I went to a meeting with a PR expecting to fall in love with a fragrance and instead fell in love with a brand.

To be fair, I went in knowing I liked the fragrance already – unless you’ve been hiding under a rock you’d be hard pressed to have missed Mon Guerlain, the newest perfume launch from the house of Guerlain which has Angelina Jolie as the star of the campaign. Guerlain placed themselves firmly on the fragrance map – with Mon Guerlain stands at the front of every major department store and grabbed everyone’s attention. The fragrance itself… well, I’ll get into that.

I love a brand with history behind it, and that’s really where I’ve fallen for Guerlain – in its story. Guerlain started all the way back in 1828 – before Dior, before Chanel, the French had Guerlain. Despite the fact it’s a brand that arguably, until the stratospheric launch of Mon Guerlain, has been somewhat under the radar here in the UK, in France Guerlain is a renowned brand, an integral part of French history, and for me that’s probably most summed up in the fact that La Signature at the French Pavilion in EPCOT is an exclusively Guerlain store. Say what you will about Disney but the amount of thought they put into every aspect of the parks is beyond ridiculous and there’s a reason for everything – and now that I know a little more about the brand I can understand all the details of the shop even more.

But back to the history – in 1853 Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain, created Eau de Cologne Impériale for Empress Eugenie, to celebrate her marriage to Emperor Napoleon III. He decorated the bottle with the bees of the Empire and the ‘Bee Bottle’, which went on to become an icon, was born. The ‘Bee Bottle’ has 69 bees on it because there are 69 provences in France, and Empress Eugenie must have liked it because Guerlain went on to become ‘Her Majesty’s Patened Perfumer’.

The bee icon features in the ceilings of Guerlain’s beautiful Champs-Elysees store – the lovely Harriet from Guerlain sent me these over to show you and, whilst they make look as light and airy as balloons those are solid gold bees that are in the store! 

But of course, if they’ve got solid gold bees from the ceiling, you can only begin to imagine how incredibly beautiful the rest of the store is. Jacques Guerlain – the third generation of the family to run the business was the Guerlain who claimed 68 Champs-Elysees as the House of Guerlain’s home. Work began in 1914, led by the architect Charles Mewès, who was also behind the Ritz Hotel in Paris, and the Carlton hotel in London. In the way that we list buildings here in the UK France lists its marble – so even today the store boasts the same marble wall and till points that it did back when Jacques first picked it out. I love that so much, that the essence of the house and its history literally lives in those marble elements that have never been, and never will be, changed.

As well as the marble the 68 Champs-Elysee Guerlain store (which incidentally is the biggest beauty store in the world dedicated to one brand!) is also home to a unique Guerlain experience – where you can have your own scent completely custom blended. And as you would expect, that comes at a pretty price – the starting point is £36,000 and the limit, well, it doesn’t exist! You can however get a personalised, engraved iconic ‘Bee Bottle’ filled with your choice of perfume which, although it’s still going to make for one of the most fantastic and indulgent purchases ever, is maybe something a little closer to being affordable for the Guerlain fan.

Which brings me back to Guerlain fragrances – and in particular the reason I went to the meeting in the first place. Mon Guerlain is beautiful – very feminine, very soft. I actually was really surprised by how much I liked it because I am not usually a sweet or floral fragrance – I love headiness, heaviness, spice and musk in my scents and I don’t do light, but somehow I really like this fragrance. And part of the reason for that is probably The Guerlinaid.

The Guerlainaid – doesn’t it sound wonderfully straight from Harry Potter? Mystical, magical and intriguing – perfect for a brand with so many stories and so much beauty behind it. The Guerlinade is compromised of 6 ingredients and those ingredients form the basis of all Guerlain perfumes. They are Calabrian Bergamont, Tuscan Iris, Bulgarian Rose, South American Tonka Bean, Vanilla and Grandiflorum and Sambac Jasime.

