Tuesday, 16 April 2019

FOOD | BYRON BURGER, YORK

I'm no stranger to a good burger and I like to think that I can make a pretty reasoned judgement as to whether a burger is decent; to be honest the moment that any burger serving establishment says something like 'is medium ok for your burger, slightly pink?' you know it's probably going to be good (this is because if it's a frozen, or less meaty burger they'd not be able to serve anything pink - it'd just be grey or nothing.)

We visited Byron Burger in York the other day; I've been before but Kev hasn't and I wanted him to experience it as I really enjoyed the one I had in London (and I had my fingers crossed that they wouldn't disappoint). I'll be honest and say that on first impressions of the interior it's potentially not great; where we were sat near the back the booth seating looked like it had seen better days but I do also think that it's possibly part of the Byron branding - to be more hipster, cool and industrial rather than refined and sophisticated... it is a burger joint after all.

byron-burger-york

byron-burger-york

byron-burger-menu

byron-burger-york

We went in at around 12pm and it quickly started to fill up with customers which is obviously a tell-tale sign of their popularity. As you can probably see from the menu, Byron concentrate on burgers but they do offer beef, chicken or vegan options plus a selection of upgrades to your fries which is something I do like to see on a menu just to be able to switch normal fries for something a bit more exciting.

Both me and Kev went for a B-Rex burger which is a beef patty, an onion ring, bacon, American cheese, jalapeños, pickles, onions, BBQ sauce and mayonnaise. We decided against the jalapeños because neither of us are particularly fond of hot food and although I don't mind jalapeños on nachos, that's about the limit of when I'll eat them. I also changed my normal fries for courgette fries which, if you haven't tried them, are an absolute must I think! I was very tempted to add cheese sauce onto normal fries but courgette fries win every time for me (they're actually one of the main reasons why I like Byron Burger).

b-rex-burger

b-rex-burger

courgette-fries

byron-burger-fries

Both burgers are obviously photographed before we started eating them and I can confirm that they got a whole lot messier than that, which is another sign of a good burger in my book! They were incredibly juicy and the extra toppings were the perfect combination to make a really, really tasty burger. I particularly enjoy courgette fries; they did leave a little bit of grease in the bottom of the pot but I can deal with that seeing as they didn't taste greasy at all!

I can highly recommend Byron if you're partial to a good burger; the only slightly downside to anyone living up north is that they only have 4 branches north of Birmingham; the one in York, Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool but it's well worth a visit if you're in any one of those cities.

Other amazing burger places up north include Urban Fresh Burgers (Doncaster), Meat Liquor (Leeds) and the Prince of Wales (Sheffield)

Where's your favourite place for a burger?

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Friday, 5 April 2019

FOOD | URBAN FRESH BURGERS AND FRIES, DONCASTER

Decent fast food style burger chains are still few and far between in my opinion and you'd be forgiven for thinking that all fast food burgers are of similar quality to McDonald's but there's been a huge game changer that's arrived in Doncaster recently and I can't believe I've only just discovered it.

Urban Fresh Burgers and Fries arrived down Wheatley Hall Road in Doncaster offering beef and chicken burgers as well as veggie options served with fries cooked in peanut oil (drooling face emoji). If you're from Doncaster or within driving distance, treat this blog post as a public service announcement - this is the quality of Five Guys but at a fraction of the price. 

A 'regular' burger is actually 2 'patties', with small being just the one. I went for a cheeseburger and Kev went for a bacon cheeseburger 'The Urban Way' which has lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, pickles, mayo, ketchup and mustard. You can, of course, choose your own toppings from a huge list available on the board but The Urban Way is the only way for me. 

Considering these are fresh, premium quality burgers, the prices are so reasonable at £4.95 for a 2 patty cheese burger, the peanut oil fries are £1.95 for a regular portion (which is huge as you'll see further down) and the drinks are £2.95 (which may seem a little steep but they are refillable with a choice of 100+ drinks!). You can have a look at the full menu to find their chicken and veggie options.




Preparing food in front of customers is a real winner for me - you see exactly what's happening with your burgers at each stage of making them and it shows how well and truly fresh everything is! The staff are amazingly efficient at what they do and even at busy times you know they're working as hard as they can to keep your wait time to a minimum.

The whole process from ordering to picking up your food is perfected at Urban, the slight wait gives you chance to decide which drink you're going to choose from the Coke Freestyle machine (the fact that there's one of these in Doncaster is a revelation for me, I'd come here just to use that because I love an extensive drinks choice!)

