Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Eating Out | New to Leeds - Breakfast at Bill's

After seeing soo many images of Bill's picture perfect meals all over Instagram and reading about them on blogs, I decided I had to see if it was worth the hype myself when they opened up in Leeds the other week.

So off we went 10am Saturday morning with our bellies empty and our expectations pretty high, excited to try yet another addition to growing Leeds.

Bill's Restaurant - The Venue

When I arrived I expected to be greeted to a bit of a hipster vibe, but was surprised to find it had more of a classic homely feel. 

The venue itself is beautiful - what used to be the Leeds Law Society is now a grande restaurant decorated with cute tins and tea cups, pretty chandelier lighting and other vintage looking pieces. I especially loved the charming looking bar area (and what a selection they had - shame we were there for just breakfast!).

The Most Important Part - The grub

So the venue looked amazing but what really matters is the food. We had a look at the menu and then came the struggle - what to pick!? I was wavering between about 4 options - the eggs Benedict, the blueberry and buttermilk pancakes, the full english or the cumberland sausage in a brioche roll. 

In the end the boyfriend went for the full Bill's breakfast of sausage, fried eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, smoked streaky bacon and toast for £7.95. He toyed with the idea of getting beans and black pudding on top but couldn't part with the extra £2.50. 

I ended up opting for the blueberry and buttermilk pancakes with fruit, maple syrup and smoked streaky bacon which came to £7.50. The BF thought my choice of fruit AND bacon on the pancakes was a little questionable but what's a Saturday morning without bacon!? A sad one. 

I thought it was lovely anyway. My only complaint was the lack of actual syrup on the pancakes. The ones in the middle had been a bit neglected and would have been quite dry to eat on their own, but it wasn't a problem when I asked for more and the waitress brought me a little jug without judgement.

Overall I was happy that we'd paid Bill's a visit - the food was good, the service was perfect and it was just a nice place to be in. 

As they say on their website "Bill's have you covered from breakfast to bedtime" so we've already decided we'll be coming back at some point to try out their lunch menu. I've seen some amazing looking burgers on Instagram and their afternoon tea sounds equally as tasty (and not too badly priced either at £9.95pp with tea or £12.95pp with champers!)

I also think their homely, cosy feel will make Bill's the perfect place to visit over winter - particulary for a hot chocolate on a chilly weekend day. If I've made your mouth water and you want to check out their menu yourself or book a table then just click here.

What do you think of Bill's? Have you visited any of their other branches?

Thanks for reading & see you soon!

Gabby xo

Monday, 28 September 2015

Eating Out | Bar Soba Leeds New Menu Launch

First Impressions Can Sometimes Be Ignored

My first experience of Bar Soba was back in April this year, when me and the other half headed down to their Merrion Street restaurant to get a taste of their pan Asian street food. 

I'll be honest I thought the food was okay but not enough to make me go back there in the 5 months since. But that's not surprising really, I was a little bit (alright a lot) of a non adventurous eater back then and ordered the same old dish I always did in Thai restaurants - anything with a sweet and sour source basically. TYPICAL, I know. It's not that I didn't like the meal but it didn't wow me (but then I was being a boring Betty!).

If there's anything that my more recent visit to Bar Soba has taught me, it's to stray from your usual menu choice and find something new to enjoy. 

Here's how it went when I was invited down to try out their new menu, including some pretty sweet cocktails and food demonstrations from the chefs themselves! 

A Wicked Venue

There's no denying that they've got a pretty unique space down on Merrion street. My favourite part is the upstairs seating area - by day you have the bright lights flooding in from the glass ceiling, and by night the stars shining down whilst their light projections fill the walls making the artwork come to life. A very cool atmosphere, whatever the time of day. 

Cocktails That Pack A Punch

We were first given some of their star cocktails to try. 

A Coconut and Chilli Daiquiri - which was a mixture of coconut rum, fresh lime juice & lychee syrup garnished with a rim of chilli and lemongrass sugar. This went down really well...once I drank it through a straw. Yesss I completely whimped out of any kind of sipping/putting it near my lips, as the spicy chilli round the rim blew my head off. Plus, I like keeping my lipstick on. God this is starting to sound rude. 