Those spices mixed with the florals, with that hint of citrus cut through the two main florals in Mon Guerlain’s notes. Those are Carla Lavender, which gives a fresh note to the fragrance and as an ingredient is 50 times more expensive than normal lavender - it’s only been used in one other perfume in the world – which Jersey by Chanel, so you’re in good company; and that Sambac Jasmine again. To be honest, I’m not usually the biggest fan of Jasmine but this is balanced out for me by the other notes. Such is Guerlain’s dedication to their perfume that the only use Jasmine which has been picked at a certain time in the morning, when the flower has just opened and is at it’s freshest.

The other part of the reason I’m probably on board with this is because of the Album Sandalwood, which gives a woody note to the fragrance and again offsets the floral without actually making it a woody fragrance. It's quite a special ingredient too as, until a few years ago Australian Sandalwood was going into extinction and now there are two crops in the world - one of which belongs to Chanel, and the other to Guerlain - which means these are the only two houses who will be able to produce fragrances using it.

Lastly it counts Vanilla as a top note, which gives that warmth to the fragrance that a lot of florals fragrances usually lack. So yes, it's undoubtedly a floral fragrance but if, like me, you're not usually a fan of florals give this a try - it's a warm floral with some wood and some spice and it's beautiful.

So beautiful in fact that, although I was gifted the fragrance and the body lotion, I had to go and treat myself to the shower gel and have the whole range - it feels so luxurious to have all three in my routine, and I love being able to really feel like I've enveloped myself in the fragrance.

I'd never really noticed but Angelina Jolie has actually never endorsed a product or been the face of something prior to Mon Guerlain. She's just always wanted to be seen as an actress and charity worker, but Guerlian was a particularly special brand to her mother and that was the reason she signed up for this. That, and the story of the perfume.

I'm all about stories and what I loved when Harriet was telling me about Guerlain's approach is that they don't sell perfume to 'give you' a personality - it's not sold on the lynx idea that 'wearing this will make you... [insert suitable word for concept they're marketing]. All their perfumes come from stories, and have done since way, way back. Shalimar, which was the world's first Oriental fragrance (imagine giving birth to a whole category of fragrance -we know fragrances as being Floral, Cirtus, Woody or Oriental - and Guerlain literally invented the Oriental category!) was inspired by a love story (that link takes you to Guerlain's YouTube channel btw, which has way more on it than I can fit into one coherent blog post.)

The Mon Guerlain story, or concept, is that this is the 'notes of a woman'. It's not telling you to wear it and become a woman, or become a woman ready for sex, or a woman being pretty, it's just a scent for a woman who already knows who and what she is, a scent for a woman that involves all of her. This isn't supposed to be a scent that's about changing yourself, or embodying something you're not, it's a scent that celebrates yourself and all your angles.

Speaking on angles - even the bottle is about representing that. It's a multi-faceted bottle, to represent a multi-faceted woman. It's actually called The Quadralope Bottle - you can learn more about their bottle and their history here. It's part of Guerlain history this bottle - it was designed by Bacarat, who did all the Guerlain bottles, back in 1908 and was made for 'Jicky', which was the first ever unisex fragrance in the world. The bottle is nearly entirely unchanged - the only difference is that solid band around the neck was originally a gold cord, which would have made the perfume prohibitively expensive, and the 'Guerlain' name branded into the bottom.

When you buy a piece of Guerlain you're not just buying a fragrance, or a lipstick, you're buying a piece of history. It's the type of brand where everything has a meaning and nothing is there 'just because'. In the online beauty world where we're constantly seeing new and upcoming launches, ideas new and recycled and advertising campaigns that are all about being the loudest and newest - there's something incredibly beautiful about buying a piece of history. And how appropriate that in buying this fragrance you're buying your own Guerlain - Mon Guerlain, My Guerlain.

Mon Guerlain

22 July 2017

Yesterday was the insane Ladies' Singles Final and today is sure to be another tense one with the Gentlemens' Singles Final (along with Jamie & Heather playing against each other in the Mixed Doubles Final!) but if you're a nervous chewer this Strawberries and Cream (of course!) cake might just save your bottom lip from being blooded during the match (I do speak from experience!)

