Restaurant Review : Chin! Chin! Bristol

To celebrate a good friend's birthday last week a large group of us went for dinner at Chin! Chin! on St Michael's Hill, Cotham. Prior to our visit I hadn't heard a whole lot about the restaurant so didn't know what to expect from the evening.

With their website stating that they are all about "celebrating Great British food & drink" I assumed the venue might be on the twee side but in fact the decor was more English eccentric in style and with branches and fairy lights adorning the ceiling there was an air of a Mad Hatters Tea Party - a feeling added to by our number being fifteen strong and sat across two long tables pushed together to accommodate us. For groups of our size (6+) Chin! Chin! offer a party menu where the whole table has the same set menu which is a mixed selection of the kitchen's best dishes.  Not having to make a decision or deal with food envy is always a good thing in my book!

To begin with we were each served an amuse bouché of parsnip soup which was presented in a cute vintage china cup & saucer. The soup was simple but tasty and peppery and a nice nod to the classic starter course. Following this and before the main event there was a course of bread and crudities served with olive oil and hummus. I tend to avoid wheat as a health choice but I'm not strict about it when eating out as it can makes things difficult, however as I was sat next to a lady who is strictly gluten free it was great to see (and share) the wheat free bread that was laid out especially along side the normal slices and when the plates that followed were served the waitress confirmed that everything set down was also gluten free. I'm not sure how much they amended their normal menu but it was great that they were so accommodating.

The main course was served tapas style with lots of dishes to share and with a variety of meat, fish and veg dishes it was quite the feast. Everything was delicious and well cooked and although the presentation was quite different the rustic style and flavours reminded me of the food at one of my favourites, Poco. Chin! Chin!'s dishes included chicken skewers with a lovely coconut dip on the side, a beetroot & apple salad and slices of pork belly which were lovely and juicy but on the salty side (even for my savoury tooth!). My favourites were the squid which was cooked to melt-in-the-mouth perfection and a dish of kedgeree which everyone I was sharing with agreed was amazing. Full of food and plenty of house wine nobody fancied dessert but the restaurant did treat the birthday girl to a small dessert drink and a little cake with a candle which was a lovely end to the evening. Including drinks and tip dinner came in at a reasonable £25 per head. 

I would highly recommend Chin! Chin! especially if you're planning an occasion for a larger group. As well as looking dapper in their vintage style outfits the staff were so friendly and welcoming to us and with great food and atmosphere the evening was a real success.


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Some Things From The Weekend : Sister, Sister

This weekend has been spent in the company of my lovely little sister Sunnie who came up to stay with us for Friday and Saturday night. On Friday we went to eat ramen at Sticks & Broth (my new favourite place) then we headed home to play games and eat ice cream. On Saturday morning there was a bridal makeup appointment followed by searching the shops for bridesmaid dress inspiration - we have lots of different ideas, which is both helpful and confusing! In the evening we had home cooked thai curry and watched Horns which was pretty ridiculous but I kinda loved it plus I heart Daniel Radcliff! We also took some shots for her massage therapy website which I'm helping her design and binged watched Brooklyn Nine Nine. So all in all a lovely weekend indeed and just what I needed after quite a busy and stressful previous week. The busyness and stress lead to some blog silence last week as I just couldn't get anything finished but spending this afternoon scheduling posts and lots planned in the weeks to come, including a couple of restaurant reviews and a post on a BareMinerals blogger event. 

Hope you've had a good weekend and are enjoying your Sunday?

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New Finds & Lovely Things #5 : Plates Not Slates

If you've stumbled across @WeWantPlates on Twitter then you'll be aware that some people aren't so keen on the current trend of 'alternative' ways of serving food. Although some examples are pretty laughable as a rule I'm all for innovative displays - we can have style and substance, right guys? That said the humble plate doesn't have to be boring just look at these ceramic beauties!

