Friday, 2 December 2016

Christmas Party Nights at Gusto Newcastle

December has arrived which means that you are officially allowed to get busy with your diary and fill it with as many fun plans with friends and family as you can possibly manage. Something you should definitely include in your diary this festive season is the Christmas Party Nights at Gusto on the Newcastle Quayside.

Christmas Party Nights at Gusto Newcastle

There are two nights to choose from. Andy Usher trio - 3-piece acoustic band on Tuesday 6 December (booking and details here) or Glen R Does Swing on Tuesday 13 December (booking and details here). Tickets cost £35 per person which includes a three course Christmas meal or tickets at the bar are £10 per person which includes a drink.

I popped to the Quayside restaurant with Sam and Katie for the first of the Gusto Christmas Party nights, Rob Lamberti, George Michael Tribute. Officially declaring the start of Christmas 2016, we were in the party mood as soon as we spotted the beautiful Christmas tree in the doorway and admired Gusto's Christmas makeover. With the booths and tables decorated in baubles and foliage things have certainly taken a festive turn and the restaurant looked beautiful.

There's a variety of seating options available for the Christmas Party nights with long tables for large groups, snuggly booths for smaller groups of friends, romantic tables for two and plenty of tables upstairs for those that prefer a slightly quieter night. The three of us were the perfect fit for a booth and we happily settled ourselves in for the night.

Christmas Party Nights at Gusto Newcastle

With food served from 7:00pm, the Christmas Menu at the Gusto Christmas Party nights is small and perfectly formed with some beautiful festive dishes to pick from.

Resisting the tempting offer of Peppered Mackarel Crostini and Smoked Duck Salad I chose the Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup served with oven baked focaccia. The perfect Winter warmer I can think of no better way to start a festive menu. It was delicious and my bowl was left completely spotless.

Christmas Party Nights at Gusto Newcastle Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

For those that get fed up of Turkey over Christmas there are three alternatives on the mains menu with Slow Cooked Beef Daube, Baked Fillet of Salmon and Artichoke Tortellini.  For me there's only ever one choice, I make it my mission to eat as much turkey as I possibly can over Christmas!

My Roast Turkey was served with braised red cabbage and pine nuts, sprouts, sausage wrapped in pancetta with red wine sauce and stuffing and there were roast potatoes, buttered carrots and green beans on the table to share. The turkey was perfection and I was so happy it was served with all of the trimmings. I've had a lot of Christmas meals in my time and this was one of the very best Christmas dinners I've ever been served in a restaurant.

Christmas Party Nights at Gusto Newcastle Turkey

Of course no Christmas menu is complete without some indulgent desserts and Gusto didn't let me down. I was tempted by the Apple and Blackberry Crumble and Christmas Mess but in the end went for the Chocolate and Ginger Tart with vanilla Chantilly. Ginger and chocolate is such a beautiful flavour combination for Christmas and if you're going to Gusto this festive season I urge you all to give it a try.

Christmas Party Nights at Gusto Newcastle
 With plates clean we turned our attention to the Cocktails, Treats and Tipples Menu, featuring 6 specially created Christmas cocktails each priced at £7.50.  I chose the most Christmassy drink I could find, A Kiss Under the Mistletoe - Ketel One vodka, Disaronno, lime juice, almond syrup and a little bit of cherry preserve.

I was very happy when Sam ordered the other cocktail that I had my eye on, the Gingerbread Fizz - Gingerbread, Disaronno and Prosecco. Despite loving gingerbread I'm not always a fan of it in drinks so had decided that this one was a bit of a risk for me. Taking a sip of her drink I had immediate regret, it was sweeter than I expected with a slightly hot ginger aftertaste - absolutely beautiful!

Christmas Party Nights at Gusto Newcastle

 At 9:00 pm it was showtime as "George Michael" took to the stage. The atmosphere was fantastic as he sang his way through all of the biggest hits including plenty of old classics from the Wham days. For those fancying a dance there was plenty of space in front of the stage and for those preferring a lazier evening we happily sipped our cocktails whilst swaying in our seats and having a sing-along. Live music nights at Gusto are always so much fun.

If you don't really fancy a Christmas Party Night but still want to enjoy the Gusto Christmas Menu they are also serving it as a Christmas Lunch (2 courses £19.95, 3 courses £24.95) or a three course Dinner (£32.95). If you're planning a festive treat I highly recommend booking a table.