Ingredients wise you need:

For the Cake:
4 Large Eggs
400g Self Raising Flour
100g Plain Flour
400g Stork (or similar)
400g Caster Sugar (That Fairtrade stuff was a whole 10p more than the non-fairtrade, so you can also spend 10p more and know you've done a good deed!)
1 tsp Vanilla Flavouring
1 tsp Strawberry Flavouring
Optional: Pink Food Colouring & Purple Food Colouring

For the Frosting:
Either 1 x Tub of Betty Crocker Buttercream Style Icing
or make your own buttercream with:
250g Unsalted Butter
500g Icing Sugar
1 x tsp of flavouring (vanilla or strawberry - you choose!)

For Decorating:
Totally optional, but I used Fresh Strawberries and Freeze Dried Strawberry Pieces for mine.

Additionally, I used 4 x 7" cake tins, but depending on oven size etc you can cook these as 2 large cakes and cut them after baking, or alternatively cook two layers at a time.

My preferred method is to bake this as 2 separate cakes, so following that:

Step 1: Preheat your oven to 140 degrees if it's a fan assisted oven, or 160 degrees if using a non fan.
Step 2: Cream together 200g Stork with 200g Caster Sugar.
Step 3: Add in your two eggs.
Step 4: Sieve in 200g Self Raising Flour.
Step 5: Sieve in 50g
Step 6: Mix all these together with an electric whisk for about 2 minutes.
Step 7: Add in 1 x tsp Vanilla.
Step 8: (Optional) Add in a few drops of the Purple Food Colouring to neutralise the yellow a bit, to give more of a white and pink cake.
Step 9: Mix these all together for another few minutes, add in more colouring if required.
Step 10: Once ready, put in the oven for 25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

I then repeat all these steps in a separate bowl but add in 1 x tsp Strawberry Flavouring and quite a bit of the pink food colouring. I used the new Dr Oetker Extra Strength colours and I used about a third of the tube of the pink to get the colour I wanted. Also please excuse the fact that when I got Scott to take photos of me adding in the flavourings BOTH TIMES he seemed to think where I wanted the focus of the photos to be was on the cake batter... But they're a bit clearer in the ingredients photo if you want a better visual!

You can always make one huge batch of cake then stir in the colours and flavourings once you've separated it out into your cake tins - whichever method you prefer!

Once out of the oven let them cool on a cake rake - they're quite thin layers so this shouldn't take too long, then place each layer on top of the other with a layer of frosting in between, before finally frosting the top. I wanted a sort of country, naked look to my cake so I didn't do the side, but if you are going to do the side you will probably want to double the amounts I gave for the buttercream up above. I used the lazy Betty Crocker method, but it took a whole tub to do the three in between layers and the top so again if you want to cover your sides I'd buy 2 tubs!

Of course, you're totally free to leave it here at this stage and you've still got a delicious cake - but I wanted a little bit more decoration...

I wanted a really simple, traditional look to the cake but I think the combination of the fresh and freeze dried strawberries really looked lovely on top of the cake - and I picked up that plate that it's on in M&S - it's Melamine so perfect if you're looking to really serve your cake up on the lawn!

And speaking of serving it up - I had to accompany mine with a glass of the Lanson Brut Rose, because I was making a Pink and White Wimbledon Cake so of course I needed pink champagne in it's own little Wimbledon outfit to accompany it. I'm afraid I truly am that basic sometimes... 


PS. Although I've made this for Wimbledon, it's a strawberries and cream cake - it's pretty perfect all summer, in my opinion!

Cake on the lawn, anyone?

16 July 2017

I'm not 100% sure when it happened but Nars has totally become my current go-to brand for pretty much everything. I don't recall ever really being disappointed by a Nars product and they've always been reliable, but in the past year or so they've gone from being a background, reliable brand to being a brand I'm constantly following, and anything they release instantly peaks my interest.

