Wednesday, 22 November 2017

A Romantic Weekend at Matfen Hall, Northumberland - Dinner, Breakfast and Spa

It's been a very busy few weeks in our house and we've been in desperate need of some time out. Runny noses, crazy diaries and cross country road trips have left us both feeling more than a little frazzled. So when an opportunity arrived to indulge in a romantic stay at Matfen Hall we were quick to clear our schedule for the weekend.

Set in 300 acres of stunning countryside, Matfen Hall in Northumberland is one of the region's loveliest country hotels and the perfect spot to indulge in some time out from your busy life. Escape reality and hide away in a stunning stately home that'll have you feeling relaxed in no time.

An easy drive from our home in Newcastle, Simon and I arrived at Matfen Hall on a beautiful Saturday afternoon and eagerly parked up and raced each other to the front door. We couldn't wait to throw down our bags and climb into our comfies, an afternoon of pampering was just what the doctor ordered.

A Romantic Weekend at Matfen Hall, Northumberland - Dinner, Breakfast and Spa

Our visit began with an afternoon at Aqua Vitae. We'd been curious to try Matfen Hall's spa for a while. We like to think of ourselves as quite the spa experts these days having visited some of the best in the region and we're slowly working our way round them all.

Arriving at the spa a few hours before we could check into the hotel, there was some initial confusion about where to get our robes, followed by some problems locating towels and finishing with a bit of a battle to find a locker that we were able to use. We were a little disappointed on arrival that there was no tour of the facilities or guidance on the locker system, it left us slightly frustrated, but once we'd got over that we were keen to start our afternoon of pampering.

Romantic Weekend at Matfen Hall, Northumberland - Dinner, Breakfast and Spa

The Aqua Vitae spa at Matfen Hall is pretty small and we were a little underwhelmed but it does offer a nice range of facilities for the space including a 16 metre swimming pool (definitely its best feature) and a small number of rooms for different sensory experiences. We enjoyed shutting ourselves away in the steam room and sauna before Simon retired to a chair by the pool for a little shut eye and I headed to the treatment rooms for an indulgent massage.

The treatment rooms are really where Aqua Vitae becomes something special. I was booked in for a full body massage and after filling out my forms was lead to a quiet treatment room by my therapist who was so lovely and really listened when I told her about my concerns (sore neck and back from lugging around far too much in my handbag!)

My massage was heavenly, one of the best I have ever had and although it was a relaxing massage with gentle pressure my therapist was happy to change the pressure slightly around my knotted shoulder muscles which made them feel instantly better.

Matfen Hall, Northumberland - Dinner, Breakfast and Spa

I was so relaxed I'm pretty sure I had a little snooze because it was all over before I knew it. I felt so lovely afterwards and enjoyed a nice bit of husband free time in the Relaxation Room where I lay down with a trashy mag and truly switched off.  How often do you get to do that?

I stayed there probably longer than I should have done but really didn't need to feel too guilty as when I found Simon by the pool he was having a snooze.  Turns out he couldn't be bothered to swim and had spent a good hour enjoying some peace and quiet, listening to some music and having a sleep.  Heaven!

As the clock rolled round to 3:00 pm we realised it was check in time and so couldn't resist quickly getting showered and making our way into the hotel reception to get the keys to our room.  Our home for the night was a "Principal Room" in the original part of Matfen Hall and as we swung open the door our jaws hit the floor.

Matfen Hall, Northumberland - Four Poster Bed

Our room was stunning!  Easily the most beautiful room we have ever stayed in, we had to pinch ourselves as we dumped our bags and began to explore - it was the kind of room we'd only ever seen in the movies.

Absolutely huge with high ceilings, comfortable lounge area and a four poster bed (another tick for the bucket list!),  our room also boasted a picture perfect view of the stunning golf course with huge dramatic floor to ceiling windows - I was smitten!

I think you'd struggle to find a bedroom as beautiful as this one in the whole of the North East - perfect for a romantic weekend away, it came as no surprise when I discovered that a lot of Matfen Hall's bride and grooms use this room.

Matfen Hall, Northumberland - Luxury Bedroom

We wasted no time in snuggling into our very fancy Matfen dressing gowns and Simon was quick to raid the complimentary chocolates, Ringtons biscuits (that man can sniff food out a mile away!) and settle down with the romote control whilst I lovingly examined all of the toiletries in the huge bathroom.

If we could design our dream bathroom at home it would pretty much look like this. A massive walk in shower, his and hers sinks and a huge tub made me squeal with joy and it took all of my will power not to run myself a hot bubble bath.