As brand ambassador for Gusto Newcastle I received complimentary food and drink in return for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Thursday, 1 December 2016

The North East Christmas Gift Guide

With all of my family living down south I love to show off about how amazing life is in the North East and am frequently telling them about our amazing local businesses, shops and food. Christmas is the ultimate time to share some North East goodies with family and friends and, where I can, I like to give people local gifts for Christmas (that'll explain why we always head down south with a boot full of stotties!)

Fat Hippo Christmas Jumper

Christmas Jumpers are huge again this year and there are plenty to choose from on the high street but why not go for a local special with a Fat Hippo Christmas Jumper. Created by Newcastle's favourite burger restaurant, the jumpers are seriously festive and will certainly be a talking point. Costing £15 for adult jumpers and £10 for kids, get your Fat Hippo Christmas Jumper here.

The North East Christmas Present Guide - Fat Hippo Christmas Jumper

Photo taken from Fat Hippo Facebook Page

Brownie Jar

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of the Brownie Bar. Serving up some of the best brownies in the Toon from their little space in Eldon Garden, they also sell the brilliant "make your own brownie" jars that contain everything you need to recreate the magic at home. A great present for anyone with a sweet tooth

Ringtons Goodies

Ringtons are one of my favourite local businesses, making not only amazing tea but also my very favourite biscuits for dunking (the Hand Baked Ginger Snaps in case you were wondering!). They have a huge range of Christmas gifts available including hampers filled with biscuits, build your own tea sets, gift boxes and hot chocolate tins. I'd be buzzing if Santa left me some Ringtons goodies under the tree!

Geordie Gifts

I am the biggest fan of Geordie Gifts who are the cheekiest chaps in the Toon with their range of fantastic local inspired gifts. There are plenty of hilarious mugs, coasters and tote bags to choose from and you can even customise some of their gifts for that special someone. They customised this awesome print for our wedding and it's now proudly displayed in our lounge.   They also have a great range of Newcastle photographs taken by my lovely photographer friend Mandy Charlton which would make such beautiful gifts.

The North East Christmas Present Guide - Geordie Gifts

Blackfriars Cooking Experience

I have to say that I'm a big fan of organising surprise experiences as gifts, it's a really kind and thoughtful treat and super easy to wrap! Blackfriars Restaurant in Newcastle have a great range of workshops that would make the perfect gift for the budding chef in your family. Bread Making for Beginners, Chocolate Workshops and Cooking for Beginners are just some of the courses they have on offer.

B Charmd Jewellery 

B Charmd sell the most beautiful jewellery from their pretty boutique in Newcastle's Central Arcade. The special designs make their jewellery a unique gift for your Mam, sister or girlfriend and not buying off the high street means you'll find an original present that will be loved for many years to come.

Turbo Ventures Gift Vouchers

One of the very best presents I have ever given Simon was a morning of Archery at Matfen with Turbo Ventures, I've honestly never seen him so happy. If you know someone who loves a great adventure then Turbo Ventures have a great range of experience vouchers that will make fantastic Christmas gifts.  Tank Driving, Paintballing and Quad Biking they have the perfect gift for the thrill seeker in your life.

The North East Christmas Present Guide - Turbo Ventures

Blind Date Books at The Biscuit Factory

Instead of battling your way round the Metrocentre doing your Christmas shopping why not try somewhere a little different to buy your gifts. The gift shop at the Biscuit Factory has some fantastic treats for stationery lovers and book worms including "Blind Date" books. You can't judge the book by its cover with each book already beautifully wrapped for Christmas. With only a hint on the gift tag as to what its contents may contain, it's the perfect gift idea for anyone who loves to discover new authors.

Beer from the Wylam Brewery

Know someone who loves beer? Why not gift them with a crate of mixed beers  brewed in Newcastle at the Wylam Brewery? The perfect gift when you're visiting family outside the North East, chances are they'll be planning a visit to the North East to restock at the first opportunity.

Fenwick's Food Hamper

I've definitely now got to the age where I'd be pretty thrilled if someone gave me a food hamper for Christmas, especially if it was a Fenwick's Food Hamper. Prices start at £80 for the Classic and go up to £500 for the Celebration. You can expect loads of luxury local produce and specially chosen drinks in each hamper and if you'd prefer to put something together yourself there's the option of creating a bespoke hamper selecting your own goodies from the Food Hall.