Anyway, it did actually work well together, and for the non whimps out there it was a great combo - the BF really loved it. 

We also tried a pretty tasty Japanese Plum Sour which was lemon juice, simple syrup and egg white garnished with homemade Plum Sake, lemon foam and plum bitters. 

Plus a Mango Daisy which was Beefeater gin shaken with mango puree, passionfruit syrup and fresh lime - right up my street and definitely one for any super sweet cocktail lovers like myself! 

Bar Soba Food: Creating A Duck Convert 

So lets start with the starter we sampled. A perfect portion of Steamed beef war tip dumplings with red bean sauce and crispy shallots. Full of flavour and texture, it was just the right amount and made me eager for the next course. 

And then came the main that changed it all. The main of heavenly duck goodness. 

I've never ever liked the taste of Duck. It's always been something I've avoided or been secretly disappointed with when offered at Christmas. That is until the moment the Bar Soba duck passed through my lips and I was made into a duck convert like some sort of meaty epiphany.

I realised it wasn't that duck was shit, it was just everyone else was making it shit. (Sorry family). The dish was a Malaysian duck leg confit with a tangy red sauce, lychees, Asian greens, and some gorgeous little crispy rice blocks which I couldn't get enough of. The meat was so tender it just fell off the bone perfectly.  Just writing this makes me wish I hadn't had tea already so I could Deliveroo it to my door! 

We finished off the meal with some deep fried coconut bananas with salted caramel and peanut ice-cream which made for a pretty good desert. I would say the batter was a little too thick and heavy for my liking, however that salted caramel sauce made up for it. 

By the end of it all I had a serious Thai food baby, but I was in a happy place. 

Chef Demonstrations & Getting To Know Bar Soba

With each dish and cocktail we got a demonstration from the chefs themselves, which was pretty cool. Although with each cocktail I forgot more and more of what they'd said...I'll just have to buy a Thai cookbook! Maybe that could be Bar Soba's next venture? Do the duck. Please the duck. 

We also got some insight into how Bar Soba all started, which was back in 1991 in Scotland. They had such great success at their Glasgow and Edinburgh locations they decided to head down to Yorkshire to take advantage of the current Leeds' food and drink boom. 

Not only is this the place to go to get some amazing pan-asain street food, but also a place to put on your Friday and Saturday night going out list too. We actually went down this weekend just gone and had a great few hours there dancing and taking advantage of the massive cocktail selection.

I've heard they have some good Dj's lined up for the next few months too, and with a 4am licence you could easily spend your night out in Leeds there. 

Right well, I'm off to raid the fridge for snacks now since I've made myself hungry again writing this post. Thanks for reading and if you want to check out the Bar Soba website just click here

Gabby xo


Monday, 21 September 2015

Fashion | Brand Obsession: Sister Jane

Today’s post is all about my obsession/love affair with contemporary European womenswear clothing brand, Sister Jane. 

Often spotted on celebrities such as Florence Wench and Millie Macintosh, it is the go to brand if you want that sophisticated yet playful look; think embellished collars and intricate fabric textures.

I first fell in love with Sister Jane back in May when I bought their folk insired Toci dress from Asos (see the post here) and ever since I’ve not been able to keep myself away from their site! Unlike most brands who follow a traditional fashion calendar, Sister Jane launches new collections every month, offering a continuous fresh range of up to date styles.

Sister Jane is available at over 50 boutique retailers internationally, and you can also find them in popular stores Topshop, Urban Outfitters and Asos - so there’s plenty of places to get your fix of their whimsical retro styled designs. Their amazing flagship store is located in a converted loft of a charming historic church hall in Notting Hill - definitely a place to add to my London bucket list! 