//1 - Anthropologie - Nathalie Lete Side Plate   

//2  - Rockett St George - Ink Blot Side Plate

//3 - EL-AICH Designs -  Speckle-Spot-Squiggle W&Y Dish

//4  Aria - Siirtolapuutarha Round Plate

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Heartfelt Vintage // Vintage & Bridal Boutique, Bristol

Back in January when I posted on Instagram that I was on the hunt for a wedding dress I received an excellent recommendation which I’m now delighted to pass on to you. Heartfelt Vintage is somewhat of a hidden gem, nestled on Alma Vale Road in the Clifton area of Bristol. The shop is bright and airy and customers can enjoy afternoon tea at one of a number of tables which sit in the room, decorated with jars of fresh flowers and surrounded by beautiful displays of vintage clothing, shoes and accessories. With its rail of dresses in whites, creams and light pinks the corner of the shop which is home to the bridal wear is distinctly less colourful than the rest but equally pretty, if not even more so! 

I can say in all earnest (based on the fact I tried on around two-thirds of the stock!) that there is a fabulous range of vintage wedding dresses at Heartfelt, from long, glamorous 1920s silk gowns to mini-skirted 1960s numbers with all manner of dreamy dresses in-between. My favourites included a white long-sleeve 50's dress in the softest vintage lace and a pink lace wiggle dress that felt straight out of Joan Holloway's wardrobe!  They are the sort of frocks I've spent a long time ogling at online but to see them in person and better yet getting to try them on was pretty special.

I took along a couple of friends to my bridal appointment and the three of us were made to feel completely at home by Heartfelt's husband and wife owners Will & Kate. Will kept the tea flowing - in pretty vintage china of course - and Kate was on hand the whole time encouraging me try on as many dresses as I like and completing my bridal looks with accessories including shoes, petticoats, birdcage veils and fur stoles! Kate was also very handy with bull-clips and dress pins, demonstrating how a gown could be taken in or up to be made to fit perfectly. Of course when you're buying vintage you have to expect amendments to be needed so Heartfelt have a talented seamstress to take care of this. Wedding dresses range from £175-£1200 and on average the ones I tried on were around the £600 mark, which is certainly reasonable - especially for a one-of-a kind garment which comes complete with decades of history!

If you're also on the hunt and based in the south-west you should definitely go along to see if your dream dress can be found at Heartfelt, and if your after a cute and classy activity for your hen do they also offer afternoon tea or vintage make over days.

The boutique is not all about weddings however with a genuinely wonderfully curated selection of vintage clothing, including a rail of some most adorable items for children I've ever seen! So whether you are a bride-to-be, a vintage enthusiast or simply a fan of tea and cake I wholeheartedly recommend you paying Heartfelt Vintage a visit. 

32 Alma Vale Road, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 2HY
T: 0117 904 2898
Open from Tuesday to Saturday 10am - 5.30pm


WORN... on a spring-like saturday

Oh Spring ya big old tease - you’re welcome to stick around you know!

Here’s a few outfit shots from our lovely sunny Saturday walk two weekends ago, when I went out donning a fair few lovely gifts I’d received for my birthday including the cute shirt from Fox & Feather from my brother and earrings from Will. Also took my new Lomography analogue camera for a spin, another lovely birthday pressie from Will and speaking of that fiancĂ© of mine - he did a pretty good job with these shots don't ya think?

Worn // Blouse - Sugar Hill Boutique; Jacket - Vintage,  Skirt - old H&M (similar here), Shoes - last season Armistice, Camera - Lomography Diana Min 35mm in White, Earings - White Leaf, Flower Ring - old Urban Outfitters (similar here), Sunglasses - old Primark, Gold Rings - Primark... except that one with the pearl & diamonds on my left ring-finger of course! 

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New Finds & Lovely Things #4 : When Life Gives You Lemons

This unseasonably sunny collection is inspired this week by the beautiful print by Ella Masters which I discovered through her Instagram feed...