There's variations of all sorts of different drinks so make sure you set aside a few minutes to browse the endless possibilities (I'd recommend Peach Fanta; Emma from Emma Drew Info recommended it to me and I can wholeheartedly say it's amazing!). 

The burger is what I would describe as a 'dirty burger' and by that I mean that you are not going to come out with clean hands - it's every bit as juicy and amazing as a fresh 100% beef burger should be. The Urban Way toppings go together perfectly and the peanut oil fries are an absolute revelation - you'll never want normal fries ever again! 

To see some amazing photos of their burgers head over to the Urban Facebook page (I don't eat in so by the time I've got mine home the photo just doesn't do it justice at all and you have to believe me that these are the most amazing fast food burgers in Doncaster)! They have additional stores opening at the brand new Lakeside triangle later this year and also one at Rotherham Parkgate - trust me, you need to try this.

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Wednesday, 3 April 2019

HOME | HOW TO GET THE LUXE LOOK IN YOUR HOME

Collaborative post

From switching up your colour scheme to introducing statement furnishings, there are a whole host of simple ways to improve your living space and ensure it exudes class, style and sophistication. To help you get the luxe look in your home, here are some quick, easy and surprisingly effective changes that you could make. 

Choose furniture that stands out

You don’t have to completely rethink your furniture to enhance your home interior. By choosing a few new standout pieces, you could overhaul the look and feel of your rooms. For example, why not add an extravagant French-style bed to your boudoir? Perhaps a carved antique-look design made from solid wood would look the part in your bedroom, or maybe a luxuriously upholstered model with an opulent headboard would be a better fit. As the focal point of the room, this piece of furniture will set the tone for the entire space.

To give your lounge a dreamy, decadent feel, have you thought about adding a sumptuous chaise longue? These pieces are all about indulgence. Meanwhile, if you have space in your bathroom, a roll top bathtub could instantly elevate the appearance of this space and create a spa-like vibe.

The key is not to be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. To expand your home décor horizons and find pieces that really wow, it pays to browse home décor magazines and check out the options available on specialist websites such as crownfrenchfurniture.co.uk - and of course Pinterest always comes in handy too!

Supersize your accessories

Oversized accessories can give your rooms the designer look that you'll recognise from the glossy pages of home interior magazines. Something as simple as adding outsized mirrors to your walls can transform the appearance of rooms and make a bold, confident style statement. Go large with your artwork too. Hanging big prints can help to give your spaces a sense of purpose and personality. Geometric shapes and abstract designs work especially well when you’re going for the luxurious look.

Introduce statement lighting

Forget drab fabric ceiling lights. By swapping standard fittings for showstoppers like chandeliers and glass and crystal pendants, you can take your home design up a gear. Make sure you have lots of mood lighting options too. For example, you could add some plinth lights to the bottom of your kitchen cabinets to bathe the floor in a warm glow. Hanging large pendants over kitchen islands or dining tables is another way to up the sense of luxury when it comes to your interior design scheme.

Create feature walls

Don’t be tempted to over complicate your colour scheme. Simple is usually best when you’re trying to create a plush effect throughout your home - and neutrals like calming cream or crisp white can work especially well. But to give your rooms some added flair, you could create feature walls in bold hues such as deep purple, intense red, dark grey or forest green.

To take your feature walls a step further, why not use patterned and textured wallpaper? This tends to work especially well in accent areas such as alcoves or chimney breasts.

Use indulgent fabrics

To truly nail the opulent look, you have to pay attention to the finer details - and this includes making sure you use plenty of indulgent fabrics around your home. For example, you could embellish your bed or couch with cosy faux fur throws and place thick pile rugs on the floors in your lounge and bedroom. It’s also good to add detail to your chairs and sofas with beautifully coloured and textured cushions. Why not go for embroidered designs for that extra touch of sophistication and detail?

These changes don’t take much time or effort, and you might be surprised by how much they can transform your home.

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Saturday, 16 March 2019

FOOD | SFINX, SHEFFIELD RESTAURANT REVIEW

I was kindly invited to review Sfinx, this in no way affects the validity of my review.

Romanian food isn't something you'd necessarily come across up north, and it wouldn't be a cuisine that'd be at the forefront of my mind if I was going to pick somewhere to eat but when I was invited to try Sfinx, a Romanian restaurant in Sheffield, I was intrigued as to what it would be like and as you well know I love trying new places to eat in Yorkshire!

When I first asked Kev and we looked at the menu, his first reaction was 'hmm, but are we going to like it?' - there were things on the menu that we'd never heard of before and certainly had never actually tasted but I was determined to try it because I wanted to experience Romanian cuisine.