Matfen Hall, Northumberland
I will admit we were very tempted to spend the rest of our afternoon in our uber fancy bedroom but, unfortunately, I had a blog deadline that meant finding a nice corner of the hotel to do some work on my laptop without annoying my husband.  We reluctantly left our room and went on a little explore to find our perfect location.

It wasn't long before we stumbled across the Conservatory, a beautiful bistro overlooking the golf course, with a delicious light bites menu, speedy wifi and plenty of seats. We ordered ourselves a couple of coffees and couldn't resist some muffins to go with them, after all it's impossible to enjoy a hot drink without cake when you're in such beautiful surroundings!

Matfen Hall, Northumberland - The Conservatory
I got so much work done in the Conservatory, much more than I ever do at home which makes me think that maybe I should just move into Matfen Hall?  I was so engrossed in my work that I didn't even notice that late afternoon had turned into early evening and suddenly we were ordering G&Ts from the gin menu.

The Conservatory was one of the nicest places I've visited in a long time and as we left to make our way back up to our room to get changed for dinner I promised the staff that we'd return another time for afternoon tea.

Our dinner for the evening was booked in Matfen Hall's 2 AA rosette Library Restaurant at 7:00 pm and we turned up promptly and were shown to a cosy table by the window.  The restaurant was busy but there was a lovely atmosphere with a huge variety of people sitting down for dinner. A large group of ladies dressed in their best party clothes were at the centre of the restaurant, plenty of couples were enjoying romantic meals and groups of friends were gossiping about their absent other halves.

Matfen Hall, Northumberland - The Library

We studied the menu whilst tucking into a nice selection of bread. Anyone who knows me will know how the bread basket is my absolute weakness - it's the only time I ever let myself fully indulge in bread and butter so I like to make the most of it.  I was slightly disappointed that the butter was solid and tore holes in my lovely fresh bread but I just about managed to slather on greedy amounts.

For my main course I opted for the Roast Saddle of Venison (£24.95) - despite the earlier treats in the Conservatory my belly was growling and when my food appeared I was quick to tuck in. It was beautiful! Perfectly prepared meat, so tender and pink served with caramelised onions and pear puree sitting on Thyme Crumpets.

Matfen Hall, Northumberland - Venison
Simon opted for the ultimate date night treat, Steak! He chose the Locally Sourced Rib Eye Steak (£23.95) which came served with the largest chips I've ever seen, a roast plum tomato, mushroom, crispy shallot rings and a very generous jug of peppercorn sauce. Lucky for me he got full pretty quickly (so full that he didn't even touch the healthier parts of his plate!) so I managed to pinch a couple of giant chips which I dipped in the sauce - delicious.

Matfen Hall, Northumberland - Rib Eye Steak

Of course, we're never to full for dessert and having skipped starters (we will always pick a pudding over an entree!) we were keen to satisfy our sugar craving.

I went for the most indulgent dish on the menu, the Baked Chocolate Cheesecake (£7.25) served with white chocolate and lavender cause and caramelised white chocolate. It was a very generous portion and so deliciously rich, even a food expert like me struggled a little to finish it.

Matfen Hall, Northumberland - Cheesecake

Simon went for Homemade Ice Cream served in a tuille basket with chocolate fudge sauce (£6.25) which I just couldn't get excited about. I love ice-cream as much as the next person but have to admit I'd never order it in a restaurant when there are so many other tasty treats on offer.

Matfen Hall, Northumberland - ice cream

We were very impressed by our evening meal and both agreed that the Library at Matfen Hall is definitely a destination restaurant. We'd think nothing of climbing into the car and driving there just for dinner and it's something that we'll certainly do in the future.

With our meals finished we were so full it felt like we were bursting out of our clothes so we sleepily climbed the stairs to our beautiful room and crashed out on the four poster bed within minutes. We had meant to snuggle up and watch some TV but that was never going to happen.  The combination of delicious food and my earlier massage had me fast asleep as soon as my head touched the pillow.

Matfen Hall, Northumberland - Romantic Weekend

We woke the next morning and both agreed that we'd had an amazing night's sleep, so good in fact that time was ticking on and the end of breakfast time was fast approaching. We are definitely the kind of people that like to make it down to breakfast as early as possible to avoid the rush so the fact that it was gone 9:00 am by the time we hit the restaurant shows what a restful nights sleep we had.

We arrived at breakfast about 45 minutes before the end of serving time along with, it appeared, everyone else.  The restaurant was full to the brim with bleary eyed people eating much needed breakfast dishes.  Luckily we didn't have to wait long at all for a table and quickly busied ourselves at the impressive continental selection which was displayed in the middle of the room like a rather fancy breakfast centrepiece.

