Monday, 14 October 2019

Dining at Surf & Turf.

During our recent stay at Macdonald Holyrood Hotel & Spa in Edinburgh, we dined at the hotel restaurant Surf & Turf* where the cuisine is described as ‘simple dishes, using only the finest in locally sourced meat & fish’. There is a well-rounded menu with plenty of steaks, seafood, vegetarian dishes and sharing platters on offer – I do like a menu which has something to appeal to everybody and there is a great variety to choose from here. The set evening menu is good value too, with two courses for £20 or three courses for £25.

We settled in at a spacious table on the mezzanine level of the restaurant, which gave us a great view of the bustling room. The interior design at Surf & Turf is contemporary and understated, with leather booths, marble surfaces and soft lighting which create a relaxing ambience.

We perused the extensive wine list before opting for a glass of Trebbiano Chardonnay, Terre Fort for me and a glass of Malbec, El Colectivo for my dining companion – a hearty steak deserves a rich glass of red to pair with it, after all! There is an impressive cocktail menu too, filled with classic favourites such as martini and bramble as well as champagne cocktails and more intriguing options like the black pepper and cherry Collins.

On to food and a couple of starters to share got the meal underway – a Surf & Turf charcuterie platter laden with smoked wild boar, smoked beef and smoked Scottish mussels really hit the spot.

We also ordered fresh bread accompanied by olive oil and balsamic, served with a side of olives - always a winning combination.

My dining companion chose to sample one of the steaks which Surf & Turf is renowned for, opting for the 32-day aged ribeye. All prime cut steaks are served with a choice of sauces and rubs, as well as roasted bone marrow and vine tomato. The tender beef was perfectly cooked, and the richness of the bone marrow worked well with the smoky peppercorn sauce.

The classic combination of a quality steak with chips never loses its appeal, but I was in the mood for something a little lighter, so I went for the hand-picked herb risotto with asparagus and samphire. Risotto is dish which restaurants sometimes get wrong, serving it either too stodgy or too watery – but this one was just right, with a creamy texture and plenty of fresh flavour from the herbs.

Seafood fans will be right at home dining at Surf & Turf too, with stunning catches on the menu including Scottish langoustines, salmon, lobster and halibut. Sadly, we couldn’t quite find the room for dessert on this occasion, despite the temptation of sticky toffee pudding and Tonka bean cheesecake. Instead, we rounded off the evening with a dram or two of Scotch whiskey, before retiring for the night.

Dinner at Surf & Turf was a very enjoyable experience all round, with excellent service from the helpful team, varied menus and an atmosphere which made us want to linger. Be sure to check it out next time you are in Edinburgh.

Surf & Turf 
The Macdonald Holyrood Hotel & Spa 
81 Holyrood Road
EH8 8AU 

What do you all think, do you like the sound of dinner at Surf & Turf and which of these dishes would you like to try? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.

Until next time,



*I was invited to sample dinner at Surf & Turf, this meal was complimentary. All opinions expressed herein are my own and honest. 

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Staying at the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel & Spa

It is always a pleasure to visit Scotland and I recently headed there for a few days – starting with a stay at Macdonald Holyrood Hotel & Spa* in Edinburgh.
The hotel is in a central location, a short walk from the tourist attractions of The Royal Mile and the charming Grassmarket area and there is a spa, swimming pool and gym which makes it even more appealing.  The immediate impression upon walking into the hotel is one of stylish grandeur - the lobby is adorned with gleaming wood and marble, beyond which lies the bar area. We had a warm welcome from the efficient reception team, who checked us in quickly and it is worth noting that  secure valet parking is available at the hotel. 

There are 156 rooms in the hotel, and we were staying on the 6th floor with views of Salisbury Crags from our balcony. We were impressed by the size of our super deluxe room, which had a spacious feel and a king-sized bed adorned with Egyptian cotton bedlinen as well as armchairs and desk area. There was a large platter of fresh fruit and mineral water awaiting us and there was also a Nespresso coffee machine, which is always good to see for a coffee addict like me! After we had unpacked, we sipped a couple of glasses of Prosecco while we took in the sweeping views of the city. 

The large bathroom was equipped with a walk-in drench shower, piles of fluffy towels and Elemis products which made a handy extra addition. There is also a range of treatments available in the hotel spa, should you feel like a little pampering during your stay. 

