ZARA’S CHOCOLATE SHOP

We’re fast approaching the time of the year when it’s totally acceptable to eat chocolate for breakfast (if you disagree then we’re probably not friends), so what better excuse to check out the new home of Zara’s chocolate shop? Zara’s used to nestle in the centre of North Street and share a shop with Ivory flowers (who incidentally did a lovely job on our wedding flowers 3 years ago). Both Mr TGE and I would pop in from time to time to pick up a little box of salted caramels (they really are to die for. Or kill for. I would probably do both.) But Zara’s has recently moved to it’s own premises a little further down the road and expanded to become a hot chocolate haven. No reallythey have a three page hot chocolate menu. So as the weather turned colder it seemed only sensible to pop along and try it out.

Back in October I enlisted the help of a fellow Mum pal and her tiny person to come and give the menu a try. Much as I hate to admit itthree pages of hot chocolate options is a bit too much just for mebackup was needed. The shop is attractively lined with tempting treats and you can peek into the chocolate workshop at the back to see them being made. We settled ourselves into the window seats where our offspring immediately began trying to destroy anything within reach but eventually settled for leaving tiny hand prints all over the window. This gave us time to peruse the menu. Mum pal opted for one of the classic options from the ‘long’ section of the menu (£4 for a pot for one or £7 for a pot for 2) and went for the spiced orange. I couldn’t resist the lure of the slightly pricier ‘specialities’ menu and chose the ‘dark caramel crush’ for £5.

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Both came presented beautifully and with ceremony in hand-made pots with bowl like mugs that ached to be filled. Alongside the drinks we were given sides of chocolate pieces (you can never have too much chocolate)a jug of water and pillow like marshmallows. After swiftly moving everything out of smashing distance of tiny hands (which proved easier said than done) we set about pouring the thick chocolate out and dipping the marshmallows. As you can imaginethe smell was heavenly. The spiced chocolate option (described as dark & warming blend of chocolate with organic orange oilcinnamon & a touch of chilli) certainly smelled of a perfect chocolate orange and was beautifully smooth and indulgent. However I found that the touch of chilli was too heavy handed and unbalanced the drink -that jug of water proved necessary! Though it worked nicely with the sweetness of the accompanying marshmallow.

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My dark chocolate crush (also available as a milk chocolate) was far more to my taste – hot Madagascan dark chocolate served with a jug of homemade salted caramel sauce on the side. Just gorgeous! The chocolate was deliciously intense and warming while the caramel sauce added that extra hint of sweetness – I was in chocolate heaven and will struggle not to just keep ordering the same thing every time I go back now as it was so lovely.

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After suitably destroying their window seats we gathered our offspring, said a cheery goodbye to the lovely staff and strolled off into the chilly autumn air full of chocolate and  thoughts of advent calendars… and then swiftly returned to pay as we had forgotten to actually do that bit.

Overall it’s a lovely little shop and the perfect spot to stop for a hot chocolate that’s just that little bit more special than you expect.

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BABY TGE: SO YOU HAVE A 7 MONTH OLD

So one of the things I didn’t realise about having a baby (one of the many, many things that I didn’t know apparently) is how little time you actually have a ‘baby’ baby for. A tiny human potato who stays still, sleeps all day and drinks endless milk – exhausting of course but really you just have to cuddle and feed them while ideally people feed you tea and cake. From 6 months on, I’ve realised you basically have a ‘pre-toddler’ who has an inbuilt radar for the most dangerous thing in any given room and a desire to chuck themselves off anything. You suddenly have to work out how to put actual food into their faces and handle their many opinions on this.

We recently returned from Baby TGE’s first holiday (in which he was spoilt rotten by his Grandparents and had more room to crawl about than he could ever have imagined. Needless to say, he’s outraged to be home) and on the way home we stopped at Exeter service station which it turned out was some kind of club for vaguely desperate Mums of 7 month olds. One Mum, after watching Baby TGE demolish his lunch (it was a good food day, these are rare) burst out that her 7 month old won’t eat food and she was finding weaning really hard. Another was concerned that her baby’s head was still a bit flat. I’m aware it sounds like I set up some kind of stall for baby woes but actually it’s just that ‘Mum club’ thing where you can start talking to anyone if they have a baby and it’s fine. After assuring those Mums that I was sure all was OK and they were doing ever so well I headed off to the family room to get Baby TGE ready for the remainder of the journey home.

