White Star Tavern restaurant, Southampton.

White-Star-Tavern

Last week we were kindly invited down to the White Star Tavern restaurant in Southampton to enjoy a night out – a date night – which are few and far between as I’m sure most parents can relate to! We set off before the boys were asleep as my parents kindly put them to bed, which felt like a total luxury! Leaving us to leave relaxed and eagerly anticipating the night ahead.

White-Star-Tavern

The White Star Tavern is located on Southampton’s lively, cosmopolitan Oxford Street, which is our favourite place to go in the city.

We were greeted by the manager, Martin, who made us feel welcome and showed us to our cosy table in the restaurant which was located at the back of the bar. It seemed pretty quiet for a Sunday night, but who am I to judge – usually I’m cosied up on the sofa on a Sunday night with the latest episode of whichever box set we are currently obsessed with! I would love to visit on a Friday or Saturday night for a meal and then drink in the atmosphere of the lively bar afterwards.

We were offered bread and olives to whet our appetites and I returned from the bathrooms to be greeted by this whole pot of olives to enjoy by myself! The bread (baked locally) was delicious, so soft with a pleasant outer crunch.

Olives

Chef Matt had only released the new menu a couple of days before our visit, each dish looked well thought out and mouth-watering! Stuart and I took our time to look through the menu while the friendly waitress bought over our drinks – G&T for me to start off. Later I looked more in-depth at the detailed and vast drinks menu and saw that there were about 6 different gins I could have chosen from, so it would have been nice if I had done that – but to be fair I think I was just too keen to get my hands on any kind of gin after dealing with the “Terrible Twos” and a teething baby all weekend 😉

Usually we don’t always like the look of the same food; I prefer to go with food I wouldn’t necessarily cook at home and always choose something different, whereas Stuart will go for pretty much the same thing every time – the theory being why would he pay for something he might not like – despite not agreeing with him on this theory, my questionable menu choices had often left me disappointed and suffering from major food envy; maybe he was right?! I digress. Happily this menu didn’t appear that it was possible to ever be dissatisfied so we went ahead and ordered.

parfait

Stuart went with the chicken parfait with confit chicken leg & red onion chutney – the balance of rich, smooth chicken liver with the fresh chutney was perfect – I can report this as I forced Stuart to share a little with me – for review purposes you understand…

eating-at-white-star-tavern

I decided on the smoked trout pate and it did not disappoint! The crunchy, tart apple was perfectly matched with the smokiness of the trout and the delicate herbs fragrantly lifted the dish.

trout-pate

 

The White Star Tavern holds awards such as The Les Routiers South of England Restaurant of the Year and has held two AA Rosettes since 2010, an award given to ‘Excellent Restaurants’ in the local area – and it’s clear to see why. Head chef Matt Noonan has carefully crafted a superb menu ensuring all ingredients are locally and sustainably sourced, all to a delicious standard. Their ethos is to support as many local companies as possible in order to help create a stronger local economy – it was lovely to know that the veg or meat on my plate, may have only been picked in the last 24 hours!

 

girl-at-white sta-tavern

We both decided on the fillet of beef with braised featherblade for our main which was recommended to us by Martin. Let’s be honest, there was never going to be another option for Stuart and I was completely sold having seen it on the website before we’d even arrived!

I tend to take my lead from the style/quality of restaurant when deciding how to ask for my meat to be cooked – knowing a decent kitchen would cook it correctly, which is why I asked for medium-rare so that it was not too underdone for me but remained succulent and Matt cooked it to perfection!! Literally.

Let’s just take a moment to take this all in –

gastro-pub

We chose a different style of chip each, we were feeling wild – truffle & parmesan for me and triple cooked for Stu; I loved the tin pots they were presented in, matched with our main plates. I also got the peas, bacon & shallots as a side and was tempted by the braised cabbage, but resisted.

Truffle-oil-chips

 

give-peas-a-chance

At this point I was pretty sure I could have been rolled out of the restaurant, however I literally could not resist the “Death By Chocolate” dessert. And it certainly was that! It tipped me over the edge and I couldn’t even finish it – Shame on me I know! Stuart broke his “no chocolate until Vegas” rule – seriously, I challenge you to resist it if you visit! The raspberry coulis lifted the decadent, rich chocolate and the white chocolate parfait was a welcomed pairing.