The North East Christmas Present Guide - Fenwicks Food Hamper

Ouseburn Coffee Subscription

Many coffee lovers in Newcastle will tell you that Ouesburn create the very best coffee, making it a great Christmas gift for anyone who can't function without their coffee hit.  The OCC 3 month subscription is a great gift with a difference, giving your loved one coffee direct to their door.

The Newcastle Cookbook

You can find this great little book on sale in a number of restaurants and eateries in Newcastle. It's perfect for those that love Geordie scran and want to recreate some of their favourite dishes at home. Featuring recipies from local favourites like Cake Stories, Quilliam Brothers and River Beat, I can't guarantee they'll taste as great as the originals but hey you can give it a go!

Grainger Market Gifts

Don't forget about Grainger Market when you're out and about doing your Christmas shopping this year. There are loads of local businesses to be found in the market including bath bombs from Bathtime Boutique, makeup and perfume from Ellen's Cosmetics and accessories from Madame Butterfly.

Geordie Dates Jar

A gift that money simply can't buy, your very own personalised Geordie Dates Jar for your loved one. So easy to make, write 12 date night ideas, one for each month of the year and hide them in the jar ready to be picked out month by month. Dates can be as simple as a romantic walk along your favourite bit of coastline, as silly as alpaca walking in Northumberland or as fancy as an overnight stay in your favourite hotel. For some inspiration why not check out my guide to the most romantic dates in the North East.

The North East Christmas Present Guide - Alpaca Walking

Whatever you're doing this Christmas time, don't forget to support our fantastic local community here in the North East. We are so lucky to have so many great businesses on our doorstep, producing the very best gifts for your friends and family.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

November Days

This month I've mostly been excited about Christmas, although desperately trying to stop myself. Every year I make the same mistake and get excited far too early, I don't think I'll ever change though!

Here's what happened in November that didn't make the blog.

A Thoughtful Gift 

My lovely friend Lisa couldn't make our wedding as she was on holiday in the US. Little did I know that on my wedding day she was hunting round New York to find me a special present. On her return she gave me this gorgeous Henri Bendel makeup bag with my new initials on. It was so thoughtful of her and one of the nicest presents I've ever been given. I was so touched.

Henri Bendel Makeup bag

Pumpkin Pie

A few months ago I wrote an Autmm Bucket List which included an ode to pumpkins and how much I wanted to try pumpkin pie. It's a treat that I've realised isn't too easy to find. So I was buzzing when we stopped off at Daniel Farm after an Autumnal walk at Gibside and I discoverd a menu full of pumpkin treats. I had already ordered spiced pumpkin soup for lunch before I realised that there was a pumpkin pie displayed on the counter. So a double pumpkin lunch for me! The pie was worth the wait and I loved it!

Daniel Farm Pumpkin Pie

Autumn Fashion

I love fashion at this time of year but have had to try pretty hard to keep myself out of the shops this season as I just don't have the spare cash to be splashing out on new clothes. Unfortunately the weekly food shop means that Tesco is somewhere that I can't avoid and they have some amazing Autumn fashion in store. This bomber jacket was something that I just couldn't resist and before I knew it it was in the trolley.

Tesco Bomber Jacket

Lunch Dates

None of my best friends work in the city centre which can make week day lunches a little lonely so I was over the moon when my friend Sam popped into Toon for a Friday lunch date this month. We headed to Las Iguanas on the Quayside and had a great hour of gossip and eating (probably our favourite activities). We've vowed to make this a more regular occurrence in the new year and something tells me that's a New Years Resolution I'll actually be able to keep!

Las Iguanas Newcastle Quayside


The best way to explore somewhere is to find a local to be your tour guide. My friend Sarah recently took me on a little jaunt round Sunderland. It was a pretty miserable day so we spent quite a while hiding in Holmeside, a great little independent coffee shop with bags of personality. Needing to warm up we both went for a hot chocolate and wow was it dreamy! A definite Winter must next time you're in Sunderland.

Holmeside Coffee Sunderland

Our Wedding Film

We received our full length wedding film from Top Table Films this month and it was even better than we imagined. I am so thankful that my sisters convinced me to get a videographer for the day as we now have a really wonderful everlasting memory of our wedding. As well as the full ceremony and speeches we also have loads of brilliant clips of family and friends  set to some of our favourite music. We've noticed so many things that we never saw on the day - my absolute highlight is our friends messing about on the dance floor whilst we're doing our first dance, we were completely oblivious on the day. I've watched the film a ridiculous amount of times already and I'm so excited to show it to family and friends over Christmas.

