Tag Archives: Reviews

Doris Does All the Wine: Bordeaux of Some Description

Following my introductory post, my lovely boyfriend obliged to my request and bought me some wine. One of the wines he bought was the one I’m about to review and the other was a bottle of white wine without a label, which I’m rather nervous about opening, if I’m being honest. I have a feeling it’s one of those chemical filled wines that will kill me upon my first sip, but I guess the life of a really bad wine reviewing service includes the possibility of death. Admittedly, he bought it on purpose, because it was £2 and a direct contrast to the Chateaux Vieux Manoir, which is apparently a Bordeaux type wine.

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I have no idea what a Bordeaux is other than the fact, I imagine, it is French and comes from the place, where I assume they grow grapes. I have only heard about it being mentioned in relatively posh settings, maybe in films? But I have never drunk it before, so I guess for my first review, this was probably a very good decision. Boyfriend is a smarty pants, who knew?

The Bordeaux cost roughly £9 and was bought from the Co-Operative down the street from us. It was bought not an offer, which I’m a little angry about, because £9 for one bottle of wine is ridiculous when you can buy two bottles for £10 from Asda (an extra bottle for a quid sounds amazing, doesn’t it?). Either way, please don’t construe this as me being ungrateful, because I am very appreciative of receiving wine all of the time. Apparently, Bordeaux can go one of two ways, sweet or dry and I think this one was very dry because it tasted like salt Ribena. I don’t think this is a bad thing, it actually reminded me a little bit of that salted caramel stuff that is very popular in confectionary items these days and at first you regard it with extreme trepidation, as though you’ve just eaten something fresh from the bowels of hell, but then afterwards you’ve found that you’ve eaten an entire box of chocolates and consumed roughly seventeen thousand calories. It was like that and I did wish that I had more once the bottle was gone. I also firmly believe that if I drank more than one bottle I’d have been pretty drunk and maybe flashed a breast or two.

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Now, food pairings with dry wines seem a bit weird. I mean, should you eat sweet things with a dry wine to counter-act the dryness and it would create a sense of euphoria that couldn’t be comprehended unless you were there, eating the foods in place of me. But, I didn’t do that. I had what has to be the most salty cuisine known to man. Because we’d had some really great news that day, we had a mini ‘beginning of the week’ celebration and decided that we would eat Chinese food that included ribs, chicken, Szechuan beef with noodles and rice and also some chips because they were free. We didn’t eat it all, before anyone suggests that I have an eating problem that fits in nicely with my drinking problem, you bunch of bastards. But it was nice, I mean, I guess it washed everything down in a flavoursome, salty kind of way and my cheeks sucked in, in a really satisfying, yet the opposite of thirst quenching kind of way. Maybe I should have eaten cupcakes.

We watched our favourite programme at the moment, which is the first season of The Blacklist and as far as inappropriately, enhanced by wine, sexually charged feelings towards people who aren’t attractive go, James Spader was receiving it in spades, which is absolutely hilariously and knee slappingly hilarious if you ask me. Also, James Spader is becoming sexy when I’m sober too, which may be a sign of alcohol poisoning, I’m just not sure.

Alas, in spite of being 13.5% the seasoned wine drinker in me was not feeling the buzz after the bottle was emptied, which I sometimes find with wine. I guess a lot of it has to do with, maybe my state of mind or the speed at which I was drinking or the fact that I drink enough wine to put an elephant to sleep and still remain standing, but that might have more to do with my Irish roots and Geordie upbringing than anything else.

I took to Twitter to find out what some of my social media pals were enjoying and Sex Blog of Sorts seemed to be indulging in Tuesday night wine, too, which makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Here is what she thought of hers:

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As always, if you’d like to contribute, feel free to comment or if you’d like a post of your very own like my dear pal Exhibit A who is going to be writing for Doris Does All The Wine very soon! Or whenever he fancies, it’s totally up to him!

Bottoms up, internet x

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Wine Reviews for Normal People (Title TBD)

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I read somewhere that in order to become a wine connoisseur; you have to go to a school that specialises in teaching students about notes, bouquets and food pairings, along with other very important information. I imagine, that makes you qualified to be on Saturday Morning Kitchen telling people what to throw in their gullets with their posh meal. The people I’m writing reviews for are people more akin to the type of person I am; a multiple bottle kinda girl whilst sitting in front of my television, before breaking into song at whatever Disney film has to be stuck in my head.

