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Sophies Steakhouse, London | FOOD

London is one of my favourite places in the world, the city is awash with history and culture, the people are diverse and engaging, and the food is quite often out of this world.  Whilst in the capital I was looking for somewhere to grab a quick bite to eat before heading out to the theatre in Covent Garden and wandered across Sophie's Steakhouse on the corner of Wellington Street.  I was once told by a fellow foodie that if a restaurant has a queue of happy customers then you must get in that queue and order the special, so that's exactly what I did when I saw people waiting at the door.

Cocktail in hand, we were led to a table in the middle of the restaurant with great views of the meat fridge.  The room was what you would typically expect of a trendy eaterie within London, itchy and stylish with a slight industrial vibe.  The staff were positively lovely and the waitress who served us was perky and helpful, she helped us choose our meals and I opted for the house special of steak and frites for main with a fried calamari special.  
I sipped on my delicious cosmopolitan and nibbled at the plate of fresh salami we'd been given whilst perusing the menu (which, was bloody lovely) as we awaited our food.

Onto the good stuff...
The calamari was light and crispy, with a delicate calamari flesh hidden within and garnished with a allioli dip and lemon quarter.  Introducing my youngest brother to the delights of seafood, we devoured the starter in seconds making light groaning noises in pure delight.  It was perfection!
The mains hopped along shortly after, I'd ordered my steak medium rare and it plopped onto my plate with a pink glaze to it.  The fries were crisp but fluffy on the inside, the steak was tender and smoked on the grill.  My only criticism is there wasn't enough of it on my plate, for the £10 I paid I had expected perhaps a little more - maybe a side salad or flat mushroom.

For my calamari, steak frites and cocktail I paid a bill of £24.50 plus tip - which, when you consider we were in the centre of London, is actually not too shabby a price.  The restaurant is quite literally a stones throw from the Lyceum Theatre so if you're in town to watch the Lion King then I'd thoroughly recommend this as a tasty dinner beforehand or cheeky cocktails afterwards.  You can even move onto the trendy Covent Garden area afterwards for a spot of light shopping or karaoke!
I'll be heading back here for sure...

Where? Bodega | 29-31 Wellington Street, London, WC2E 7DB
How much? £10-20 PP for a starter, main and soft drink
When? All week round!


Bodega, Birmingham | FOOD

This week I was invited down to Bodega in Birmingham to try out their new menu, the restaurant team had recently taken a trip to Mexico to investigate current food trends and street eats in the country so they could bring it back to the their Midlands base to incorporate into some new eats for their loyal customers.  Being my first time to Bodega, I had no idea what to expect but had been told by other bloggers that the nachos were out of this world and the cocktails were simply delightful!  So, I popped in with a camera and an appetite, eagerly awaiting the dishes!

We were greeted with a tequila and blueberry magherita on arrival, which was insanely delicious, and were given nachos to nibble on whilst we awaited our mains.  The nachos were crisp and deep fried, with a side of freshly made guacamole and salsa - they were pretty good, but not other worldly in my opinion.  
Next up, the pulled pork burritos and roasted pepper burritos - these were tasty, they were moist and the rice had been cooked to perfection.  Often the rice in burritos borders on being overcooked which makes it feel stodgy and an odd texture, but this was cooked well and coupled with a great helping of melted cheese.  Not my usual order at a Mexican, but I would opt for these again.  
Next up, the Dr Pepper marinated pork tacos - yes, you heard me, Dr Pepper.  The meat had been marinaded in the soda for some time and then cooked and assembled into a soft taco with another side of guacamole and sour cream.  I was most excited about this, we have tacos at home regularly and they're a guilty pleasure of mine - if there were a taco place near the local pub then these would be my 'drunken food'!  Annoyingly, these were the most disappointing on the menu.  Others enjoyed them but I was expecting more of a fruity twist from the soda or a sticky sauce from reduction, it tasted more like a simple pulled pork concoction with some nice stuff on top - still tasty and good to eat, but not worth the hype.

