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Garnier Ultimate Blends Banana Hair Food Review

We all want soft, shiny, well nourished hair and we'll buy into all the conditioning products that claim to 'repair split ends' and 'condition from root to tip' only to be largely disappointed with the outcomes. It's not often that I absolutely rave about a beauty product now but I can't get enough of Garnier Ultimate Blends Banana Hair Food and I'll tell you why it's the best budget hair mask on the market at the moment. 

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It can be used as a regular conditioner, a leave-in conditioner or a mask but let's just be clear I have only used this as a mask so I can't speak for the leave-in aspect but I've been using this now for just over a month 2/3 times per week so I can definitely give a well rounded view on 2 of the 3 things it claims to be able to do. 

Firstly, it smells amazing (providing you like banana) it does smell kind of artificial but I still absolutely love the smell; think those foam banana sweets and you get the idea. Not only does it smell amazing in the pot but it also makes my hair smell beautiful even after drying which very few hair product seem to have the ability to do. 

I usually use it as a mask, which involves leaving it on for 3-5 minutes (or longer if you have the time) and I always make sure I brush or comb it through my hair while it's on to make sure that I'm conditioning throughout my hair, not just the top layer (particularly important because I do have quite thick hair). It leaves my hair feeling beautifully smooth when wet, which is what you find with most conditioners but I think the real test of a conditioner is how it feels once your hair is dry. 

I've noticed a marked difference in the condition of my hair since using this; there does seem to be a lot less breakage and knotting (previously, I was finding that my hair would knot up every single time I dried it). Also, even though it conditions it beautifully, it doesn't weigh my hair down at all.

All this might be to do with the fact that the Garnier Ultimate Blends Banana Hair Food is free from silicones (which give the illusion of silky smooth hair but really it's just a film that weighs it down) and the ingredients are 98% natural (a claim I do question slightly due to the fact that 'natural' is an unregulated word). Also, Garnier claim that it's a vegan formula which it may well be but Garnier themselves are not a Vegan only brand so make of that what you will.

To be honest, all you need to know is that this hair mask is 100% worth buying, especially if you can find it on offer at less than £3.50!

Silversmiths Restaurant, Sheffield Review

Meal and associated drinks were GIFTED

You'd not normally find me in a restaurant which is labelled as 'fine dining' because I'll be honest, it's not really my scene; I like to feel full when I've finished my meal and I don't get the impression that I would be after most fine dining experiences. However, when I was contacted to ask if I wanted to try Silversmiths Restaurant in Sheffield, a relaxed fine dining experience, I had a look at the menu online and I couldn't resist. 

Silversmiths is situated in the heart of Sheffield, close to the train station, so it's easily accessible from surrounding areas (the only slight issue I had was parking - there are plenty of car parks around but Saturday lunchtime tends to be quite busy; although on a night I would expect the car parks to be much quieter). 

They pride themselves on their Yorkshire heritage; using fresh locally sourced produce to create the finest British cuisine with a true taste of Yorkshire. They have a couple of different menus to choose from: the a la carte menu which has a choice of three starters, three main courses and three desserts plus cheeseboard plus a simply British menu which gives you a few more options. You can mix and match the menus if you wish and you can also take advantage of their pre-theatre menu before 6:30pm which is £23 for 3 courses. 

The restaurant itself is quite small and intimate but after their recent refurbishment, Silversmiths have made the most of the space while making the atmosphere relaxed and welcoming. They also have a private dining room upstairs which can be used for small parties of up to 16 or corporate meetings.

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Part of the main restaurant dining space

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Private dining space

To begin with, I decided to try a cocktail from their new cocktail menu (launching soon); I asked for something not overly sweet and was presented with a Black Forest Manhattan - a Silversmiths twist on the traditional cocktail; made with bourbon rather than blended whiskey which gave it a more palatable flavour. 

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Then came the starters; in all honesty I wasn't blow away by the choice on either of the menus so I decided to go for soup of the day which was Celeriac with an Apple Velouté and Kev chose the Venison tartare with egg yolk emulsion, horseradish, olive and dripping. 

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As you can see, the portions are as you would expect from a fine dining experience but I must say that the soup was beautiful; not a lot of it but what was there was delicious. I only realised when I'd finished that my bread was supposed to have butter which I think had been forgotten but had I noticed and asked I have no doubt that they would have brought me some as the service was very attentive. The Venison tartare wasn't really Kev's cup of tea; mainly his own fault for not knowing what the word 'tartare' meant (raw meat). My advice in a fine dining restaurant is to ask if you're unsure of what's on the menu, especially in Silversmiths as the waiting staff are more than happy to help; it is much more a relaxed atmosphere than pretentious. 

