Thursday 28 September 2017

Trying the new menu at Olive Restaurant...

Certain restaurants always bring back great memories and for me, one such place is Olive Restaurant and Bar* on Castle Street in Liverpool, where we have been dining for years since way back when we first lived in the city. Now we live further out of town and it is still one of my favourite places to go for dinner when we head to Liverpool, we have spent many long evenings soaking up the atmosphere here over the years and the contemporary interior design and open kitchen give the restaurant a welcoming feeling. 

The menu consists of classic Italian dishes such as pizza and pasta, alongside steaks, seafood and lighter dishes. I sipped Prosecco as we consulted the menu (which is updated seasonally) and we decided on our usual appetiser at Olive, the garlic pizza bread with mozzarella, which has a thin and crispy base and just the right balance of garlic, melted cheese and a sprinkle of sea salt. 

I have been travelling a lot recently, so my starter of minestrone soup was just the comforting and homely dish I was in the mood for. This rustic soup can’t be beaten when done well, it is essentially so simple but this was packed with flavour from the seasonal vegetables and pasta and the addition of freshly made croutons with pesto worked well. 

My dining companion went for the deep fried brie with beetroot and onion chutney, a generous wedge of brie in a golden crumb which was cooked to perfection while the tangy chutney contrasted with the rich cheese. 

On to the main course and I just love gnocchi, so I ordered the roasted vegetable gnocchi which was delicious; served in a generous portion, the gnocchi dumplings were not too heavy and the mix of roasted vegetables added fresh flavours. 

Side orders of tenderstem broccoli with chilli and almonds and a portion of courgette fries (in my opinion always the best way to eat courgettes!) completed the meal. 

My dining companion chose the chicken Milanese with spaghetti and chorizo ratatouille. This hearty dish was a real winner, the tender chicken in golden crumb was stuffed with creamy mozzarella and oregano and the chorizo ratatouille added rich and smoky flavours. 

Time for dessert and ordering the Tiramisu trifle is a must at Olive, I find that sometimes restaurants can overstate this traditional dessert by adding too many twists but at Olive this classic is done just right; creamy and not too boozy it makes a sublime sweet treat to round off a meal. 

Our second dessert choice of vanilla cheesecake was equally good; the generous wedge of baked cheesecake had a subtle vanilla flavour and the tangy cherries and amaretti crumb added to the enjoyment. 

Another pleasant evening at Olive Restaurant and Bar, which is consistently reliable for great food and service, while the location makes it ideal to continue your evening afterwards at one of the many stylish bars in the surrounding area. 

Olive Restaurant and Bar
25-27 Castle St
L2 4TA

What do you all think, do you like the sound of Olive 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 review Olive Restaurant and Bar. This meal was complimentary. Opinions expressed herein are my own and honest. 

Sunday 17 September 2017

Dinner at Baravin, Aberystwyth...

It may not come as a surprise that I always research the best restaurants when I go on holiday to an area I do not know very well, so when we went on a recent break to Wales I found out some restaurant recommendations beforehand. We stayed in mid Wales for a few days of relaxation at a cosy Airbnb cottage and when I looked in to where we should go for dinner on Saturday evening I came across some good reviews for Baravin. 
Baravin is a contemporary and relaxed restaurant which serves an impressive range of pizzas and pasta dishes, alongside a varied cocktail menu. The location is a definite plus point too, as it sits right on the seafront in the pretty town of Aberystwyth. 

Inside, the hubbub of music and chatter set a welcoming tone in the busy restaurant and we took our seats at a table by the window, affording us an exceptional sea view. I sipped a glass of red as we perused the menu, opting for a rosemary and Halen Môn flatbread to start our meal – the use of Halen Môn impressed me as I like to see restaurants supporting local suppliers and Halen Môn sea salt from the island of Anglesey is an excellent local sea salt. The bread itself was crispy and light, with a fragrant hit of rosemary counterbalanced by the salt flakes and the olive oil and balsamic mix. 

On to mains and for me there could only be one choice, since from our table I had a great view of the chefs as they whirled around, expertly producing pizzas. I think it is practically impossible to improve on a classic Neapolitan style Margherita pizza, so I went for the tomato, basil and organic buffalo mozzarella pizza which shone with simple clean flavours.

My dining companion was equally enthralled by the calzones he had seen on a neighbouring table, so he chose the slow cooked beef, spinach and parmesan calzone, which was a generous size with soft folded dough enveloping a rich and comforting filling, with a set of deep and well-balanced flavours.

On to dessert and I opted for a Cosmopolitan, which has been one of my favourite cocktails since it became popular years ago. As a sweet and zesty drink, it will always have a place in my heart!

My dining companion had already earmarked the dessert pizza, topped with raspberries, white chocolate, marshmallow and a scoop of Conti’s ice cream. Naturally, I sampled the dessert pizza too and the toppings were not overly sweet and they played well against the pillow-like base, while the scoop of ice cream was the perfect finishing touch. 

I would like to pop back again some time to try one of the pasta dishes or perhaps another pizza. Service was friendly and efficient despite how busy the place was and we were served with water as soon as we took our seats, always a plus in my eyes as I find this displays attention to detail and courtesy. 

Overall we liked Baravin, which had plenty of style and rustic food made with quality ingredients - a formula which could not fail to please.

1 Marine Terrace
SY23 2AP

What do you all think, do you like the sound of a casual restaurant with sea views 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,



Friday 8 September 2017

Sampling the new menu at O'Neill's ...