This palette - which seems to move about between being called the Nars Strike It Rich Eyeshadow Palette and the Nars Narsissist Loaded Eyeshadow Palette - was no different. To be totally honest it was that third shade in in the middle row that had me all *heart eyed emoji* but actually this entire palette is just beautiful - it's not one of those palettes where there's a few outstanding shades a few filler shades - there's literally not one I wouldn't use.

The top row (L-R) is made up of Newbury Street - white gold (shimmer) - which makes for a gorgeous inner corner highlight; Windsor - warm beige (matte) - which is an ideal base or transition shade; Priviledge - gold (metalic) - the swatch probably speaks for itself here, this shade is gorgeous; & Dover - neutral brown (matte) - which looks great in the crease with Windsor all over the eye, or even this on it's own all over for an every day look.

The next row (L-R) is Foix - peach (matte) - which is a great transition shade for those of you with a slightly darker skin tone than me, or just a great basic shade for a slightly more defined base than Windsor; Castille - umber brown (matte)- which I just love - it's beautiful and so versatile and easy to wear; Alnwick - copper (shimmer) - which is the shade that originally pulled me in. I adore this shade so, so much, it's absolutely beautiful but not at all over the top - every shade in this palette is wearable. The Harry Potter obsessive in me also loves that this shade is called Alnwick because some of the first films used Alnwick Castle as Hogwarts, I'm sure that's not why they named it that at all, but it makes me very happy! Lastly, there's Beaumaris - chocolate brown (shimmer) -which I would say is the shade I'm least excited by in the palette, but I still like it. 

The last row is made up of Splendor - pewter (sparkle) - which I think is incredible. I was so blinded by Alnwick when I first was researching this palette that I totally missed how beautiful Splendor is. It's absolutely gorgeous and I think it would look gorgeous on pretty much any eye colour and skin-tone. Next is Versailles - bronze (shimmer) - which again is gorgeous and really wearable and versatile. Its the sort of shade most make up lovers probably all already own, but that doesn't detract from how gorgeous it is. Finally, there's Montaillou - dark brown (matte) - which is incredible and super-pigmented, the swatch shows a little bit of fall out but when it's on a brush and you've got that extra control it doesn't fall out at all; and Reale - black (satin) - which again is super pigmented and blends like a dream.

If, like me, you have hooded eyes you'll want a primer with the shimmer eyeshadows or they will crease, but when I've blended them out round and above my crease the shadows do fade slightly but they stick around so those of you without hooded eyes could probably afford to skip the primer. 
Overall I love this palette, I think all the shades are beautiful and wearable and the mattes blend as easily as the shimmers using a natural haired brush like a MAC 217. The shade selection is beautiful and there's not a dud shade in the palette. 

However, I don't think the shades, whilst they're beautiful, are ground breaking. I feel like each shade is probably one most people will already have in their collection - either through a single or another palette. 

What it comes down to is the selection of shades being in one travel friendly palette - ideal for throwing into a daily make up bag and versatile enough to take to work and move from a day to night look with one blending brush and one or two shades. If there's a space in your life for a palette like this then this one is brilliant quality and, although at £55 it's not cheap, it's a palette where every shade performs and there's not one I don't think the average person will use so I think it's good value for money. I'd have no qualms recommending it and I'm glad I bought it. If you already own the shades and don't think you need them gathered in one place, then save your money. 

Nars Loaded Eyeshadow Palette

7 July 2017

One of the things I often say to people who are visiting Glasgow for the first time is that Glasgow isn't just what lies in Glasgow City Centre. In Edinburgh you get off at Waverely Station, you go out the back for the old town and out the front for the newer areas and nothing is more than a ten minute walk from the station. Glasgow's not the same. If you get off the train at Glasgow Central you'll see Glasgow Central and that's about it - by 'Central' I mean pretty much Buchanan Street, down from that the 'centre' part of Argyle Street and up from Buchanan lies Sauchiehall Street. Walk slightly further across and you can get to Merchant City but past that... you're looking at the transport system again, because Glasgow is spread out and has multiple pockets dotted all over the place, each with their own vibes.