I could tell that Kev was much more excited about the main course choices; he went for the House smoked brisket and Hendo’s pie, seasonal vegetables and mash (classic Sheffield!) and I went for the Pork belly, black pudding mash and spring greens. 

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As you can see, the beef brisket pie was absolutely packed full of amazingly tender beef brisket, the pastry was perfectly cooked and the mashed potato was gorgeously creamy. This definitely did not disappoint and Silversmiths really came into their own with these courses - even someone who is adamant they don't like fine dining would enjoy both of these dishes and they'd come away feeling full and satisfied (we certainly did!)

The belly pork was the best I've ever tasted; if done wrong belly pork can be awful but this was cooked to absolute perfection and it just melted in my mouth and the black pudding mash complemented it perfectly. The only thing I felt my dish was missing was 'spring greens' I understood spring greens to be similar to what came with the pie but what actually came was rather more like cress - it didn't hinder my enjoyment though because as I say - the belly pork was out of this world!

By this point we'd both already eyed up our dessert choice; I went for the Chocolate suet pudding,
chocolate custard and wagon wheel shortbread, Kev chose the Sticky toffee pudding, butterscotch, Yorkshire tea ice cream and brandy snap:

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sticky-toffee-pudding

True British cuisine really shines through in these desserts, again, with a Silversmiths twist. I would have loved if my chocolate suet pudding had had a jug of chocolate custard because I didn't feel that there was quite enough but it the pudding itself was the sweet hit that I needed after my meal and the wagon wheel shortbread was beautifully baked. However, the sticky toffee pudding was the real winner here; it was amazingly moist and sticky and the ice cream was perfect for cutting through the stickiness making it an absolutely delicious dessert (I'm not going to lie, I did have food envy at this point - my chocolate suet pudding was nice but the sticky toffee pudding stole the show).

Overall, we had a really lovely experience at Silversmiths, the food was all well cooked and knowing that it was locally sourced makes it even better! If you're looking for a relaxed fine dining experience in Sheffield, maybe for a special occasion, then I highly recommend Silversmiths. My personal menu recommendations would be the Hendo's pie and the sticky toffee pudding - absolutely spot on!

The Castle Wakefield Refurbishment

Meal and all associated drinks were GIFTED

A few months back I was invited to the Prince of Wales in Sheffield to have a first look at their refurbishment and new menu; I was hugely impressed by the whole new feel of the pub and the food was out of this world so when I was invited to a similar event at The Castle in Wakefield I knew I wouldn't be disappointed!

Their refurbishment is now complete so you can experience the luxury country pub feel for yourself but this is a sneak peak of what you can expect when you visit. Their menu changes to suit the season so naturally their Winter menu is now on offer as well as plenty of choice on a separate vegan menu.

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The dark purples, creams and greys with bold patterned wallpaper and sophisticated lighting throughout complement the furniture to create a modern and stylish feel while maintaining the traditional country feel with the open fires and hearty menu. It's the perfect venue to meet up with friends or family with plenty of comfy seating and something for everyone on the cocktail menu and food menu.

As well as the luxurious feel, The Castle in Wakefield are still offering fantastic value with their fixed price lunch menu offered Monday - Friday plus an extensive range of home cooked dishes in the evening.

I started off with a few cocktails from their extensive cocktail menu; the first of which was a Raspberry and Peach Gintonica; a Mediterranean twist on the traditional gin and tonic with herbs, spices and fruits to complement the gin botanicals:

gintonica

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I then moved on to a Cosmo Twist which is the Castle's take on the traditional cosmopolitan with Seville orange gin, elderflower liqueur and cranberry juice. As designated driver, Kev decided to try a mocktail from the Saintly Sips page of the drinks menu; he went for a low-alcohol pineapple Caribbean Mule (alcohol vol 0.08%) made with ginger ale, pineapple juice, lime and a dash of bitters which he said was very enjoyable (something a bit different to the usual Diet Coke). Finally, on the cocktail front, I had a British Bramble which was an incredibly sweet cocktail made with gin, lemon juice, sweet syrup and blackcurrant cassis.

