1812, Klute and Chilli White- Winter Socialising!

It’s back! After a long awaited 3 month wait, City Socialisers has been given a new lease of life, just in time to celebrate the blog’s first birthday! I can’t believe that it’s been a year since I began writing about three of my favourite things in life- socialising, food and of course alcohol!

This post focuses on what I’ve been up to over the winter period whilst spending time in Bournemouth. The majority of my socialising has been along the coast, however there have been a few outings in London with a cheeky trip away to Vienna, Austria too.

The first place I am going to review is 1812, probably THE best cocktail bar in Bournemouth. This bar is steeped in history and was established in 1812 (hence the name). Originally built as a mansion for the aristocracy, the building was later turned into what we now know as the Royal Exeter Hotel, of which the cocktail bar is an addition. Drinks here are pricey but worth every penny; they do have a happy hour Monday-Thursday evenings with 2 for 1 cocktails; my personal favourite is Apple Strudel!

Attached to the bar is an incredible restaurant which is fantastic for a special occasion; we came here for a friend’s birthday and the food was exquisite.  “Classically British/French cuisine with modern twists: Fine dining in a brassiere style. Our food is full of flavour and uses as much local produce as possible.”- Head Chef at 1812.

If you fancy donning your killer heels, Klute and Chilli White is always a winner when out in Bournemouth. Klute is a pretentious lounge bar attracting those who go out to be seen, so if this is not your kind of night stay away! However, if you’re dressed to impress and have a good group of friends with you this is a great night out. In contrast to the main room, upstairs is a lot more relaxed with fantastic acoustic sets played weekly.

Previously known as TOKO this club has had a complete refurbishment and now Chilli White attracts a similar crowd to Klute, but has a much more laid back atmosphere and is more spacious. So if you want to dance the night away in a great setting, this is the place to do it!

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Urban Reef- Bournemouth

It’s been a little while since I last posted, mostly due to the big move back to Bournemouth to complete my final year at Uni. However, as I am a London girl, it doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop socialising in the capital with any chance that I can get! Instead, it just means that the blog will also include great places I’ve been to by the sea and in any other towns I visit on my uni tour of the country visiting my friends!

So this post is all for ladies (or lads!) who lunch! Last week I discovered a fantastic cafe by the sea which is the perfect place for a lunch date or for catching up with the latest gossip over coffee. Urban Reef in Boscombe (about 2 miles away from Bournemouth itself) is set on a gorgeous unspoiled part of the beach where tourists generally aren’t seen. The cafe has an outdoor decking area with sofas, heaters and is right on the beach, the perfect place to spend a lazy lunchtime in the sunshine.

However, Urban Reef isn’t a one dimensional summertime retreat, they have a fantastic dinner menu once the sun has gone down or for if the weather isn’t too great, which you can enjoy upstairs whilst still enjoying the views. Not hungry? Urban Reef boasts a great bar with a wide cocktail menu all of which are priced under £7.

In addition to this, Urban Reef is a deli AND a farm shop! The restaurant prides itself in using local produce; the farm shop gives you the opportunity to enjoy the ingredients used in the restaurant for your home cooking.

Urban Reef is becoming increasingly popular so at peak times it would be advisable to book or be prepared to wait a little while for your food, but it’ll certainly be worth it in the end! I highly recommend this place and will definitely be going back!

Maya- Surbiton

“City of London elegance provided in the suburbs of leafy Surrey”

This quote from the restaurant’s website couldn’t describe Indian restaurant Maya more perfectly. On Saturday night my best friend and I were craving some spice! So we decided to try out Maya, a local Indian restaurant in Surbiton and we were very impressed!

Not only did we have a three course meal including drinks for just £20 per head, we ate in a stylish atmosphere which seems an entire world away from your usual visions of a dated curry house.

We ate relatively early, despite this; the restaurant had plenty of custom and got busier as the night went on. I think it would be wise to book for larger parties but we didn’t have any problem getting a table for two.

The waiting staff were very attentive, without being intrusive, and regularly checked to see how we were getting on, which is a breath of fresh air compared to many establishments who have the attitude of not being bothered whether you’re there or not!

The food here was great and came out in a timely fashion. I must confess my taste buds aren’t well travelled when it comes to curry so I played it safe with a chicken tikka masala which I really enjoyed (you can’t really go wrong with that one, right?). We both had onion bhajis for our starter along with poppadums and dips. Safe to say, we were pretty stuffed after that feast so opted out of puddings.

I really enjoyed my evening spent at Maya. If you’re looking for an ‘upper class’ curry experience, with great food and classy surroundings, rather than just your average takeaway, then this is definitely the place to go!

**STUDENTS** If you’re on a budget and prefer your curries in front of the TV, show your NUS card upon delivery for a 10% discount!

The Old Bear- Cobham

For my Dad’s birthday we ventured into Surrey to The Old Bear in Cobham. This is a quintessential old fashioned country pub, but with a modern dining room attached which is a real delight.