The subway can take you round a lot of it - take it to Hillhead for the charity shops, my old uni, Ashton Lane, and a multitude of eateries or visit my beloved Kelvingrove via the Kelvinhall stop. That's probably also your best stop if you're looking to explore Finnieston's legendary food and drink options. If it's the Transport Museum you're looking for you want to get off at Govan and then take the ferry, or if it's Scotland Street School Museum it's Shields Road. Where the subway doesn't take you though, is Glasgow's thriving South Side. For Kilmarnock Road's array of options you want to take the train to Pollockshaws East (not Shawlands, despite the fact that Kilmarnock Road's establishments would explain their location as being in Shawlands!) You get what I'm saying here? Edinburgh is 100% simpler for the tourist who wants to stay centrally and not have to travel too much, but Glasgow, if you woo her, work hard for it (i.e. tire your feet out and explore her, has a tonne to give back that often goes quite unseen by those not in the know.

Today, I'm asking you to board to the train with me and check out The Black Dove, which is in Shawlands (but we're taking the train to Pollockshaws East - stay with me here people!) Shawlands is, as an area, young and trendy. There's lots of pubs and bars and lots of cool eateries, but The Black Dove's aim is to bring something a little bit different to the scene. This is communal, small plate eating with fine dining dishes. Tapas essentially, but not the Spanish tapas we might be used to.

On the day of the blogger event I was sent through our menu for the evening and practically salivated at my desk. Almost all the options I'd been excited by on the main menu were on there (though I will be going back to try the scallops and the crab!) and I couldn't wait. I arrived with a rumbling tummy, fully ready to dive in to the endless selection and we were started off with the Pork Belly Scotch Egg, accompanied by Chorizo Jam. 

Now straight away I was slightly worried here - because this was amazing. I genuinely couldn't envision any of the other courses even remotely living up to it. The outside was crispy but not hard, the inside was soft but not runny and the chorizo jam was smokey and sweet at the same time. 100% would recommend and will definitely order this again when I return.

Next up was the Ox Cheek 'Steak Pie' - and instantly all my worries about how anything else would top the Scotch egg were totally put to one side. This was so good. The pastry was phenomenal, the potatoes were creamy but not sickly or wet and the meat was perfect. I would give anything to be eating this right now as I sit at my desk typing this!

After the ox cheek there was a baked hake fillet which came with a mussel and potato risotto. I really, really liked the risotto - in which the potato flakes replaced the rice. I did hear a few people say they weren't keen on the texture of a potato risotto as opposed to a rice one so that might be something to bear in mind, but it didn't bother me. I'm usually a massive fish lover so surprisingly this doesn't make the list of things I'd rush to order on my return - but I think I was so into the chorizo and the crunch of the Scotch egg, followed by the pastry and ox cheek that maybe a switch to fish just wasn't what I was in the mood for. There was nothing wrong with it but I'd say it was probably my least favourite of the night. 

Back to red meat and the next course was a Beef Rendang. Not my favourite, but I still enjoyed it. 
And from the two dishes I've in a very sophisticated, discerning food blogger way proclaimed were not my favourites I'm afraid it's now back to the gushing about this lamb dish. Braised lamb belly, potato presse, puy lentils and pickled beetroot gel. I can't even begin to explain how good this was. The meat was phenomenal (as it had been with all the dishes - The Black Dove pride themselves on freshness of ingredients and that totally comes through. They do warn on their website that their menu may be reduced on Sundays due to the lack of availability of fresh ingredients on a Sunday though, so that may be something to bear in mind, but I'd rather see that on their website than a compromise on their approach to food and the importance of fresh ingredients!) This was 100% my favourite dish of the night and I will definitely be ordering it on my return! By the time this came out it was quite late and the lighting wasn't great so I promise when I go back I'll get a better picture of it to share with you all, because this dish really deserves to be shown off.