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I am writing these reviews for the person who likes to come home after a long, hard day and forget the day by pouring multiple large glasses and eating hula hoops, before stumbling through their hallways to bed and zonking out, waking up the next day with a distinct fog wrapped around their heads like an invisible, fluffy hat. This is how most normal people drink wine and if you don’t drink wine like this, then you have no place here. Please leave.

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There are no real rules to this wine reviewing, but I do encourage you all to join in by commenting or emailing and I’ll throw them in one of my reviews! I am going to review whenever I can be bothered, really and I can’t imagine that any of them will really be the same, but as a normal human, I don’t really know how to review wine, so if that’s what you are looking for, again, you have no place here. Please leave.

A guide I will try to follow will be as follows:

  • Label – what does it look like? Photo and a small description of why I chose it. Did it jump out from the shelf or was I intrigued by the logo or something else?
  • Price – was it a bargain or full price?
  • Store – very important, in case I, by some miracle, inspire you to buy! (If so, let me know!)
  • Colour – red or white, we don’t do rose in this house as an Italian wine Coinoisuer once told me that it is a bastardisation of red and white wine and I don’t really like upsetting Italians, bastards, or wine being disturbed unnecessarily unless I really want to slum it and offend an an entire nation (for example, if someone buys me rose wine as a gift, I will still drink it)
  • Sweet or dry? That’s important because if I’m going to tell you to buy this wine and you hate dry wine, you’ll think I’m a right bastard for not informing you first.
  • How many glasses does it take before you feel a little popped? I drink out of very lage glasses, so I can’t really do this very well, but whatever, these are my reviews and I do what the hell I want.
  • At what point do you start finding people you don’t usually find attractive on television attractive? Suggestions for ‘sexy once drunk’ television humans are more than welcome. Sex Blog of Sorts suggested Kevin McCloud.
  • Food Pairings – weekend drunk snacks like oven pizzas or takeaways with loads of grease on them being my formative choices, alongside blocks of cheap cheese, salted peanuts and potentially chocolate.
  • At what point do you start feeling overly emotional and the need to swill your wine glass, spilling contents to convey your emotions?
  • At what point do you start off on a massive speech, then go off on a tangent because you forgot what you were talking about?
  • At what point do you interrupt anyone or anything happening around you to sing loudly along to Disney songs?
  • At what point do you start feeling ridiculously horny and start showing off your cleavage?
  • At what point do you feel so proud about your cleavage do you send a picture of said cleavage to both of your parents thanking them for creating you so well? (yes, I did do that. It had a figurine of Piccolo from Dragon Ball Z wedged in between)

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These may be relatively bizarre points, but I’m trying to remember my feelings/behaviour/opinions when drunk. Feel free to comment, email or tweet me your own suggestions, send me a picture of the wine and a small anecdote as to why you’re drinking: Sorrow, loneliness, you want to trick someone into sleeping with you… Only proper reasons, you understand.

I’ll post my first review as soon as possible and Brain, I know you’re reading this, so if you’d like to fetch home some wine following my helpful wine guide, I would appreciate it and also be very grateful that you’re actively supporting my blogging pursuits. I will take no wine as a signal that you don’t love or support me. See you soon!

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The Passage by Justin Cronin

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It’s not often that I choose to read books more than once. To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee), The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald) and The Catcher in the Rye (JD Salinger) are three of my favourite books of all time. I am a sucker for classic literature, presumably given my academic pursuits and natural adoration of English Literature from being a very young age and each of these books are dog eared and beaten, in some cases there are pages slightly torn and weathered from constant, perpetual use. Modern literature doesn’t grab me in the same way and although I’ve read books more than once it hasn’t been because they’ve gripped me and made me feel the same way the aforementioned have, it’s because they’ve been simple and easy, frothy and lighthearted enough to allow me to while away the day sipping tea, wrapped in a blanket – they soothe the mind, rather than challenge it or excite it. However, The Passage by Justin Cronin contradicts my sensibilities somewhat, in the sense that it too is dog eared, weathered and remains the only modern book that I have ever read more than nine times. This current read through, actually, makes it my tenth. Suffice it to say The Passage is the greatest novel written within my entire lifetime and I don’t use those words lightly.

