a neat little dish topped with hot peri peri sauce accompanied by fries and coleslaw.

There was no way I was going to be able to pick up my sandwich and eat it conventionally. I did try, but it was not possible, so I went at it with a knife and fork. It was very tasty but also super filling and when I couldn't eat anymore, I still had quite a bit left. The side of pit beans was very tasty, like a bbq-style baked beans. Kirsty enjoyed her pulled beef, but again the mass of food beat her.


We were seriously feeling full at this point having taken on our main meal and failed miserably. We did however feel like the amazing-sounding dessert menu deserved to be taken on. Filled with cheesecakes and waffles, the dessert menu is the stuff dreams are made of. We decided on a cheesecake each, and then made the decision to have half of each others. I chose the Nutella whilst Kirsty went for Aero mint chocolate. Again the size of these desserts was ginorous. There was no way we were going to finish half let alone a full portion. We had a good few bites and decided the rest had to be boxed up to come home. Our favourite was definitely the Nutella one as the Aero just wasn't chocolately enough for us!


Although this restaurant might be considered an expensive choice, the portions they serve are seriously worth it. With quality meat and exceptional sides, it really is a place to consider for a meal out with friends or family. Just make sure to order less and share! Especially with desserts, unless you want more for later...
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Sunday, 27 August 2017

Kicking it up North for Sunday Lunch, Sunderland FC Riverview Brasserie

When it comes to football, I'd have to say I'm a Middlesbrough supporter. It's my hometown and everyone here feels so strongly about it that you'd be a fool not to go along with it. However when I got an invite through from the Riverview Brasserie at Sunderland Football Club, I threw my allegiance out of the window for the day. Well I'll do anything for food...

This was an especially special meal as it was Sunday Lunch. The Riverview Brasserie only a few weeks ago started serving up a delicious Sunday Lunch menu again and we were invited to try it. To really test out this iconic meal I invited my Mum and my one year old nephew.

We booked our slot for 12.30pm and on arrival found that we were the first to eat. It was very quiet but it gave us a chance to get to grips with the layout, menu and for my nephew to start on his bread bun. As he happily chomped away, we started to scour the three-course menu which changes weekly.

Sunday Lunch, Sunderland FC Riverview Brasserie Review
Sunday Lunch, Sunderland FC Riverview Brasserie Review

There was a good selection for each course but as I'm a picky eater there were some choices which were obvious for me. For starter I chose the leek and potato soup which can be quite a bland soup but this one was very tasty with lots of flavour. My Mum chose the prawn cocktail which looked very fancy.

Sunday Lunch, Sunderland FC Riverview Brasserie Review
Sunday Lunch, Sunderland FC Riverview Brasserie Review

For my main course there was no way I was going to pick anything but a beef dinner. I mean isn't that the best roast to choose! Mum however decided she was going to try something totally different and get the emmental cheese souffle with beetroot compote, herb salad and house dressing. She wasn't quite sure her pick had paid off as it wasn't what she expected, nevertheless she ate it up and enjoyed it.

My beef dinner was lovely. There was plenty of beef and the vegetables and roasties were served separate so you could ask for as much as you wanted, without being greedy of course! For my nephew, they even filled up a little bowl for him with mash, carrot and turnip, gravy and some other bits of vegetable which he throughly enjoyed.

Sunday Lunch, Sunderland FC Riverview Brasserie Review
Sunday Lunch, Sunderland FC Riverview Brasserie Review

Although we were pretty stuffed by this point, we couldn't give a full review of the Brasserie without trying dessert. As always I had to go with the chocolatey-est item which was chocolate and orange truffle torte with forest fruit compote. This was extremely decadent and delicious. I did try, but I just wasn't able to finish the whole slab, although my nephew did give me a hand. Mum chose the black forest slice with thickened cream and coulis.