I was so stuffed by this point that I didn't think I really could appreciate the desserts so I sat most of them out, but I couldn't resist a try at the cheesecake and the beautifully presented French Martini.
The cheesecake was tarte and sour and delicious. The sweetness of the honeycomb cut through it a little bit, but overall this isn't one for those of you who like a seriously sweet dessert - for that you'd want The French Martini. Pineapple compote, pineapple set custard, vanilla sponge, and raspberry foam. I tried one spoonful of this and it was gorgeous but a little too sweet for me to manage much than a few spoons of, but then that's the beauty of this type of dining - you can order a few desserts between you and try them all. Though, to be honest, these were big enough that each individual dessert could happily satisfy one person, whereas the main courses were portion sized so that you could order quite a few - we had 5 plates between 2 of us at the event and that left us all full (or at least it definitely left me full!) whereas I don't think 5 desserts would be manageable even between 2 people, so order with caution when it comes to dessert!

I think it's probably clear from what I've said here about what I'll be ordering on my next visit that not only would I highly, wholeheartedly recommend The Black Dove to you, it's also entered my list of my personal favourite restaurants in Glasgow. Whilst sitting in the event I was WhatsApp-ing phone photos of my food to my friends like 'we need to come here', and I've picked The Black Dove as being the setting for my family dinner for my birthday in a few weeks. I can't praise it highly enough, and it's 100% worth that train journey... I promise!

You can find The Black Dove website here, Facebook page here, Instagram here and Twitter here. Most importantly you can find the restaurant itself at 67 Kilmarnock Road, Shawlands, G41 3YR. 

The Black Dove, Shawlands

29 June 2017

Spring/Summer isn’t really a season in Scotland. Not in terms of the dress sense anyway. It’s probably going to rain and there’ll definitely be wind but, admittedly, the temperatures aren’t in the minus degrees they are in winter and having daylight past 3 o’clock in the afternoon is a something I cherish about the season, if only for the blog photo taking opportunities.

So how do you handle that? You need protection from the elements but you can’t be cooking in your feather lined faux fur arctic winter number… Well, enter the trench coat.

This season in Scotland is truly where the humble (or indeed, not so humble) trench steps up.
I don’t know about you but I loved that Christmas film that Burberry did, that showed a little bit about the history of Thomas Burberry... and the trench coat. The name itself, ‘trench coat’ comes from the fact that Thomas Burberry submitted his rainproof coat to be used as part of an army officer’s uniform way back in 1901, but it wasn’t until WWI, during which the coat shielded military officers from the rain and mud in the trenches, that the iconic name was actually bestowed upon Burberry’s rain coat.

If the coat could withstand the conditions in the trenches, it could withstand normal British weather, and it was post WWI that Britons began to adopt the trench coat into their civilian wardrobes.

Thankfully, practicality and fashion finally came together when style icons such as Marilyn Monroe, Jackie O and Audrey Hepburn, despite their differences, all adopted the look. To be more flattering to the female figure, the design was slimmed down and simplified over the years – which, as a curvier woman, I’m quite thankful for, because the androgynous look will never quite be one I can carry off with aplomb, but I do adore a trench coat.

Burberry is, arguably, the most iconic brand associated with the trench coat but if Burberry is out of your price range (or even if it isn’t but you’d prefer to spend the cash a different way!) there’s another great British brand, this time a high street one, offering an array of women’s trench coats to the market.

Jack Wills, that dependable cornerstone of the Great British High Street for high quality basics, are playing to their strengths with their trench coats – but far from being boring basics they come in a variety of styles.

Now, we’ve all seen the classic trench coat styled, but it doesn’t take much to take something from an easy-to-wear, no-fuss required, throw-on-and-look-good item to being something we’re sort of dreading the actual wearing of.

We’ve all been there – you saw it on the website, or on a blog (or even in one of those vintage things where they print on paper and bind it together, I think it might be called a magazine?) and you fall in love. You know that’s going to look great on you (or maybe, like me, you think if you buy the thing it’ll make you look as cool as the person wearing it – please say I’m not the only one who does that?!), you know you love it, you know you need it… and then it arrives and you have no idea how to style it. Jack Wills have stepped in with a couple of suggestions on how to style a trench coat, so you don’t need to fear any switches up they’ve made to the classic trench.

