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Eating Out|| Balans Soho Society

Balans Soho Society doesn’t look like the typical modern British restaurant.

Especially when it says it focuses on a touch of indulgence, yet it’s a haven for the cheerful, lively and friendly – the interior tells a different story. It’s actually pretty edgy and cool – with a diner feel set-up, lots of greys and browns, then standout hanging lights and bar. It’s filled with eery memorabilia donning the walls, like a 3D case filled with a doll with hair on end. But it’s super cool with a delicious menu, as I found out recently at a fab evening organised by Nicola (East London Girl).

Settled into a long table at the Clapham branch, we sipped on a beautiful fizz whilst eyeing up the menus and soaking up the atmosphere. It was reasonably buzzy for the Thursday before the Christmas break.

The dinner menu is extensive, with over ten starters and ten mains to choose from including Maryland Crab Cakes, Pulled Pork Tacos, Lentil & Spinach Cottage Pie and Cornish Crab Linguine. There appears to be something for everyone – They say they happily cater for differing dietary requirements and vegans too, and just to ask them about options. 

There’s nothing better than a table filled with dishes for all…

Balans Soho Society

The Smoked Mozzarella & Bolognese Arancini with Red Pepper Ketchup, were dreamy. Soft in the middle with a fantastic crispy coating and flavour. These are a must!

Balans Soho Society

I really enjoyed the Manchego & Serrano Ham Croquettes, with Spanish Paprika Aioli too. The same fab coating, yet a lighter flavour. Portions for starters were really big, so definitely share if you’re going with these two!

The Flatbread with spiced goat, labneh, pickled red cabbage, preserved lemon and coriander had a fantastic flavour. The toppings were plentiful, and the meat tender, although the flatbread itself was a little tough. The Pulled Pork Tacos with grilled pineapple and habanero salsa had great reviews from the others around the table too.

Balans Soho Society

Mains reminded me of comfort food, but on another level.

Balans Soho Society

The Porcini Braised Beef Short Rib with pomme purée, crisp onions, chestnuts, parsley and burnt onion purée, went down well with Nicola, and looked super tender being pulled from the bone. 

Balans Soho Society

The Vegetable Jambalya, cajun tofu, baby corn, squash, mushrooms appeared to go down well, described as not overly spicy, but delicious in flavour.

Balans Soho Society

I had zero food envy however, as I tucked into the Roasted Cod with champ, cabbage, Welsh rarebit and cockle dressing. The fish was so delicate in flavour and really tender. The champ was super creamy, and the welsh rarebit and cockle dressing complimenting one another well – creamy and rich. It was one fantastic dish!

Balans Soho Society

The Ginger & Garlic Sauté Kale was really tasty too, just wilted enough. Whilst the Double-Dipped Chips are also worth ordering; chunky cut, crisp on the outside, fluffy in, and really yummy.

If one isn’t too stuffed, sharing a dessert is a good idea.

The Sticky Ginger Pudding, with ginger sauce and vanilla ice cream didn’t impress as much as hoped. It perhaps needed a little more sauce. But that could just be me. However the Baileys Cheesecake definitely impressed! With hazelnuts, espresso syrup and coffee beans, it had a fab flavour, was super creamy with a great biscuit to cheese, and espresso syrup ratio. 

Balans Soho Society

As for the drinks…It’s not just all about the fizz.

There’s plenty of wine and brews, as well as hot toddies. But really it’s the cocktails which are worth visiting for.

Balans Soho Society

The Pornstar Martini was brill, as was the Strawberry Refresher (Broker’s gin, Pama, strawberry, apple) which arrived with an actual refresher on the side of the glass. I loved my Tiki Daiquiri (Redleg spiced rum, lime, vanilla, grapefruit, pineapple), which was super tropical and made me feel even closer to my holiday. 

Balans Soho Society

We had a fantastic feast pre-Christmas, but this menu is the current standard one, so it’s sticking around. Balans Soho Society has eight locations, where food & drinks are served until late. I’ll definitely be heading back for one or the other…or both!

Summary:

  • Price: Starters range from £6.50 to £9, and mains from £13 to £26 (Ribeye), which is pretty standard for London pricing for a restaurant and location like this. Cocktails are priced at £9.50, which is actually very reasonable!
  • Food: Delicious comfort food. Definitely share starters!
  • Drinks: Go for a cocktail – the Tiki Daiquiri is the one.
  • Atmosphere: pretty edgy and cool.
  • Wait: There wasn’t really a wait when we visited just before Christmas but do book if you can.