Sunday Lunch, Sunderland FC Riverview Brasserie Review

Overall we were really pleased with out visit to the Riverside Brasserie. The service was impeccable and the food was delicious. If I'm ever up in Sunderland on a Sunday, this will be definitely one I'll return to.
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Saturday, 19 August 2017

Trying to get to zero waste

Recently I've been trying to be more environmentally conscious and look to reduce the waste that I create from my life. Reading blogs such as Tamsin's 'Eco Fluffy Mama' and delving deeper with blogs including Lauren's 'Trash is for Tossers' has opened my eyes to the zero waste community. I've never really considered how our actions are impacting the environment. I've always recycled but I feel like my lifestyle needs to change to reduce the waste I'm creating that can't be recycled.

For instance, did you know that a plastic bag, which you'd use for no time at all, takes 100-300 years to fragment. Even when it does fragment, it never disappears, it just stays in our environment.

A plastic straw takes 100s of years to break down and many of them end up in the Ocean. "It's estimated that 71% of seabirds and 30% of turtles have been found with plastics in their stomachs. When they ingest plastic, marine life has a 50% mortality rate."

These stats make me think that these items are really not worth their use. I want to ensure that my impact on the environment is reduced, so I'm trying to add more zero waste initiatives into my life starting with these 5 things.

Reusable Straws
At home I don't often use straws but I do love the comfort of having one on hand if I need it. I recently invested in some Klean Kanteen straws from Babi Pur which have some silicon toppers (so the metal doesn't touch your teeth). A few weeks later on my birthday, Mum gave me some fully metal straws (as you can see below) which are just what I was looking for. Now I've got these I can happily use a straw at home and I'm going to start taking these out in order to stop using plastic straws all together.

Metal Straws, reducing waste, zero waste

Reusable metal water bottles
Whilst out and about, I always try to use a reusable bottle but in the past it's been plastic. I wanted to change to something sustainable and more robust. I picked a bottle up for myself and one for my boyfriend from TK Maxx. They have some really cool bottles and they're all one of a kind. I love having my reusable bottle and using this at work everyday. I now just need to find more places when I'm out and about that I can refill at.

Reusable Metal water bottles, reducing waste, zero waste

Choosing more package-free food
If you look at a lot of the plastic wrap that covers your fruit and vegetables you'll read that it isn't yet recyclable. Looking around in the supermarket you will see that this type of plastic is everywhere. It's very disheartening. I'm going to try and source my produce from places that sell it package free, as nature intended. For that purpose, I've bought some reusable produce bags from Earthwise Girls so that I'm not having to use those plastic ones. I do also what to try and find places that I can bulk buy grains, rice and pasta so that I'm not having to buy it packaged. This is proving to be more tricky in the UK!

Earthwise Girls order, reusable produce bags, earth conscious deodorant, reducing waste, zero waste

Less packaged toiletries
This is something new for me that I haven't quite started to get into. I purchased the above deodorant after hearing great things about it on Eco Fluffy Mama. It's a natural deodorant stored in a metal container rather than plastic or an aerosol can. Following purchasing this, I want to try and pick more package-less products such as shampoo, conditioner and soap. I'm thinking that Lush will be good for this unless I start searching online.

Reusable menstrual products
A few months ago I made the decision to try out a menstrual cup. I think at the time, a lot of bloggers and Youtubers were raving about them and I came across some really useful resources from Bryony at Precious Star Pads and the girls from Put A Cup In It. Using the quiz from Put A Cup In It, I picked a menstrual cup that I thought would work for me and ordered it from Amazon. It took a little while to get used to but now I love it and would not go back to tampons. It's so much more comfortable and reduces menstrual waste! Next up to try is reusable menstrual pads...