Now onto the food. I'm a bit of a cheese fiend and Kev tends to order squid no matter where we go so the sensible choices for us were the baked camembert served with rustic toast and sloe gin chutney and the salt and szechuan pepper squid served with aioli

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Kev has eaten a fair bit of squid in restaurants over the past couple of years so he feels qualified to say what defines good squid and what doesn't. In his opinion this is the best squid he has ever tasted; better than Miller and Carter and better than the Botanist. The portion was huge, it wasn't greasy at all and it was incredibly tender. If you don't have a big appetite, I think you could probably share a portion of the squid because it did look to be a lot.

The camembert was delicious but not quite as good as the one I had at the Prince of Wales; I think this one was slightly overcooked as the cheese had started to solidify but nevertheless I ate every last bit of it because I just love camembert!

For main course I ordered the Dirty Burger and Kev ordered the Fillet Steak; we also ordered a side of halloumi fries and some onion rings for good measure.

dirty-burger

The dirty burger was served with the most amazing beef dripping sauce which perfectly complemented the burger and the fries and I was also extremely pleased to see a whole pickle on there because I am one of those people who will ask for your discarded gherkins; I love them! The fries were perfectly cooked, as was the burger and it was every bit as messy as you'd expect a burger named as such but delicious nonetheless. The bacon was super crispy and the cheese was more of a nacho cheese sauce which gets a thumbs up from me. This did leave me extremely thirsty because the fries and the beef dripping sauce were both quite salty but that was just a good excuse to try another cocktail!

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My burger was nice but Kev's fillet steak really did steal the show and I did have slight food envy when I tried a little piece of his because it was the ultimate in melt-in-your-mouth steak. Absolutely to die for. Served with the same amazing beef dripping sauce as came with my burger this was the ultimate in pub grub with twice cooked chunky chips which were also out of this world!

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halloumi-fries

Onion rings are an absolute must for me with any burger or steak and the fact that they're home made makes them even better; these had just the right batter to onion ratio and the halloumi fries were just as good; the sweet chilli sauce is the perfect accompaniment. These are the kind of side orders that'd be perfect as nibbles while enjoying early evening drinks!

At this point, if the dessert menu hadn't been so tempting I might have been inclined to end the meal here because we were more than satisfied but when we saw the melting chocolate and hazelnut bomb and the house sharer, we knew we couldn't leave just yet.

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The house sharer (meant for 2 people) consists of home-baked chocolate brownie, white chocolate & blackcurrant cheesecake tower, Belgian chocolate & hazelnut mousse and a Bourbon vanilla ice cream cookie sandwich. After that list you can probably understand why we couldn't leave without trying it; the only bit of it that may look a little bit dodgy on first impressions is the mousse but I can assure you it tastes absolutely incredible. I just wish the ice cream cookie sandwich had been a little softer and less crunchy but overall I'd definitely recommend the sharer if you want a little taste of lots of things.

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The chocolate and hazelnut bomb is something else though, think a Fererro Rocher encased in a thick chocolate ganache drizzled with white chocolate. It's very chocolately but absolutely amazing; the vanilla ice cream does help to tone down the intense chocolate. Just look at the golden sprayed sphere.. it's the perfect Instagrammable pudding and it tastes sensational!

Safe to say, we left feeling incredibly full of food but we enjoyed every single mouthful and the Castle have managed to create a lovely luxury country pub atmosphere while providing excellent friendly service and unreal food!

The Botanist New Autumn Menu

Gifted Meal

Can eating out be considered a hobby? Because I firmly believe that it's my number one favourite thing to do! And I am one of those really annoying people who takes pictures of their food (so much so that Kev now knows to wait before he dare touch his food, ha!) so I was able to fully enjoy both my food and the Instagrammable setting when we went to The Botanist in Sheffield. 

I've enjoyed both food and drinks in a few different branches before so I half knew what to expect in terms of the decor and food but we'd been invited to try their new Autumn menu so I was excited to see what they had added!






As you can see, the theming is very much what you'd expect from somewhere called 'The Botanist' and even the table decor/menus are in keeping with the leafy, gardening kind of feel. The Sheffield branch's restaurant is actually upstairs which is nice as it properly separates the bar area, where you're free to enjoy a cocktail without food, from the restaurant area. It was slightly confusing as we walked in because although there was a sign, because we'd never been before we didn't realise that the restaurant was upstairs but if you walk in the front door you just need to take the door directly to your right and follow the stairs. And don't worry if stairs are difficult for you, it's also fully accessible with a lift available.