The last lady I met was changing her daughters’ nappy as I was attempting to do the same to Baby TGE – but these days getting him to lie still is like some kind of MMA fight involving elbows (mine), biting (him) and crying (probably me). Watching this sweaty, pooey (him, honest) fight unfurl I saw this Mum looking a bit unsure.

Her (concerned, watching Baby attempt to stand and hurl himself onto the floor): “My 7 month old isn’t sitting yet..”

Me (wrestling a dirty nappy off a standing Baby TGE): “Lucky you!”

Her (worried): “Do you think that’s ok?”

Me (sweating now): “Yes, I’m sure that’s fine”

Her (very worried): “I’m 5 months pregnant…I’ll have 2 under 2! That’ll be fine won’t it?”

Me (pinning Baby TGE with an elbow and hoping he doesn’t wee on me): “Oh! Congratulations, yes sure, it’ll be like having twins!”

Her (full blown horrified): “TWINS?? I can’t handle twins! Oh my God, do you really think it’ll be like having twins??”

Me (clean nappy on Baby TGE – I win!): “It will be NOTHING like having twins. It will be the opposite of having twins. It will definitely be fine”

I mean, I have no idea if it’ll be fine but I imagine it will and sometimes you just really need to hear that don’t you? Especially if you’re 5 months pregnant with a 7 month old…Gosh we had different experiences of having a 2 month old.

So here are the things I know about my particular 7 month old. I imagine this will all change by 8 months…

BABY TGE’S FAVOURITE THINGS (In no particular order)

  • Porridge. Porridge is the best food in the world and should be eaten for every meal apparently. The correct response to food which isn’t porridge is unbridled outrage and FURY! That is until you realise it’s banana or spag bol which are the only acceptable alternatives. Occasionally to raise my hopes he will lick a tomato, chew an avocado or crunch a bit of cucumber before normal service is resumed.
  • Crawling. Ideally quickly towards danger of course – a fireplace, off a bed, stairs,  into something at head banging height.
  • Standing and then suddenly letting go of what you’re leaning on. FUN!
  • Being gently beaten with a pillow… yes really. I don’t know why he enjoys this but apparently it’s hilarious.
  • Being held upside down. I blame Mr TGE for this one, he started this and now it’s the go to activity to get a giggle.
  • Sneezing into my open mouth. He has a talent for this.
  • Twinkle Twinkle Little Sodding Star. All day, every day.Bean

THE BURGER JOINT (NORTH STREET)

From triple-stacked, cheese-oozing, bacon-dripping whoppers to deep-fried chicken, gravy-soaked beasts, Bristol is the place to go for burgers. With such high levels of competition each outlet seems to have its own ‘thing’ to make their burgers distinct. Whether it’s being the dirtiest burger in town or having the highest welfare standards around, everyone has their niche. For The Burger Joint, it’s choice.

The Burger Joint on Whiteladies road was a regular lunch haunt for me when I worked nearby several years ago and I always enjoyed the ‘build your burger’ approach to the menu, enabling you to personalise every aspect of your meal. Recently the Burger Joint team have expanded their choices even more with a specialist vegan and vegetarian menu; I went along with a fellow Mum pal to check it out. The new menu features seven different vegan and vegetarian burger options alongside a host of sides and toppings.

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Babies duly chucked at partners we popped into the very busy North Street branch late on a Thursday evening and were able to grab a table by the window overlooking the outside terrace. I’ve always found the staff here to be friendly and helpful and tonight was no exception. Offering to talk us through how to order (you are given a tick sheet of options which could appear daunting to the uninitiated) we were quickly served some chilled white wine and sat back to look through the many options. Now, if I’m honest, I’m not a vegan. Like not even a little bit. I’m basically a carnivore; a 5′ 3″ Tyrannosaurus-Rex stalking the steak houses of Bristol. But, at least for one night, I was prepared to open my mind a little and go the vegan route. Not by actually ordering a vegan burger you understand, don’t be ludicrous, but by sprinkling my meaty meal with a few special features from the new menu.