Taking bags shopping
One that I've adopted more and more since the plastic bag charge came in is bringing my own bags to the shop. My Mum bought me the below shopping bags two Christmases ago and using them every time I've done my big shop, I'm bound to have saved hundreds of plastic bags that I don't have any use for. I've just purchased a little handy pocket bag that I can carry round and have on hand for anything I purchase.

trolley bags, shopping, plastic bags, reducing waste, zero waste

These are the little things I'm trying to alter in my life to reduce the waste I produce. One more thing that I'm looking into is composting. The concept really fascinates me as I've read about how food breaking down in bin bags produces a greenhouse gas, methane, which I didn't realise before. Composting is a much more natural process which allows oxygen to access the waste and break it down with little methane. Plus you get natural nutrient rich compost that you can use in your garden. It's a win-win. I'm looking into a compost bin for next month and thinking about where to put it in the garden. If you compost I'd love some advice about it!

I'm not delusional that my lifestyle is going to change over night. I'm going to continue to work on lessening the waste I produce and be more mindful about my choices when purchasing and when I'm out. I've just signed up to take part in a beach clean up on our local beach which I think will really open my eyes to this worldwide issue.

What are your thoughts on this? What are you doing to reduce your waste output and become more environmentally friendly?

*All statistics credited with URL linked in the text.
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Friday, 18 August 2017

Going Vegetarian at The Waiting Room, Eaglescliffe

For two birthdays on the trot now I've visited The Waiting Room and on both occasions the food has been delicious. The Waiting Room is a vegetarian restaurant located a stones away throw from Eaglescliffe train station. 

Its menu changes seasonally and is always full of amazing creative items that won't make you miss having meat for the night. We visited on Friday night and this year sat in the back conservatory area. With its reclaimed cinema seating and eclectic decor, this area sits away from the main eating area at the front, giving you a feeling of privacy.

Having already surveyed the menu before we visited, I was pretty sure of my choices. For our starers I picked the hazelnut, mushroom and parsley pate and Matt chose the goats cheese, spice red onion and almond baklava. Both were very nice, but I kind of wish I'd picked Matt's dish as mine was a lot of hazelnut and not as mushroom flavour as I'd hoped. 

The Waiting Room Eaglescliffe Teesside Stockton Restaurant Review Vegetarian
The Waiting Room Eaglescliffe Teesside Stockton Restaurant Review Vegetarian
The Waiting Room Eaglescliffe Teesside Stockton Restaurant Review Vegetarian
The Waiting Room Eaglescliffe Teesside Stockton Restaurant Review Vegetarian

For our mains I wanted to go with something that I knew I would enjoy. Last year I decided to go for items that sounded nice and were a bit of a different meal for me, but I ended up being disappointed as I'd gone too far out of my comfort zone.

On our most recent visit I chose the infamous and highly-reccommended puy chilli wholemeal enchilada and Matt went for the roast garlic, courgette and spinach buckwheat galette with organic poached egg.

When mine arrived it was massive! It tasted amazing, so full of flavour and heat from the chilli. I didn't manage to finish it all but they kindly packed it up for me to enjoy the next day (which I did). Matt thought his dish was gorgeous with a good mix of flavours and the addition of the egg on top really tied it all together.

Although we were both bursting at the seams, for a birthday meal it would be rude to not get dessert. Matt went for his regular, sticky toffee pudding, and I chose the chocolate pecan brownie. The sticky toffee pudding did not disappoint and the brownie was super decadent and gorgeous with the ice cream.

Overall I really enjoy visiting The Waiting Room. There is always something different to try and as I'm a fussy meat eater, I know I'm always going to enjoy all the vegetables!

Have you visited The Waiting Room?
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Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Birthday walks at along the Cleveland Way

For every birthday that I have, I've always got to make sure I'm doing something on the day. I understand that as some people get older, they start to be more lax about their birthday, even working on their special day. I really enjoy planning something fun and different to do on the day. As my birthday falls in August, a lot of the activities I've done of the years have been outdoors such as strawberry picking and exploring Florence.