The novel was handed to me not too long after its original release in 2010 and the person who loaned me the novel said that it was the greatest thing they’d ever read and urged me to start reading immediately. When someone tells me things like this, I usually roll my eyes at the sheer melodrama and shove the book somewhere in my increasing ‘to be read’ pile and get around to it when I can be bothered, but, for some reason, I decided to read this one straight away. At the time, most of my reading was done on the commute to and from work/university, so it was slipped into my bag and I decided it would be read on my next hour long journey… After reading the first page, I was hooked: It was one of those novels that instantly held my attention and filled my sensibilities regarding literature with intense promise. This is going to be good, I remember thinking and it soon became the book that I would spend my evenings reading until my eyes became heavy with sleep and I awoke, book still in hand the next day. In short, it was my favourite book.

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The Passage is a post-apocalyptic-cum-vampire novel that, in my opinion, entirely reinvents the concepts behind a traditional vampire novel. The usual clichés writers use in abundance when writing their version of a vampire story are gone; there are no shimmering romantic heroes, or melodramatic teenagd hormones running rampant throughout the pages of Cronin’s epic. Instead, The Passage takes on an almost clinically scientific approach, giving the original concepts behind the vampire novel an intensely realistic re-imagination, making it far more thrilling and far scarier than the routes writers usually take when tackling the traditional vampire concepts; this is not your run of the mill Transylvanian vampire novel, this is something else entirely. Something better.

I think part of the reason behind why I love this novel so much is that it cannot truly be explained without giving away the entire plot and to give away the entire plot without reading the novel really doesn’t to dthe novel justice. Without reading the simplistic, yet entirely intricate language and imperative detail would be disastrous; this novel needs to be experienced first-hand, word for word. Cronin uses his blatant expertise to create a concept that is, essentially, so brilliantly basic that it stands out as one of the most important novels I’ve ever read; it’s like, everything you’ve wanted to read before, but better in every sense of the word. His characters are written so perfectly, that you feel you could reach into the pages of the novel, take them out and they’d be just as amazing as you’d imagined. It’s a novel of almost cinematic brilliance, which makes no sense until you’ve actually read the novel.

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Admittedly, if I didn’t know that this was going to be a trilogy, I may have felt disappointed; a lot of things were left unanswered and had I not read The Twelve and be highly anticipating the third and final novel, I would have felt cheated and the magic, so to speak, of the novel would have dissipated somewhat. It would not have been the first time that I’d read a novel with so much promise, only to be left bitterly disappointed and sad by the end. However, if you go into the novel knowing  that it’s the first of an epic trilogy, then your mind is put at ease and you can enjoy the not knowing with the promise that eventually all of your assumptions and hopes for the novel’s conclusion be answered, or at least reinvented in a far better manner than you could do yourself.

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In short, I found the novel awe-inspiring and absolutely astounding. I am reading it for the tenth time, but each time it feels like the first. Only better. I really to urge you to read it.

Buy the novel here.

Visit Justin’s Website here.

Buy the second instalment here.

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Yes Please by Amy Poehler

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Being a life-long fan of making people laugh, I grew up believing that female comedians weren’t a thing; I believed I had developed a man-gland that made it possible for me to not only make people laugh, but make men laugh. I thought myself to be quite individual and relatively unique in this department. My comedy heroes growing up were all men and I didn’t resonate with female comedians at all – the only ones I really knew embodied a repertoire that mostly discussed their sexual activities with their husbands and an underlying element of feminist humour that, unless you are particularly feminist, doesn’t win you any giggles on a grand scale and at the time, being a youngster, I didn’t really feel that this brand of comedy, or indeed feminism represented me or my comedic style (I use the term ‘comedic style’ incredibly loosely). When I first discovered Tina Fey and then her work-wife, Amy Poehler, everything changed. These were women who lived and breathed improv comedy and made it their life’s work. They became heroes of mine and I have followed their careers with an almost obsessive compulsion ever since. So, when I heard that Amy Poehler was releasing a book, I had it pre-ordered for months before it turned up on my doorstep. Having read Bossypants by Tina Fey years beforehand, I had incredibly high hopes.

First, let me make it clear that Yes Please did not disappoint me… at all; I devoured it like a hungry wolf and find myself regularly flicking back and forth through the book to find bits I liked and read them again – but I will admit that I did begin reading it expecting to find an almost page for page likeness to Bossypants and I believe that I was almost certainly wrong in that department. Let’s not be naïve here, whilst Poehler and Fey embody a relatively similar sense of comedy, they are entirely different in their delivery and ownership thereof. Whilst I feel that Fey doesn’t own her comedy and seems like she is constantly conscious of her audience, thus making almost every line in her book a punch line, Poehler is the opposite. Whilst Fey’s novel reads like a comedic series of essays with elements of life, work, love and motherhood interspersed, Poehler’s does not. That’s not to say that Yes Please isn’t a laugh a minute, because it really is, I just feel that it is executed in a more effortless manner than Fey’s. Poehler seems to own her sense of comedy as much as she owns her sense of self and reading through Yes Please really feels like reading through the memoirs of someone who is completely and unabashedly at ease with herself in every sense.