Matfen Hall, Northumberland - Breakfast Menu

It's always so hard not to overindulge at a buffet and between us we ended up with cereal, pastries and plenty of toast thickly spread with butter and marmalade. Unfortunately our over indulgence wasn't helped by the wait we had to put in our hot food order.  The restaurant was busy but things seemed to get a little chaotic with wrong coffee orders appearing and people who had arrived quite a while after us placing their order first.  Not exactly a big deal but it definitely did lead us to grabbing more pastries than we should have had!

Orders finally placed we jealously watched all the tables around us tucking in before ours turned up and it was time for the taste test.

I opted for the Northumbrian Breakfast - the local sausage and caramelised apple and black pudding were delicious but I wasn't too keen on the eggy bread which was a little too greasy for my liking.  Simon's homemade crepes looked far better and I was quite annoyed at myself for not having ordered the same.

Matfen Hall, Northumberland - Breakfast

It was a shame that our experience at breakfast wasn't as wonderful as our dinner the night before but it was soon forgotten about when we went for a little stroll round the Matfen Hall grounds before check out.  The sun was shining and although it was cold the sky was that perfect shade of Winter blue that makes you love life. 

I can see why so many people choose to get married at Matfen Hall, the outside is breathtaking and I spent quite a while embarrassing myself by prancing up and down the gravel paths pretending to be lady of the manor.

Matfen Hall and Spa Northumberland

We felt quite sad climbing into our car and saying goodbye to Matfen Hall and although there were a few parts that left us slightly disappointed, it was a really lovely stay and we will most certainly be returning for an evening meal very soon and I quite fancy afternoon tea in the beautiful Conservatory.  I'm also wondering if I should maybe take up golf .. but that's probably something to think about at another time!

Matfen Hall - Northumberland

Find Matfen Hall at:

Matfen Village, Northumberland, NE20 0RH

We were invited to stay at Matfen Hall and received complimentary use of the spa, massage, dinner, bed and breakfast in exchange for an honest review.  Over indulgence in The Conservatory was paid for ourselves!

Let me know if you've ever stayed at Matfen Hall and what you love most about it!

Friday, 17 November 2017

Date Night at the Newcastle Eagles Basketball Game, Sport Central

When it comes to planning a date night Simon and I are very much stuck in a rut. We put in little effort organising our evenings out and you'll usually find us stuffing our faces in a restaurant or tucked away in the cinema watching the latest Blockbuster.  Last Friday however, Northern Print Solutions invited us to be their guests at a Newcastle Eagles basketball match and we found ourselves on a date night with a difference.

Before I share our evening with you I should point out that I know nothing about basketball! Other than what I've seen in cheesy American high school movies and the little I picked up in PE, I'm pretty much clueless when it comes to the sport, so I was interested to see if I'd enjoy watching the Newcastle Eagles and if I'd be able to follow what was happening.

Date Night at the Newcastle Eagles Basketball Game, Sport Central

The Newcastle Eagles play at Sport Central at Northumbria University, a short walk away from the centre of Newcastle. I'm not sure what I was expecting but as we turned the corner and found Sport Central I was surprised at the amount of people queuing outside waiting for the doors to open.  There were kids running about with basketballs, families kitted out in Eagles merchandise and die hard fans discussing their favourite players. Who knew basketball in Newcastle was such a big thing!

We joined the crowds heading through the doors and collected our tickets before quickly finding the hot dogs, we were starving and every great date night has to start with food, am I right? We were expecting the hot dogs to be a little on the expensive side so were pleasantly surprised to discover that we could get a hot dog and a soft drink for £4.50 each.  I smothered mine in ketchup and mustard and carefully climbed up the stairs with it to find our seats, hoping not to have a hot dog related accident!

Newcastle Eagles Basketball Game - Hot Dog

Our seats were in the Balcony with a great view over the court, although I'd say that every seat in Sport Central offers a good view and no matter where you sit you'll be fully involved with the game.  We happily tucked into our food whilst we waited for the 7:30 pm tip off (that's basketball lingo for the start of the game don't you know!)

We were there to see the Eagles take on the Surry Scorchers in the BBL Championships!  The Newcastle Eagles are the most successful British Basketball team of all time! Pretty impressive right? Definitely a reason to check out a game if you've never seen one before.

The game started with each player individually being called out onto the court, with everyone in the crowd cheering for their favourite. We instantly decided that Nimley would be our favourite, smaller than the other Eagles players, he was super fast!  We later realised, after a little look at the Newcastle Eagles website that he's actually 5 ft 8, he just looked small compared to the others.