As we sat down we had our waitress, Abby come over and introduce herself; she really was fab and did everything she could to make us feel welcome (I also knew we'd get along as soon as I realised she was a fellow Disney fan). Our attention was swiftly drawn to the new cocktail menus and seasonal drinks...


Obviously, being a HP fan, I went for the Butter Beer which contains Goslings Black Seal Rum, teamed with butterscotch and whipped cream. Kev went for a non-alcoholic Black Forest Mojito.


I can highly recommend both; the Butter Beer would be amazing as an after dinner cocktail I think (even though I had mine before any food) or even as a bit of a winter warmer if you're taking a break from your Christmas shopping. The Black Forest Mojito is very fruity and refreshing but still a great autumnal take on the classic Mojito.


Later on I also had a Chocolate Orange Aperol Spritz which looked exactly like a larger version of a chocolate orange (and you also get a segment in your drink which is a winner for me!). This one packs more of a punch with the alcohol but again, it's a nice seasonal take on the traditional 'summery' Aperol Spritz.

As we were enjoying our drinks we had a bit of time to digest the menu; as I say I have been to The Botanist a few times before but there have been quite a few new additions to the menu so I wanted to make sure I didn't miss anything that I'd regret not ordering later!


The main new additions that caught my eye were the new Hoi Sin Duck, Surf and Turf and vegan Hanging Kebabs - they've done the hanging kebabs for a while but I was pleased to see a bit more variation in what you can have on them. They also have a larger selection of pies which I noticed were a popular choice among people around us; plus the Deli Boards which I do believe used to just be a lunch option but now they're available on the evening menu too.

I also noticed that they've upped their game with their vegan and gluten free choices in general and they have a QR code on the bottom of the menu which takes you to a full breakdown of the ingredients of each of the dishes which is very helpful if you do have specific dietary requirements.

After seeing Alice In Sheffield's Instagram stories, I decided to go for the Cheesy Garlic Bread and Kev went for the Calamari.




I think the picture of the garlic bread pretty much speaks for itself but just in case you need it confirming - it is amazing. That's a portion for one person but it could easily be shared because you do get a mini loaf to yourself. They are definitely not stingy with the cheese or the garlic butter and it comes in the most perfect little wicker basket.

Kev said that his calamari was better than Miller and Carter which is the ultimate compliment from him because before visiting the Botanist, in his eyes you couldn't beat Miller and Carter's calamari. He said the pieces were chunky enough to taste the squid but not rubbery at all; it was perfectly tender and perfectly seasoned with a gorgeous creme fraiche and chilli dip on the side.


For main course we both went for a hanging kebab; Kev's was the Salt and Pepper Pork and I went for the Surf and Turf which is pieces of fillet steak with shrimp; separated with red chillis. Kev was a little bit apprehensive about his choice because pork can easily be badly done; too fatty or tough but The Botanist got it absolutely spot on; and the sweet chilli drizzled over it was the perfect accompaniment.

My Surf and Turf was absolutely out of this world; don't be put off by the chillis if you're not a fan of spice because obviously you don't have to eat them (I certainly didn't) but they do add just a slight hint of spice to the meat on the skewer. The steak was perfectly cooked, as was the shrimp and I absolutely loved that the garlic butter had drizzled down the kebab and onto to my fries at the bottom.

As well as the pies, the hanging kebabs also seemed like a popular choice with other diners and we would wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone!

By this point, I was getting very, very full but I was determined to fit a pudding in because I'd already spotted the Brownie Hanging Kebab which I don't remember ever seeing before so that was my immediate choice, and Kev went for the Sticky Toffee Pudding.



The sticky toffee pudding was very much a traditional kind of dish, served with vanilla ice cream and a toffee sauce but the Brownie Hanging Kebab was a bit more of a novelty. The kebab had little pieces of brownie, chocolate covered waffle and marshmallow served with vanilla ice cream, candy floss and toffee drizzle to put over it or dip into... however you prefer to enjoy it!

The marshmallows were charred which made them extra tasty especially with a little bit of brownie and toffee sauce and the portion size was just right even though it looks like a lot on the actual kebab. The only drawback to this was the waffle; I didn't really enjoy it because I found it a bit dry - I much prefer warm waffles and this one just didn't do it for me unfortunately but I'd get it again just for the other parts of it!

We were both well and truly stuffed by the end of the meal but we were in full agreement that it was an amazing meal and we'll definitely be visiting again! If you'd like to book a table at The Botanist you can save 1/3 by booking through that link! (excluding Saturday bookings). You can also check out the autumn menu before you visit.

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