Downstairs, the hotel bar is the perfect setting for a couple of drinks, with a selection of fine wines, beers and cocktails on the menu including all the classics as well as some more intriguing options - if you like whiskey, try the 'Smoky Rusty Nail', a potent blend of Monkey Shoulder, Drambuie, and Talisker 10. There is a varied bar menu too if you feel like a quick bite to eat - if you are a fan of burgers try the signature Holyrood Burger, served with aioli, tomato, lettuce, gherkin and French fries

We headed out for a couple of drinks in the city and later, we got ready for our dinner reservation at Surf & Turf, the in-house restaurant (separate dining review to follow). After a leisurely meal, we enjoyed a nightcap on the balcony of our room, and I slept so well in the luxurious bed, that I really did not want to get up the next morning. A hearty hotel breakfast is always a good incentive to get out of bed however, and we enjoyed a great start to the day choosing from the vast array of food which set us up for a day of sightseeing  

There is a selection of pastries, cereal and fruit on offer as well as hot breakfast items, and you can order from the menu if you feel like something different. I was spoiled for choice, so I decided on a cooked breakfast as well as some pastries - breakfast is my favourite meal of the day, after all! 

The Surf & Turf restaurant has a stylish and contemporary feel, with a neutral colour palette, leather banquette seating and gleaming wood panels. 

After our tasty breakfast had filled us with energy, we checked out of the hotel and went to explore more of the city before we headed to our next destination. I would thoroughly recommend the Macdonald Holyrood, which has all the amenities you need for a relaxing stay. The team of staff were so helpful and I would stay there again when I am in Edinburgh. 

Macdonald Holyrood Hotel & Spa
81 Holyrood Road

Thanks to all at Macdonald Holyrood for making me so welcome. What do you think, do you like the sound of this Edinburgh hotel and have you ever visited this historic Scottish city? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.

Until next time,



*I was kindly invited to review Macdonald Holyrood Hotel & Spa, my stay was complimentary. 

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Cocktails, hip - hop and kebabs at Habibi ...

It has been a while since I have had the chance to post here and it feels great to be back! I have been so busy in recent months with exciting trips to Italy, New York and Alaska and my writing work which continues to be so much fun. I feel like it is high time for me to come back with something new and tell you all about the places I have loved recently. I am always keen to try out restaurants which focus on an interesting concept and I liked the sound of Habibi Bar* as soon as I heard about their intriguing theme of cocktails, kebabs and hip hop - or as they say 'Brooklyn Beats & Eastern Eats'. Sounds like a winning combination to me, so I went along to see what all the fuss is about.

Habibi is located in New Brighton just outside Liverpool, right on the coastline and the area has seen a resurgence of late, with several new restaurants and bars having opened up, making it the perfect place to head out to for dinner and drinks. A relaxed mood set me at ease on arrival, with friendly staff and as promised, old school hip hop tunes pounding from the speakers as I settled in to sip a chilled glass of rosé. The menu revolves around quite a few dishes which are ideal to share, along with their popular open kebabs which are served on tempting chargrilled flatbreads freshly made in house. 

We ordered a mix of side dishes to get the meal underway - spicy Batata harra fries and mixed Armenian pickles provided an explosion of Middle Eastern inspired tastes and the extra flatbread served with garlic yoghurt, rose harrisa and green chilli relish was equally good. I love to start a meal this way, with everyone sampling various dishes - it makes for such a convivial style of dining. 

I cannot forget to mention the grilled halloumi salad with date ketchup - I always love halloumi dishes and the slightly smoky date ketchup worked well with a sprinkle of sweet pomegranate seeds. 


It was on to main courses and the open kebabs have an interesting selection of toppings available such as ground beef, Beirut cauliflower and Persian monkfish. I went for the king prawn kebab which arrived heaped with halloumi, ras el hanout and succulent king prawns which were made even more flavoursome by the addition of a chunky pineapple salsa.

The food at Habibi looks so vibrant, this is the kind of meal which makes me want to eat on a sun-drenched terrace overlooking the sea! The hand crafted cocktails are well worthy of a mention too, with exotic flavours of ras - el - hanout, cardamom and date featuring in some of their signature recipes.

My dining companion decided on the chicken shawarma kebab, dressed with chilli paste, garlic yoghurt and lemon alongside a generous amount of chargrilled chicken. The chilli paste added a subtle kick of fire which offset the meat well and balanced nicely with the garlic yoghurt.

The open kebabs were so filling, with plenty of bold flavours - they all come served with sumac onions, herb salad and baby gem lettuce as well as your choice of topping. I liked the simple presentation of the food, which was served on silver trays with Habibi branded paper. They have just started a take away menu, which I can see will prove popular and it is worth noting that there is  a range of vegan options on the menu such as tabbouleh, parsley and lime salad and the Habibi falafel kebab. We lingered for a while after dinner to enjoy more drinks and hip hop tunes – Habibi makes a fun and different addition to the local dining scene and I am sure that it will continue to gain plenty of loyal fans. I would certainly pop in again when I'm in the area.

