suri manchester

 

I had seen a lot of talk banded around on social media about this place called Suri. I knew it was a restaurant, I knew it was on King Street… but that was pretty much all I knew. If I were to hazard a guess, I thought it could be some kind of sushi bar and I assumed it would comprise of an over the top setting and priced quite high.

Well I was totally wrong, first of all there is no sushi here (Lord knows where I made that assumption from?!?). The cuisine served is actually a mix of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern, though unfortunately not halal. The name Suri is actually the Persian word for rose.

The restaurant from the outside it’s quite a modest looking outfit. Inside, ooh the interiors are delightful. They’ve not gone for traditional or contemporary and boring plain. Instead, using a palette of creams, they’ve created an elegant dining space, with touches of marble, bare bulbs and plush leathers.

We were here to sample the new seasonal express menu, a reasonably priced meal at £15 per person for three dishes from the menu. Although the meat wasn’t halal, there was still plenty for us to choose from. Of course, a new place means trying new things, so we ordered a selection from across the menu and asked for them in stages – all of the below, apart from the dessert were from the express menu.

Actually, before we got cracking on exploring the menu, we grazed on some Persian spiced bread, made fresh on site. I can’t fault the bread in any way but what I can say is that the dip it came with, a sort of red pepper and chickpea smash was like no dip we’ve had before. It was so good we actually asked for another bowl to enjoy with the rest of the meal. Beth, our waitress, pointed out that all the dips were made fresh and vary from time to time, and they were firm favourites amongst staff too. Always a good sign.

 

To start:

Chickpea kibbeh with spiced yoghurt, Roasted cauliflower with tahini and ajvar and the Suri summer salad.

Chickpeas in kibbeh? delightful. I normally find kibbeh has quite a coarse texture but chickpea and root vegetable combination was much smoother in texture and the spiced yoghurt, was tangy and moreish.

Cauliflower really isn’t my favourite vegetable, I usually only like it in a curry. The dish here surprised me though, spiced and baked there was a punch of flavour in every floret. The Suri summer salad, in all honesty didn’t look like much, but don’t be fooled. Salad may be all about leaves, but the dressing on this is divine.

To fill up:

Hanout prawns with smashed avocado, Josper’d aubergine with citrus yoghurt, herby spuds and za’tar fries.

The hanout prawns were good, I’d get them again – although I would say they weren’t a real stand out dish. I’m glad we ordered them, they hit the spot perfectly. Though I can’t think of a taste or flavour that stands out. All I can say is that prawns and crushed avocado are a match made in heaven.

Now the aubergine, was very pleasing on my palate. Fresh pomegranate topping and laced with za’tar and sumac, my favourite flavour combinations all in one dish. Za’tar is such an underrated spice here, I doubt many people use it, but growing up in Saudi, it was a one we ate regularly. It’s so nice to see so many dishes utilising it here at Suri, even the za’tar fries worked well, the chili giving it a slight kick should you choose to eat it.

To finish off:

We chose three to try: Suri strawberries; preserved lemon curd with red berry rocks and the cardamom vanilla cream.

We chose dessert options from the ‘enjoy’ part of the menu, and enjoy we did. Lemon curd mousse was sharp but not too sour, the panna cotta was perfectly set and the gingernuts made for a perfect accompaniment. Keeping it separate was nice as we could add a little bit to every bite (probably not the idea but it worked well for us).

I have to say though Beth’s recommendation of Suri strawberries was the winner. Fresh and delightful, it was, as the saying goes, like summer in a bowl. I can imagine popping in on a warm day, sitting outside on one of their lovely café tables, indulging in a Margarita glass of Suri strawberries.

Gosh what a fantastic surprise Suri was. For a luxurious, reasonably priced meal out this is definitely hitting the top of my list. I was really happy to experience a meal that was spicy and rich in flavour, without being overpowered by chilli. It was really refreshing, and to enjoy such a meal in such comfortable surroundings made for a great meal out.

Oh and I really should point out the service here was just as exceptional. Beth was a great host for the evening. It was a nice change to be at a King Street restaurant and have a waitress who came across as quite personable. Her recommendations were spot on, and gauging from our reactions to certain dishes, gave us a bit of background on how they’re made or where the inspiration of them came from.

Poor Mo was not impressed he couldn’t join us, so I look forward to visiting again and experimenting with some more of their menu. The main menu has aptly named sections such as fields, farm, waves… unusual but to the point. (I’ve got my eye on the Josper honey’d salmon with avocado).

Just like its Persian floral namesake Suri has all the right elements; hint of sharp flavours, plenty of variety and both the food and venue are beautiful to look at.