On arrival we were greeted by the restaurant manager who was one of the most friendly gentlemen I think I've ever met and he quickly explained that we were no different to most British people in that we've never come across Romanian food before and we were pretty much clueless as to what to order so we agreed that we'd try a few different items from the menu to get a full Romanian experience. The atmosphere itself in the restaurant was smart but relaxed; it's clearly a favourite with local families.

The host explained that Romanian food is a bit of a hybrid of different cuisines brought to Romania over the years from Bulgaria, Russia, Austria and Slovakia and most of it had been tweaked with their own blend of herbs and spices. All dishes are homemade in the restaurant so by the time everything had been explained, my initial reservations were gone and I was looking forward to trying some Romanian food. 


I started with a mason jar of their homemade lemonade which was delicious; not overly sweet or sour. They have an amazing selection of wine which we did sample a little bit of and despite the fact I'm not a wine drinker per se, their Moldovan Cabernet Sauvignon was really enjoyable; so smooth (all I could think when he mentioned Moldovan wine was how much Michael Whitehall went on about it on Travels with my Father...)

Then came the starters: homemade bread which was absolutely amazing especially because it was still warm served with a 'Sfinx Sharing Platter' which is devilled egg, aubergine & winter spread,  cabbage roll, salad, pickles and olives. It's my ideal starter because I like little 'picky' bits as starters, especially when it's served with bread. 

  


My particular favourite was the aubergine spread (the lighter coloured one) which is made from baked aubergines, chopped onions and mayonnaise. It sounds so simple to make and it probably is but it is absolutely beautiful with the homemade bread. 

Cabbage rolls are made with seasoned ground pork, pickled cabbage and bacon, again, they were something I'd never tried before and I did wonder whether they'd be my cup of tea but they were so tasty! I knew I'd like the devilled eggs because eggs are among my favourite food - they're filled with chicken liver pate and in all honesty I could have eaten lots of those! The only part of the sharing platter that we weren't keen on was the pickles on the side but I do think that's purely down to our own personal tastes. 

We spoke to the host and decided that we wanted to try a few different bits from the menu for our main course; we chose Hungarian goulash, Romanian stew and then a selection of Romanian speciality meats served with rosemary potatoes.


The Hungarian goulash is a mildly spiced beef stew, I double checked before we ordered that it wasn't going to be too spicy but the host explained that it was mild, served with a chilli so that customers could make it to their desired level of spice. The beef was so tender and was perfect with the potatoes, paprika and spices. It's one of those meals that just warms you up; a real comfort food. 


Romanian stew is a mixture of chopped pork, chicken breast, Romanian sausages, and mushrooms, blended with rich tomato sauce, served with polenta, fried egg and cheese on top. Polenta isn't something I've ever really tried before but it seems to be a bit of a Romanian alternative to chips and rice. It went really well with this stew in making it into another hearty meal. I preferred the Hungarian goulash whereas Kev preferred the Romanian stew but it was nice for us to be able to try both.

The amount of meat on the platter was quite daunting after we'd eaten so much already but I was determined to try the Mici and pork collar which are two traditional meats eaten in Romania. Mici are minced meat rolls made of a mixture of beef, lamb and pork meat with spices - they are extremely tasty and go really well with the Romanian mustard served on the side. The pork collar also surprised me because I associate pork with being a little bit dry but that's because as Brits we traditionally eat it as chops which is quite a dry meat but the collar was beautifully tender. The rosemary potatoes were something else; despite the fact that I was already full from all the beautiful food we'd eaten, I just kept picking at them because they were so nice!


After giving us 10 minutes for our food to settle, our conversation with the host turned to dessert and we decided that we'd share one because we really wanted to try something but we wouldn't manage one each. 

Papanash is the most traditional Romanian dessert on the menu so naturally we went for that. Don't be put off by the description of them being 'cheese doughnuts' because these are absolutely to die for. The way they're made makes them so light but equally indulgent at the same time; served with cream and wild berries you really have to try this when you visit Sfinx.


I'd recommend Sfinx to anyone in the Sheffield area looking for somewhere new to try; if you let the host know that you're new to the cuisine he'll definitely be able to point you in the right direction but based on my experience if you try nothing else during your visit you absolutely must have the Aubergine spread and papanash... when I visit again I fully plan to try something different from the main menu but they'll remain my choices for starter and dessert!

If you want to take a look at the menu before you go there's a copy on the Sfinx website along with lots of other useful information about location and opening times.

Have you ever tried Romanian cuisine?

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