Gin Afternoon Tea at Marco Pierre White

Last week I was invited to sample the new ‘Gin & Tea’ afternoon tea at Marco Pierre White’s Steakhouse Bar and Grill at the top of the iconic ‘The Cube’ in Birmingham. I’ve visited the restaurant before (the chocolate mousse is amazing), and while I wouldn’t describe myself as a huge gin enthusiast, I was intruiged to see how it had been infused into the individual elements of the food.

One of the best features of the restaurant are the fabulous 360-degree views of the city from the 25th floor, so I was delighted when we were shown to a table with crisp, white linen and a window seat. We were the first to arrive for the start of service, and so it was a particularly quiet and relaxed atmosphere.

We were offered a Pink Gin cocktail (we both chose lemonade instead of tonic) made with Beefeater gin. The unexpected surprise was how much I actually enjoyed this – the gin wasn’t too strong and I liked the large glasses. Who knows? Perhaps I might now be a gin person? Continue reading

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Venom at the Odeon Luxe Broadway Plaza, Birmingham

I’ve heard quite a few positive things about the new Odeon Luxe Cinemas that have been opening all around the country, so it was a nice surprise when I was invited to watch the new Venom film on the premiere day at the Odeon Luxe Broadway Plaza with Westside BID. I was away from home last week, so The Bloke was more than happy to take my place instead. Here’s what he thought: 

We’ve visited the Odeon at Birmingham Broadway Plaza on numerous occasions and had rather mixed experiences depending on the film, screen and showing times. I was interested to see how the new ‘Luxe’ refurbishments would make a difference to the quality of the cinema experience.  Continue reading

SERVE Birmingham: An Alternative Experience in the City

Ever played ping pong while drinking a pint?

Well, now you can! 

SERVE opened its doors in August in the underground space at 55a Temple Row, converting it into a ping pong bar and restaurant for a unique experience (the first of it’s kind outside of London), and I was lucky enough to be invited to the launch night. 

The concept of SERVE is to offer a hip, nightclub culture with an entertaining activity and is one of the latest alternative venues to arrive in Birmingham. It’s a rather fun idea – certainly not something I had heard of before – and I was keen to find out more about it. Continue reading

Lunch at the Rose Villa Tavern

The Rose Villa Tavern, takes from their Instagram page

I received a text on Sunday morning:

Fancy going to the Rose Villa Tavern for lunch today?

I love waking up to texts like that.

Located on Warstone Lane in the Jewellery Quarter, the pub is part of the popular Bitters and Twisted venues and is a refurbished Grade II listed building with ornate stained glass windows, an old fashioned casual vibe, function room and a beer garden. In contrast, it serves a contemporary American style menu, a wide selection of beers and ales and fabulous cocktails. I’ve been to the Rose Villa Tavern on several occasions in the late afternoon and evening when it was quite busy, so I was interested to see whether it was any different during a weekend lunchtime. Continue reading

Getting Glam for Christmas: Rush Hair Salon

imageParty season is just beginning, and I began mine by attending the launch of the new Rush Salon in Birmingham.

It was my first visit to the salon, but with a deep blue frontage and shiny black floor, it immediately stood out amidst the stores on Martineau Place. I was the first to arrive, so was given a tour by the store manager, Liam, of the beautiful interior, along with the tranquil and beautiful treatment area at the back. There were numerous stations set up ready to cater for individual styles and hair types, along with some lovely snacks and glasses of prosecco. The salon was clean and elegant, the staff were extremely welcoming and friendly and I could immediately feel that it had a great atmosphere as soon as I walked in. Continue reading

The Magic Lantern Festival at the Botanical Gardens

With the build up to Christmas already happening, The Bloke and I thought that we would start the festivities by attending the launch event of the Magic Lantern Festival at the Botanical Gardens last week.

This is the first time it is being held in Birmingham, having launched last year in London and is one of three lantern festivals being held across the UK. Celebrating both Chinese culture and Christmas, the installations are set across the 15 acres that the Botanical Gardens offers and promised to be an exciting experience for everyone.

We weren’t disappointed – the official launch was opened by the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, accompanied by an impressive Chinese musical and dance performance, along with beautiful canapés of tempura vegetables, breaded chicken bites, mini hotdogs and cheeseburgers. We were then led outside to enjoy the exhibition for ourselves. Continue reading

The Color Run Birmingham 2016

The Color Run, 2016

The Color Run, 2016

It’s on my Bucket List to take part in a Color Run, and this year I’m lucky enough to be taking part in the NEC Color Run in Birmingham on 20th August 2016.

The Color Run, which is presented by Skittles, is a unique 5km run, celebrating health, happiness and having fun. The thousands of participants start the day in a white t-shirt and get covered in a whole rainbow of colours at each kilometer of the course, culminating in a huge ‘finish festival,’ complete with a mix of DJ’s and ‘Colour Throws.’

It looks like huge fun, and my friend and I will be participating just for the joy of running – I did the Birmingham Half-Marathon last year and raised hundreds of pounds for Dementia UK, but this year I am not specifically fundraising. However, there are a number of people who are taking the opportunity to raise money for worthy causes… Continue reading

The Chocolate Quarter, Birmingham

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I love independent stores, and I love chocolate (to be fair, who doesn’t?), so when I heard an independent chocolate store had opened in the Jewellery Quarter I knew I had to pay it a visit as quickly as possible.

The Chocolate Quarter only opened it’s doors in February, and is a family business, owned and managed by Kempes, Maninder and Jay. It specialises in luxury handmade chocolates with unique flavour combinations.

I was greeted at the door by Jay, who was offering samples to members of the public who had taken an interest in their beautiful window display. Awesome. The store is beautiful, with clean lines, a nice layout and a haven for anyone who adores all things chocolate. There were individual chocolates behind the counter display, along with some of the most beautiful Easter eggs I’ve ever seen, all of them hand decorated in chocolate. There were chocolate bars, hot chocolate sticks, hampers, boxes of different shapes and sizes… I truly was a kid in a candy store.

What I quickly discovered was that Jay didn’t just make and develop chocolates, but he knew everything about the process, and was passionate in explaining where they obtained their ingredients from. He showed me two different samples of chocolate drops – a 75% from south of the equator, and a 76% from on the equator, and I was genuinely surprised at how different it was, with the 76% sample being much more smooth, without the bitter aftertaste that would normally be expected from such dark chocolate. Continue reading