Friday 26 February 2016

New menu launch at Bretta & Co...

Last Friday I was lucky enough to receive an invitation to one of my favourite places in Liverpool Bretta & Co, for the launch of their new menu. Bretta & Co is a cool combination of a deli, wine merchant and restaurant and the food is a hearty and sophisticated take on modern European dining with classic dishes on the menu such as steaks sourced from Taylor’s and fresh fish as well as dishes such as panned duck egg and butternut squash ravioli.  

The wines at Bretta & Co are hand-picked by experts to give customers a choice of wines which they may not have experienced before. They really know their stuff about wine here and there is an amazing selection on offer to enjoy with your meal or to purchase in the deli to take home. Tucked away just off Bold Street in an area brimming with great restaurants, Bretta & Co is a real gem of a discovery with a charming cosy feel to the candlelit space and warm and friendly service from the team. Wooden chairs and tables overlook the open bar area which conjures up a New York ambience. 

We enjoyed such an amazing array of tasty treats during the evening including ham hock terrine with piccalilli, succulent oysters, croquettes and mini slider burgers created by Bretta & Co Head Chef Philip Lee. 

Later on there was an amazing patisserie tower of croque en bouche, one of my favourite desserts which consists of profiteroles filled with delicious cream. These were coated with spun sugar and decorated with strawberries and they were the work of Bretta and Co resident Pastry Chef Thomas. We also enjoyed exquisite Nutella brownies which were chewy and dense with the perfect amount of chocolate and Nutella flavour. Some of Thomas' other creations were on display such as this amazing pretzel and salted caramel cake!

Throughout the evening our glasses were topped up with delicious sparkling wine and we had a really good chat (and plenty of laughter) with our lovely hosts Gary and Bretta Adlen. I get on like a house on fire with them and all I do is smile when I visit Bretta & Co as they always make me feel like family. I would recommend anybody who has not visited Bretta & Co to dine there as soon as possible, as there is an array of mouthwatering options on the menu and some amazing offers too such as £15 for two courses on set evenings and delicious Sunday Roasts! 

The cheese counter at Bretta & Co is my idea of heaven and later on we ordered a cheeseboard to share with another round of drinks. The cheeses we tried were just exquisite, a creamy Lancashire, nutty cheddar and a rich smoked cheese all jostled for space on the board alongside a selection of crackers and a sweet little caramelised fig marmalade which was a treat with the cheeses. 

The desserts were sublime and it was so difficult to resist the gooey brownies and of course that amazing tower of croque en bouche! 

We had such an amazing time sampling the new menu at Bretta & Co and we were very spoiled with so many goodies as well as bags of treats to take home. Bretta & Co is a rare example of a restaurant which gets everything just right, from the food and service to the welcoming and homely ambience. It is always worth a visit here, whether for a long lingering meal or just a glass of one of the many excellent wines...and of course some cheese! Thank you very much to all at Bretta & Co for such a lovely night. What do you all think, do you like the idea of a restaurant which fuses with a deli concept offering fine food and wine? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post! 

Bretta & Co 
5 Heathfield St,
L1 4AT

Until next time,



Tuesday 23 February 2016

Lunch and bubbles at Restaurant Bar and Grill

A host of fashionable guests gathered at The Restaurant Bar and Grill last Friday for a ladies lunch and fashion show hosted by Chic Networking and the bespoke designer fashion label She Shea. The glamorous lunch and bubbles event was set to be a really fun occasion and I was really looking forward to attending. Jessica O’Shea launched her designs six years ago and She Shea has gathered a reputation for stunning tailored gowns.

We were greeted with glasses of prosecco on arrival and there was a great atmosphere as the crowds assembled inside the elegant bar and restaurant space. Before long we were led to our seats to find that each guest had a luxury goodie bag waiting for them full of beauty treats. We had chosen from the menu in advance and I started my meal with the French onion soup which was delicious and topped with thick slices of gruyere cheese toast.

There was live music from Clare Sophia Music and our host Ellie Phillips talked us through the afternoon’s entertainment which was set to include catwalk previews of the Spring and Summer 2016 She Shea collections. I could not wait to see what the fashion show would have in store for us. The prosecco flowed as we sat down and enjoyed the meal and chatted, before long the first She Shea fashion collection was debuted and I loved the beautifully embellished gowns which were so exquisitely detailed.

 For the main course I enjoyed Malayan chicken, succulent chicken breast with sweet potato in a creamy coconut, peanut and lime sauce which was just irresistible.

The second fashion collection was a preview of the occasion wear collection from She Shea for Spring and Summer 2016 and the floor length gowns were just beautiful. I had such a good time catching up with the lovely writer Stephi LaReine at the lunch and the whole atmosphere throughout the afternoon was so much fun. We carried on sipping prosecco and having a chat until it was finally time to say goodbye. I enjoyed the delicious food and it was a treat to enjoy a meal whilst watching a fashion show accompanied by live music.

What do you all think, do you like the idea of an event which combines lunch with a fashion show? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post!

Until next time,



Sunday 21 February 2016

El Gato Negro comes to Manchester...

News of a tapas restaurant opening is always something which makes my ears prick up, so I was excited to hear that El Gato Negro was set to open in Manchester. I love the idea of tapas and I think there is no better way to dine during an evening with friends than to gather around a selection of plates heaped with tempting morsels. There is something about this style of meal which always brings people out of their shell and gets the conversation going, as the mix of flavours gives everyone plenty to talk about. 

