Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Cosy Club Corn Exchange Manchester 18th August 2019

Cosy Club is in the iconic Corn Exchange building, housing a variety of eateries and I was invited for a complimentary meal by Manager Jayne, after visiting a few weeks previously and left after sitting at a table for a good while, without being acknowledged by any waiter.   We were making a return visit to Manchester, so I contacted Jayne and said we would like to visit for breakfast.

Cosy Club are a chain known for a relaxed dining atmosphere and cater exceptionally well for vegans, with an extensive vegan menu.

We had a lovely table in the window overlooking the outside seating area and across Exchange Square, great for people watching with a pot of my favourite Clipper decaf tea.   I do not like places where you only get a cup of tea, at least with a pot you can have extra hot water and have a few brews.

I chose full vegan breakfast swapping baked beans for houmous and Steven ordered Shakshuka with a side of mushrooms.

I was impressed by the food, it was tasty, well seasoned and delicious and I especially loved the potato cake and houmous, I could make a meal of just those two items.   Steven enjoyed his Shakshuka made with a well flavoured tomato and pepper sauce with tofu, we left clean plates with not a morsel wasted.

I was impressed with how allergens are handled at Cosy Club and customers can check the detailed online allergen information prior to visiting, which I find is one big benefit of chains over independents (where I have had several hiccups over the last few weeks).

I will definitely revisit Cosy Club, as there are other dishes on the menu I would love to try, like the Beyond Burger.

Disclaimer:  I received the meal complimentary and have not been paid for this review and all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Co-Op Dry Shampoo

My hair is exceedingly finicky and is greasy and lanky even the day after shampooing, my fringe is high maintenance and washing it every day is not an option.

I have tried various dry shampoos, I used to use Batiste dark brown dry shampoo, until someone pointed out they sold in China and tested on animals (I was gutted).  I swapped to Superdrug own brand equivalent, though never liked it or the results, but better than nothing.

On a trip to Bridlington, I went into a local Co-Op to buy something else and happened to see their own brand dry shampoo, right next to a similar sized can of Batiste but £1.80 cheaper. 

There are two sizes, 100 ml and 200 ml, so I bought a small one to try for a £1.  The dry shampoo is cruelty free, vegan and although I am not keen on many floral scents, I do like the pink blush.

How does it perform, well it certainly had its work cut out, having walked nine miles in Bridlington in wind and rain, I looked like I had been dragged through a hedge backwards.   I sprayed it over my hair, brushed it through and then tipped my head upside down, which helps with volume and gave it a good brush through to remove it all.   I then combed and styled it, a quick blow with the hair dryer on my fringe and I was good to go.

The shampoo removes grease and oil, adds volume and is easy to brush through my hair, unlike the Superdrug version, which made it extremely difficult.   This product made my hair feel soft and manageable, whereas other products tend to leave a coating on my hair so it looks dull.

I used the dry shampoo for a further three days and each time it revived and refreshed my hair and its results so impressive I went back to the Co-Op and bought two of each size, to put into stock.

The final bonus is when I wash it out, unlike the Superdrug product, which leaves a residue and dulls my hair, even after a good shampooing, the Co-Op product does not, it completely rinses out.

I wish I had found this product before now, its like a defibrillator for hair like mine and an absolute godsend.   Highly recommended.

The Freeman Cookhouse & Pub Albion Terrace Bridlington 11th August 2019

The Freeman Cookhouse & Pub is the restaurant for Premier Inn customers staying next door, right on the seafront with great views.   I did not take internal photos as it was very busy, but it is a modern space to dine or have a drink in the large bar area.

As with the numerous Premier Inn affiliated restaurants I visit, the only vegan options were two main courses, with no starter or dessert available.   The two mains were out of bounds for me anyway, as both contained soya, so I thought there was no chance of dining there.

However explore the allergen list and two soups are vegan depending what is soup of the day, as well as Margherita flatbread without mozzarella, so I booked a table for dinner.

I checked the wine list and as with most places, no vegan friendly wines were highlighted and yet a quick Google search revealed this rather smashing Sauvignon Blanc.

Lucky for me on our visit soup of the day was pea and mint, so I had a chat with our waitress Becky regarding allergies and I cannot fault how it was handled by the team, unlike the previous evening at Rags Restaurant.

The pea and mint soup served with brown bloomer bread was piping hot, with a lovely texture, packed with flavour and for £2.99 an absolute bargain, I enjoyed every last morsel.

Steven ordered the vegan burger, with a tomato flatbread and sweet potato fries for me and as there was no vegan cheese I had some Violife mozzarella in my bag.

Steven loved his burger with its BBQ topping and with added cheese he said it was scrumptious and gave it the big thumbs up.   My flatbread was excellent with a fabulous base and tomato sauce,  in fact better than many Italian restaurants I have been and with the addition of cheese I was a happy vegan.