3 Grosvenor Rd, 
Victoria Quarter, 
CH45 2JD

What do you all think, do you like the sound of cocktails, kebabs and hip – hop? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post!

Until next time,


*This meal was complimentary for the purposes of review. All opinions expressed herein are my own and honest. 

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Staying in the city with FM Living...

A short break in the city can be so appealing, especially at this time of year following on from the madness of the holiday season. Staying in a lavish hotel always has its appeal, but sometimes finding somewhere which can offer more of a home away from home feels more relaxing. Step forward the new FM Living Apartments* in Liverpool – situated in the stunning Grade II listed Produce Exchange Building, these stylish serviced apartments are a sophisticated blend of old and new. The reception area shows off the grandeur of a bygone era, with original stained glass and wrought iron features. It is easy to envisage the building’s former purpose as the Produce Exchange, where the administration of goods imported to Liverpool took place. Later, the building became a bank – but I must admit that it really suits its new use as a serviced apartment space. 

I was greeted by the lovely FM Living General Manager Ricky and after a good catch up (we have known each other for a few years!) he whisked me up to show me the apartment which would be my home for the night. The first thing which struck me was how bright and airy the space was and all the creature comforts of a hotel were in situ – including a welcome bottle of chilled Chenin Blanc!

The apartment also featured a sleek marble bathroom with waterfall shower and mini bath products. 

The neutral décor of the space was given a splash of colour by a feature wall of striking gold and green wallpaper and the comfortable bed was bedecked by crisp white bedding.

Add to the equation the fully equipped kitchen and comfortable lounge area with television and coffee table and I was one happy guest anticipating a night in the city. 

It really is a bonus to have your own kitchen during a break like this and I was pleasantly surprised to see the kitchen was filled with every appliance (hob, fridge, toaster, kettle and even a washing machine!) and utensil you could possibly need. The addition of a hospitality tray with tea, coffee, biscuits and even take away cups was another thoughtful touch.

After a quick shower and a trip to the shops for some snacks to accompany my wine, I had a glass of wine before heading out to some of my favourite Liverpool bars. The nightlife in the city is second to none and when you stay at the FM Living apartments, the bars and restaurants of Castle Street are only a two-minute walk away.

Later, after indulging in the buzz of the city I headed back to my temporary home with a take away and watched a movie before I fell in to a restful sleep. There really is something about staying in a place like this which feels much more restful than a hotel and the next morning, I had a leisurely cup of coffee before I checked out and bid my apartment a fond farewell.

If you are looking for a perfect base to stay in Liverpool city centre, the FM Living Apartments are the ideal choice!

FM Living 

Produce Exchange Building 
8 Victoria Street 

L2 6QJ

For more information about staying at FM Living visit the website

What do you all think, do you prefer to stay in a hotel or an apartment when you go on a city break?
As always, I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post!

Until next time,


*I was invited to stay as a guest of FM Living Apartments, my stay was complimentary. All opinions expressed herein are my own and honest. 

Thursday, 27 December 2018

A tasting menu with Martins De Sá Port...

Port is one of those drinks which you may already have an opinion on, it is not for everyone and perhaps the image of Port isn’t exactly what could be described as fashionable in the same way that Gin is regarded. I was intrigued then, when I was kindly invited to an evening with Martins De Sá Port at Pen Factory in Liverpool recently. Situated in the elegant Georgian Quarter of Liverpool, Pen Factory as the name would suggest, is located in a former pen factory. Downstairs a convivial bar and open plan restaurant is flanked by a pretty courtyard which leads to an events space upstairs. The invitation promised ‘let us change your opinion on port’ and I was all set for this as we gathered in the charming space, where we were warmly welcomed by Marco the founder of the brand. The concept behind Martins de Sá Port is to introduce port to a new audience and their port is younger, so not aged for such long periods and often lighter in taste - the ports are bottled in sunny Portugal and this shows in the flavour.

The event space was candlelit and our places set, ready for us to enjoy a specially created tasting menu paired with port.

The Pen Factory now serve Martins de Sá white port and tonic on draft, which is such a novel idea. This aromatic port is full of white grape and it was a refreshing welcome drink to get the evening underway. White port and tonic is so crisp and easy to drink and it makes a welcome change from gin and tonic. 