I went along last Thursday to try out El Gato Negro for the first time. I was immediately struck by the warm and welcoming ambience, with a low lit sweeping downstairs charcuterie counter and bar with stained glass, tiled details, industrial style suspended lighting, exposed brickwork and open shelves brimming with wine.We sampled an array of goodies such as Padrón peppers with Maldon sea salt, mini cheese toasties and succulent oysters as we sipped cava and cocktails with an inventive twist including some with a halloumi garnish inspired by those served in Brazil as the sun is beginning to set.

El Gato Negro Chef Patron and Creative Director Simon Shaw gave a rousing speech about how much the project means to him and what a journey it has been. He creates dishes from seasonal produce combining Spanish influences with other elements. It was a pleasure to meet him later in the evening, he is a real visionary with a true passion which shows in his dishes. The original El Gato Negro in Ripponden won rave reviews and in 2014 the idea was born to move the concept to a Manchester city centre location. Before long we were whisked upstairs and settled in to a booth flanked by the open kitchen where chefs were hard at work preparing us a feast and amazing aromas filled the air.

Crusty bread and oils was served and red wine flowed as we chatted. In no time, the meal began in earnest and our table groaned under the weight of endless goodies as we tucked in to a selection of Spanish meats. The tantalising tidbits just kept on appearing and we were spoiled for choice with so much to try. 

Alejandro chorizo with piquillo pepper purée and aioli, crispy golden croquettes, baked cheese with breadsticks, lamb steaks, pork belly with beans, fish fillet with new potatoes, cheeseboard, baked potatoes with Sobrassada and fried quails egg and traditional Spanish tortilla were just some of the dishes we were lucky enough to sample.

The boquerones were really something with a salty tang which paired well with the selection of drinks on offer. 

The lamb steak was tender and juicy whilst the pork belly with beans was so succulent with heaps of flavour.

Mammoth prawns were served on a bed of fluffy rice, they were sweet and tender with a really Mediterranean flavour. 

Later a selection of indulgent desserts rounded off the incredible meal including crème Catalan, doughnuts with rich chocolate sauce, chocolate pot and a creamy cheesecake with dulce de lèche served with a divine syrupy dessert wine.  

As if all of that was not enough, we were then invited upstairs to The Black Cat bar to enjoy a selection of cocktails created by the lovely beverage manager Garry Foy. The bar has a retractable roof making it ideal for the sometimes unpredictable local weather! We had an amazing evening at El Gato Negro and we were taken on a true gastronomic odyssey through some of the signature dishes on the menu. Our glasses were never left empty for long and neither were our plates! I had a great time chatting to some lovely people. I wish everyone at El Gato Negro many congratulations and all the best for the future, I can see that this will become a firm favourite on the Manchester dining scene and deservedly so. 

El Gato Negro Tapas
52 King Street
M2 4LY

What do you all think, do you like tapas and which of these dishes would you sample first? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post! 

Until next time,



Sunday 14 February 2016

Salt House Tapas...

It is always fun to try somewhere new and I have heard so many good things about Salt House Tapas in Liverpool, so we decided to give it a try one evening when we did not have any particular plans. Even though we did not have a reservation, we were seated straight away and talked through the menu in depth. I love tapas; the idea of smaller dishes appeals to me and it is more of an exciting experience to try several different flavours. 

We started off our night with thick cut Libby’s toast with tomato and Manchego cheese which was a tasty and satisfying way to begin the meal, a grown up version of cheese on toast with subtle and tangy layers.

A little cast iron pan of sautéed baby chorizo with honey was a delight to look at and to savour, with plenty of meaty depth to the chorizo and a nice sweet kick from the honey glaze.

I adore the freshness and salty bite of goats cheese, so the deep fried monte enebro goats cheese with spiced orange and beetroot chutney was a personal favourite of mine. There was a superb balance to this dish as the sweet and spicy chutney really offset the sharpness of the cheese, whilst croutons added a crunch of texture.

A dish of potato gnocchi with roasted pumpkin, sunblushed tomatoes, hazelnuts and sage was a true revelation, with sweet and savoury elements which complemented each other. This was a nutty little treat with ingredients I would not have expected to pair so well together. 

Of course it is practically set in stone that we have to order bravas when we go for tapas, so we went for an order of crisp fried potatoes with bravas sauce which were hearty and with a great bravas sauce which managed that blend of sweet, spicy and sharp which makes bravas really good. The only problem with this dish was sharing it!

A dish of roast chicken breast served with shallots, celeriac purée, crispy pancetta and a rich jus was an impressive plate which was like a mini version of a roast dinner, with so many satisfying components to it. The creamy celeriac purée paired well with the roasted shallots and the juicy chicken, which was cooked to tender perfection.

We were pretty full but we just about found some room for dessert, as usual! A stunning baked turron cheesecake served with cream and PX raisins (raisins drenched in Pedro Ximenez Sherry) was an excellent way to round off this convivial feast. Sometimes I am in the mood for a dessert which is not too sickly and does not drown the flavours I have already enjoyed. This cheesecake was just the right choice, as the rich creaminess of the baked cheesecake had only a slight hint of sweetness from the raisins.

We had a lovely evening at Salt House Tapas, the food was so good and it took us on a journey of flavours. Service throughout was charming and the ambience of the restaurant was bustling and vibrant with a Mediterranean warmth. I was impressed by the gin menu and there was an extensive choice of tapas to please everyone. I felt relaxed and at ease and we chatted and laughed as we delved in to the plates. I left smiling and I will definitely be back again to enjoy the welcoming atmosphere and interesting choice of plates to share!

What do you all think, do you like tapas and which of these dishes appeals to you? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post!

Salt House Tapas 
1 Hanover Street,

0151 706 0092 

Until next time,