I enjoy dining at pubs, there is something about the homely, relaxed surroundings of a pub which always makes me feel at ease and I think a lot of the big name pub chains offer good value for money and menu variety. Pubs are a place to celebrate or commiserate, or simply to while away an hour alone with your thoughts. I have so many happy memories surrounding pubs, from long family meals at The Argyll Arms in Bunessan during summer holidays on The Isle of Mull, to many date nights over the years and evenings as a student spent in the local. Pubs will always have a place in my heart and I enjoy going to both independent and chain pubs. This week I went to sample the new menu at O’Neill’s; I have not visited an O’Neill’s pub since my student days (which were lamentably long ago) and I was keen to see the results of a recent refurbishment and the introduction of a new menu. 

In a cosy booth, we poured over the menu which offers all the usual pub food classics you would expect as well as reasonably priced deals such as pizza and a drink from £8.50 and burger and a drink from £7.75.

We went for a selection of ‘tapas’ style dishes for our starter and I was impressed by the smoked haddock croquettes which had a golden crumb and a fluffy filling with a subtly smoky haddock flavour; croquettes or ‘croquetas’ are often seen as one of the benchmarks of a good Spanish restaurant and these were comparable to some I have tried in big name Spanish eateries. 

Crispy potato skins with mozzarella, jalapenos and Sriracha tasted great with a glass of chilled Chardonnay and my dining companion enjoyed his order of succulent glazed chicken wings. 

My partner decided on the stone baked ‘duck n’ hoi’ pizza for his main course, topped with pulled duck, hoisin sauce and mozzarella. The pizza was a generous size and the base was light while the hoisin, duck and spring onion made for an intriguing oriental style taste. A side order was not really necessary since the pizza itself was so big, but he soon devoured his order of topped garlic pizza bread nevertheless. 

For the main course, my choice of grilled halloumi and red pepper burger was a wise one, the bun was chargrilled and topped with generous layers of halloumi and pepper while the extra toppings of sour cream, guacamole and salsa worked well. The balance of tempting flavours made this one of the best veggie burgers I have eaten in a long time. 

Despite feeling full, we naturally managed to find room for dessert and the ‘doughnuts for sharing’ rounded off our meal on a sweet note; these churros style doughnut strips came with chocolate and toffee sauce and whipped cream which tasted amazing with the warm cinnamon dusted doughnuts. 

I was impressed by the service and food, while the new interior design was stylish and modern with exposed brickwork and industrial style lighting. All in all, O’Neill’s delivers on tasty, good value food and you can’t go wrong stopping off here for a casual bite to eat, while the sharing options make it ideal for a meal with friends. There are O'Neill's pubs nationwide, I visited the Liverpool location. 

68 Hanover Street, 
L1 4AG

What do you all think, do you like dining in pubs and which of these dishes catches your eye? 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 the new menu at O'Neill's, this meal was complimentary. all opinions expressed herein are my own and honest. 

Monday 4 September 2017

An Indian feast at Purple Lounge...

It is always a pleasure to be invited to review somewhere new, especially when it happens to be an Indian restaurant. If you have followed this blog for a while you will know that Indian is one of my favourite cuisines, so I was happy to check out Purple Lounge in Worsley, Manchester, which opened in June. I went along last week to try the restaurant for the first time and indeed I was to be the first person to review it. The restaurant is located within a retail park, a bonus since there is plenty of free parking right outside, while inside the contemporary interior design features cool tones of silver and purple as well as eye-catching lighting.

We were warmly welcomed and led to a spacious booth, where we consulted the varied menu while enjoying a stack of poppadoms accompanied by a chutney tray; the homemade chilli sauce was especially good with a real kick of spice.

The menu offers a pleasing balance of traditional curry dishes such as korma and jalfrezi, alongside house specialities. There is a good range of meat, seafood and vegetarian options to choose from, as well as dishes cooked in the Tandoori charcoal clay oven and sharing platters.
We went for a trio of starters to share, including our favourites of onion bhaji and vegetable samosa, as well as a Thai style chilli paneer, battered in corn flour and stir fried in sweet chilli sauce with onions.

The bhajis were huge and they were a treat paired with mango chutney, while the samosas were light and crispy with a tasty vegetable filling.

The Thai style paneer proved to be outstanding, the sweet and sticky sauce delivered a hint of fiery spice and I would order this fusion dish again without hesitation.

On to the mains and my dining companion went for one of the house specialities, a Purple Lounge chicken Thawa, prepared with medium strength herbs and spices and garnished with coriander. This rich curry was full of flavour and it was served sizzling in a cast iron dish, with mouth-watering aromas filling the air.

I love the Indian cheese paneer, so I decided on a paneer tikka masala for my main course, which was creamy and delicate with a thick texture and generous chunks of tender paneer.

Dishes of Pilau and coconut rice and cheese and Peshwari naan breads completed our feast.

The relaxing ambience made us want to linger, as did chatting to the friendly team who were always on hand. The restaurant was busy and several walk in customers arrived throughout the evening too, a promising sign for a relatively new restaurant which gets the combination of authentic Indian food and warm hospitality right.

Purple Lounge 
Ellesmere Retail Park
M28 3UD

What do you all think, do you like Indian food 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 review Purple Lounge, this meal was complimentary. All opinions expressed herein are my own and honest.