The first course of cured salmon with grapefruit, pistachio, orange blossom and goats curd was a light and flavoursome starter and the salmon paired perfectly with the Martins de Sá white port.

Tawny port paired with smoked duck breast apricot, chanterelles, sourdough and boffard curado cheese was the next course which again highlighted that port can be just as versatile as wine when it is served with food. The tawny port offset the rich duck breast perfectly; this port is aged in the classic tawny style using casks, and it has smooth and sweet notes. 

Next up was the fragrant Ruby port, paired with seared pork belly served with dates, burnt apple, Oreado oil and walnuts. The succulent pork was a delight with the sweet dates and zesty apple and the Ruby port really complemented the subtle layers of flavour - this fruity port is aged without exposure to oxygen. 

One of my favourite ports we sampled was the Rose port, light and sweet this was a delicate delight and ideally suited to a novice port drinker like me! The notes include cherry and honeysuckle and this port was paired with cod loin fritters, sour melon, rocket, paprika and saffron, just the Mediterranean style dish to go with the rose port.

We rounded off dinner with traditional Portuguese Pastéis de Nata and stewed pear with white port and rhubarb ice cream. It was a pleasure to attend the dinner which was a fascinating odyssey through the different styles of port produced by Martins de Sá. Marco proved to be an incredibly knowledgeable and friendly host and it was an evening of great food and good conversation which we all thoroughly enjoyed. 

You can visit their website here: 

 Pen Factory Liverpool: 

Thank you again to the team at Martins De Sá Port for welcoming me to dinner at Pen Factory and you definitely changed my opinion of Port! 

What do you all think, do you like drinking Port and what kind have you tried? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.

Until next time,



Monday, 29 October 2018

Dinner at The Devon Doorway...

It has been a while since I have had chance to post anything here, I have been working so hard on the writing side of my career recently and things have been busy. When I am away from home more often, it is grounding to get the chance to go out in my own area and last week I went along to sample the new menu at The Devon Doorway* in Heswall, a short way from where I live. I have long been a fan of this elegant gastro pub, which has recently been given a stylish new look. Rich jewel tones, crackling log fires and soft lighting set an intimate scene and upon arrival, we headed to the Tanqueray bar, where various gin and tonic combinations were available to customise with extra botanicals.

We settled in the bar area to enjoy our welcome drinks and  canapés. There is an impressive drinks offering on the new menu, with cocktails, wine, G&T, craft beers and aperitivo drinks such as Le Goose Fizz with elderflower and Grey Goose vodka available. 

A board of artisan breads and plump Nocellara olives got the meal underway, while we consulted the menu. A fragrant onion soup was my choice of starter; ideal for an autumnal evening this was satisfying with a wedge of crusty bread and my dining companion quickly devoured his choice of deep-fried brie in golden panko breadcrumbs, served with tangy chutney.

I was impressed by the vegan menu, which consists of several options and I decided on the spiced coconut curry for my main. Although I am not vegan, I love to eat vegan and vegetarian dishes regularly and this curry was so aromatic and tasty. The sticky jasmine rice had the perfect texture and the curry pulled off the tricky balance of sweet and spicy flavours, with Ras el Hanout roasted squash cubes and sweet potato wedges adding further depth and a scorched red chilli providing a fiery finishing touch. 

My dining companion went for a simple but classic choice of battered halloumi with twice cooked chunky chips, minted pea purée and tartare sauce.This makes a tempting alternative to traditional fish & chips and is great if you are in the mood for comfort food. 

A dessert which tastes as good as it looks is always appealing and the melting chocolate and peanut bomb did not disappoint in this regard, with the chocolate sphere melting away under salted caramel sauce, to reveal a sticky toffee pudding and peanut butter cream centre. Bourbon vanilla ice cream and edible flowers rounded off this indulgent creation.

Our second dessert of  chocolate and raspberry pudding was another winner - a light chocolate sponge filled with a raspberry compote centre, accompanied by Bourbon vanilla ice cream. Both desserts were nicely presented and they made the perfect way to round off an enjoyable meal. 

I was impressed by the new menus at The Devon Dooway, which are well thought out with a good range of dishes available. The new look gives the pub a sophisticated atmosphere which is usually more synonymous with city centre bars and the team could not be more helpful. Overall, this is the ideal place to relax on those autumn and winter evenings. 

The Devon Doorway 
2 Telegraph Road
CH60 2SA

What do you all think, do you like the sound of this refined pub and dining venue and which of these dishes would you like to try? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.

Until next time, 



*I was a guest of the Devon Doorway, this meal was complimentary. All opinions expressed herein are my own and honest.