How I Style Sister Jane 

I've recently been tempted with two pieces from Sister Jane's newest collection. One being an adorable pocketed a-line skirt and the other a beautiful red cherry print dress. Here's how I styled them up, one for day wear and the other a night out.

The Lou Lou Pocket Skirt - £45

First up is the Lou Lou skirt, with it's white anglaise lace, blue pocket detail and gold button up front - I don't think I own another skirt quite as cute! I styled it with a Khaki Topshop wrap shirt and accessorised with brown and gold including a New Look brown fringed dufffle bag (£17.99) , some New Look brown wedge heels and a gold tribal necklace.

The Red Cherry Pop Dress - £65

The next piece has to be my favourite Sister Jane purchase so far - a quirky red dress with a sheer cherry print top and fit and flare skirt bottom. A comfortable but fabulous wear, which definitely has style icon Zoe Deschanel vibes. Perfect! I styled it with an equally cute Asos heart shaped clutch and some black New Look heels, plus an oversized black hair bow to finish the look. I'm off to see a play soon with the other half and this will have to be my go-to outfit! 

As I mentioned before they constantly keep updating their stock, and already I've spied some new pieces that I'm desperate to get my hands on! You can browse through/get addicted to their site yourself by clicking here.  What do you think of Sister Jane? Have you ever bought from them? 

Thanks for reading & see you soon!

Gabby xo

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Events | Denham Store Comes To Leeds

I was recently invited down to the opening night of premium denim brand Denham, worn by the likes of Jordan Dunn and Usher, to check out the new store opening in Central Arcade at the heart of Briggate. I got the chance to get an interview with the man behind the brand himself Jason Denham, plus a sneak preview of their unique personal shopping experience.

The Store

The store has a simplistic and fresh feel about it, offering a full seasonal collection of minimalistic smart-casual wear for both men and women. Their stock includes jeans (of course), jackets, t-shirts, footwear, and they also stock popular accessory brands such as Superior Label Japan and Ocean Republic Jewellery.

The man behind the brand Jason Denham (yes that's his real name!) is a keen collector of vintage scissors and you can see this influence in the store with vintage style scissors being used for clothes hooks and other fixture details throughout. 

To add to the stores already cool vibe it even has it's own coffee bar where you can grab a drink whilst you shop. Pretty neat. 

The Interview

So during the event I got the chance to ask Jason a few questions about the brand. Here's what I found out:

The first question I asked Jason was what made him choose Leeds? His other stores are in Amsterdam, London, Japan, so I wanted to know what brought him to Yorkshire? 
Jason explained that not only did he have strong ties with the north, with his wife Debbie coming from Osset, but that he'd actually had advice from many different people explaining that Leeds is THE fastest growing city outside of London at the moment and the place to be for growing businesses. I think that's a pretty fair comment to be honest - how many new bars and restaurants do we see opening up all the time?  We have so much going on in the city, it's clearly thriving and a good place to be! (yorkshire yorkshire yorkshire)

Next I asked Jason "What is the Denham message?" 
Jason said they are a story telling brand and that their slogan is "the truth is in the details". They make all their items with the highest quality products which is why you can count on them being long lasting reliable wardrobe pieces.

He explained "Fashion is like cooking - the best ingredients make the best pieces". 

I asked what his favourite piece from the collection was: 
He said it had to be the Rivetto D'oro Denham x Candiani range. Each pair of jeans has the Candiani's seal of distinction - a button made of gold to show it has come from the "best italian Denham mill around". 

After our quick interview Jason asked if I wanted to see their private wardrobe experience, and being a keen shopaholic I was obviously intrigued and went to check it out.

The Ultimate Personal Shopper Experience

Your typical personal shopper experience includes getting someone to take you round a store and picking out bits for you to try on, but Denham isn't your typical shop. You don't get someone taking you round the shop with the rest of the punters, nope you get your own personal shop! The idea is you book in advance giving your size and preferences, and the team then put together a collection from the store for you to try on privately. Wow!