We were then given a plantain and chilli salad accompanied with a fresh sangria.  The salad was what a salad is, it was a nice side and would be a great accompaniment - the plantain was fried to perfection though.  The sangria was incredible, fresh and full of apricot and raspberry tones with a hint of mint.  It was refreshingly light and delicious, made from a prosecco base rather than red wine - which for all you migraine watchers will be music to your ears!  

Finally we were treated to a gin cocktail, which the name escapes me now (bad blogger) but had been sat with orange peel for 40 minutes prior to pouring the soda water into it.  Being a gin lover I dove in and took a large gulp, only to be surprised with a slightly whisky taste and bitter aftertaste.  If you like your bourbons and hard liquor then this is the cocktail for you, it packs a punch and it expertly mixed.
All in all, I'll be heading back to Bodega when the sun is shining for a pitcher of that prosecco sangria and a tasty red pepper burrito.  I'm keen to try their fish tacos and a massive bowl of nachos, the vibe of the restaurant invites friendly banter and gossip over tables.  Come here if you want a social evening with some great nibbles and drinks!

Where? Bodega | 12 Bennetts Hill, Birmingham, B2 5RS
How much? £15-20 PP for a main plus cocktail
When? All week round!

Plus Size Fashion Haul | FASHION

Wo! That's a lot of my face on the picture... what was I thinking with the open mouth smile?!
In the style of Beyonce, I've been shopping, I've been shopping.  Recently, I've had a little splurge on some new clothes in anticipation of some events and parties I have coming up so I thought I'd do a little haul on what I decided to keep and what has been returned to store.  I wanted to be super honest about what I'd chosen to spend my money on and what I thought was worth my hard earnt pennies, so this one is a little different for me.  

Hope you enjoy!

Click here to be taken to the video or hit play on the embedded video below!


Viva Brazilia, Birmingham | FOOD

There's a new trend hitting the Midland capital at the moment, and that is meat.  Restaurants are popping up offering fresh cuts of meat fresh off the grill, succulent and thick, ready to take your pennies in exchange for your carnivorous desires.  One such place is Viva Brazil, offering an all you can eat meat extravaganza for less than £20.  But is it worth it? 

A top of Bennet's Hill in Birmingham, Viva Brazil is in hot competition with other eateries in the area.  It offers a red/green card system in which you can signal to the waiters whether you're ready to indulge what they have on their skewers or need a break.  Being a huge carnivore myself, I eagerly eyed up the food on offer and sat down with my plate ready to dig in!
Upon sitting down we were given a card that listed 16 different dishes; chilli chicken, garlic rump, flank steak, pork ribs, leg of lamb and smoked gammons. Every time you sampled a dish the waiter would stamp the area to indicate whether you liked it or not, therefore helping them understand what you'd like for the next round.  In addition, there was a salad bar you can take from to garnish your meal, as well as sides such as fries and pasta dishes - it was relatively limited, but it did the job.  But, then again, if you come to somewhere like this I don't expect you're really interested in what lettuce you can get...

Now, let's talk about the meat.  Generally speaking, it wasn't bad - the food was well cooked and had a good taste but it didn't set my world alight.  Some of the seasoned steaks (such as the garlic rump) were over salted and left a bitter taste in the mouth which made you reach for the water, equally some of the smoked dishes were over smoked and dry.  I found that if you opted for a rarer cooked steak then it was far more succulent than the other options, but make sure you put in your order with the waiter because medium-rare cooks are few and far between.  
We managed to sample around 10 dishes out of the 16 on offer, and I found the cheaper cuts of meat were more freely available.  I specially asked for a cut from the leg of lamb and the garlic rump steak, and waited 45 minutes for them to materialise at my table.

In summary, the food was moderately good and was a pleasant afternoon lunch with the boyfriend.  The restaurant is smartly decorated, the staff are generally amenable and the cocktails aren't too shabby - but for £20 a head plus drinks, you can get a much tastier meal at the other restaurants on Bennet's Hill.

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