It’s been around since the 1850s, acquired it’s name during WWI, and cemented itself as a fashion icon with the help of some of the glamorous starlets of the 50s and 60s; I think the trench coat has earned itself a place in my wardrobe.

This post was in collaboration with Jack Wills, the opinions on the trench coat itself are my own. 

Wardrobe Classics - The Trench Coat

25 June 2017

When Lynsey Instagram-ed (it always starts with an Instagram now, doesn't it?) a burger she had at Steak, Cattle and Roll I had instant meal envy. Like I needed to be where she was at that very minute and prise that burger from her hands. I feel I should probably write her cold, dead hands, because I do believe we would have had to have had some kind of fight to the death over said burger because if it had been mine and she turned up to steal it, there'd have certainly been a fight. Anyway, this is going off on a tangent and I think you've probably got the point that Lynsey Instagram-ed (is it Instagram-ed, Instagrammed, Instagram-med or instagrammed, what do we think is the proper English?) an amazing looking burger and, being who I am and not being okay with not having a burger like that in my life, I demanded we went ASAP. Luckily the burger had tasted as good as it looked and I didn't exactly have to beat her into submission to agree. (Gosh, this has been a very violent opening to a restaurant review... Ahem!)

One of the things that had grabbed my attention (other than the burger) was that Lynsey had visited with our friend Nikki, who is actually vegan and, given the name of the restaurant, that really surprised me; but it turns out Steak, Cattle & Roll actually have amazing vegetarian and vegan options on their menu. It's not just your standard one veggie burger option - they've got dairy free desserts and 'milk' shakes - both alcoholic and non alcoholic - as well as sides like onion rings coming with two options - the veggie version and the vegan version. Though I'm a carnivore and it doesn't affect me that much, I love finding places with menus big enough to cater to groups of my friends at a time and not feel like 'oh we're going to a vegan place' or 'oh we're going somewhere where the veggie/vegan we're with only has one option'. You can see the full food menu here and the drinks and desserts menu here. Glasgow has been rated the number one vegan friendly city in the UK as there are a plethora of restaurants available to cater to the veggies and vegans amongst us, but it was really nice to be somewhere were no one felt they were compromising. 

With this in mind we scheduled our visit to Steak, Cattle and Roll to be a pre-theatre trip with our friend Lauren, who is vegetarian. This was her burger:

Yep, that was the veggie option. I'm quite used to Lauren's veggie burgers coming looking a lot smaller and flatter so I was instantly impressed by the thickness of the burger. She was intrigued by the vegan chicken burger, so we'll need to go back and investigate that some other time, but for our first trip she opted for The V Burger, and it got a huge thumbs up! Also in this picture you can see her basket of fries and, believe me, the picture is not doing the size justice. The sides were absolutely huge and we made the mistake of all ordering our own chips - we should have definitely shared! Lauren opted for the sweet potato fries as you can see from the picture, but I tested out the regular chips and omg guys they were amazing! 

I don't like to review places based on one trip so I went to the Merchant City branch of Steak, Cattle and Roll (my original visit, and the one during which I had the meal I'm showing you just now was to the Sauchiehall Street branch) over the weekend and had the lunch menu, but I asked for the skinny fries to be swapped for the normal ones because they were so good. 

Despite the extreme cheapness of the lunch menu (£8.00 on a Saturday between 12noon and 4pm for a burger, chips, 2 chicken wings, coleslaw and corn on the cob, if you'd care to know - I have no idea how they're making any money whatsoever!) if they weren't going to be able to accommodate that swap I was happily going to pay the full whack to order off the main menu to get those fries. I say the full whack - even the regular menu is cheap. An average burger is  £8 - £10, the chips on the side are £3.00 (and you can definitely split one lot of chips between 2 people) and a pint sized soft drink is £2.50. And the portions are huge. But yeah, the chips are so, so good. You need to promise me you'll go and order them ASAP!

