Wednesday 29 June 2016

A blissful break at Jesmond Dene House...

Wanderlust is something I have become well acquainted with lately and the urge to travel has been with me constantly. I have been lucky enough to travel a lot over the years (some of my favourite destinations have included Hawaii, New York and Egypt) and I lived in both France and Germany during my degree studies. Nevertheless, for a while I have been so busy with work that I have not had time to travel as often as I would like. Happily, all of that has begun to change lately as I have had some great travel review opportunities and I am looking forward to bringing you more travel content going forward. I have never been to the city of Newcastle before, so what better way to continue indulging my yearning for travel than by exploring a city just a few hours from where I live. I was excited to be invited to review Jesmond Dene House* over the weekend, an independently owned boutique hotel just a five minute drive from Newcastle which has won plenty of awards. The hotel is located within the tranquil surroundings of the wooded valley of Jesmond Dene, shrouded in trees, the picturesque location piqued my curiosity as soon as we arrived. 

As you see the stately building for the first time it creates an unforgettable impression, the hotel was once a private house and the Grade II listed Arts and Crafts mansion has retained its integrity and grandeur to become a destination of choice for weddings, business travel and short breaks. There are many striking features within, such as a billiard room and a great hall complete with minstrels’ gallery. Look out for the wire sculptures of dogs by Gary Tiplady, which are dotted around the hotel, and the many artworks on the walls by various artists, which are also available for purchase. 

After a long journey, were warmly welcomed on reception and given the keys to our deluxe room. The plush reception area opens up in to a long corridor adorned by artworks and photographs, beyond which lies a gleaming wooden staircase which winds its way up to the luxurious rooms and suites. Opening the door to our room, the first thing I saw was the giant bed dominating the space, flanked by nightstands with reading lights. A digital radio was playing to welcome us and the room was flooded with daylight from a large bay window overlooking the sprawling grounds. I was happy to see a large desk (and there is free Wi-Fi so it is easy to catch up on some work too) and there was a lovely welcome note from the General Manager and Marketing Manager which was a nice personal touch. 

The 40 bedrooms and suites at Jesmond Dene House are designed with a sense of comfort in mind, with everything from robes and slippers to morning wake up calls and newspapers to make you feel at home. Complimentary tea, coffee, mineral water and biscuits were waiting to fortify us and there was also a mini bar stocked with a great selection of drinks and snacks including champagne.

In terms of entertainment, there was a HD Smart television and magazines had been left in the room for us too, a thoughtful touch which I appreciated when I wanted to read later. As usual, I found the addition of a safe and an iron and ironing board to be useful. The room service menu had a good choice of meals available, but since we had a dinner reservation downstairs (separate review to come) we decided to wait. The bathroom was opulent, with gleaming tiles throughout, a large window, walk in shower and sunken bath as well as a range of toiletries from The White Company. 

We settled in and sipped a cup of coffee on the comfortable chairs overlooking the garden, before we got changed and headed down for dinner.


The restaurant at Jesmond Dene House mirrors the tone of the entire hotel, with a feeling of understated opulence and refinement. After dinner we relaxed in the intimate cocktail bar, which has a classic aesthetic including wood panelled walls, inglenook fireplace, William de Morgan tiling and an impressive cocktail list, from which I ordered a vodka martini with a twist.

We took an evening walk to explore the grounds, where fresh herbs are grown to supply the restaurant. The striking house looked like something from a fairytale in the fading light of dusk and we lingered until stars dotted the night sky. Tiredness was beginning to catch up with us, so I had a relaxing soak in the sunken bath which was an ideal way to unwind after a long day. After reading for a while, the sound of the river rushing by lulled us in to a deep and peaceful sleep.

Breakfast the next morning was an absolute feast, there was a huge buffet of cold meat, cheese, cereal, muesli, fruit and pastries as well as a menu of cooked breakfast dishes. We took our seats in the attractive garden room, where we sipped fresh orange juice and coffee as we perused the menu.