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To start things off we shared a small (small! It was huge!) bowl of BBQ chicken wings. Sweet and sticky, I think I ended up wearing half the bowl but luckily my companion was too polite to point it out if I was. The chicken was juicy, tender and smothered in sauce, just as it should be. We ummed and ahhed for an embarrassing amount of time over the building of the burgers. There are just so many variations you can try (their website claims 78,912,800 variations of burgers, topping, sauces and sides are possible) that it can be difficult to know where to start. We ended up taking guidance from the suggested combinations with a few personal tweaks. I went for the TGE version of the ‘beef rodeo’ which consisted of a brioche bun, beef patty, smoked applewood cheddar cheese, grilled back bacon, BBQ sauce and onion rings. I also opted to add on two of the new options from the vegan menu, the pulled jackfruit and the vegan garlic mayonnaise. And just for the hell of it I added mac ‘n’ cheese as my side dish. You’re jealous aren’t you? You should be.

The negatives first – the brioche bun was unpleasantly dry and didn’t hold up particularly well to the mighty fillings it was trying to contain and I ended up putting the top to one side. I also found my beef patty slightly under-seasoned for my taste – but really I’m nitpicking. The combination of toppings made for a really  enjoyable burger experience, each very generous in portion. The crisp onion rings were huge and the smoked applewood cheese was warm and oozing – very pleasing! The pulled jackfruit was a revelation and I’m glad the waitress recommended it as I had never heard of it. It’s technically a tropical fruit but is the go to vegan meat replacement option and was startling close to pulled pork. I was also very pleased with the other vegan choice – the vegan garlic mayonnaise. Who knew this was even a thing? It was cool, light and pungently garlicky, I really enjoyed it.

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My side of mac ‘n’ cheese was decadently cheesy and well seasoned. The portion was far beyond me and I left about half; the waitress who cleared the plates commented that she hadn’t taken away a cleared plate yet. Amazing value for money and on reflection I wish I had thought to ask to take the other half home. Breakfast mac ‘n’ cheese!

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Fellow Mum-pal opted for a peri chicken burger in an Italian herb bun with toppings of chorizo, Monterey Jack cheese, a fried egg, chilli sauce and garlic mayo. It looked pretty showstopping when it arrived and luckily her bun was fresh and tasty. With a side of sweet potato chips (which she dutifully shared because she is a Very Good Person) it was a beast of a burger and we both happily munched (after another glass of wine because we were on a Mum date and that’s what we do) until we could munch no more.

I had considered a ‘hardshake’ (a milkshake with a shot of alcohol in – think chocolate and Baileys etc. Now you want one don’t you?) but honestly I was too full, the mac ‘n’ cheese had finished me off.

The Burger Joint is a Bristol classic and this updated menu shows it’s keen to fight its corner in Bristol’s ever expanding burger scene. With something to please everyone (especially vegans and vegetarians!) it’s a great option for a burger with a twist and perfect for any picky eaters.

 

 

 

SHOLAY INDIAN KITCHEN

Arriving bang on time (which means 15 minutes early) the Grandparents were greeted to a sweaty, wet-haired, half-dressed TGE. And a fairly grumpy baby TGE. “You look nice”, the Fathership offered as I threw my offspring rugby ball style at them and disappeared off upstairs to make myself look vaguely like a person. 10 minutes later (hair dry, red lipstick on, beauty regime DONE) I appeared and explained to them in painstaking detail baby TGE’s bedtime schedule. To be fair to them they listened to it all without any eye rolls (at least to my face) and resisted the urge to scream, “I KNOW, NOT ONLY HAVE I HAD CHILDREN, YOU ARE ONE OF THEM!”. They nodded along with complicated concepts such as, “close the curtains”, “dress him in a sleepsuit” and “put him down to sleep in the cot when he is tired”. Truly ground-breaking stuff, thank goodness I left notes, eh?