Have you had any delicious comforting meals recently?

Chloe xx

*I was invited along to the food bloggers evening at Balans Soho Society with East London Girl. All views my own. 

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Lifestyle|| Why you shouldn’t have regrets

Let’s face it, there are quite probably a whole list of things we think we shouldn’t have said, several instances where we shouldn’t have acted the way we did, even a handful of decisions we’re second guessing as to whether we should have made. But we can’t change it. Not now. Not ever. It’s happened. We can’t go back. Unfortunately, the delorean never really existed..although after what happened to Marty due to changing the past, I’m not sure we’d ever really want THAT hassle.

Some might play more on your mind, coming up in thoughts more often. But there’s no point kicking yourself with the “Why did I do that”s and “what was I thinking”. It’s not going to help.

New York, Central Park

In fact, every decision (despite whether you currently believe to be right or wrong), got you to where you are today. And if you’re happy right now, or if you’re almost there (because let’s face it we all have our down days), why would you change that? You wouldn’t want to go back and risk changing your happiness right now for one or two things.

What we really need to do is take the positives from every decision or situation. What made us stronger? Did it move us in a different direction to be where we are today? Were we inspired to do things or see things differently?

We shouldn’t regret being with any ex, and the time spent with them. ‘Mistakes’, used quite loosely here as they’re all subjective, shouldn’t be fretted over. Friendships which breakdown for one reason or another should be a fond memory of a time before, because they added something to your life for a short while. And we certainly shouldn’t feel bad for overindulging every so often – we all know it’s the season for this right now, and that’s totally fine.

It all bubbles down to happiness and right now. As long as you’re content with where you are today, or this year, or where you’re aiming to be in the near future, that’s what matters. But remember, life isn’t a fairy tale. We won’t always approach every situation in the best way. And that’s fine, because we’re ALL human beings, learning along the way.

And all these reasons are why we shouldn’t have regrets. Love what you do now, live for what you love doing, and do everything you want. All the things. And love it all. I’m going to say it…life is too short to dwell.

Chloe xx

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Eating Out|| The Lighterman, Weekend Breakfast

Getting up early(ish) on a Sunday, when you have no real plans can often feel like you made a wrong decision. But when you’re going out for breakfast, and it’s really good, it certainly makes up for the up and out. Don’t get me wrong, I love a slow Sunday morning, lazing in bed with a coffee until I’m feeling too lazy and fidgetty to keep going. Going out for breakfast, however, is one of my fave things to do – as I’m sure you already figured.

I’d been dying to try The Lighterman, perhaps purely because the location is pretty dreamy – it’s right on the edge of the canal of bustling Kings Cross/Granary Square. Inside, it’s super cute and sophisticated, with a light and bright minimalist style and lots of foliage. The tables by the window give a fab view of the canal whilst tucking in – so you can people or boat watch as you catch-up over eggs. Service is really friendly and helpful too, just adding to the whole experience.

The Lighterman Breakfast The Lighterman Breakfast

The weekend breakfast menu isn’t overly extensive…

…yet there’s plenty to choose from including fruits & grains, free range eggs and a full English. I was a little sad to see the baked eggs and pancakes are only on the weekday menu, but it made me choose something different. I always go for the baked eggs!

The Lighterman Breakfast

The Free range eggs (from St. Ewe in Cornwall), poached, on crushed avocado on toast with chilli and chives was amazing. The avocado was piled high, chunky and creamy. The poached eggs were perfectly done, still oozy in the middle. I opted for the dish with feta (because how can you not!?), of which there was more than enough. The bread used for the toast, was seriously delicious too! So flavoursome. Altogether it was one of the best avocado on toast we’ve had.

The Lighterman Breakfast

The Lighterman Full English Breakfast was fantastic too. A larger option consisting of eggs (anyway you like), Cumberland sausage, streaky bacon, hash brown, field mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and baked beans it was one meaty dish. Requested sunny side up, the eggs were once again cooked beautifully. It came with toast too (the same bread as the avo on toast!), and was one fab full english.

The Lighterman Breakfast

The side of vine tomatoes were lightly roasted, ensuring they kept their structure, yet were soft in the middle. Mushrooms are a must too – the field mushrooms and huge, and so tasty. Definitely add those to the avo! Might as well go all out. 