To me, Yes Please didn’t feel like reading through a biography at all and when I got past the fact I expected Poehler to use comedy to embellish her life story, it felt really like an inspirational memoir aimed at women who want to feel more comfortable in their own skin. Poehler’s narration feels like an old friend who is subtly encouraging you to be a better version of yourself by coaxing an element of happiness and comfortableness out of your sub-conscious and making it an active sense of your conscious self and is set out into three categories which all read like inspirational slogans for a well-being poster:DSC_0186

SAY whatever you want

DO whatever you like

BE whoever you are

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Each chapter is thus filled with anecdotes, essays and life lessons Poehler herself has learned throughout her life and career in comedy; it reads with relative ease and flows together so effortlessly that you find yourself becoming endlessly inspired by her candidness and gracefully uncomplicated comedic rhetoric that seems entirely unique to Poehler. Whilst reading about parts of her life that she has been hurt or affected by, she manages to make it seem less upsetting or tragic by piling on the inspiration, or using a quip or slice of comedy to lighten the blow – it seems entirely effortless and not at all a conscious attempt to make her seem less vulnerable; instead it just seems like this is the real Poehler – deflecting sad feelings with humour, thus owning it and making it okay. I do exactly the same thing and I have to admit, it helps.

Whilst I have been a fan of Poehler’s for over a decade now, I still found myself learning a lot about her – she is endlessly supportive to her co-workers and peers and has created an almost tour de force of comedy pals that in turn, not only support her but love her endlessly. The piece Seth Myers wrote about her and how they met is one of the sweetest things I’ve ever read, not only affirming that Myers is an absolute angel, but that Poehler is not only a joy to work with, but a joy to know too. I also enjoyed the part she wrote about Tina Fey, in response to Fey’s own excerpt in BossyPants about Poehler – their work-wifery is inspirational and in a sense such a feminist attitude to have towards one’s co-worker/hero/best friend – they are the epitome of women in the workplace, which is such a stark contrast to the media’s representation of women in work, life and play – we don’t actually all hate each other and are, actually, pretty much our best friends’ cheerleaders every chance we get. I enjoyed the graphics that accompanied the piece and her own admission that she would have Fey re-write it for her to make it better; the supportive nature of their friendship is potentially one of the most important pieces for any woman to take away from the novel.

Poehler also has an incredible manner of taking a mirror up to women in society and showing them their true colours; her piece about motherhood in particular was hilarious because it was, in fact, true. Every woman I know who has reproduced and decided to stay home and raise the child and not go back to work, is met with a sense of trepidation, superiority and smugness by women who either have chosen not to have children or who have gone back to work. I myself was in a situation like this a few years ago when I, shock horror, explained I didn’t want to have children until I’d established myself in a career that I felt comfortable and supported in so that I could take ample time off, but then go back. I was met with looks that wouldn’t be entirely out of place from someone who happened to have grown three heads over night. Poehler writes candidly about that in her novel and the life lesson that anyone can take from that is that we’re all different – there is no set rule for women or for mothers, you do whatever it is that you want to do for yourself and no one else.

In short, I found Poehler’s memoirs hilarious, intellectual, inspirational and brilliant; it read like an old friend greeting you over a cold glass of Pinot Grigio and you find yourself becoming sad as it reaches its conclusion. Poehler inspired me and I found myself wishing that I had the same courage and candour to strive towards my life goals with the same unabashed passion and can do attitude that Poehler seems to embody without even realising it herself. As far as my quest goes into reading novels written by hilariously inspirational, confident, independent, feminist women, I have to say that Poehler trumps even the (in my opinion) queen of awesome, Tina Fey. I loved Yes Please and would urge anyone looking for a literary comfort blanket to pick it up and embrace it like the inspirational piece that I’m not sure it was intended to be. I can guarantee you won’t regret it.