After a selection of pastries and bircher muesli, I enjoyed an excellent eggs benedict and my partner selected a full English breakfast (which he asked for without eggs). We had toast on the side which rounded off the meal and we finished breakfast feeling energised for a day exploring Newcastle.

The hotel is so well appointed, just a short drive from the city centre of Newcastle and the reception team are happy to help with information about the surrounding areas. Jesmond Dene house successfully merges a resplendent sense of history with a wealth of contemporary features which make your stay pleasant. With a feeling of secluded luxury and an eye for detail throughout, Jesmond Dene House is somewhere to completely unwind. I did not want to leave and I will certainly be staying there again in the future.

Before we left we also had the pleasure of meeting a very special resident of Jesmond Dene House, the cat Riley who lives at the hotel. What a cutie! 

Jesmond Dene House
Jesmond Dene Rd,
Newcastle upon Tyne 

0191 212 3000

What do you all think, do you like the idea of a refined luxury boutique hotel just outside the centre of Newcastle? 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 Jesmond Dene House, my stay was complimentary for the purposes of this review. All opinions expressed herein are my own and honest. 

Monday 27 June 2016

Brunch in style at Pan Am Liverpool...

One of my favourite things to do on the weekend is to go out for brunch, to me the idea of having a long and lazy meal is a perfect way to spend an afternoon and I got a taste for the idea of bottomless brunch when I holidayed in New York. After a trip to Newcastle, I was feeling in a relaxed mood on Sunday so I was pleased to have a reservation at Pan Am* Liverpool to try their new bottomless brunch. The concept is a two course brunch menu served between 1-4pm on Sunday, including unlimited Bloody Mary, Prosecco or Mimosas to enjoy alongside your meal. 

 Pan Am is a contemporary restaurant and bar situated on The Albert Dock and the menu is inspired by a variety of Pan-American influences, with dishes such as Peruvian roast chicken, vegan Caribbean coconut curry and South American coast seabass jostling for space on the impressive menu. We were seated by the window in the restaurant upstairs, which gave us a sweeping view of The Albert Dock which was bustling with Sunday crowds. Pan Am has an understated aesthetic, with high ceilings and exposed brickwork as well as a large bar space below where live music was playing. I was soon sipping a glass of chilled Prosecco as we looked over the menu.

 To start off with a brunch platter is served to guests, which includes buttermilk pancakes, waffles, blueberry jam, summer berries and vanilla cream. The platter was just the ticket to start off a casual brunch, with fluffy pancakes and sweet waffles complemented by the array of toppings.

Consulting the menu of main dishes provided a conundrum, with so many tempting choices available such as steak and eggs, fried chicken and waffles, smoked salmon risotto, breakfast enchiladas and chimichurri beef hash. I could not resist the chicken and waffles, a succulent fried chicken breast served on a buttermilk waffle, topped with smoked bacon and surrounded by barbecue beans. This was available with either gravy or maple syrup and immersing myself fully in the American style of brunch, I selected maple syrup which created a bold set of flavours with the sweetness of the syrup pairing well with the slightly crunchy waffle and the smoky barbecue beans. The fried chicken was a treat, with tender chicken in a light golden crumb.

My dining companion chose the steak and eggs which was served on a platter, the medium rare 8oz rump steak sat on a crisp potato rosti alongside two perfectly cooked fried eggs (sunny side up!) roasted tomato and mushrooms.

We enjoyed Mimosas with our main course, this has to be one of my favourite breakfast cocktails and they went well with our food. My main course was tasty and filling and my dining companion agreed, stating how good the steak and eggs tasted, so much so that I had to sample some myself! The steak was juicy and flavoursome whilst the potato rosti was a big hit with me, I am a huge fan of any form of potatoes at brunch and this rosti was well seasoned with herbs. 