Booking is essential at the weekends, as it is packed full of locals from the area wishing to eat and socialise; choosing either from the bar menu or a la carte in the dining room, both menus of which were created by head chef Nathan Green who has trained under Gordon Ramsey and other Michelin Star Chefs.

For my starter I had country terrine, with fruit chutney on toast; which was absolutely delicious! This was followed by lamb kofte (a special treat sent with compliments from the chef!) which was equally as tasty. For my main meal, I had fillet steak (which melted in the mouth!) and triple cooked country chips with watercress salad which I thoroughly enjoyed. After all of this I was unable to move let alone even think about a pudding, but from what I saw being served to the other tables- it didn’t look like they’d disappoint!

The Old Bear certainly isn’t just ‘pub grub’ so expect suitable Cobham prices to be attached, however, for a special occasion I would go back here in an instant! The staff at The Old Bear are extremely friendly and attentive making it a fantastic Modern- British dining experience in beautiful surroundings.

Food From Around The World!

This blog has been left pretty unloved recently; this is because I took an amazing trip around the world visiting Australia and America. As a result of this I thought I’d do a one off post about my favourite restaurants in each place I visited, it would be great if I could inspire someone to visit one of them on a future trip!

The first restaurant which really caught my attention was in Cairns, Australia. Cairns is a backpackers paradise in Queensland however, there are some fantastic restaurants to visit along the harbour. Many of the restaurants here ranged from $25-$40 for a main meal (approx £15- £25). We particularly like the waterside bar and grill which served fantastic barbeque food. You could sit in or outside where you’ll have a fantastic view of the harbour at night. I had BBQ Ribs whilst my friend had a barbequed vegetable platter which was delicious. We definitely thought this was one of the best restaurants in Cairns and had quite a sophisticated atmosphere.

Across to Los Angeles in Marina Del Rey we fell in LOVE with the cheesecake factory! When our hotel suggested the restaurant for lunch when we first arrived we weren’t too keen as we were expecting a bakery of some sort, wow were we wrong! The cheesecake factory has one of the largest menus I’ve ever seen, catering for the health conscious with their huge and tasty salads in addition to those who didn’t care about their waist lines with their fantastic burgers and famous cheesecake desserts. The cheesecake factory was fantastic value for money due to their brilliant food, huge portions at a very reasonable price!

If you’re travelling to Las Vegas on a budget, you should definitely check out the Harley Davidson cafe which is on the strip near the Planet Hollywood hotel. The staff was so friendly, the food is delicious again with massive American portions at a great price. In addition to this a hidden gem is the Tropicana cafe inside the Flamingo which has great specials which gets you away from what became the dreaded hamburgers with fantastic pasta dishes for just $8 (about £6) which were served with Caesar salads and garlic bread all included in the price!

Moving on to New York I highly recommend venturing out on the subway to Canal St where you will find Little Italy. Little Italy is one small street laced on both sides with fantastic Italian restaurants where you’re sure to find the best pizza and pasta in town for a good price. Many of the restaurants have a very similar menu so really it’s just a matter of choosing which one you like the look of the most. We really enjoyed our meal here and found everyone really chatty and friendly and had a great conversation with one of the locals!

That’s my top four restaurants from my trip! =)

Sway- Covent Garden

Two of the girls and I recently visited Sway for a cheap dinner after work to catch up on life. Sway sits next to the new Connaught rooms on Great Queen Street between Covent Garden and Holborn tube stations. This is a newly refurbished restaurant which doesn’t disappoint!

I’d first heard about this restaurant on the radio as the restaurant turns into the latest Jongleurs Comedy chain at the weekend. As a result of this I looked it up on top table and saw that they had a very reasonable menu, so reasonable in fact we shared a starter, had a main course each and a bottle of house red win all for £10 per head!

The restaurant was very new and welcoming and looked as if we were entering a 5* establishment. The staff was friendly and attentive without being intrusive and it was nice to be able to sit near the open kitchen to see the chefs at work.

The menu is similar to Ruby blue, so I assume they’re operated by the same people. The menu is wide and varied, mostly serving British and Modern European food which would suit even the pickiest of eaters. The menu is a reasonable price even without the 50% of discount we received for eating before 8pm and really doesn’t disappoint. You also receive 50% off all drinks before 8pm too which is a great offer to take advantage of.

So for a cheap meal in the heart of the west end in an exclusive location Sway is definitely the place to go. I’ll certainly be returning at a weekend to check out the comedy club!

La Tasca

If you’d like somewhere a little different to try out for lunch or dinner you should definitely check out la tasca. La Tasca’s chain of tapas restaurants can be found in pretty much every town and not only to they have very tasty, authentic Spanish food, they have great prices too!

My friend and I went to the La Tasca in St. Martin’s Lane in Covent Garden last week for lunch and printed off 50% discount vouchers, which can be found on my voucher codes or on their main website, you can also use taste London cards if you have one. Signing up to their newsletter is a good idea as they always send through fantastic offers.

You can choose from a taster menu which gives you a little bit of everything for you to try, or you can choose your favourites from a vast menu which suits all tastes. Generally speaking 3-4 dishes per person is more than enough and the best part is if you get something different to whoever you’re dining with you can share around! Definitely check out the chorizo in red wine- it’s to die for!