Newcastle Eagles Basketball Game

The match started in a flurry of mad excitement and we were 10 points ahead within the first few minutes with a very fast and thrilling start to the game. Despite not really understanding what was happening at the beginning I quickly got into my role of cheering on the Eagles and before we knew it we were fully engrossed in the action.

Helpfully Northern Print Solutions had left a handy guide to the rules of basketball on each seat, perfect for beginners like us.  Simon appreciated being able to wave the rules at me each time I tried to ask him a question.  He was fully engrossed in the action and wasn't taking any interruptions from me!

Newcastle Eagles Basketball Game  - Northern Print Solutions

The atmosphere at Sport Central was electric with a very enthusiastic fan banging his drum during the most thrilling parts, choruses of "Let's Go Eagles" filling the stands and plenty of stamping feet and cheers. Simon and I aren't huge fans of football, mainly because we hate how aggressive the sport has become, there was such a great friendly atmosphere at the basketball - no swearing, no boos just plenty of good humour and handshakes.  It was a joy to watch and even as complete newbies we felt very comfortable and welcome.

The game is played in four 10 minute quarters, perfect for people like me with short attention spans!  We loved the fun games and challenges every time there was a break including the Eaglettes cheerleaders, a kid's mini basketball game, a Mexican hat game and the much loved "Chuck a Duck" competition where kids flung little plastic ducks into the court to try and hit a target.

Date Night at Newcastle Eagles Basketball Game, Sport Central

Despite the Scorchers pulling back a few times the Eagles fought hard to secure a victory and as the time ticked down we began to realise that we might get over 100 points.  We were thrilled when the scores shot over the century and the final score was Newcastle Eagles 103, Surry Scorchers 80.  What a victory!

We both absolutely loved our evening at Sport Central and are very keen to return. A date night at the Newcastle Eagles offered us a really fresh and different way to spend our evening and I could even see us getting season tickets in the future we loved it that much.

Newcastle Eagles Basketball Game - Ticket

To find out more about the Newcastle Eagles and book your tickets, check out their website at - tickets cost £18.00 per adult and £10.00 per children and don't forget to check out Northern Print Solutions for high quality printing services right here in the North East!

We were lucky guests of Northern Print Solutions and got complimentary tickets to the game in exchange for this honest review. 

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Christmas Date Night at Enchanted Parks, Saltwell Park - WIN TICKETS to the Inventor's Ball

I love Christmas.  It gives us the perfect excuse to fill our diaries with date nights. We love nothing more than bundling up in our Winter warmers and exploring the best that the North East has to offer during the festive season.

The highlight of our Christmas diary is always Enchanted Parks at Saltwell Park, I put the on sale date in my calendar every year so I don't miss out. For me Christmas just isn't Christmas without our annual date night at Enchanted Parks.

Christmas Date Night at Enchanted Parks - Your Invitation to the Inventor's Ball

Enchanted Parks takes place at Saltwell Park in Gateshead ever year, offering a very special touch of magic to the festive season.  The best thing? It's not just for kids and families, it's the perfect after dark stroll with your love and we have our very own little traditions to make our evening special.

We bundle up in our biggest coats and always wear matching wooly hats and chunky scarves. We carefully navigate the dark paths hand in hand, and before we leave we order the biggest hot chocolates we can find and sit in a quiet corner of the park and discuss our Christmas plans.

Christmas for us truly does begin with Enchanted Parks.

Christmas Date Night Enchanted Parks, Saltwell Park

Saltwell Park has played a rather huge part in our relationship. On one of our first dates we took a swan out on the lake, we completed our first ever 5k run together during parkrun and we even had our engagement photos taken in the park.

I'm sure we're not the only couple in Newcastle Gateshead who have endless stories of our adventures at Saltwell Park. But believe me, you haven't truly seen the park until you've seen it lit up at night. We love that Enchanted Parks give us the chance to see a different side to Saltwell Park - with amazing light displays, jaw dropping artwork and a special kind of magic, it never fails to impress.

This year Enchanted Parks promises to be bigger and better than ever with more tickets on sale and an app that you can download that will allow you to unlock content about all of the artwork and artists, see a map of the park and discover facts about previous incredible inventions from the North East.

Making the magic happen this year are a newly appointed creative team, Lorna Fulton as creative producer and Susan Mulholland as creative writer who will be joined by a team of Enchanted Park veterans who have been making magic for us at Saltwell Park for many years.