After a couple more drinks we set off in to the afternoon feeling fortified after such a delicious brunch. Service was excellent and the food and drinks coupled with the views made this a brunch which delivered. I think that bottomless brunch is the ideal way to celebrate a birthday or special occasion, as well as being a good treat to enjoy on the weekend. The brunch platter as a starter was a thoughtful touch and the choice of savoury main courses showed a good eye for menu development, curating some of the best brunch dishes into one menu. Bottomless brunch is available 1-4pm on Sunday at Pan Am, at £35 per head and booking is recommended. 

Pan Am 
The Albert Dock, 
Britannia Pavilion, 
L3 4AD

What do you all think, do you like the idea of an indulgent bottomless brunch 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.

Until next time,



*I was a guest of Pan Am, this meal was complimentary. All opinions stated herein are my own and honest. 

Wednesday 22 June 2016

Dinner at Malmaison Brasserie...

The restaurant scene in Liverpool is growing constantly at the moment and for a long time I have wanted to dine at Malmaison Brasserie*, which is an established favourite on the dining scene in the city. On Friday evening I finally went along for dinner there, looking forward to a relaxed evening. The minimalist building immediately creates an impression, which continues inside with the stylish Malbar featuring warm colours and comfortable seating. There was a vibrant atmosphere as groups gathered for Friday evening cocktails and after a warm welcome we sipped chilled champagne and browsed the menu which offers an array of grill dishes, seafood and classics. After enjoying our pre-dinner drinks, we were led through to our table in the Brasserie which gave us a great view of the outdoor terrace. 

We commenced proceedings with a selection of juicy olives as well as some of the artisan stone baked bread with oils and butter. The bread is baked in house and it was irresistibly fresh, with a springy texture. 

For my starter, I was in a seafood mood so I selected the tempura of calamari and prawns which had bubbly, golden batter. The succulent prawns and calamari were complemented perfectly by accompaniments of wasabi mayo, sweet chilli sauce and a topping of finely sliced fiery pickled chilli.

An exotic and aromatic soup of spiced sweet potato was the choice of my dining companion, which was rich and complex with a layer of lemongrass. The light and bright flavours made this the ideal soup for spring and summer. 

A bottle of the wine of the week was a great companion to our meal, the Menetou-Salon Morogues, Domaine Pellé which was dry and sharp with a hint of gooseberries. 

My dining companion enjoyed pan roasted Black Angus New York strip steak for his main course, cooked to medium rare perfection this steak had great marbling and an appealing crispness from the pan roasting. Au poivre sauce and truffle Parmesan pommes frites were the perfect companions to the tender steak. 

For the main course, my seafood extravaganza continued with an excellent lobster risotto, with carnaroli rice, lobster meat and bisque. This was so satisfying and a swirl of mascarpone and a grating of parmesan went well with the delicate lobster flavour, adding to the indulgence of this well-rounded dish. 

For dessert, a huge crème brûlée was impossible to resist, this had the perfect crisp topping and a light vanilla custard within which sat well with the dessert wine we were recommended, 2011 Chilean Éclat with honey, apricots and figs.

Our second dessert choice was a wedge of Valrhona dark chocolate tart with passion fruit sorbet, a bitter delight devoid of the overpowering sweetness which often spoils chocolate tarts. The depth of the chocolate was lifted by the tropical surge of passionfruit creating a good balance of flavours. 

We ended the meal with some after dinner drinks, I sipped a heady Patron espresso martini with Absolut and my dining companion had a double espresso as we soaked up the ambience. The hallmarks of the evening were friendly, attentive service and food which delivered bold and comforting flavours in abundance.
There was an obvious attention to detail shown in the quality of the dishes, as well as the presentation and I would also note that the portion sizes were generous, which is always a winner in my eyes when the food is so good!

Malmaison Brasserie 
7 William Jessop Way, 
L3 1QZ

0151 363 3640

What do you all think, do you like the idea of contemporary and classic dishes within the stylish surroundings of Malmaison Brasserie? 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 Malmaison, this meal was complimentary. Opinions stated herin are my own and honest.