I was impressed with the whole experience, just a shame Cookhouse & Pub are not more specific about possible vegan options like soup and flatbread and offering vegan cheese would appeal to more customers like the dairy or lactose intolerant.  Cookhouse & Pub are obviously in it to make money, so why not label vegan friendly wines on the wine list, so many vegans will just not bother purchasing wine, as it can be laborious doing a Google search.

I would definitely revisit a Cookhouse & Pub, who will hopefully take note of my feedback and go the extra mile and offer a vegan dessert.

Monday, 12 August 2019

Rags Restaurant South Pier Bridlington 10th August 2019

Rags Restaurant is in Rags Hotel right on the front in Bridlington, with views of the harbour and offer a vegan menu, a welcome find in the town or so I thought.

Prior to our visit I emailed Rags to ask if foods I am allergic to, were in the beetroot salad starter and chickpea burger main course and received this reply.

On arrival we sat down and ordered a very nice bottle of Quercus Pinot Blanco, after a quick search on Barnivore and what a lovely wine it was.

A chap who I think was the owner approached and confirmed he had read my allergy correspondence and chef had everything in order, so I felt relaxed especially reading they took allergies very seriously on the menu, how wrong could I be. 

Steven ordered butter bean salad, which was okay though nothing outstanding, but he was starving having walked nine miles earlier in the day and ate it all.

When ordering I again requested olive oil for my salad, as I did in my email to replace the mustard dressing, which was served in a pot and duly poured over.

I tucked in which I came to regret, as I discovered brown seeds I recognised as mustard, hiding underneath as I finished the dish, so chef used mustard dressing anyway.   Some initial symptoms I suffer are exceedingly sore, dry, swollen eyes, chronic nasal congestion, terrible bloating and upset stomach, so I went to the ladies toilets to use my allergy eye drops.   On returning to the table I started feeling queasy and nauseous, just as the main course arrived.

I was feeling so sickly Steven tucked into my main course, as his stir fry was seriously below par, with uncooked tofu and vegetables in a thin bland sauce.

I discovered more mustard seeds on the main course salad and scraped them to the side of the plate, before rushing off to the toilets to be sick.

By this time a waitress appeared, as I must have looked unwell as I left the restaurant and Steven explained about the mustard seeds, so she took the plate to the kitchen.   I returned to the table, just as the waitress approached to say chef disagreed it was mustard, the look on my face must have said it all, so she went to check the allergen information.   She in fact returned to the table with a bottle of salad dressing, with a look of horror on her face, as she showed me the label with brown mustard seeds listed as an ingredient.

The waitress went to explain the situation to the chap I mentioned earlier, who rushed off to the kitchen, then came over to apologise profusely, but with no explanation as to how chef got it so wrong.   In the meantime all I wanted to do was leave, as I felt absolutely awful, so the chap zeroed the bill, although Steven wanted to pay for the drinks, but he insisted so we left.

Our trip, organised solely for the purpose of attending the Bridlington vegan festival the following day was ruined, as the morning after I looked and felt terrible, so we had to cancel.

I still cannot believe how complacent some chefs are, I have no idea what this chef was thinking, but I suggested to the owner in a couple of online reviews I posted, allergy training and awareness are seriously needed.   Just imagine the scenario with someone who was anaphylactic it does not bear thinking about.

Ask Italian South Bay North Wharf Scarborough 9th August 2019

Ask Italian is a large chain of restaurants, who offer a great selection of vegan dishes and the Scarborough venue is right on the seafront with fabulous views of the harbour.

Ask Italian have highlighted which wines are vegan on the allergen list, yet omitted it from the wine list itself, so many people must miss this most important information and probably avoid the wines altogether.   I chose a very nice bottle of Montesotto Chianti Classico, one of my favourite Italian wines and this was a good one.

We shared dough balls with balsamic vinegar and super green soup to start, served with a clear vegan label on each dish, although these did not appear on our main courses.

The soup was fresh, light and delicious, with fresh pea shoots on top and the dough balls were great for dipping to soak up the soup, we thoroughly enjoyed our starters.

Mains were a pizza with artichokes, mushrooms and roast peppers for Steven and fettuccine with aubergine and a side salad for me.

We were really happy with our choices, the pizza had plenty topping and vegan cheese and my pasta was perfectly cooked with a nice sauce, lots of aubergine and great flavours, with a fresh well presented salad.   We were too full for dessert, although it was tempting with a blood orange and chocolate tart on offer.

I was impressed with Ask Italian, especially for a chain restaurant, as it was better than many independents I have been to and not expensive either.   I would certainly revisit in the future to try other dishes including that scrumptious sounding dessert.