Sunday, 12 February 2017

Carluccio's - Intu, Derby.

intu Derby has so many restaurants nowadays, that when you need to refuel during your shopping trip, there's so much choice with a variety of different cuisines. 
Carluccio's wave the flag for Italy following their opening in October last year and since then has been a welcome addition.

Me and my brother headed over for a meal where we were shown to our table in the window, perfect for me as I love people watching! Or server was super friendly and chatty and bought over our drinks. A craft cider for Camden and a Summer Garden Apple & Elderflower soft drink for me.

The interior is very clean, fresh and welcoming. It feels light and airy despite being inside a shopping centre which is great as you forget where you are for a moment. 

We ordered starters but held back on mains as Camden was yet to make his mind up. I liked this because it meant we didn't have to delay on the food as I was absolutely starving!
Camden went for Crab Macaroni which is a recent addition to their menu. Perfect for those who love their sea food. It was delicate but packed full of flavour.

For myself, I had the Sicilian Arancini which are basically deep fried balls of risotto rice, these with a duo of flavours. One, Mozzarella & Basil and the other a Beef Ragu. I was so sure that the Mozzarella would be my favourite but I was wrong. The Beef Ragu had so much more flavour in comparison to the Mozzarella which almost became bland at the side of it.

For the main courses, I went for my all time favourite Italian dish which is Lasagne and of course a side of Garlic Focaccia. I was satisfied with my Lasagne. The presentation wasn't anything special and I've had better, I've had worse. No complaints from me.

On the other hand, Camden's Seabass in Padella (which means pan fried) looked delicious. It screamed flavour. He was recommended this dish after asking our server which she'd prefer out of this and the Steak. I think he was glad to have chosen this dish as it was something different for him. As the Seabass was filleted, it meant no worrying about bones either.

Obviously, I can't skip a dessert. Eton Mess is an absolute must for myself when it's on a menu so when I spotted the Meringa Al Frutto Della Passione, I was sold straight away. The combination of the Passionfuit Cream and Raspberry Coulis was so sweet and tasty. The Meringue was crunchy, crumbly and melt in the mouth but with a chewy centre.
Camden went for the Chocolate & Rum Fudge Cake which was soft, rich and had a perfect balance of rum. Nothing too overpowering.

I didn't realise myself until visiting that Carlucco's has it very own deli to the side of the restaurant selling all sorts of foodie goodies from Oils and Drizzlers to Chocolates and Pasta. They also sell those incredible Meringues which were in my dessert. Definitely going back for one of them next time I'm there! 

Overall, I had a lovely time at Carluccio's. It was my first visit to the chain and I'd definitely return. The staff were all so friendly, welcoming and really want to do everything they can to give you the best experience. The food was great and with a super extensive menu, there's something for everyone. Even my brother who doesn't usually like Italian cuisine enjoyed all three courses of his meal. 

Thanks for having me Carluccio's! 


Thursday, 9 February 2017

Nando's House Warming Party - Intu, Derby.

If you've been to the intu shopping centre in Derby lately, you may have noticed that Nando's have had their doors closed for an excruciating three weeks whilst undergoing a well deserved make over. 
I was kindly invited to their relaunch party to get one of the first looks at the new and improved restaurant.

The vibrant interior is welcoming to anyone who walks past and the new layout makes the place seem so much bigger than before. After introducing additional larger tables, they can now seat up to 160 diners.
Throughout the restaurant, there's a South African theme including the multi coloured woven lights which were made especially for Nando's Derby and pieces of stunning original artwork lining the walls. 

It wasn't long before I was dying to order some food and get stuck into some of their Peri-Peri goodness. Nando's is one of my all time guilty pleasures. 

After a couple of combo meals and a bottomless drink each we were good to go. Bellies full and certainly satisfied as per usual. 

So, next time you're doing your shopping, be sure to stop by at Nando's to check out their new look.

What do you order from Nando's? - everyone has their favourite, right!?


Saturday, 28 January 2017

The Horse & Jockey - Wessington, Derbyshire.