Christmas Date Night Enchanted Parks, Saltwell Park - Inventors Ball

This year Enchanted Parks is sharing the magical tale of The Inventor's Ball. Little is known about the story! In fact, it was a mysterious blogger who unearthed the legend of Ursula Wailes and shared it here - I get the feeling this blogger has plenty more to reveal so make sure you keep an eye on that link!

Ursula Wailes, heiress to the Saltwell Towers Estate, gave Saltwell Park to the people of Gateshead and gifted them with a park full of incredible inventions, wonderful creatures and exotic plants but her magical donation was cruelly thrown back in her face and in a rage she locked the gates to Saltwell Park where they have remained shut ever since.

Enchanted Parks, Saltwell Park - Inventors Ball

Until now!

Recently the residents of Gateshead have reported strange noises coming from Saltwell Park and houses nearby have received a very mysterious invitation asking them to The Inventor's Ball at Saltwell Park, signed simply "UW".

Rumour has it, Ursula has unlocked the gates and is ready to share the magic of Saltwell Park with us once again and I can't wait.  I've heard many whispers of what may lie behind those gates, but I've actually got a bit of an exclusive for you.

Ursula has unleashed 7 foot bunnies into Saltwell Park!

Enchanted Parks, Saltwell Park - Inventors Ball - Bunnies
The impressive inflatable bunnies appear as part of "Intrude", Amanda Parer's artwork of contradictions - representing the fluffy fairytale animals from our childhood, their huge size references "the elephant in the room" - like our environmental impact, big but easily ignored.

Enchanted Parks - The Inventor's Ball takes place in Saltwell Park, Gateshead for 6 nights from Tuesday 5 December to Sunday 10 December between 4:15 pm and 8:30 pm.  Tickets cost £3.00 for children and £8.00 for adults and, the good news is, there are still tickets available this year. For more information and to book your tickets head to 

Fancy winning two tickets to this year's Enchanted Parks?  I'm giving away a pair of tickets to Enchanted Parks - enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance of winning and best of luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I'd love to hear your memories of Enchanted Parks?  What's been your favourite year?

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Christmas at Slaley Hall, Northumberland

Anyone else beginning to fill up their diary with festive fun? If you're anything like me you're probably almost out of spare days but before you get completely carried away with booking your Christmas outings, let me tell you about what's happening at Slaley Hall this Christmas. Something tells me you'll be wanting to keep a little slot in your diary ready!

This Christmas Slaley Hall in Northumberland are inviting us all to be their guest for an unforgettable Christmas celebration.

Winter Walks and Whisky Lounge Tipples

Winter Walks at Slaley Hall are perfect at Christmas time, wrap up in your Winter warmers and go for a little amble round the grounds before settling down for an afternoon of tipples. The cosiest corner of Slaley Hall has to be the Whisky Lounge, with its open log fire and comfy chairs, it was built for Christmas time!

Christmas at Slaley Hall, Northumberland - The Whisky Lounge

Spa and Party Night Sleepover

Who fancies a pamper and a party?  The Spa and Party Night Sleepover at Slaley Hall offers the best of both worlds.  From £139.00 per guest you can enjoy full use of the health club for a full day of pampering (including a choice of treatments!), a delicious light lunch, an evening of dancing at one of the Party Nights, an overnight stay and a full English breakfast in the morning.

Festive Afternoon Tea

Festive Afternoon Teas at Slaley Hall (£25.00) are a truly indulgent way to celebrate Christmas with family and friends. Take a seat in the beautiful Edwardian Drawing Room and enjoy mammoth scones slathered in jam and cream, decadent cakes and festive sandwiches all served with a glass of mulled wine. So make a plan with your nearest and dearest and get ready for a seriously cosy Christmas.

Christmas at Slaley Hall, Northumberland - Festive Afternoon Tea

Party Nights

For those who prefer to celebrate their Christmas with a good ol' fashioned party, there are a couple of party nights to choose from at Slaley Hall. The Kielder Suite Party Nights are a fancy affair giving you the opportunity to dig out your finest party outfit. Enjoy a glass of fizz on arrival and a three course Christmas meal before partying the night away with the resident band and DJ from £35.95 per person.

For a slightly more intimate night the Claret Jug Party Nights offer a two course festive meal followed by a night of enthusiastic dancing with the resident DJ for £25.95 per person.

A Perfect Christmas Day 

Imagine enjoying a picture perfect Christmas like you see in the movies. No slaving over the oven, no clearing up and no stressful rushing about! From £300 per person, Slaley Hall can give you the relaxing Christmas you've always dreamt of this year with a festive break.