//1 -  When Life Hands You Lemons print by Ella Masters - I've been wanting a print featuring this saying for a long time but I've never really found one I like until now.

//2 Lemon Print High Waisted Bikini - now we're really dreaming of summer!

//3 'Spritz A Wonderful Life' bag -  I've not really got on board with the novelty bag trend but this ModCloth bag is super cute, and extra love for what they've named it.

//4 Recipe: Preserved Lemons - Whilst daydreaming of Lemonade weather is all well and good making up a batch of preserved lemons might be more useful right now. I did a jar of plainly salted lemons last year which was great, but this Saveur recipe, with its added spices, sound amazing! They're a brilliant addition to tagines and salads or try with fish or lamb.

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Playlist : Signs of Spring

Happy Friday all! Here's a playlist which I have been gradually adding to over the last week or so,  a week which has been changeable to say the least - one minute beautiful, sunny, full of the joys of spring the next wet, miserable with the heating back on and this little collection of songs capture the mood of the moment for me.

Hope you enjoy... X

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Vintage on the Small Screen : Mad Men Season 7 Teasers

Its nearly here! After witnessing the beginning-of-the-end last year with Season 7 part 1, next month Mad Men returns for the last time for a final seven episodes. Although in June last year I was cursing AMC for applying the 'Breaking Bad' formula and giving us a year long mid-season break, right now I'm pretty glad that there are still new episodes remaining and the recently released images and teaser trailer have got me pretty excited!
Over the last few years Mad Men seems to have caused the online conspiracy-theory machine to grind into gear in a way not seen since Lost's polar bear, so of course these images, poster & trailer are being dissected all over the shop! 
- Is the song used in the trailer a clue we will have jumped to its release year 1976?
- Will we finally see some resolution between Pete & Peggy or Joan & Roger?
- Look at Betty lounging in every photo - still on the therapy couch after all theses years.
-Poor little blurry-in-the-background Bobby, you will never be a relevant child to the Drapers!
Head over to Flavorwire or Slate to indulge in the speculation.

On a style note, I'm not personally such a fan of these floaty 70s dresses, although if Sally's blue outfit found its way into my wardrobe, I wouldn't be upset. The "Every girl is a Jackie or a Marylyn" early 60s era will always be the pinnacle of Mad Men chic for me.
Speaking of which in anticipation / celebration we have recently started watching the entire series from the beginning. We're half-way through season 2 and have about a month to go until the new series starts...so if you'll excuse me, I'm off to watch some more episodes!

Mad Men Season 7 
UK / Sky Atlantic 9th April 2015
US / AMC 5th April 2015

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Some Things from the Weekend : A Sunny Saturday Walk, The Bristol Vintage Wedding Fair & Lunch at the Lido

What a beauty this weekend was - on Saturday we did what all good Bristolians (& Britons) do when the sun shines and headed to a local beer-garden for a pint in the sun. The St Werbergs area of Bristol is about a 20 minute walk from our house and walking to it through pretty allotment-gardens is one of my favourite things to do on a fine day.  We walked up 'The Mound' to take in the view of the city, wandered through the eco-village, visited some cute piglets at the city farm and then stopped for a drink at The Farm pub. Their garden was full of people with the same idea as us - you wouldn't have thought it was early March!

On Sunday Will's Mum visited us for the day, we had a lovely time looking round the Bristol Vintage wedding fair followed by a delicious lunch at the Clifton Lido. We've only been to one other wedding fair previously, it wasn't a great experience and the vendors were not to our taste at all, the fair on Sunday at Clifton Pavillions, Bristol Zoo Gardens was completely different. Obviously its vintage sensibilities were always going to be more up my street but I was really impressed with the variety of the vendors and their beautiful displays. You can check out all the lovely companies that were exhibiting on the Bristol Vintage Wedding Blog.

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New Finds & Lovely Things #3 : Get Shirty

If every item in my wardrobe had a collar, I think I'd be quite happy...