Death-By-Chocolate

Each course was indulgent, immaculately presented and of course delicious. We’ve already said we would love to come back for our wedding anniversary to enjoy a lively Saturday night – Hopefully then I can test out all of the gin’s on offer! Last year we ate on Oxford street but sadly didn’t know about the White Star restaurant, so I’m so pleased we got to discover it.

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Thanks to the White Star Tavern for having us, I would highly recommend it!

White Star Tavern

28 Oxford Street
Southampton
Hampshire
SO14 3DJ

023 8082 1990

White Star Tavern, Southampton

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There are so many stories around the history of Valentine’s Day. In fact it wasn’t even until the 11th century that it was recognised to have romantic connotations and then not until the 18th century that it had evolved into a time whereby lovers would exchange flowers or gifts. Fast forward a few hundred years and it’s just another ‘Hallmark Day’ where we’re all told to buy a card for our loved ones to show them that we love them…Or am I being totally cynical!?

Don’t get me wrong, I love receiving flowers, something I am lucky enough to have from Stuart relatively regularly (not too often that they lose their specialness – is that a word?! And not too infrequently that you ask “whaaaat have you done”) but not on a day where he is “expected” to and is pressured to buy from a selection of massively overpriced, corny red roses – which I can’t stand anyway!

I absolutely love to go out for dinner – but I certainly wouldn’t want to go out on Saturday the 14th Feb where you’re sat within feet of the next couple, and the next, all eating their set menus which are unlovingly prepared by chefs who would rather be with their own partners than catering for cover after cover of rushed through patrons.

And of course, it goes without saying I do love a good present! But not because of clever marketing campaigns or ideas splashed around the shops designed to give even the clueless of man a helping hand! (We’re talking perfume, chocolates, the dreaded cuddly toy)

valentinesday

 So last week I was all set to bring you a Valentine’s Day gift guide…until I realised actually I don’t even want a card or gift myself this year! I’m torn between being unsure if this makes me a total Scrooge or the perfect wife! Truth is Stuart will be more than happy not to go in for the usual typical V-day celebrations and we will save our baby sitting token, and money for that matter, for a meal we will actually enjoy and gift each other when we’re not expecting it, not when we’re forced into it on what could be one of the least romantic days of all the year!!Red roses

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Well guys, I’ve reached the big 3-1. I’ve also reached 17 weeks pregnant. The 2 put together certainly don’t scream massive party, but I’ve certainly had a good time celebrating and have been really spoilt with lots of lovely pressies from friends and family.

Stuart and I began the week with a night out in Bournemouth on Tuesday watching Kasabian who were really good, and I didn’t even fall asleep, go me!

Pre gig dinner at 60 Million Postcards

60 Million Postcards

Kasabian, BIC

KASABIAN BIC

I then had an appointment on Wednesday at the Midwife for our 16w check, and got to hear little baby J’s heartbeat. Which actually was a nice relief as I had, and still have, been worrying about not feeling any movements since 14 weeks. I know 14w is really early to feel movement and it’s probably quite normal not to feel them yet at this stage, but it just adds to my worries. So anyway, after a couple of minutes of the MW looking, I heard the memorable thundering of the heartbeat which was lovely 🙂

doppler

Thursday came, the big day! My absolute hero and number 1 dream dinner party guest Sir David Attenborough came to little old Amazingstoke for a book signing at Waterstones, so I booked the morning off and trotted (waddled) off into town at 9.30am for the 12.30pm signing hoping to get to the front of the queue…Wrong. There were already 300 people in front of me!! Anyway, I set up camp – Henry’s garden chair in the shape of a dog and my Costa hot choc, and began the 5 hours of queuing!!

1,000 fans awaiting.

Terrible photo of me but this is the 1,000 deep queue of fans!

By 2.30 I finally got to meet the legend himself. Unfortunately by that time he had seen hundreds of people and had hundreds more to go and then another signing in Oxford that afternoon, so he wasn’t particularly chatty. But he was as wonderful as I had imagined, softly spoken (the kind of voice you’d like to have narrate your life story) well presented and like the Grandad I want as my own. Shame about the burly security guards who stood beside him moving people on within seconds of them getting to the table, but I guess needs must.

What a legend!

Sir David Attenborough

The family came over in the evening and I gorged on Thai take away and birthday cake, perfect!