As for the drinks (because it’s all about those too at breakfast!)…

…the menu features all the usual hot drinks to accompany breakfast, as well as freshly squeezed juices and three of the most popular morning cocktails; a bloody Mary, peach Bellini and bucks fizz.  

The Breakfast Tea (a Canton tea) infused the hot water easily and well – no hot milky water flavours here. There’s plenty of it, roughly a cup and a half but they’re large cups, and it certainly satisfied that “good cuppa” craving.

The freshly squeezed Apple, Pear and BlackBerry Juice  was delicious. It wasn’t too sweet, and you could tell it was super fresh, as we kept stirring to combine the light froth with the juice underneath.

You just HAVE to have hot drinks and juice for a good breakfast feast! And it really was one breakfast feast.

SUMMARY

  • Price: Breakfast dishes range from £4 to £12.50, sides are all £2.50, and drinks from £2.50 to £4.50 (apart from cocktails which are £8.50). Really not bad for a breakfast in such a beautiful location
  • Food: Generous portions, delicious food. The avocado on toast is one of the best I’ve had!
  • Drinks: the breakfast tea is pretty good, and the fresh juices are fab!
  • Atmosphere: relaxed atmosphere with friendly service. It’s a super cute location next to the canal!
  • Wait: do book if you can, but it wasn’t super busy when we visited one Sunday so it shouldn’t take too long for breakfast – I know they book up very quickly for dinner.

I’m definitely heading back! We went for a lovely walk along the canal after. Where’s the best place you’ve had avocado on toast?

Chloe xx

*I was invited along to review for East London Girl, but it was SO good I wanted to share with you too!

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Lifestyle|| A brief look back at 2018…

2018 has been a fab year. One of change, one of challenge. One to have made me stronger, happier and more sure of what I want than ever before. There have been tough times – life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. But let’s recap some of the best bits – not in a month by month fashion, just a bit of a showreel. It’s always good to take a look at the positives and make you appreciate just how much you’ve done/how fantastic your year really has been.

My sister’s wedding started the year.

It was a truly magical day. Yes I cried. A lot. She was like a princess! Couldn’t have imagined her day being any more special.

My sister got married My sister got married

On the note of family…

I had a couple of visits from my little bro (who’s amazing if you didn’t know), a visit from my parents (they’d not been to visit for the day since I moved down 5 years ago!), and plenty of trips home to see everyone else too, including my sister and nieces. Which brings me onto 2018 seeing the arrival of by third adorable niece!

2018 review - new niece

This year hasn’t just been one for family though.

2018 has seen me make some amazing friends! Certain events have shown me just how strong these friendships are, and how supportive they can really be. We’ve had some great times from girls sleepovers to gospeloke, 30th birthdays and evenings catching up in the latest bars.

There’s been plenty of girls trips too.

I’ve been to Liverpool and Leicester to see friends for the weekend, and had girls trips to Paris (with the work gals), Edinburgh (with my little group of amazing ladies), and a whole 5 days in New York too with the incredible Katy Mitten!

Day trip to ParisEdinburgh festive weekend breakNew York, Top of the Rock

On the note of trips…

I also did my first solo trip, with a night up in Manchester and had a couple of days exploring Brighton (and getting competitive on the pier). I even had 5 days in the Forest of Dean, walking and chilling in the hot tub with all the family, and explored the Cotswolds for a day with mum and dad in a little rental (my dream car – a bright green picanto!). This year sure has been one for seeing more places and this is not going to stop. I already have St Lucia booked for January and I’m planning a couple of road trips in Europe too – there’s been mentions of Germany, but hit me with all your recommendations!

Manchester City Break, 24 hours in ManchesterBrighton weekend breakForest Holidays, Forest of Dean

There’s been theatre.

Dream Girls and The Little Shop of Horrors . Both of which were amazing in their own way, and made me want to start dancing again. As productions usually do. I even had my first proper F1 qualifying experience back in July, when I took my dad for his last year’s Christmas/birthday pressie. It was incredible and something I hope we’ll do again.

F1 qualifying silverstone

I started kickboxing..

Never looking back. I joined Flykick in April and have completely become addicted. It’s now a big part of my weekly routine and a class I always look forward to! It’s amazing! I come out feeling like I’ve worked my utmost hardest, yet so proud of myself for smashing another class.

I think it goes without saying that I’ve had my fill of brunches, dinners and cocktails too.