The aim for Jason and his team is to bring back the good days when you knew your tailor, (butcher, candle stick maker) by first name basis and formed a more personal connection with each other. As Jason says in his own words "with online shopping becoming so popular you have to do things differently - retail shopping should be a fun experience, otherwise you might as well buy online." So that's why they offer this very unique way of shopping. 

I've got to say I'd love to try it myself, it's not something I'd do often mind you but I think for a special occasion it would be amazing, imagine an afternoon with the girls trying on swanky clothes in your own personal shop with a glass of wine? Sounds like my cup of tea Rioja.

My verdict

Whilst the women's range has some beautiful pieces in reality I'm not going to be spending over £100 on a shirt or pair of jeans very often (i'm a yorkshire girl who loves a bargain after all!!) however I do think that investing in a decent pair of jeans that will last you a while and not go baggy at the knees after a few washes is really worth it, so I'd be happy to get some myself. Now that the weather is well and truly on the way to Autumn it's worth checking them out, a good pair of jeans is essential to an A/W wardrobe. 

What do you think, would you be able to part with £100 for jeans? What do you think of the personal wardrobe experience?

Thanks for reading!



Friday, 11 September 2015

Fashion | How To Get High Street Clothing For Half The Price

What if I told you there was a website where you could buy your favourite high street brands for a fraction of the price? A Warehouse coat for £15, a Miss Selfridge skirt for £6.50 or a Topshop dress for £10? You probably think I'm talking about some fallen off the back a lorry scheme, but I'm not! I'm talking about my new favourite place to get a good quality bargain: High Street Outlet.

When they first contacted me about a collaboration for the blog I was a bit skeptical, I'd heard of these types of things before but never really imagined you could get anything decent from them. I don't like to say this very often but, I was wrong, as you'll see from the pictures of the dress I got later in the post!

What is High Street Outlet?

Julie Burden and her sister Katrina Day set up High Street Outlet back in 2007 (in there spare room like many start ups!). After finding a local supplier and trailing a few lines of clothing to sell online they soon realised there was a big market for past season and stock overruns of clothing that originated from popular high street stores such as Topshop and Monsoon, especially as they could offer them with massive discounts.

Their stock is sourced from places like factories which over make on clothes orders by at least 10%, whilst some of the stock comes from cancelled orders or past season ranges. The majority of the items have their labels removed (to prevent them being returned to stores) but other than that they are exactly the same as what you'd find in the shops. 

Fast forward to 2015 and they now have a massive warehouse in Poole where they house stock from brands such as Dorothy Perkins, Asos, White Stuff, M&S, Topshop, and much more - all with a massive saving on RRP.  They also host an exciting warehouse sale on the first Saturday of every month which attracts queues of people wanting to get in and grab a bargain.  

My Turn To Grab A Bargain - The £10 Topshop Dress

As I mentioned earlier, when I first started browsing the site for the first time I didn't expect to find anything exciting. Maybe a simple top or pair of trousers which I could style up, but then I came across this absolute BEAUT of a Topshop dress. Something I would definitely have snapped up if I had seen it in store...but for just £10!

After picking the dress online it arrived a few days later and once again I was surprised - the quality was spot on - there weren't any marks or faults, it was a typical pretty Topshop dress just without the label.

Topshop Blue Crotchet Dress - How I Styled It

I loved the pretty crotchet detailing on this dress especially around the neck, I ditched jewellery as I thought the detail was enough, but did accessorise with a brown New Look belt to pinch it at the waist. I always think brown works really well with the deep royal blue colour, so I wore it with my trusty brown Topshop clog heels (£56.00) and a brown structured New Look bag (£19.99). I think it created a super smart look which would be ideal for work or business meetings. You can find the bargain Topshop dress here.

So my final verdict on High Street Outlet? Well, it's a great thing to be in the know about and I'll be certainly be keeping an eye on the site for further bargains at my favourite high street retailers. There's something fun about walking around in a quality high street piece, knowing you got it for a fraction of the price! 

Hope you enjoyed the post and let me know your thoughts on High Street Outlet.

See you soon!

Gabby xo

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