Top Table Films Wedding Videographer

Marshmallow Fireside

Any candle lover knows that Bath and Body Works in the US do the best candles for Autumn/Winter but with most of us unable to get our hands on them this dupe is pretty much the perfect alternative. The two wick Essence candles at B&M are only £2.99 each and are amazing! I was so excited to find this Marshmallow Fireside scent at the Metrocentre store and you would not believe how long it's lasting us and how great the smell is. It really does makes our whole house smell of toasting marshmallows. I've since become obsessed with hunting out new scents to try, with no online shop available half of the fun is stalking round stores trying to find new candles to try.

B & M Candle

Winter at the Biscuit Factory 

I love the new exhibition launches at the Biscuit Factory and the Winter Event this month was my favourite so far. With Fizz and Roast Chestnuts welcoming guests it wasn't long before I was feeling very festive. It was great to see all of the new exhibitions and a special appearance by local choir, Voice of the Town gave me goosebumps and made me seriously wish I could sing cos wow I wanted to join! I also had a good nose round the shop which had some great gift ideas for Christmas, especially in their beautiful little shed of books.

Biscuit Factory

A Winter Wedding at Alnwick Garden

I've been wanting to go to a North East wedding for the longest time and this month my dreams finally came true when Simon's friend Rich invited us to his wedding at the picture perfect Alnwick Garden. I wore my showstopper skirt from the new Coast Store at the Metrocentre which was perfect for a Winter wedding. The ceremony was beautiful with plenty of tears and laughter -and the usual speeches were replaced by a really fun quiz that really got the party started. Such a perfect day!

Winter Wedding Guest

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

Monday, 28 November 2016

Intu Eldon Square: Grey's Quarter - Cocktails at TGI Fridays

The most noticeable restaurant of all the new eateries in Eldon Square Grey's Quarter has to be TGI Fridays. Its giant sign in the window lights up Monument below like a beacon to burger lovers.

I'm sure we've all enjoyed many a "ooops I've eaten far too much" evenings out at TGI Fridays, it is, after all, a restaurant that's been in the UK since the 1980s. However, the new TGI Fridays in Eldon Square is actually offering its customers something a little different with a brand new concept restaurant, the first of its kind in the UK.

Curious? I certainly was! So, with a long overdue date night needed, Simon and I popped along to the VIP opening for a nose and some much needed cocktails.

The new look TGI Fridays offers diners a reason to visit at any time of the day which means bottomless Prosecco Brunch served between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm on weekends (yes please!), a value lunch menu, takeout options for those "on the go" and of course, a new look main menu for those wanting a proper night out on the Toon.

Probably the biggest change though is the huge new lounge and bar multifunctional area which is a fantastic addition to Eldon Square. There are comfy sofas to chill on, plenty of power sockets and free WiFi for laptop work, communal areas to grab a coffee with friends and a little stage for live music and DJ sets.

 We grabbed some comfy seats at the bar, a prime spot for people watching, chatting to the barmen and, of course, a clever way to ensure that our glasses were never empty.

Our night began with a Cherry Stag for me (Jim Beam Black Cherry infused bourbon shaken with Amaretto, cherry brandy and a dash of lemon juice) and a Lynchburg Lemonade (Jack Daniels, triple sec, sweet & sour and Schweppes lemonade) for Simon.

Please tell me it's not just me, but I always feel a little glamorous when I'm perched on a stool at a bar. It never fails to make me feel like I've stepped into a movie. It seems the opulent looking bar at the new TGIs makes you feel important even when you're dressed head to toe in Primark.

Second round and I went for the Raspberry Flower (Absolut Raspberri Vodka, elderflower, chilled apple and cranberry juices) which was a really light and refreshing cocktail. I almost forgot I was drinking alcohol, it tasted like a delicious fruit squash.  Simon opted for the Paradise Punch (Southern Comfort, Amaretto, grenadine and SKYY Vodka with pineapple, orange and lime juices) which I described as holiday in a glass.

As we enjoyed our drinks a few tasters from the new look main menu appeared. A selection of "can't get anywhere else" TGI Friday originals aimed to push the boundaries and delight diners. I have to admit that when the Bacon Lollipops covered in chocolate sauce and marshmallows  appeared I was a little confused, but Simon seemed to enjoy them. The Popcorn Shrimp and Muchos Nachos however were right up my street.