*** Thank you to Suri for inviting us to sample the menu and thank you to Beth for recommending all the right things. Of course all opinions and thoughts on this review are my honest opinion and have not been influenced in any way ***

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I’ve known of Iberica Manchester for some time, but as a Muslim with no interest in anything pork related, it’s always been way off my radar. When I received an invitation to sample their new spring menu, I politely went back reiterating that ham really wasn’t my thing and that there may be a blogger better suited if they had a set menu in mind… however I was assured there would be plenty of pescetarian options available for me to enjoy: sans pork, sans alcohol.

Hmm… ok, I figured what the heck. Spanish tapas is something I loved in Spain, so hopefully there would be plenty to surprise me, even though the restaurant is actually named after a ham.

An interior scheme I’ve admired for some time, I was always in love with their large window front, shrouded by rich velvet curtains and mood lighting. In the heart of Spinningfields, I’ve only ever heard great things about Iberica, perhaps more from people who want to enjoy the wine rather than the food.

 

 

G and I arrived in time to enjoy some pre-dinner snacks downstairs by the bar area. The first thing to land on our table of bloggers… a beautifully laid out plate of meat. Oh Lord. I really hoped this wasn’t one of those occasions where the vegetarian options were going to be a few carrot sticks.

Luckily, after the plate of meat, came the plate suitable for vegetarians. Four different types of cheese and tomato bread. As the marketing director told us tales of passion, food preparation love stories, we tucked in to what was a great cheese board collection, something I would have happily enjoyed pre and post meal.

 

 

Next, came a bit of ‘porron’ education. A traditional Spanish wine pitcher, which pours the same way as a watering can. Porron’s are not only perfect bottles for storing wine in, due to the way you drink from them, it allows them to be shared by many people without any hygiene worries.

 

 

I know, you’re probably wondering why on earth am I explaining a wine vessel to you when I don’t even drink? Well, Iberica had filled said vessel with water that day for us all to have a go and it was so much fun!!! I must admit not many people were too keen on trying it, watching the waiters execute it with precision was a tough act to follow. G and I were more than happy to try it out, I obviously got water all over myself, G managed to do a much better job. I would totally buy a porron to bring out at dinner parties!

 

 

Porron activities over it was time to go upstairs. G had been nudging me to check with the staff whether they remembered we don’t eat meat, but between the walk from the bar to the first floor I just didn’t get a chance.

Nervous about what was ahead, we took our seats and boom. There it was. A menu. A set menu suitable for PESCETARIANS.

YES.

It turned out our dining companions opposite were also veggies (@eatandtwoveg) so we were in the right company.

Course by course, the dishes came out… some good, some great, some amazing. My little joke earlier about being fed carrot sticks actually came true as baby carrot tempura was on the menu – but I assure you these were no ordinary fried carrots. They were absolutely delicious and tasted nothing like they should have. Soft to bite into, lightly battered and a tapas snack I would order again for sure.

Alongside the baby carrot was crispy cauliflower and pak choi, octopus a la gallega and ensaladilla rosa. The carrots were up there as one of the favourites followed closely by the octopus, a dish I’ve only ever had in Spain but this was just as good.

 

 

Next up was a selection of mains: strawberry and beetroot salad; cod brandada; hake a la gallega and garlic prawns with pasta. We were also treated to a fresh, perfectly-cooked paella. Wait, let me rephrase that, the paella was originally for the two veggie eaters, but they were kind enough to share and we’re so glad they did. Simmered to the right consistency, it had all the feels of when G and I first had our first proper paella on Barcelonata beach.

 

 

One dish you absolutely must order, which I never in a million years would have considered is the strawberry and beetroot salad. I can’t even tell you how unusual it tasted. Unusual in a nice way, of course. I normally hate fruit in salads and have never liked beetroot. But this, I LOVED.

Oh, and no night at a Spanish restaurant is complete without churros 🙂

 

 

All in all, I was really impressed by the standard and service of the evening. I loved how knowledgeable the staff were and how in a restaurant which actually has quite a high profile alcohol reputation, everyone was very honest about which foods contained any form of alcohol or even animal gelatine, making sure that people like me can rest assured my dietary requirements have been met.

My only complaint, and its a BIG one, is that the croquettes on the menu are made with ham 🙁 I think my heart broke when I sat down and saw (and smelt) how amazing they looked. So Iberica if you read this, perhaps you could jazz one of those mouth-watering creations with a touch of fish some time? 😉

Had a lovely time meeting some new bloggers (Hey @madeupstyle and the aforementioned @eatandtwoveg) and spending an evening with my favourite friend tasting food that brought back some great Spanish memories.