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Doris Does Reviews

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When I was at university, I used to run quite a successful review blog that discussed books, movies and music predominantly; I had people write for me and I basically gave my opinion on the stuff that I’d been doing. It keeps popping up on my Time Hop every once in a while, so I thought it pertinent to start writing reviews again. I also joined the Femtellectual Book Club as set up by Daire and thought it would be a good idea to start writing about all the books that I’ve read. Most of them are written by hilarious, independent, intelligent and feminist women, so they fit in quite well with both Funny Feminist and the new direction I’d like my blog to go in. Plus, nearly all bloggers write book reviews, don’t they, and I’m nothing if I’m not a huge fan of a trend. So, I’m not going to designate days to my book reviews, because I’m hopeless, but I will be writing them. I’ll also link you back to Sarah’s vlog, where she is now vlogging book reviews on Saturdays!

Sarah also had the idea that I should start my own Vlog channel, which would basically just ben an extension of the blog, but I’d talk about inane, ridiculous and logically bizarre stuff, so we’ll see… I don’t like the idea of my face and voice being on screen, so I might wimp out. Anyway, I will be writing my first book review soon and, as with anything series related, I will have a general glossary on the blog home page.

Enjoy your weekend, lovelies!

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The Paedophile Next Door

Last night, Channel Four aired The Paedophile Next Door, an hour long documentary that highlighted the concepts of paedophilia as a sexual preference. In the show, we saw victims, health professionals and one paedophile discussing their experiences and opinions on the matter. For me, it was incredibly harrowing and very difficult to watch, but I managed, with tears in my eyes and a hand over my mouth in horror, to get through the documentary. Some of my views were immediately aired on twitter – as is always the way – the bitter sting of the show still digging into my sides and I ended up having a debate with one of my very best friends, Sian, about it. Now, with the immediate visceral reaction having subsided, I feel that I can, perhaps, review the show in a more… hopefully, neutral manner. Although, I’m quite happy to admit that I am not sure if I’ll manage. We’ll see.

The show addressed paedophilia as a legitimate sexual preference as well as a mental health issue that could be classed as an affliction and we, as the audience, were pleaded with to listen to reasoning and admit that not all paedophiles should be vilified as that encourages them to attack, instead we should be nurturing and encourage those paedophiles to admit their sexual preference and mental health problems and receive the help they deserve – this is something  that is already done in Germany and the show’s main topic, Eddie, admitted that he would also like to seek help for his affliction. Personally, I think the show did a poor job of arguing their point, which I reitertated on Twitter. Whether or not people deserve help is neither here nor there, if paedophiles want help, then great, but surely history regarding sexual preferences dictates that you can’t change who you are?

What does that say about the LGBT community who have fought for years and years to attain social equality? We STILL don’t offer social equality to this community and in an enormous amount of countries – including our own – there are still a great amount of people excluded, murdered, beaten up and vilified for their sexual preferences… but this isn’t classed as a mental illness? Why? Because it isn’t – loving someone of the same sex does not make you mentally ill, identifying as a female when you were born a man does not make you mentally ill; we’ve fought for the equality of all of these people and that love has no gender, that in 2014 we should not be adhering to the heteronormative, biblical solution to love, marriage and procreation. It can’t be beaten out of you, it can’t be changed through therapy, you can’t be sent off to a straight camp and come back loving pussy when you’ve spent a life time sucking cock – we have covered this; it’s inherent, it’s in your blood: you are who you are, that can’t be changed. So why are paedophiles any different? Offering them therapy isn’t going to stop them from being paedophiles and wasting money on offering them comfort in the fact that it’s okay to be sexually attracted them to children is dangerous. If a homosexual can’t be turned straight, or a straight person can’t be turned gay, how do you turn a paedophile into a non-paedophile? You can’t.

Attempting to normalise paedophilia is tantamount to saying that it’s okay to be attracted to children and I honestly think that is beyond wrong. Firstly, children don’t have the mental grasp on life to be able to give consent and think that it’s okay for a grown man or woman to sexually abuse them. Being attracted to children as young as five, or children who can’t even draw or walk or crawl is not okay and I am rather disgusted that there is an attitude that we want to help these people; they are not okay and no amount of therapy will make it okay for someone to fancy kids as young as new borns, which was mentioned on the programme.

I get that there are paedophiles out there who have not sexually assaulted children and that’s fantastic, good on them, I don’t mind their existence, that’s not what I’m saying, but as with every sexual preference, there has to be an outlet somewhere, so what do they do? Think about having sex with children? Okay, that’s fine, but which children? The ones who live next door? The ones who he sees going to school every day? What about child pornography? That’s readily available, surely? Yes, of course, but we’ve already covered that children can’t give consent, that to be involved in sexually graphic photographs or content is not consensual; an adult has, at some point, exercised their ultimate control over a child and forced them to do that, so surely by watching the porn, paedophiles are only perpetuating the abuse of the poor child in that movie or photograph?