Last orders and I went for the Walk in the Tropics (Malibu, Lambs Navy rum, Amaretto and grenadine with lime, orange and pineapple juices) whilst Simon returned to his favourite of the night, the Lynchburg Lemonade.

I have to admit that TGI Fridays has always been somewhere that I've associated with burgers but they are a great destination for cocktails. In fact, many of the cocktails you see in bars across the world were first created at TGI Fridays and they have 500 cocktails on their menu.

 As I marvelled at the awesome juggling tricks demonstrated by the bartender in front of us (there were glass bottles spinning all over the place and he even caught a full bottle on his arm!) Simon, my resident movie geek, informed me that the classic 80s film Cocktail was actually filmed at the very first TGI Fridays. If their cocktails are good enough for Tom Cruise they're certainly good enough for me!

With Simon muttering that he might quite like to revisit the new TGI Fridays for his birthday next month (I think it was the Birthday Cake Shake he spotted on the menu that did it!) I don't think it'll be long before we return and this time we'll be trying out the food!

TGIs invited us to their VIP evening and treated us to complimentary cocktails. All thoughts and opinions are our own.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Christmas Day Lunch in Newcastle

Sometimes the stress of slaving over a hot stove on Christmas Day can get a bit much, even for the most confident of chefs. If you've been thinking about having Christmas Day Lunch in Newcastle this year I've done all of the hard work for you so all you need to do is pick up the phone and book yourself a table!

Here's a little look at some of the restaurants and hotels in Newcastle serving up lunch on Christmas Day this year.

Jesmond Dene House

Surely the very best Christmas Day lunch in Newcastle, it is my dream to one day book us a table for Christmas Day at Jesmond Dene House. The beautiful boutique hotel with its lit fires, traditional decorations and cosy atmosphere is the perfect place for you to spend the day with your loved ones.

Whilst not the cheapest on offer, the food at Jesmond Dene House is always superb so you're guaranteed to have a Christmas Day lunch to remember. Dine in the Great Hall or Restaurant and indulge in a welcome glass of champagne and canapés before enjoying a four course lunch of Northumberland Game Terrine, Traditional Turkey Ballantine and Cranberry and Sherry Trifle whilst enjoying live seasonal music. If you have the room there's mince pies to finish and I've even heard whisper that the man in red might be dropping by!

£135 per adult and £40 per child, check out the full menu here.  To book call 0191 212 6060

Pleased To Meet You 

Join Pleased to Meet You for a four course feast on Christmas Day. The bar will be throwing open its doors on the big day where you can expect a welcome glass of prosecco before settling down to cream of Parsnip Soup, Traditional Butter Roasted Turkey with all the trimmings, Milk Chocolate Mousse with Poached Clementines and finish with tea and coffee served with mince pies and handmade chocolates.

Being in the city centre you can enjoy a Christmas Day stroll through the city after your food, it's quite lovely walking through when all the shops are shut and there are only a few people about.

One of the cheaper Christmas Day menus in Town, £65 for adults and £35 for children, check out the full menu here. To book call 0191 340 5137

Marco Pierre White

Enjoy champagne and canapés on arrival followed by a three course Christmas Day lunch at Marco Pierre White. With a choice of five dishes per course, my top picks are Lobster Terrine followed by 28 day ages Northumbrian beef fillet and finishing nicely with Traditional Christmas pudding with lashings of brandy sauce.

£85.50 per person, check out the full menu here.  To book call 0191 300 9222.

Chez Mal Brasserie, The Malmaison 

Christmas Day lunch on the Newcastle Quayside, how good does that sound? Chez Mal Brasserie at the Malmaison Hotel are serving Christmas Day lunch this year with Roast Turkey Breast and Classic Christmas Pudding both appearing on the menu. Your meal will end with coffee and chocolate truffles and if you're not quite ready to roll home after all that then grab yourself a comfy booth in the bar and enjoy one of the hotel's fancy cocktails. If you can't treat yourself on Christmas Day then when can you?