But why am I telling you this? Well, it was our first night out for dinner together since Bambino arrived nearly 7 months ago. HUrrah! And which lucky venue would we be visiting? Sholay Indian Kitchen at my favourite foodie haven in Bristol, Wapping Wharf. Luckily for us it happened to be a beautiful sunny evening with hot air balloons drifting dreamily over the harbourside and the cargo units were all bustling with people determined to soak up the last of the summer’s sunshine. Stopping first for a drink at Corks (£5 for a small bottle of prosecco which was 2 glasses worth – hello!) we looked forward to the meal to come. I had heard good things previously about Sholay but with such strong competition from its fellow cargo units it had taken a while to get around to a visit. Located on the top level of Cargo 2, Sholay is a colourful and vibrant unit with plenty of outside terrace seating. We were warmly greeted on arrival and offered a choice of inside or outside (although we were glad we booked as they were very busy). As the temperature was started to drop we opted to sit inside and cosied up in a corner, peeking into the busy kitchen.

As all good meals should it started with a cocktail. I opted for the Sholay Mojito (Jamaican rum, passion fruit, lime, mint and sugar syrup) and Mr TGE went for the Masala Chai Old Fashioned (Early times reserve whiskey, spice honey and orange bitters). Both were beautifully presented with a lovely balance of flavours, though I did feel like I could have done with a slosh more rum in mine (though I feel like that about most drinks). As we sipped we perused the menu, split into small plates, large plates and side dishes  – all dishes sounding much more modern and exciting than your standard bhuna. Feeling decadent we opted for 2 from each section which proved to be more than enough. We asked for advice on the side dishes from our waitress who guided us towards the masala chips – this proved to be a rather excellent choice. With the food arriving all at once we were able to tuck into Peshwari lamb cutlets, onion bhajis with tamarind sauce, grilled lamb kebab, Grandma’s curry (chicken was the ingredient of the day but it also comes with lamb or vegetables), Indian breads and of course, masala chips. Honestly, it was a feast.

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Everything came beautifully and thoughtfully presented and we discovered that the delicate presentation belied the large size of the portions. Each dish carried a depth of flavour that impressed, offering a lovely balance of heat without being overwhelming. We both loved the onion bhajis (which I usually find greasy and unappealing) which were crisp little flavour bombs, perfectly complemented by the sweet, dark slick of tamarind sauce. Grandma’s chicken curry was a rich, warming dish which reminded me of a Thai massaman flavour wise – we enjoyed mopping up the thick sauce with a wedge of the Indian breads.

For me, my lamb kebab stole the show – 2 large skewers of hearty chunks of spiced lamb is the way to my heart apparently. Perfectly tender and blushing pink in the centre, the cooking of the lamb was bang on for me. We both happily gnawed our way through the Peshwari lamb cutlets, not as pink but still very tender. To wash it all down I opeted for a very drinkable New Zealand Sauvignon blanc while Mr TGE went for a classic Kingfisher beer. My wine came in a beautiful goblet from Italy though so I feel like I won that choice.

 

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Stuffed to the gills we were sure we couldn’t possibly have dessert. And also nearly every Indian dessert I’ve had has been a bit rubbish so we were hardly keen – at most we would share one kulfi. Obviously we ordered one each, our willpower is zilch apparently. I had wanted to try the pistachio kulfi but unfortunately it had sold out so I settled for honey rose while Mr TGE opted for mango. Served on sticks in a glass it was a fun way to end the meal, the cool creaminess was perfect.  I wasn’t fussed about the mango flavour but loved the honey rose. Mr TGE felt the opposite, as ever he was wrong.

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Overall it really was a sensational meal and totally worth the price of a babysitter (not that the Grandparentals get paid, spending quality time anxiously watching their Grandson sleep via the baby monitor is payment enough). We’ve had some wonderful meals at Wapping Wharf and Sholay was right up there amongst the best. I would go back in a heartbeat, flavours and presentation were modern, fresh and fun. What more could you want?