Of course, things like this are broad generalisations, but the fact that there is a counter argument out there suggests that it isn’t okay normalising a sexual preference by brandishing it as a mental illness. We can’t accept that, as a society, it’s okay to call paedophilia a mental illness, but we cant call homosexuality a mental illness (quite rightly, mind). Sexual preferences are not mental illnesses and it’s not something that any amount of therapy will correct. It may stop someone from offending, but it might not… Then who do we blame? We blame ourselves… and is that okay?

I would really love to hear people’s opinions on this, because as you can see, my arguments are emotional and for the most part visceral – I simply do not agree with normalising paedophilia or supporting them in any way, but as with my debate with Sian, I would love to hear other points of view, so please send comments or emails or anything and I am more than happy to discuss it with any of you.

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Miller & Carter: A Review

Where: Miller & Carter
When: 7th November 2014
Party: 6
Doris Star Rating: 3/5

Last Friday, we dined out for my boyfriend’s (Brain. Not a typo, an affectionate nickname given to him due to his fondness of Pinky and the Brain) brother-in-law’s birthday, who decided earlier in the week that he wanted steak. I took to Twitter to ask any fellow foodies or food bloggers if they had any suggestions for an amazing steak. The usual MPW and Café 21 were mentioned, as well as some other places further afield, but eventually we decided to try Miller & Carter, which we saw on Trip advisor; a relatively new restaurant that, according to its website, specialises in steak – brilliant.

Give its location, I was under no illusion that it would be impressive inside (located where The Lodge used to be); it’s a grandiose and incredibly tall building and if the space had been used well, it would definitely be an impressive, impacting room – which, of course, it was. The décor complemented the room extremely well; lots of dark woods, rustic furniture with splashes of colour throughout. The bar area was located downstairs to the right hand side of the building, with a small area for waiting guests / people who aren’t dining, which is where we waited, on red leather chairs, for our table to be ready. We enjoyed a few rounds of drinks before we went for our meal – I drank a few (large) glasses of Pinot Grigio, which was utterly divine; I didn’t ask the name of it, so I don’t know, but I am also the person who tends to find every glass of Pinot she drinks perfect, so I might not be the best judge of character on that one! I have to admit that I did find it a little bit too loud and I had to move closer to Brain’s mother in order to speak to her; but I am guessing that a three story building with music playing loudly over the bar is what you can expect from a thriving restaurant at dinner time on a Friday night!

When we were seated at our table, thankfully, the restaurant seemed to get a little quieter and we couldn’t hear the music over our chatter, so it was more enjoyable. The table was beautiful, if not a little overcrowded I felt by the sheer amount of glasses on our table, which, unfortunately, weren’t removed until half way through the meal. There were some gorgeous centrepieces, though, three large golden candle holders which again, slightly too large for the table, but beautiful none the less. We all looked through the menu, which consisted of starters, of course lots of steaks, burgers and there was also a fish menu too. I am not sure of the vegetarian choices, because I didn’t look, but I imagine they have some vegetarian options on there (or maybe not, who, as a vegetarian, wants to go to a steak house?).

I’m afraid the service wasn’t great, but that wasn’t for lack of trying. Our waitress, Anya, was absolutely lovely and was extremely helpful with the questions we had about the menu, but I think it was a little too much – it wasn’t just her, from the other waiters we spoke to and experienced, it was a little too much service, which I’m assuming led to the mistakes that we encountered – a desire to over please doesn’t really make up for the mistakes that we encountered during our evening, I’m afraid, but I can’t blame the waiting staff themselves for that kind of thing, but perhaps an oversight in training staff?

Myself, Brain and his brother in law all ordered starters, but unfortunately only Brain’s arrived – which meant that he had to eat without us and when we asked for our starters, we were told that we didn’t order any, which wasn’t really very nice, so we ordered and off they went to get ours. Service was prompt, though, I have to admit. Brain ordered scallops which I tasted and they were very lovely, but not worth the price tag (also because of their expense they weren’t accepted on the free starter/dessert voucher they offered anyone who signed up to their newsletter!); there were only three of them spaced out on a plate with a really small amount of salad and what seemed like a thimble full of sauce cautiously dribbled over them. Nice, but again, not worth the price tag. I ordered the pork belly strips, which arrived and were scrumptious; pork belly was cooked to perfection and melted in my mouth, even the barbeque sauce was beautiful and the salad accompaniment was lovely.