Arrive on Christmas Eve to mince pies and mulled wine before enjoying a three course meal in Hadrian's brasserie and an optional trip to the midnight carol service at Hexham Abbey before getting yourself into bed ready for Santa!

Christmas Day begins with Christmas breakfast in Santa's grotto before lunch in the Brasserie and an afternoon of story telling, quizzes and perhaps a Winter's walk in Slaley Hall's beautiful landscaped gardens.

Boxing Day arrives with a leisurely breakfast before exploring the health club, spa and golf facilities before settling down to some Christmas movies and a disco.

Christmas at Slaley Hall, Northumberland
Find Slaley Hall at:

Hexham, NE47 0BX

To book a Christmas event at Slaley Hall call their Christmas Planner on 01434 673 350

For plenty more festive inspiration follow New Girl in Toon on Instagram and Facebook 

Monday, 6 November 2017

Steak and Wine Night - Mondays at 97 & Social Newcastle

Mondays are rubbish! Am I right? I'm definitely not the biggest fan of Mondays, the weekend seems so far away and it's hard not to get completely lost in the Monday blues. Before we throw ourselves a pity party I have something to tell you that is bound to improve your Mondays! Steak and Wine Night at 97 & Social in Newcastle!

Picture c/o 97 & Social

Monday might not seem like the most obvious night of the week to indulge in an evening out but giving yourself something to look forward to on a Monday is a great way to pull yourself through that difficult first day of the week.

You'll find 97 & Social on Osbourne Road in Jesmond,  home to the most amazing cocktails, creators of the epic Tipsy Tea and hosts of Newcastle's ultimate pub quiz nights - these guys know how to host the most amazing evenings and their Steak Night is the best way to begin your week.

Steak and Wine Night at 97 & Social happens every Monday and offers the ultimate deal for the foodie - a Flat Iron Steak and Fries with a glass of wine or a pint for £12.00.  Yes I did just say £12.00!  Crazy right?  Too good to be true?

Last Monday I headed down to 97 & Social to check out the deal for myself. Joined by my lovely friend Nyomi we settled ourselves down for a night of steak, gossip and a cheeky glass of wine!

Steak and Wine Night - Mondays at 97 & Social Newcastle

Photo c/o 97 & Social

Looking at the menu a Grilled Flat Iron Steak with fries will usually set you back £13.50 (without a drink!), so Steak and Wine Night on a Monday is a definite bargain. I was very intrigued to see if I could get a decent steak dish at such a cheap price!

I am a huge fan of steak and I'm not easily impressed. My steak has to be served pink, needs to be really tender and I hate fatty cuts of meat. Flat Iron steak can be notoriously tough so I knew that 97 & Social had a challenge on their hands impressing me! I asked our server if my steak could be served medium rare and I will admit I wasn't expecting much, surely such an amazing deal would mean a below standard steak!

Our meals turned up and we were very impressed with their presentation, beautifully displayed on wooden boards the meat looked so pink and tender and the delicious smell was making our mouths water in anticipation.

Steak and Wine Mondays at 97 & Social Newcastle

Photo c/o 97 & Social

If we thought our meals looked good that was nothing compared to how they tasted.  I was honestly completely stunned by how good my steak was - my knife cut through it like butter it was so tender, it was the perfect shade of pink and it tasted heavenly.  We both drowned our steaks in Peppercorn sauce and greedily dipped our fries in the left over juices, not quite believing that such an amazing deal could taste so good!

I will, without doubt, be returning to 97 & Social for their Steak and Wine night, I'm actually quite tempted to go there every Monday for my dinner - surely the perfect way to tackle the start of the week.

If steak isn't your thing there are plenty of other special offers available at 97 & Social including Taco Tuesdays (3 tacos and a Sol for £10.00), Thirsty Thursdays (2-4-1 cocktails), 30% off Wednesdays, Fry Day Friday (homemade fish and chips with a draught beer or glass of Prosecco for £8.50)

Find 97 & Social at:

97 Osborne Road, NE2 2TJ

We were treated to a complimentary meal for two in exchange for an honest review.  Apologies that I haven't included my own photographs in this review, the cosy lighting of the restaurant was too much of a challenge for my amateur skills!

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Côte Brasserie - French Dining in Newcastle

When I lived in London I was a frequent visitor to Côte Brasserie on the River Thames, I spent many Summer nights sitting out on their beautiful terrace eating wonderful French food and enjoying the views of London Bridge. When I relocated to Newcastle it was definitely somewhere that I missed so when I heard that Côte Brasserie was opening in the Toon I was thrilled.