Eating in the Covent Garden branch was perfect, service was good, food was great and we managed to eat our meal within our lunch hour without the need to rush.

The meal came to £7.50 each with soft drinks, so it was an absolute bargain for the happily full feeling afterwards! You should definitely try out their delicious sangria too to add a little extra Spanish-ness to your experience!

Med Kitchen- Soho

Last week I met with two friends from university for dinner. I booked a table for us through top table at Med Kitchen on Charing Cross Road (on the corner opposite Priscilla Queen of the Desert) as I had walked past here a few times on my travels and loved the continental look of the place.

It was a really pleasant evening so we chose to eat out side. At first I was a little worried about noise form traffic and passersby, but this wasn’t a problem at all as the area was sectioned off and the hustle and bustle just added to the atmosphere.

The food was absolutely delicious with a wide menu to suit all tastes. As we booked through top table we were given the option of a three course set menu with a Bellini for £15; however this menu was quite limited so we chose to eat from the a la carte.

We had Italian breads to share as a starter, and then I had spicy Moroccan lamb sausages with apricot cous cous, minted yoghurt and chips as I was feeling a little adventurous and I’m so glad I did! My friends had spaghetti carbonara and eggs royale which is a toasted muffin with smoked salmon, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce; all of which we thoroughly enjoyed.

All of this plus a bottle of red wine for the three of us came to just under £20 per head which I thought was great value for money for the food.

Two of us stayed for a little longer and enjoyed a Bellini whilst soaking up the atmosphere. We were there a good two hours and there was absolutely no rush to vacate the table which was great.

Although we didn’t eat there the inside looked great too and is deceptively big, so you’ll never have to worry about getting a table if you’re looking to go pre theatre.

Med Kitchen is a little gem in the centre of the west end and makes you feel like you’re on the continent rather than the middle of London!

Afternoon Tea- London Hilton Hotel Park Lane

For my mum’s Christmas present, I booked us both a day out at the London Hilton Hotel in Park Lane consisting of a spa treatment and afternoon tea. We finally got the chance to go this weekend, after waiting until later in the year so we had better weather, and both thoroughly enjoyed it.

After walking through the magnificent hotel lobby, we were greeted at the spa by two very friendly staff members at front desk who explained to us how the day worked. I had originally booked two massages, however due to my mum’s bad back conditions the staff were very happy to let her have a manicure instead so not to aggravate any back pain. So while I was off having a relaxing back and shoulder massage my mum was able to sip champagne whilst having her nails done in a very relaxing atmosphere.

Once our treatments were complete we went off to the podium restaurant across the lobby where we were served (even more!) champagne and were treated to a fantastic tea. We began with open sandwiches and were then served warm scones with a choice of jam and clotted cream or chocolate spread.  This was followed by fairy cakes and chocolate fancies with truly were works of art served on a solid gold tray. This was washed down with unlimited tea and coffee. There was no way we would have been able to finish all of the food so the waiter packed what was left into a box for us which my dad enjoyed in the evening.

This was a truly indulgent day and left us both feeling very relaxed (if a little tipsy!). I found this offer on last minute.com and for £90 for the two of us I think it was absolutely worth every penny! I recommend taking your swimming and gym things too as unfortunately we didn’t realise that you can use all of the facilities at the spa including the sauna, steam room and gym all included in the price.  So for a full afternoon’s entertainment in the lap of 5* luxury, I couldn’t recommend the Hilton enough!

Circus And The Langley- Covent Garden

On Friday everyone in the office were treated to a free taster menu at the very recently opened Circus restaurant on Endell Street in Covent Garden. I was so excited about this as I had heard amazing reviews about fantastic food complimented by breathtaking circus acts whilst you eat and drink.

Walking into the restaurant felt like walking into a nightclub, however once you were in the main part it was very light and airy with their fantastic sky light and disco balls!

The free lunch unfortunately was as big as a starter so we all had to order mains. We sampled vegetable parcels, battered seafood and beef salad which were all very moreish! The menu is very varied with a lot of seafood which I’m not too keen on so I shared a beef burger which was filled with avocado, cheese, tomato and onion with very spicy coleslaw and fries which were also good but not quite as good as the starters.

We were very disappointed not to see any of the circus acts which we were expecting as it was lunch time and so I think this would be a better place to try out in the evening. The sales guys said it’s not going to be a place they’ll take clients for this reason.

We went back to work and began to plan our evening. We ended up at the Langley on Langley Avenue in Covent Garden. This is an underground venue with two rooms and a restaurant, which has a fantastic 50% off happy hour from 5-7pm and was really busy by the time we got there at 6pm. I thought this may be the case so was very glad that I booked a table for us so we had somewhere to sit down at chat.

The staff at the Langley were excellent, they booked my table with ease, the bar men were very friendly and had a good sense of humour and people were always coming round to collect empty glasses.

We left the Langley quite early as we were all tired from working, however I’d love to see it in full swing at about midnight as I think this will be a fantastic venue for a Friday night in Covent Garden.