Back in December, The Horse & Jockey in Wessington re-opened it's doors after undergoing an extensive refurbishment and it's purchase by the same people who own another restaurant I've reviewed before, The White Hart at Moorwood Moor. 

Me and my friend Emily took a ride over on a Saturday lunch time to chance a walk in table. 
When we arrived, it was great to see the car park quite full, usually a good sign, and the we rushed inside to escape the cold.

The interior of The Horse & Jockey is very similar to that of it's sister with the exposed brickwork and chunky wooden furniture. There's a copper theme throughout which you might be able to spot from the draught fonts which gives it that extra dash of class.
I also spotted these delicious looking homemade sausage rolls on the bar.

We were told there'd be around a 45 minute wait for a table which was fine by us, we just grabbed a drink and chatted in the bar. 20 minutes later, one became free and we able to take a seat.
Our table was in the ground floor restaurant as opposed to their second one down in the basement.
After comparing the two, I'd have preferred to sit in the basement as it had more of a cosy, relaxed feel. The ground floor restaurant felt very much like a canteen.

The menu is surprising extensive with a range of snacks, lighter bites, twists on pub classics and a children's section too.

I went for the Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto topped with a dollop of Creme Fraiche which from the moment I scanned through the options, I knew this was the one.
I absolutely love Risotto and as you'd expect, it was very filling - I couldn't manage the whole dish but it was lovely. The Butternut squash had a slight crunch to it, the rice was full of flavour and the Creme Fraiche finished it off perfectly. Thumbs up from me.

After debating whether to have Fish & Chips or The Jockey Burger, Emily chose the latter. Served in a Brioche Bun with Bacon, Cheese and a Smokey Relish, you can't really go wrong with The Jockey Burger. I had to steal a chip though, I couldn't not. Again, very nice. Crispy and fluffy.

For me though, it's all about the dessert no matter where I visit. I was originally going to go for a Sticky Toffee Pudding but after finding out it has Dates in it, I opted for my back up, a Chocolate Brownie Sundae with Crushed Honeycomb and Caramel Sauce which is served in a Kilner Jar.

I definitely had eyes bigger than my belly for this one. I was determined to polish it off but it became too sickly. The Honeycomb was amazing though. I could've eaten a bunch of that all by itself. This is definitely my idea of the perfect dessert. 

After a friendly chat with the manager, we settled the bill and headed back home. The new and improved Horse & Jockey is certainly a welcome addition to Wessington, especially following the closure of The Peacock, Oakerthorpe just down the road. 
I'd definitely return, but I'd book and I'd also ask for a table in the Basement. 

As well as a restaurant, there are also fourteen boutique country style rooms which you're able to stay in. I didn't get a chance to look around them, but from the images I've seen online, they look stunning. Something to bear in mind if you're after accommodation in the area or just a little overnight getaway. 

Take a look at what's on offer at The Horse & Jockey here & as always, thanks for reading,


Sunday, 11 December 2016

Turtle Bay - Derby.

Turtle Bay is always one of those restaurants I've always steered away from simply because I'm not a fan of spicy food. I never thought I'd find something I'd eat and most importantly, enjoy.
When I was invited along to the Derby restaurant to give their food a whirl, I decided it was a great time to take the plunge and go for it.

If you're not aware already, Turtle Bay is a Caribbean restaurant and bar taking it's name from a cove in Jamaica. When you think of Jamaican cuisine, theres rice, spice, heat and meat. Then you have the tropical vibes too like your mango and your passionfruit. That's what Turtle Bay has to offer.

When we entered the restaurant, it felt like stepping into somewhere a lot further away than Derby that's for sure. The reggae tunes were on, all of the staff were cheerful plus it was great to see the bar so busy. Turns out they have happy hour until 7pm which is something to keep in mind. It went a lot quieter after this time.

We got some mens and ordered some drinks. I chose to have a Passionfruit Cooler Caribbean Soft from their mocktail style menu and Emily had a Reggae Rum Punch as suggested by our server. Both were deliciously refreshing and as I mentioned, it was happy hour, so Emily got two.