 

*Please note: this experience was received free of charge but this didn’t impact my opinion and I was under no obligation to write a positive review. No review was shared with the venue before publication

OOWEE DINER NORTH STREET

Burger fever has swept Bristol in the past couple of years with independent restaurants raising the stakes (Can I get a bonus point making a steak pun there?) and blowing a lot of chain restaurants out of the water. From Chomp (which I loved, link to CHOMP here) to Asado to Squeezed, we’re spoiled for meaty choice. So, when I saw Oowee Diner’s current lunch offer at its North Street branch of a burger and fries for £5, it seemed too good not try…

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There are 2 Oowee diners in Bristol to choose from, the original on Picton Street and the recently refurbed North Street restaurant. After a fairly hectic morning wrangling a teething Baby TGE into the pram (which he’ll sit in but not if he’s strapped in, what’s the fun in not being able to fling yourself onto the pavement whenever you want?) I was passing the North Street branch at around 3pm and realised that I hadn’t actually got around to having lunch yet. Well, who I am to fight the fates? The lunch offer runs Monday – Friday from 12 till 4pm and, as it was fairly late when we went, there were only a handful of other customers. There did seem to be a few staff meetings about rotas and stock takes going on when I arrived and there were crates of new stock taking up some room at the front of the diner (which didn’t create a great first impression) but I imagine this wouldn’t be an issue at busier times.

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On arrival you order at the bar and are given a buzzer which will alert you that your food is ready to collect. With plenty of neon lights, pumping music and the promise of a ‘deliciously dirty’ burger it’s a great hangout for groups of friends, families or couples who are past the initial stage of trying to eat neatly in front of each other. The £5 lunch deal consists of a single patty burger with double American cheese, lettuce, mustard, gherkins, ketchup and fries and after a short wait my buzzer did its thing. As the diner was fairly quiet and I was clearly wrangling a baby so fascinated with the neon lights that I’m counting this trip out as some kind of baby sensory class, the waitress kindly brought me my tray without me having to ask. It was a small gesture, but I really appreciated it and it’s cumulative little touches like that which keep customers loyal.

Now let’s be honest, presentation isn’t the strong point here. But this isn’t presentation food – this is drip down your arm, smear across your face, hang on you’ve got some of it on your forehead kind of food. As advertised, this was absolutely dirty. I was immediately impressed with the size of the portion, there was a cascade of fries which despite my best efforts I didn’t make much of a dent in and the burger was a sizeable handful! The burger was absolutely delicious, really tasty and with the right balance of mustard, gherkins and extras. The fries were hot and crisp and despite the amount of sauce and filling, the burger it held together well. Going out on a limb, it was actually my favourite burger I’ve had so far in Bristol and I would be interested in exploring some of the more adventurous parts of the menu, such as the peanut butter bacon jelly burger or the vegan shrimp fries. I might even throw in a milkshake, in for a penny in for a pound!

For £5 it was absolutely amazing value and I’m sure it won’t be the last time I take advantage of it.

BABY TGE: SLEEP

Imagine you have a Furby. If you  don’t know what a Furby is, imagine you have an Ewok. If you don’t know what an Ewok is I can’t really help you any further with popular culture references. Imagine that you take said Furby/Ewok very seriously and want it to be the happiest little fuzzball it can be but its instruction manual is printed in Swedish. Unfortunately for you, you don’t speak Swedish. But as you love your Furbyman so much you dedicate around 3 months to learning Swedish so that you can finally – just about – understand the basic workings. Hurrah! You (roughly) know when it eats, sleeps and what will make it giggle. Excellent, you’re sorted. Except wait, hang on now it’s about 4 months and someone has maliciously re-programmed your Furby-wok so that it now speaks Japanese and all the settings have changed.