//1 Pippa Lynn Monstrosoty Box Shirt -  I love this! I saw it in-store at Urban Outfitters yesterday and fell pretty hard for those cute little monsters!

//2 Sonora Top - Camp Collection's awesome clothing line is inspired by the nostalgia of the American Summer Camp. I discovered them through their lovely Instagram feed.

//3 Sugarhill Boutique Cherry Blouse -  I was given this lovely shirt for my birthday last weekend from my brother. He bought it from my favourite local boutique Fox & Feather.

//4 Dr Martens Longline Shirt - I've been eyeing-up this shirt-dress for a while and will keep stalking it until it hopefully finds itself in the sale!

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At-Bristol : After Hours - Love & Luck

At-Bristol's 'After Hours' is a quarterly event held at the science centre in central Bristol. Usually a popular family destination these evening events are strictly adults only giving grown-ups the chance to roam free around the centre, play with all the exhibits unimpeded by little people and learn more about science in a night then they may well have done since school! Visiting At-Bristol has been something I've wanted to do for sometime so I was pretty excited to receive an invitation to February's event and I think this was the perfect way to experience it - with a DJ playing out tunes and a drink in my hand.

With the event taking place at the beginning of Valentine's weekend on Friday the 13th the theme for the evening was aptly 'Love and Luck' and there were a number of exhibits set up especially to explore this topic. For starters 'The Science behind Alcohol and Attractiveness' had Will and I passing judgement on how good-looking we found people in a series of pictures, although at only one pint down I think we were both still on the picky side!

Of course we quickly found ourselves in At-Bristol newest exhibition area Food! and were instantly impressed and rather jealous of the gorgeous greenhouse teeming with herbs. For the 'Love & Luck' event The Wiltshire Chilli Farm had taken over the kitchen for the evening, letting people sample not only their delicious sauces and chutneys but also see how their tastebuds faired against the Scoville scale; us being the chilli-heads we are our attitude was "Hey Hot Stuff - bring it on!". I may have mentioned I like my spicy food once, or twice (maybe more) on this blog so it was a lot of fun seeing exactly where on the scale my heat threshold lies - by the top-end 400,000 scovilles of a strong habanero I was definitely feeling the burn (I just love the extreme numbers of the Scoville scale!). To cool down we then had a ridiculous amount of fun playing with the food photo-booth but caused a rather large queue to form as we were desperately trying to get a Marmite selfie, we settled for a picture with blue-cheese - which we love nearly as much!

After a quick foray into human biology we grabbed another drink and headed upstairs, having to whiz passed the animation exhibit to get to the 9pm show at the planetarium. Having never visited At-Bristol before this was one part I was adamant I couldn't miss and it did not disappoint. The stars inside the dome looked beautiful as our At-Bristol guide, who was brilliant fun, talked us through the night's sky. When we were asked questions about the stars we were gazing on I happily pretended I was in the Hogwarts astronomy tower and called out the names of constellations I knew. The planetarium is magical enough as it is but excitingly this year it is to be refurbished and will relaunch in April with new 3D technology for an even more immersive experience!

After the show we had just enough time for a speedy double-date with a Neanderthal couple, who suggested that cave painting and bison hunting together is the key to a happy relationship, we were inclined not to argue any different with them!

Our blue cheese food-photo-booth pic proudly displayed on our fridge... we'll get you next time Marmite!
The 'Love & Luck' After-Hours event was such a great way to experience the science centre, showing that although the venue may usually be filled with children and families the exhibits at At-Bristol are just as fun for "Big-Kids" too and it was such a unique experience for an evening out, where else would you find yourself polishing of a glass of red wine inside a giant womb? My only regret for the evening is that we didn't get there earlier to fit more in - I would have especially loved to have tried my hand at the heart dissection. A massive thanks to At-Bristol for the invite, we had the best time and we'll definitely be back for the next After Hours event. YEAH SCIENCE!!*

*(...obligatory Breaking Bad reference)

Anchor Road, 

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