Alongside my own foodie outings, and the reviews/events I’m lucky enough to be invited to, I started writing for East London Girl which is run by Nicola. She quickly became a good friend and I feel privileged to be part of the team!

My fave food & drink memories from this year include learning how to make pasta with M&S (and their Christmas feast!), my evening drinking zombies, singing and dancing the night away at Studio 88 with Nicola (East London Girl), cocktails at Threadneedle bar, dinner at Megan’s, spending an evening at the Aperol Spritz Social and ooohhh Roti King (which I finally managed to try!).

M&S Pasta Making + Italian MonthAperol Big Spritz Social

There’s been plenty of action in the kitchen too…

…as I’ve continued my love of trying new things and developing new recipes. Some of my top picks from this year are my Vegan Lemon & Blueberry Drizzle (which has consistently gone down a treat!), the Goats Cheese and Blackcurrant Hot Cross Toasties and the White Stilton and Apricot Pearl Barley Risotto with Roasted Butternut Squash.

White Stilton & Apricot Risotto with Butternut Squash RecipeVegan Lemon & Blueberry Drizzle Cake

But nothing tops my recipe collaboration with Voucher Codes for my leftover roast mac and cheese. It was my first proper recipe video and I love it! It’s also my fave recipe for cooking when entertaining! Or trying to impress.

Voucher Codes Mac and Cheese Recipe

Honestly, 2018 has been one fantastic year.

At the beginning, I was a little dubious (having many of my own challenges) but I’ve sure come out feeling on top of it and ready for another filled with all my fave things and people! There won’t be any new years resolutions, just one reminder, to keep living the life I want, and loving always.

Have you taken a look back at the last year to reflect? Hope yours has at least as many shiny moments, even if there are tough ones in there too – it’s normal! We don’t often showcase them, because you know, glorifying everything on social, but it’s important to acknowledge them, and think about how the other things outweigh the bad.

Here’s to a fab 2019!

Chloe xx

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Recipe|| Spiced Turkey, Chickpea & Cranberry Baked Sweet Potato

We all know next week we’ll be eating leftovers for days. All the turkey. Finishing the jars of cranberry sauce. The extra veg. But we don’t want to be eating turkey & stuffing sandwiches/baps all week. Or just cold meats and crackers. It all gets a bit dull. And that is NOT what Christmas is for!

Christmas is for all the delicious food, including healthy options and delicious twists to use up those leftovers. Let’s avoid food waste, get creative and really enjoy the one time of year we eat masses of turkey and cranberry. It doesn’t have to be bland or boring.

This is just one way I enjoy mine…

Turkey & cranberry baked sweet potato

I like to re-season my meat with a few spices before re-heating. Adding some chickpeas/beans whilst heating, I then serve atop a jacket sweet potato with fresh avocado and rocket – I’m sure we’re all craving fresh greens by the 27th! I also add a spoonful of cranberry sauce, and it’s super delicious! The sweetness and spices complimenting one another really well.

Turkey & cranberry baked sweet potato

A jacket sweet potato piled high with all of this makes a fab dinner in the days after Christmas. You could even add some re-fried shredded sprouts!

Full recipe is below. Hope you enjoy. How do you use up your leftovers?

Chloe xx

Spiced Turkey, Chickpea & Cranberry Baked Sweet Potato

A delicious way to use up those Christmas lunch leftovers.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 2

Ingredients

  • 2 sweet potatoes medium
  • ½ tin chickpeas
  • 1 tsp smokey paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp all-purpose seasoning
  • 160-200 g cooked turkey
  • 50 g rocket
  • ½ avocado
  • 2 tsp cranberry sauce
  • fresh coriander for seasoning
  • salt and pepper for seasoning

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 220° celsius. Pop the sweet potatoes in the centre of the oven for 45 minutes.

  2. After 20 minutes (the sweet potatoes still have 25m to go), place the chickpeas on a sheet of foil. Sprinkle over the paprika, cumin and all-purpose seasoning, Wrap the foil around the chickpeas, and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

  3. Remove the parcel of chickpeas from the oven, shred and add the turkey, re-cover/wrap and pop back in the oven for 15 minutes.

  4. Divide the rocket between two plates. Slice the avocado into small cubes and pop to the side. 

  5. Slice the baked sweet potatoes in half, pop on top of the beds of rocket. Top with the spiced turkey and chickpeas, add the avocado and a tsp of cranberry sauce to each. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and a little chopped coriander. Enjoy!

 

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