Yes hello and welcome to another edition of ‘Oh God I’ve had a baby, what the hell do I do with it?’. This time we’re focussing on the dreaded ‘4 month sleep regression’. What is that I hear you ask? Well,  imagine your Furbybaby  has been sleeping for say, about 6 – 7 hours in one go. I’m aware to non-parents that doesn’t sound particularly impressive but trust me, it’s the best. Then imagine it goes off EVERY 45 MINUTES. No really, just IMAGINE it. Every. 45. Minutes. For no discernible reason. Good, well hello, welcome to the world of parenting a 4 month old. While your baby is working how to go from newborn sleep patterns (basically all the time but waking up every couple of hours for a feed) to adult sleep patterns (lots of 45 minute cycles put together so that at some point you sleep through the whole night) everything you thought you knew goes out the window and you’re back to square one. Ace. As with everything baby related though, there’s a book for that. Who am I kidding? There are a MILLION sleep training books out there, tired parents would buy a mouldy onion for £125 if you told them it would get their baby to sleep, we’re big business.

So, let’s take a look at the most popular baby sleep training tips.

  1. Don’t feed the baby to sleep

Sound advice of course, especially if you’re breastfeeding and don’t want to be pogoing in and out of bed with a boob out all night long. The advice goes that you should leave a gap of at least 20 minutes between feed and bed which, you know, sounds lovely. Sometimes we do that and then we feel very smug. Feed, bath and bed. Textbook. Unless of course Bambino decides he’s actually hungry again/not hungry before bath/teething/too hot and his routine slides and suddenly bedtime has crashed into feed time… Have you tried not feeding a hungry baby? They go BALLISTIC. Equally if you’ve just fed a baby and they’re about to settle down for the night have you tried poking them for around 20 minutes to keep them awake? I would rather put my head in an oven than try that again.

 

  1. The baby must sleep in their own cot and self -settle for all daytime naps…

Hahahahahahaha… you try telling Baby TGE that. In fact I have tried telling him that. I tell him this basically daily. And sometimes he agrees with me and immediately naps as soon as I put him in his cot (cue quick picture to send to your Mum friends whatsapp group to prove it did actually happen followed by a supermarket sweep style run around the house chucking all the little piles of mess into one big pile of mess and then putting a throw over it. Hurrah ‘tidy’ house).  Babies bloody love sleeping on you, it’s their fave. They become like tiny Winston Churchills with naps not on you – they shall fight them in their cots, they shall fight them in their prams, they shall fight them in their moses baskets, they shall never surrender! At any given point in the country I wonder how many parents are desperately shushing babies in cots, desperately not making eye contact (NEVER MAKE EYE CONTACT!) with their offspring and patting them until eventually breaking and whispering to themselves, “tomorrow, we’ll start again tomorrow”, scooping up their victorious little monster and settling down for another baby pinned hour.  Sometimes of course, you’re not the one to break first. You might have timed it right, you might have gone in with that fraction more patience than you did yesterday, or maybe your baby is in the right mood. Either way, you shush and their eyes droop.. and droop.. and close. You wait, daring to believe that it’s happened. You don’t move, you don’t breathe, you don’t even blink just in case… you crawl ninja style out of the room, closing the door as quietly as humanly possible. Then you allow yourself a tiny victory jig and why the hell not? You’ve just cracked sleep training! It’s worked! Hurrah! From now on, this will be how every nap goes… surely…

 

  1. You must be CONSISTENT with your method and NEVER DEVIATE.

“You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be.” No, not from a sleep guide, this is Churchill again,  but could pretty much sums up the attitude recommended by most sleep books. You choose your method (crying it out, gradual retreat, shushing etc etc) and you stick to your guns no matter what. As with all the tips, it’s total common sense and I’m sure works if you can do this. And some days you can do this…  as long as nothing changes in life then you’re golden but that doesn’t tend to be how life works, does it? Life does change, it’s sort of the point. You chuck a growth spurt, a cold, a heatwave or teething into the mix and suddenly never giving up in the face of your tiny screaming Winston doesn’t seem quite so easy. Especially if more than one of these things hits at the same time WHICH THEY DO. Colds are particularly shit when you’re a baby as you’ve only just discovered you have a nose when it stops working. You’ve been betrayed by your own face! Sometimes, when faced with a snotty, grotty, cross, sleepy baby the only option is to cuddle up on the sofa until you feel their hot sweet breath on your neck slip into gentle purring snores and settle in. There are worse ways to spend an hour.