Côte Brasserie - French Dining in Newcastle

Photo c/o Côte Brasserie 

Taking up residence in the former Barclays Bank building, the Parisian style brasserie boasts floor to ceiling windows and an outdoor terrace for foodie fans to enjoy romantic nights under the stars. I think you'll agree with me that it's quite the addition to Newcastle's collection of restaurants.

The new restaurant opened last week and I was one of the first through the door to experience a taste of France in the North East. With promises of steak, moules frites and an extensive French wine list my mouth was watering in anticipation.

Côte Brasserie offers loads of choice to Newcastle's foodies with a week day lunch and early evening set menu (£11.50 for two courses or £13.50 for three courses), lazy weekend breakfasts (which look amazing!) and the ultimate romantic spot for date night.

Côte Brasserie Newcastle

Photo c/o Côte Brasserie 

Starters at Côte Brasserie

Our evening started with a few tasters from the Starters menu to share. I will admit I was slightly upset that I couldn't try the French Onion soup that I'd been eyeing up on the menu (next time!) but I soon forgot all about it when our table was filled with the most delicious looking treats!

Some of my highlights included:

Crab Mayonnaise (£8.50) - crab mayonnaise with avocado, cucumber, capers and tarragon on toasted sourdough bread.  So delicious I had to remind myself we were sharing before I cleared the whole board. I will definitely be ordering these again!

Côte Brasserie Newcastle - Crab Mayonnaise

Calamari (£6.75) - breadcrumbed squid sautéed in garlic, lemon and parsley with tartare sauce. I heard several people on the table comment that this was the best calamari they had ever had and I have to say I agree. So light and crispy!

Charcuterie Board (£7.25) - Jambon de Savoie, smoked duck breast, saucisson sec and duck rillettes with baby gem salad and chargrilled pain de campagne. Being a huge fan of a meat board I could have happily eaten this all to myself.  It's a "must order" if you're a meat lover.

Côte Brasserie Newcastle - Starters

Main Courses at Côte Brasserie

When it came to choosing a main course at Côte Brasserie I struggled to make a decision. I love French food and with so many of my favourite dishes to choose from it was hard work.  I was so tempted by Beef Bourguignon (£16.50) and Moules Frites (£12.95) but it was the steaks that really caught my eye. Steaks at Côte Brasserie are from 30 day aged grain fed cattle and served chargrilled with frites. I opted for the 10oz Rib-Eye (£17.50) with Peppercorn Sauce (£2.25).

Unfortunately I was a little disappointed in my Main Course and I think this was down to my bad choice so I have no one to blame but myself. The steak was perfectly cooked and the perfect shade of pink but I found the meat to be a little too fatty. I'm not a fan of fatty meat and should have realised that a Rib-Eye wasn't the best choice for me.

I spent quite a lot of my meal eyeing up all the other dishes on the table, every one else wiped their plates clean which makes me think the rest of the menu must have been really good. On my next visit I'll be ordering the Roast Duck Breast (£14.95) my neighbour had it and it was making my mouth water!

Côte Brasserie Newcastle - Steak
 Desserts at Côte Brasserie 

My main course disappointment was soon forgotten when the dessert menu appeared in front of me. I ordered the Tarte Fine Aux Pommes (£6.25) - Crisp puff pastry with finely layered apples and vanilla ice cream. It was so perfect that I could practically see my face in the dish when I'd finished, I was that determined to clear it!

I enjoyed my first visit to Côte Brasserie and I'm eager to try some more of the menu. I can't wait to start planning a date night with Simon very soon!

Côte Brasserie Newcastle - Dessert

Find Côte Brasserie at:

120-122 Grainger Street, NE1 5AF

For more food inspiration make sure you follow New Girl in Toon on Instagram and Facebook.

I was invited to the press/blogger event at Côte Brasserie - our food and drink was complimentary but all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

My October Days

My month on Instagram didn't get off to the greatest start when I managed to drop my phone down the toilet! I'm trying very hard to blame this on my friend Nyomi whose Instastories I was watching whilst doing my evening skincare. My phone was propped up on the windowsill and before I knew what was happening it had fallen into the loo.  Really I have no one to blame but myself, let this be a lesson to us all, don't play with your phone in the bathroom.

On the plus side I now have a brand new iPhone 8 so hopefully my Instagram is looking far better - every cloud has a silver lining.

Here's what didn't make it on the blog this month!

Look of the Day

This month I've discovered Look of the Day, the most amazing collection of affordable fashion featuring new styles and trends every week. My current favourite is this Baby Doll dress, I love the colours and the over sized fit makes it perfect for indulgent weekends of food (and we all know I love those!). I have plenty more outfits from Look of the Day to share with you so make sure you follow me on Instagram.