We ordered more wine, a bottle of merlot for the table, which was the eventual choice of the birthday boy, who went through three different kinds of wine before he chose the merlot. He asked me to taste them all, which I found really lovely, but he didn’t like them, so we landed on merlot. It was divine, nice and fruity, but I think I would have preferred the dry rioja to accompany my steak – perhaps a personal preference, I’m not sure!

Our meals arrived, two beef wellingtons, one beefburger, one fillet steak and two 180z rib eye steaks. Which, unfortunately for our waitress, was wrong: I didn’t order the fillet steak that arrived at my table. When she took the orders, I asked for the 180z, but I didn’t want it the medium rare that it was advised, she sat down and asked me why I wanted that and I told her because I prefer rare steak and whenever I’ve seen medium rare steak it’s always well done; so I go for the rare, so that if it’s medium rare, it’s not as bad as having it well done. She told me to go for the fillet, but I remained resolute: I wanted the rib eye. I’d never had one and 180z sounded awesome. I ordered this with peppercorn sauce and a parmesan and garlic wedge salad. They took the steak back, apologised and allowed us a free round of drinks and left me with my chips, my wedge salad and my wine. When they arrived with the correct meal, I was told that I could have my steak for free due to the confusion, which was fine by me. Unfortunately, they didn’t remember the sauce that I wanted, nor did they ask me which sauce I had ordered initially, so I was left with something that tasted pretty awful and didn’t compliment my steak at all, which was again, rather disappointing, but the steak was beautiful and cooked rare, rather than medium rare, so it was an acceptable trade off. I also ended up stealing Brain’s beef dripping sauce he got to go with his steak which was the unhealthiest thing you could imagine, but tasted so SO good.

Overall, admittedly, I wasn’t a huge fan of Miller & Carter, but understandably, with new restaurant, they have to find their footing before service is as enjoyable as the food. Whilst I did enjoy the food, I don’t think it was worth the hefty price tag and I don’t think a free steak makes up for the sheer amount of mistakes that were made during the meal. As a restaurant that is located in an area of Newcastle that boasts plentiful amazing restaurants (including Marco Polo around the corner), I think I’d definitely think twice before going back there. The food was nothing to complain about, but like I said, it didn’t make up for the service I received when I was there.

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Caffe Vivo: A Review

I’ve decided to start writing reviews of the restaurants I go to. I am an avid cook and am constantly looking to expand my portfolio of home made goodies (so perhaps see some cooking hints and tips in the future?!) and my boyfriend and I eat out a lot and a lot of our socialising revolves around eating with friends, so I thought what better way to expand my blog than to review the fine restaurants that Newcastle and beyond have to offer? My first restaurant review is Caffe Vivo, located on Newcastle Quayside!

Where: Caffe Vivo
When: 1st November 2014
Party: 6
Doris Star Rating: 5/5

A few months ago, my boyfriend’s dad booked tickets for the whole family to go to The Sage in Gateshead to watch The Cleveland Philharmonic Choir perform The Carmina Burana, which we were all very excited about, so as it dawned closer to the time, we decided that a meal and a few drinks were on the cards before we went to watch the show. The choice was Caffe Vivo, which was quite exciting to me as I’d never been before.

My boyfriend (who I call Brain, so if anyone from the restaurant is reading this, it’s not a typo, it’s an affectionate nickname given due to his adoration of Brain the maniac mouse from Pinky and the Brain. I know, I’m really lucky…) and I were the first to arrive at the restaurant and were seated quite close to the front of the restaurant, near the window. Some people hate being sat near the window and depending on where I am, I do too, but the street that it’s situated on is relatively quiet and it does allow for a lot of people watching, particularly from behind the empty wine crates and two indoor trees that decorated the window! The décor, incidentally, is really lovely and the restaurant has a lovely intimate feel to it, despite it being quite a large room. As I said, our table was next to the window and because Brain and I were there first, we got to sit on the lovely, long booth type seat facing the room. The table was nice and long, filled with glasses, which were luckily removed and even though it was quite a big table, it still felt cosy when the rest of our party arrived.