£89.95 per person, check out the full menu here.  To book call 0191 245 0593

Hilton Gateshead

The Hilton Gateshead are putting on a Christmas Day spread this year in their Windows on the Tyne restaurant. Take in the perfect views of the Tyne Bridge as you enjoy your arrival Champagne cocktail and canapés before sitting down for a four course menu. Crispy brie parcels, Roast fillet of hake and a trio of desserts are just some of the dishes you can enjoy before tucking into the final cheese course. Coffee and tea with petite fours will finish off your lunch and entertainment will be provided by Charles Gordon who will be playing the Christmas classics and the children will receive a gift.

£90.00 per adult and £45 per child, check out the full menu here. To book call 0191 490 9727

The Vermont

At the time of writing, there's not a lot of information available about Christmas Day lunch at the Vermont, it's all a bit of a mystery. Kir Royale and canapés on arrival are promised as well as a four course festive lunch.

£79.95 per adult and £34.95 for children. There's no menu available online at the moment. To book call 0191 233 1010 and if you find out what the menu is please do let me know!

Six at the Baltic

Six is one of my favourite restaurants in Newcastle and spending Christmas Day with that beautiful view across the River Tyne would make your celebrations pretty special. Six are serving a three course Christmas Day Lunch with Treacle Cured Salmon, Thyme Butter Roast Turkey and Sticky Toffee Pudding all appearing on the menu.

A Christmas Day family selfie on the Millennium Bridge is a must and you'll probably need a nice brisk walk along the Tyne after all that food.

£74.95 per adult and £34.96 per child, check out the full menu here.  To book call 0191 440 4948


The cheapest Christmas Day Lunch in Newcastle, we actually went here for Christmas Day Lunch ourselves in 2015.

Bonbar are serving a traditional family lunch starting with a Prosecco reception. Enjoy Roast Butternut squash Soup, hand carved turkey and amaretti Christmas pudding before treating yourself to a mince pie. A special appearance by Santa finishes the meal with a gift for every child.

£57.50 per adult and £25 for children, check out the full menu here.  To book call 0191 232 8695

Hotel Du Vin

Hotel Du Vin is one of the most beautiful hotels in Newcastle and I should imagine it looks even more special on Christmas Day. The hotel will be serving up a three course meal with my top picks being Lobster Theermidor Tart to start followed by Roasted Turkey Ballotine and finishing with Baked Alaska Yule Log. The meal finishes with tea, coffee, mince pies and clementines - a feast that Santa himself would be proud of.

£99.00 per person, check out the full menu here.  To book call 0191 389 8628


Leading the way with the amount of courses, Browns promise a five course affair including Spiced parsnip and apple soup, roast breast of turkey, warm apple tart, a cheeseboard and (if you can fit it in) mince pies and chocolate truffles. Being half way up a pretty steep hill there's the fun option of rolling down to the Quayside after your food which could be useful after all that food.

One of the cheaper menus in Newcastle, adults are £64.95 and children are £29.95 check out the full menu here.  To book call 0191 261 8210

Is anyone planning on having Christmas Day Lunch in Newcastle this year?  Let me know where you're planning to visit.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Christmas at the new Coast Store, Metrocentre

Ahhhh I have nothing to wear! I'm sure that is a sentence we've all said in the run up to Christmas, usually whilst pulling every item of clothing out of our wardrobes. Well don't worry, the new Coast store at the Intu Metrocentre has finally opened its doors, just in time for the Christmas party season!

Coast have opened up a luxury store, the first of its kind in the country, in the Platinum Mall at Intu Metrocentre. With rails upon rails of beautiful clothes, you'll find one of the widest collections in the UK. Limited Edition, Bridesmaids and Resort collection are all in store as well as a number of Exclusive styles not available anywhere else in the UK alongside statement jewellery, party shoes, clutch bags and luxury candles.

Along with some friends, I was invited to the new store a few hours before it officially opened to the public for an exclusive shopping experience and a little look to see what fashion loving ladies in the North East can expect from the new concept store.

Greeted into store with some breakfast and fizz from Carluccios, who have recently opened opposite Coast, I tucked into croissants, pastries and muffins whilst catching up with friends over flutes of fizz.

The Winter Season at Coast has arrived in a flurry of luxurious velvet, delicate lace, dramatic patterns and vibrant colours - making it the perfect collection for Christmas and New Year parties.

I eagerly explored the rails, sweeping up arms full of outfits to try on. With so many beautiful pieces in store loads caught my eye and I made my way into the changing rooms with embellished dresses, fancy jumpsuits and dramatic skirts.