Make a wish!

Stuart booked us in for a spa weekend in Surrey and I was treated to a Mum To Be package including a heavenly all over body massage, and I enjoyed not having to do a single thing all day bar relax! Heaven for any parent!! Followed by a lovely meal and lie in the next morning! Bliss.

Christmas tree in the spa!! Winning.

Frimley Hall Hotel

Bar Estilo

Then home time to see our beautiful boy. He had his buddy Harry’s Prince and Princess 1st Birthday party to go to and had an absolute whale of a time playing on the soft play area Lucie had hired in, and generally running riot with the other big littles.

Lots of smiles for Prince Harry!

My Birthday week was rounded off perfectly with a day at home with my boys dancing around to Christmas songs with a roast dinner cooking and putting up the Christmas tree to begin the festive month of December. I love this time of year and this year with Henry that little bit older and really getting into the magic and sparkle of it all it really is going to be better than ever. Even if it is sans alcohol!! You can’t have everything, right?

Henry finishes off the tree.

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Hey guys,

Hope you’re all well. I just wanted to share with you my latest vlog from Brentwood, Essex. I went up over the weekend with a couple of girlfriends, all of us pregnant, and embraced the cheese!

towie essex

We had pedicures and manicures at Chloe’s Beauty Bar followed by a quick snack at Charlie’s Deli. Then some shopping at Minnie’s Boutique before heading to the Sugar Hut restaurant for lunch.

sugar hut essex

We had a really fun day celebrating our friend LJ’s Birthday, albeit very cheesy!!

Click here to watch this week’s vlog!

towie

I’d love it if you subscribed to my YouTube channel to see more adventures. xx

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Traveling with a baby may sound daunting, and the very thought of what you need to pack is enough to scare even the keenest of traveler. But there are a few things which have made our lives so much easier, so I wanted to share for anyone who’s due to travel with an infant my top 3 essentials for traveling with a baby;

Baby Bjorn Carrier.
I’ve reviewed it before, here, but really can’t rave enough about it. We certainly haven’t travelled light, with 3 gigantic bags plus hand luggage each, change bag, handbag and buggy!! But being able to pop Henry on the front and have our hands free for all the other baggage is really invaluable. He’s often bored after a short while in the pram, but the carrier means the he’s at adult level, being able to take in everything around him and be as nosy as he likes! We have so many people come up to ask us about it, drawn in by Henry’s flirting; we hardly see them out here at all but I wouldn’t want to be without it so definitely invest if you can.
– We have the “Active” but they start from around £50, online and in stores such as Mothercare and Mamas and Papas.

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My Little Seat – mobile highchair.
This little bad boy comes out about 4 times a day!! It’s a washable cloth material, 5 point safety highchair in a great choice of colours which you can easily tie on to most chairs – We’ve only been stumped twice in 5 weeks where the chairs are too big for it to go over, but they were extra large, fancy ones; it goes over almost all we’ve come across, you know it’s clean unlike most restaurant highchairs and rolls up into it’s small bag and tucks in neatly to the change/diaper bag. We’ve had so many compliments about it from people who have never seen one before I would 100% recommend it to anyone with a baby who is old enough to sit in a normal highchair. (Great unique baby shower gift too! Available online at Amazon and direct http://mylittleseat.com/ for around £20.)

 

Lunchtime!

      Give me my lunch, Mummy!

 

Travel Cot/Pack and Play.
We deliberated over whether we should pack this for ages due to the size of it – it weighs half the baggage allowance and takes up half the huge bag! But I’m so pleased we did. Hotels do offer loans of them, but I just couldn’t imagine putting Henry down in one every night which had been used by other people, and then you have the worry that not every hotel has them available, and I wouldn’t put him in a normal bed for fear of him falling out. Ours was a gift from Stuart’s Dad and it is super easy to put up and down. It came with all fancy accessories such as a mobile and change table, but we just use the main bed. We also bought a CoolMAX freshFX mattress topper from Mothercare for £40 which is breathable & cushioned which makes it soooo much more comfortable for him (learnt after a weekend in Cornwall where he slept really badly without it) It’s big plenty enough for our growing boy and tucks away neatly in the corner for his own personal bedroom. His little excited face pokes up out the top to greet us in the morning…cute when it’s not 4am 😉

First morning of travelign Henry was ready to play at 3am!!

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