New Girl in Toon - October Days - Look of the Day

Cinnamon Buns

As part of my mission to eat my way round the Newcastle Quayside I finally got to visit Swedish cafe, Dala for a cinnamon bun. Oh wow!  It was heavenly, I've never had a Cinnamon bun like it, it was so special and I can't wait to head back and try some more of their treats.

New Girl in Toon - October Days - Dala Swedish Cafe

Autumn Walking at Allen Banks and Staward Gorge

A Sunday of sunshine was just what I needed to get out on a much needed Autumnal walk. We decided to head to the National Trust site at Allen Banks and Staward Gorge in West Northumberland for a little explore. It was super muddy and so hilly but we had a fantastic afternoon and found the perfect location ever for skimming stones.  Simon was in his element!

New Girl in Toon October Days - Allen Banks and Staward Gorge

Healthy Lunches at Aurora Kitchen

Anyone else struggle to find healthy lunches when they're out and about in Newcastle? The amount of times we've been out shopping on a Saturday and I've ended up charging up and down the high street complaining about how unhealthy everywhere is. This month we've made it our mission to find some new places to visit that are delicious and nutritious. First up was Aurora Kitchen, hidden away near St James Park they have an amazing menu of breakfast dishes, salads and treats. I tried this Onion, Roasted Tomato and Poached Egg on toast and it was SO good!

New Girl in Toon - October Days - Aurora Kitchen

Quayside Colours

I was so happy when October arrived and the trees started showing off their most beautiful Autumnal colours. We had some sunny days the first part of the month and I made the most if it with plenty of walks along the Tyne in my lunch hour.

New Girl in Toon - October Days Newcastle Quayside

Shopping Treats at Cafe Botanico 

After drooling over Italian Week on Great Britsh Bake Off, we were very pleased to stumble across Cafe Botanico at House of Fraser in the Intu Metrocentre. The perfect lunch destination for a busy shopping trip we feasted on decadent sandwiches and fries. I can't wait to return and try some of the sweet treats.

New Girl in Toon - October Days Cafe Botanico Intu Metrocentre

Wedding Guest Ready

Our last wedding of the year arrived this month with a little trip down to Northampton to see one of my friends tie the knot. It was a wonderful day of catching up with people we haven't seen for over a year. I worry that we've now reached that age where we only get the chance to catch up with old friends at weddings, why is there never enough time to see everyone! I loved having the chance to wear my beautiful skirt from Coast, it really is the perfect outfit for a Winter wedding.

New Girl in Toon - October Days Coast Wedding Guest

Loving Gin at Pleased to Meet You

Since the Gin Masterclass at The Botanist I have become completely gin obsessed and am determined to make my way round all of the gin bars in Newcastle. We are very lucky to have a fair few in Newcastle and my first visit had to be to one of the originals, Pleased to Meet You on High Bridge. They have a fantastic menu where you can pick your gin, tonic and garnish - I went for Edinburgh Gin Rhubarb and Ginger and I definitely want a bottle for Christmas.

New Girl in Toon - October Days Pleased to Meet You

Paddington arrives at Fenwick's Christmas Department

I'm not going to apologise for talking about Christmas in October, now that the Fenwick's Christmas Department has opened I plan on throwing myself head first into festive cheer! This year the theme is Paddington Bear and the Department is amazing, the best I have ever seen. I've spent a fair few hours in there already - there is so much inspiration for Christmas presents and I may have walked Simon round the floor several times dropping heavy hints!

New Girl in Toon - October Days Fenwicks Christmas Department

Halloween Cupcakes at Pet Lamb Patisserie

Halloween for me isn't about scares and horror films, it's all about the beautiful cupcakes at Pet Lamb Patisserie. Every year they create the most delicious Halloween treats and we can't resist going in and pressing our noses up against their counter. This year I opted for a Ghost Mallow Cupcake and it was so good!

New Girl in Toon - October Days Pet Lamb Patisserie Halloween Cupcakes

Cosy Nights with Pumpkin Waffle

I'm completely obsessed with the candles at B&M - their Bath and Body Work dupes cost £2.99 and the scent they give off is out of this world, it lasts for ages! My current favourite is the Pumpkin Waffles candle, we have it lit every single night and it makes for the most cosy Autumn nights in. I can't wait to see what they bring out for Christmas!

New Girl in Toon - October Days B & M Candles

For more adventures from New Girl in Toon make sure you follow me on Instagram, I post a new photo every day!