 If the shop floor hadn't already impressed me the changing room certainly would. The huge space is decked out with massive mirrors and comfy seats and the thick curtains splitting up the room makes it a great space for a personal shopping experience or a dress shop with bridesmaids. Running in and out of the changing rooms with my friends was a lot of fun and the staff were all on hand to fetch us different sizes and give us great advice to style our new finds.

Unfortunately I don't have any fancy Christmas parties to attend this year, but Simon and I are going to a wedding at Alnwick Garden on Saturday which I desperately need an outfit for. With nothing Winter wedding appropriate in my wardrobe I was keen to find something beautiful that would make me feel amazing.

 It wasn't long before I had fallen in love with the Exeter Jacquard skirt (£179 - currently on sale for £119), as styled by the gorgeous Olivia Palermo as part of Coast's new AW16 range. Perfectly fitted round my waist before dramatically flaring out, the vibrant floral print makes it quite the showstopper. Flouncing around the changing room in it I could picture myself swooping up and down the stairs at Alnwick Garden feeling like a movie star.

Exeter Jacquard Skirt as styled by Olivia Palermo for Coast Stores

Me and the skirt were meant to be and I can't wait to wear it to the wedding next weekend - keep your eye on my Instagram for a photo of me wearing it! What a successful first trip to the new Coast Store at the Metrocentre!

As we all left the store, excitedly chatting between ourselves we made a pact to organise a night out in January - after all, such beautiful clothes need to be seen!

Coast Stores invited me to their store opening and gifted me with my outfit. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Monday, 21 November 2016

Intu Eldon Square: Grey's Quarter - Giraffe World Kitchen

Another day, another visit to Eldon Square's Grey's Quarter to check out a new restaurant. With new doors opening every time I stroll through I'm beginning to think my mission to work my way round every restaurant before Christmas may be a bit of a tall order. Lat week it was the turn of Giraffe World Kitchen, a restaurant that I'm very familiar with.

Giraffe is probably a restaurant that most people in the North East don't know much about as the Eldon Square branch is the first to open in Newcastle. I remember Giraffe when it first appeared in London. I became so obsessed with their brunch offerings that I made it my mission to visit every Giraffe in London which I think probably makes me one of their earliest and biggest fans.

 If you were to challenge me now to work my way round all of the Giraffe restaurants I think I'd struggle as there are 52 Giraffe restaurants in the UK, the latest being Giraffe World Kitchen in Eldon Square.  I took the lovely Kelly along as my dining partner, and was excited to hear that it was her first ever experience of Giraffe.

The menu at Giraffe is varied, showcasing the best flavours from around the world, it's a great place to visit when you just can't decide what kind of food you fancy. There really is something for everyone on their menu.

Treated to one of the best tables in the house we had a great little booth at the back of the restaurant with a huge window looking down on the street below. Perfect for a little people watching, although not for food photography so please excuse the dark photos!

Going all out I began my meal with Prawn Saganaki (£6.25) - King Prawns cooked in garlic chilli, white wine & tomato sauce, sprinkled with crumbled feta and served with bread.

Up until a few months ago I would have avoided all dishes containing chilli but having a new appreciation for light spicy flavours I decided to take a gamble in the hope that it wouldn't have too much of a kick for me. The Saganaki had a great heat, not too spicy and a great compliment to the fantastic King Prawns.

I'm very impressed that I managed to resist the temptation of the Burger Menu (there are five to choose from and they all look lush!) and instead turned my attention to the World Plates menu. I ordered the Blackened Salmon (£14.50) - Salmon fillet rubbed in spices and served with brown rice & kidney beans, corn on the cob and mango salad.

A different choice to what I'd usually pick out, I decided to go for something that would hopefully showcase Giraffe World Kitchen's flavours. The salmon was perfectly prepared with a lovely pink middle and the spices made it extra delicious, especially mixed with the mango salmon. I wasn't as keen on the brown rice which was a bit gritty compared to the fluffy white rice that I'm used to but this was very much down to my personal taste.

I finished my meal off with White Chocolate & Passionfruit Cheesecake (£5.50) which looked stunning and tasted just as good. I love the flavour combinations of white chocolate and passionfruit and it was a dessert that I could definitely see myself ordering each time I visit.

 We both really enjoyed our meals and I am so happy that Giraffe finally have a home in the North East. I recommend that you all go and try it out.

We received a complimentary meal for two people for the purposes of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.