Lynsey opted for a wrap - choosing the Cheesy Steak wrap, which is home-made Mac & Cheese and pulled beef brisket in a wrap. This was her third visit and it was the second time she'd ordered this - so I'll just presume it comes highly recommended from her! 

Then it was my turn, and I opted for the Dakota burger. This is described on the menu as ' Honey batter fried chicken breast topped with cheese & smoked bacon, smothered in honey butter.' That sounds amazing, right? Think about how amazing that sounds and then multiply it by at least ten, and you're a bit closer to knowing how good this burger was. It was huge though, and it totally defeated me. I counted six full rashers of bacon on the burger. Six! The chicken breast that was used was full and tender and they didn't skimp on the cheese either. How they sell this for a measly £8.00 I have no idea, but long may they continue! 

Being the fools that we are as well as our individual baskets of fries that we order, we also decided to try the onion rings. I say we. This was really my mistake, because I can't resist onion rings whenever I see them on a menu. But they're frequently the item I'm most disappointed by. As much as I left more of these on that stack than I would have liked to, it was not because they were disappointing in any way , in fact these were amazing. They were crisp and crunchy, there was a good ratio of batter to onion (for me it should be like 75% batter, 25% onion, just for reference of what I call 'good ratio') and I would order them again in a heartbeat. I'd just also be sharing the fries and not have a full basket of fries to contend with as well as the onion rings. We left so much food untouched it actually makes me a bit sad to think about! If we hadn't been going to the theatre afterwards I would have probably asked for it to be boxed for me to take away - and I never ask for that. That's a serious indicator of how ridiculously good this place was. 

Now... despite the fact I didn't finish my burger, my fries or indeed the onion rings, I had to find room for Raspberry, Ripple & Roll 'Fancy Schmanzy' milkshake I'd read on the menu the day I saw the SC&R appear on Lynsey's Insta. It wasn't an option to leave there without it. And I may have had to unbutton my jeans to sit through the play, but I have absolutely no regrets.

This was so, so good. It was super sweet - vanilla and raspberry ice cream with raspberry sauce made up the milkshake part, it was topped with a mountain of whipped cream and pink edible glitter and then a Swiss roll to, literally, top it off. This was The Dream. I was totally stuck between this and the Biscoff which is vanilla ice cream, cookie spread and banana chips so when I visited the Merchant City branch I made my friend Declan order the Raspberry, Ripple & Roll whilst I opted for the Biscoff. I'd definitely order both of them again, but if you're only going to visit once on a trip to Glasgow or something and you have a sweet tooth the Raspberry, Ripple & Roll takes it for me. 

Slightly confusingly the Merchant City branch delivered Declan's RR&R without the Swiss roll and instead served it with raspberries, which wasn't a problem but it did rather detract from the 'roll' part of the name. Had I not been at the Sauchiehall Street branch previously though we would never have known anything was amiss because there's definitely more than enough in the milkshake itself without the actual Swiss roll; just something to bear in mind though if that Swiss roll is really closing the deal for you! 

As for the non milkshake desserts - when we visited with Lauren she opted for the cheesecake, which you can see below. It was a huge slab of cheesecake, served with both ice cream and whipped cream. SC&R really don't do anything by halves!

She said she was really happy with her choice and on my second visit my friend Kim went for the Knickerbocker Glory and her girlfriend Lucy opted for the Brownie. They both pretty much disappeared before my eyes so I'm going to take a guess and say that they would both recommend their choices - Lucy wasn't going to order a dessert until the person at the next table got the Brownie and then she had to give in! I don't think she regretted her choice...

In case you can't tell, I would 100% recommend Steak, Cattle and Roll as an amazing restaurant to visit if you're in Glasgow, and with a really wide menu to suit all tastes. Just make sure you go hungry, because you're going to want to roll home!

Steak, Cattle and Roll, Glasgow.

21 June 2017

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