Image: Trip Advisor

The menu was extensive, but not in a manner that suggested that the menu was too large; there was a main menu, a specials menu and a fixed price menu, which I think was for guests who were dining early (which we were, given our Sage tickets). Myself and Brain ordered from the specials menu for our main and main menu for our starter and everyone else either dined from the fixed or the main menu. We ordered drinks: the usual, beer lime and soda, diet cokes and a bottle of house red wine for the table to share, as well as jugs of water for the table. The house red wine was beautiful; silky and fruity, with a hint of oak, that wasn’t too overbearing, overall it was something that you could happily drink by itself, rather than with a meal, which I tend to enjoy!

For my starter I ordered the Calamari, which was served with a tangy, spicy tomato sauce. I didn’t find it tangy or spicy, but just a tomato based sauce which was relatively enjoyable, it complemented the calamari well, but I’m not sure if that was just because calamari is so dry it requires a sauce or what. The calamari was cooked to perfection; not too soft, not so hard you feel like you’re chewing on a tyre, just really beautiful. My only qualm, which you can’t really call a qualm as this is something down to personal choice: if you are squeamish about seeing tiny squid deep fried with all its tentacles wrapped in batter; either ask for it not to be included or don’t order it. It didn’t freak me out at all, until I started thinking about it and the more I started thinking about it, the more I started wondering about the anatomy of a squid, so had to give my last piece to Brain, who has no conscience about these things and savoured it gratefully. But, like I said, that’s a personal qualm that I wouldn’t have thought about if I hadn’t actively decided to let my mind wander, so I have absolutely no complaints about quality or anything like that.

Brain opted for pigeon, which I was really angry about given my abject fear of pigeons, but he had never had it before, so gave it a try. I don’t think I’d be too much of a big fan of game meat, but Brain said it was perfect. It smelled really garlicky and the salad that it came with did look appetising, but due to the fact that it was pigeon, I didn’t like it – especially not when Brain put his fork so close to my face trying to get me to taste it, I nearly ended up on the floor sobbing. There was a baby in a high chair way more well behaved than he.

For my main, I decided to choose from the specials board because I heard they were serving swordfish. I have only eaten swordfish twice in my life and the first time was so divine, that it is my goal in life to find as many restaurants in the area to eat swordfish in because it is really the best kind of fish. Caffe Vivo did not disappoint at all – it was the epitome of perfection, in my opinion. As with all of the main dishes, I was also given the choice of two sides. I chose rosemary and garlic roast potatoes and a green salad. When it arrived, it looked amazing and I couldn’t wait to dive in. As I said, the fish was perfection, so much so that I didn’t need a knife and barely needed my fork; it just melted into the fish with absolutely no difficulty and tasted so beautifully and buttery that I could have honestly eaten ten more. The chilli and garlic sauce it lay in was also absolutely perfect (although I could have done with more chilli, but that’s a personal preference). My sides were just as perfect; the garlic and rosemary roast potatoes were cooked beautifully – just the right amount of crispy on the outside and wonderfully fluffy on the inside; neither flavour too overbearing (again, the anti-vampire in me would have loved more garlic!) and the green salad was, well, it was salad, but it had an exceptionally fresh lemon dressing on it, which was divine. It’s something that I would not only definitely recommend, but something I look forward to trying again in the future.

Brain ordered fish stew, which consisted of loads of different types of fish, would you believe?! I can’t remember exactly what was in it, but there was squid, scallops, salmon, crayfish I believe and prawns. Perhaps more, but I can’t remember. I didn’t try it as I’m quite fussy about sauces that taste too fishy, but it was really beautiful according to Brain, who is probably a bigger foodie than I am, so his opinion definitely weighs more.

From what I can remember, other foods ordered were a platter with various types of Italian meats, perfect green olives and sumptuously moreish bread that was enjoyed heartily by Brain’s sister, as well as some amazing meatballs with mashed potato, that I got to taste and, like, everything else that night, was absolutely melt in the mouth, can I have fifteen more of these to take home kind of perfect. I didn’t get to sample Brain’s dad’s dish, which was the gorgonzola risotto – my second choice had the swordfish not been available – but it was really beautiful.

Over all, it was a delicious meal and I wouldn’t hesitate to go back in a heartbeat. If you enjoy Italian food, polite and lovely waiting staff as well as bustling, intimate rooms with simplistic décor, then I would recommend Caffe Vivo, tucked away down one of the side streets (Broad Chare) of our enchanting quayside, it really is a perfect place to go for anyone who wants to unleash their inner Italian.

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