What seems to true across the board is you need to stick to whatever suits you, allows you all to sleep at least a bit and makes you happy. You find your balance. Being too smug or distraught at whatever current sleep stage you’re at is a waste of energy as it’ll all pass… good sleeping babies go onto be wide awake toddlers and terrible sleepers can suddenly develop a passion for it (ask the Mothership, I was 5 before I slept through the night. Let that horror set in, I would have put me in the bin and tried again.)

To be clear, no judgement here on whatever you’re doing to get through the naps  – if you’re heavily into sleep training regime then you go for it. If you’re not even thinking about sleep training, ace. If you’re doing a remarkably half hearted attempt at getting into better sleep training habits on days you can face it, you’re in my club. As a wise friend recently said, “you do you Boo.” To be fair he didn’t say that to me and it wasn’t about sleep training it was about getting a nose ring in your 30s but still, the sentiment stands.

Incidentally if you haven’t watched the Netflix series ‘The Letdown’, I highly recommend episode 2. DON’T LOOK THEM IN THE EYES!

 

 

THE ASHVILLE STEAKHOUSE

You know what is excellent? Steak. You know is not excellent? The 4 month sodding sleep regression. And teething. And wisdom teeth. Basically all of team TGE are tired and 2/3rds of us are teething. But enough about that, let’s get back to the steak shall we?

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The kind folk at Socialight joined forces with The Ashville Steakhouse recently to host a blogger’s steak night which I was very happy to pop along to. I chucked Baby TGE rugby ball style at Mr TGE on my way out the door – “Later, sucker!” – and headed down the unassuming street in Ashton, just off North Street, to find the fairy light studded pub.  If you didn’t know where The Ashville was it’s likely you could miss it but it’s worth finding; it’s actually been a favourite pub of Team TGE for the past few years and the Sunday roasts are truly special. Be warned though pre-booking is advised although Sandor and his team will always try and squeeze you in if possible.

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However tonight was to be all about the steak and we kicked things off with a cocktail (well, G&T but it was my first in about a year so counted in my books) while Nigel Buxton –  as in Buxton Butchers – delivered a truly skilful butchery demonstration. Buxton supply all the steaks and it was really interesting seeing how the different cuts are prepared and especially about the dry aging in the Himalayan salt cellar. I love listening to people will a real passion for what they do and Nigel’s was clear – meat is very much the star.

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We then took our seats and it was over to Olly from Butcombe brewery to fill us in on their heritage and take us through some ale samples. We tried Butcome Original, Union and Rare Breed which as a non-ale drinker I  wasn’t really expecting to enjoy… turns out the Butcome Original is actually rather nice! I did get slightly distracted however when Olly took us through the brewing process as one of the writers near me mistakenly ate one of the hops rather than barley (“Oh God, it takes like a barn!”) which made me snort-laugh some gin through my nose. Professional. Once we had all calmed down and got a hold of ourselves it was time to bring on the steak (and a bucket of Shiraz).

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Don’t eat these…

We were able to sample 4 different cuts – ribeye, rump, fillet and sirloin  – alongside triple cooked chips and house garnish. The meat was perfectly cooked and beautifully seasoned, I was in carnivore heaven. My particular favourite was the ribeye which had a rich marbling of fat throughout to give it that unmistakable flavour. I wish I wasn’t writing this when I’m this hungry, I want to be eating it again now! Paired with the peppercorn sauce it was an utter triumph.

Steaks range from the moderate 8oz sirloin (£15.95) to the frankly ludicrous 96oz T-bone (£110).

 

A big thank you to all involved for such a wonderful event.

 

*Please note: this experience was received free of charge but this didn’t impact my opinion and I was under no obligation to write a positive review. No review was shared with the venue before publication.