When it came to ordering food, I decided to stay safe. The 'lunch & lighter' section on the menu caught my eye with the Goats Cheese & Mango Flatbread which comes topped with Tomatoes, Sweet Onion Chutney and hot sauce. I love all of these toppings so even though thad hot sauce, I decided to try it.
I was pleasantly surprised. Although I personally would've liked more Goats Cheese (I really do love the stuff) it was a really great combination. The hot sauce had a kick but wasn't overpowering and with my side of sweet potato fries, went down a treat. Sweet potato fries aren't usually a side I'd chose but after having them recommended to me, it was a wise decision to go for these. They were actually crispy which is usually why I don'y like them so this was excellent.

One of Emily's favourites is Jerk Chicken. She's had it a few times when we've been out together but having never been to Turtle Bay before like myself, she was keen to give one from a Caribbean restaurant a try to see how it compares.
Opting for the half chicken, this is marinated for 24 hours before grilling to ensure all of those delicious flavours are soaked up. Along with a side of Spiced Fries which are seasoned for a different take on the usual, Emily told me she loved her main course.

Now, with me, there's always room for dessert. When I saw Warm Chocolate Brownie with Vanilla Ice-cream, I was sold straight away. I know it doesn't really keep with the theme of the restaurant but what the heck!? Oh it was good.
The Brownie was the perfect temperature to melt the ice-cream and the two together are just a match made in heaven for me. It was rich, but not at all bitter with that slight crunch on top, soft on the inside and just tasted amazing. A winner in my eyes. I could've eaten it twice. 

My first Turtle Bay experience went down a lot better than I imagined. Although the food isn't really my thing, the atmosphere was welcoming, lively and the staff were all as helpful as can be. 
If you love all things spicy, then this one is definitely for you. For me though, it won't be somewhere I rush back to but I wouldn't say no in the future.

Find out more about Turtle Bay Derby here.


Fancy trying Turtle Bay for yourself??

One lucky winner will get receive a three course meal for two plus a drink each at the Derby restaurant! Amazing right?

To win, just head over to my Twitter (@MonetBrooks) and check out my pinned tweet.
You just need to follow me and retweet by 6pm on Sunday 18th December to be in with a chance.

Good Luck!


Sunday, 4 December 2016

BBC Good Food Show Winter, NEC Birmingham - November 2016.

You may remember, back in Summer, I attended my first ever BBC Good Food Show at Birmingham's NEC arena. Well, now was the turn of the Winter show!
I grabbed my press pass and headed for the halls to see what was in store this time around and decided to bring you along on my journey.

The first stop on our journey was the Good Food Stage where throughout the day, various celebrity chefs perform cooking demonstrations. Luckily for us, Mary Berry was due to take the stage in 5 minutes time, so we hung around to watch the queen of cooking in action.

The BBC Good Food Show is an amazing event and I'd absolutely recommend any food and drink lover to attend if you get the opportunity.
With hundreds of stalls all showcasing independent brands, you come across so many that you've never heard of before and wonder how you lived without them. Plus, you get lots of free samples!

Here are a few of my top tips if you're thinking of visiting:

- Take the train. The NEC is walking distance from Birmingham International train station.

- If you decide to drive, pre pay for your parking. Parking costs £12 and can be bought online in advance. If you pay for it online too, you avoid the queues to pay on site. 

- Avoid leaving the NEC at closing time on the last day. The traffic is horrendous as this is the time that all of the exhibitors are leaving too.

- Take plenty of cash. Although some exhibitors do take card payments, a lot of the don't so you will need cash. The ATM machines on site charge £2 something for withdrawals.

- Take a big bag. You will buy a lot of stuff and aren't going to want to carry everything. So, take a big backpack or even get one of the fold up mobile boxes that everyone seems to have. It will get used.

- Wear comfortable shoes. You'll be doing a lot of walking around and the last thing you want is achy sore feet.

- Barter. Most of the time, prices are hiked up at events like this and there's absolutely no reason you can't barter for a cheaper price. Even if it is only 50p off your chocolate spread, it all adds up. After all, exhibitors want to be taking back as little stock as possible with them and don't want to lose out on a sale. 

As always, thanks for reading,

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