This year, with our newly purchase walking boots in tow, I decided we'd brave the English coast for a walk along The Cleveland Way. Reading that along the Boulby Cliff & Staithes trail you can be at the highest and lowest point of the East coast of England, we thought this would be a perfect route to try.

Starting at Staithes top car park, we ventured down into the Harbour which was adorably quaint. I wished we could have stayed for fish and chips and took in the views. Alas, we kept walking up hill and then along the coast taking in the breathtaking North Sea and to our left, Boulby Mine.

Boulby Cliff, Staithes, Cleveland Way Walking Trail, North Yorkshire
Boulby Cliff, Staithes, Cleveland Way Walking Trail, North Yorkshire
Boulby Cliff, Staithes, Cleveland Way Walking Trail, North Yorkshire
Boulby Cliff, Staithes, Cleveland Way Walking Trail, North Yorkshire
Boulby Cliff, Staithes, Cleveland Way Walking Trail, North Yorkshire

We walked as far as we could before the trail started to take us further up. It was a hefty climb but when we reached the top it was pretty epic. The view of the North Sea, coupled with the colourful flowers and historic landscape was stunning. Although it was super windy, we stayed here for a while taking lots of photos and a few cheeky selfies.

As we went to explore the next part of our route, this is where we went a little wrong with the map. Only new to this walking malarky, our map reading skills aren't the best and we managed to walk our way through someone's farm. When we'd finally escaped the squealing pigs and eerie silence of the farm (which felt like something out of a horror film), we tried to get ourselves back on track, which we eventually did. 

Chuffed with how we managed to get ourselves back on the route, we finished up the walk in no time taking in more farmland, seeing the Boulby Mine from another angle and walking through forest area inhabited by hundreds of birds. Seriously, we came into an opening and approximately 200 birds all scattered to the edges of the wood, darting through the grass. Very surreal. We finally trekked up the road and back to the car park only minutes before our parking was up. A very satisfying feeling.

After completing this walk, I'm looking forward to trying out a few other routes along the Cleveland Way. Have you been on any good walks lately?
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Sunday, 13 August 2017

Doing some digging into the Potting Shed at Northallerton

This week I was kindly invited along to the VIP Launch of The Potting Shed in Northallerton. Formerly The Old Rutson Hospital, the venue has been transformed into The Potting Shed's third location, which sits in an ideal spot on the main high street.

When we arrived there was already lots of people inside ready to explore this rabbit warren, which boasts around six different inside areas, a garden filled with 'potting sheds' and a roof terrace. The decor of the building was extremely well designed and fit with the theme so beautifully. The amount of time and money that must have gone into the wallpaper choice is staggering as they are all stunning. I'd have them in my house in an instant.

The Potting Shed Northallerton Launch Night August Bar RestaurantThe Potting Shed Northallerton Launch Night August Bar Restaurant

The Potting Shed Northallerton Launch Night August Bar RestaurantThe Potting Shed Northallerton Launch Night August Bar Restaurant
The Potting Shed Northallerton Launch Night August Bar RestaurantThe Potting Shed Northallerton Launch Night August Bar Restaurant
The Potting Shed Northallerton Launch Night August Bar Restaurant

As VVIPs for the night, myself and my friend started trying out their drinks menu. The bar was extremely busy on the night but we managed to bag ourselves a Elderflower Bellini each, which we loved. The waitresses brought round a selection of canap├ęs which were a taster of their menu including pizza, mini cottage pies, garlic bread, fish finger sandwiches and beef wraps.

Each room at The Potting Shed has its own charm and atmosphere. Some are cosy and cute, where as others are eccentric and grand. On the top floor there is a large room which even has it's own bar for private functions. Definitely a venue to consider for your next party.

Having not really been to Northallerton for anything else than Betty's Afternoon Tea, The Potting Shed has definitely become a reason for me to return. I'm excited to be back to try their full menu, and maybe a few more cocktails. 

It's only 30 minutes away from Middlesbrough, so why not try it out.

- Press photos included in this post.
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