Must take Mo back next time we start to feel some Spanish holiday withdrawal.

 

 

*** Thank you to Iberica for inviting us to sample the Spring menu. Of course all opinions, thoughts and musings are my own and the pictures once again have only had brightness adjusted (it was quite dark upstairs!!) ***

 

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Viking Stationery ArtyParty

 

I know you’re probably thinking I’m mad. A stationery party? Seriously?

Yup seriously, last Saturday I went to an arty party because arts and crafts events are the best!

As a child some of my earliest memories are of my mum taking my sister and I to local souqs in Saudi Arabia (we lived out there) where she would shop for gifts for the children at the school she taught at. The only thing I remember about the place is how AMAZING the stationery was. I’m pretty sure that’s where my obsession stems from. My sister and I have had a love for writing and desk accessories ever since.

I have many passions in life, art, travel, writing, all of which I can showcase on the blog. For the last year I have regularly written notes to myself to try and include some form of craft post, it’s something I absolutely love doing and I just wish I had more time to indulge in it.

When I started having my aversion to watching television, I took up crochet as a way to give myself something to do whilst I was sat with Mo and he was catching up on his programs. Kept me busy, very addictive and it meant I didn’t have to sit bored whilst the TV rattled on.

Since then my spare time has become less and less frequent and I do really value any time I can dedicate to arts and crafts. When you’re an adult there are so few opportunities to unleash your creativity if you happen to be stuck in the corporate world so an arty party hosted by Viking was definitely a welcome breath of fresh air.

 

Venue

The venue for the day was the exquisite King Street Townhouse hotel, the only one in Manchester to boast a rooftop pool. Boutique in style, kitschy-but-modern interiors, it was the perfect place to host a bunch of bloggers.

The sun was beaming on Saturday, almost as if it had been scheduled to do so, as our craft party was being held in the 6th floor event room, with outdoor terrace. An outdoor terrace with views looking out over the city, what a location.

 

 

Activities

The Viking team were joined by some wonderful helpers: Chloe and Stacey from the crafty hen and the lovely Joyce from Artsynibs. Three separate crafting stations had been set up: Notebook customisation, block printing and calligraphy.

We separated into groups and tried our hand at each one, getting stuck in the minute we sat down. We stopped only for lunch and mini tea breaks in between activities and I think I picked up my phone only a handful of times that day, my camera even less.

 

 

One of my main takeaways was how accommodating the Viking team were. I’ve been to many blogger events and this one had been so well thought out. Viking really focused on bloggers getting stuck into the activity at hand, just enjoying the moment with a photographer floating around taking snaps – saving us the hassle in feeling pressured to take our own. What a genius idea. And highly necessary as the moment I started the day on notebook customisation my focus was very much on my creation and nothing else in the world mattered!

 

 

I’m pretty chuffed with my little take aways, the file organiser and notebook are things I always need and the whole personalisation process inspired me to think a bit more on my home office and how I can create a spectacular working space, using simple accessories and jazzing them up. (I sense a Pinterest spree on its way).

 

 

Calligraphy wasn’t really my strongest skill, but as a typography nut I loved it anyway. I’ve met Joyce a few times before at various events and it’s always lovely to catch up with her, and whenever I get the opportunity to watch her in action, its quite mesmerising!! We were treated to not only an introductory lesson but also a newly released calligraphy set, which I am determined to practice at home with.

 

 

And of course not only was I able to create some fun take home accessories, but I got to spend an afternoon with a collection of pretty fab bloggers too! I finally got to meet the wonderful Maggie whose journey I have been following as she travelled through Asia recently, worth checking out trust me! I also met Holly, the lady behind WeBlogMcr, very excited to get networking with her in the near future. And of course there were many others, I’ll list them all at the end if you fancy some new blogs to read.

The whole day made me realise all that talk I posted about recently on wanting to introduce a digital detox really needs to be something I take seriously now. Having an afternoon where my mind was focused on anything but a screen, was so therapeutic. Even though it was a busy afternoon I felt completely relaxed (I think the sunshine helped!)

Viking were sure to give us a goody bag to take away too, luckily mine had lots of gold inspired stationery, perfect as I can use it to finish off my notebook 🙂

Fabulously fun inspirational day, at a stunning city centre location.

Can’t wait to get my craft back on.

 

 

*** Huge thanks to Viking for organising a wonderful bloggers event . All images used on this particular post are my own, with no editing apart from a couple have had brightness adjusted as I was using my c*** phone. ***

 

Some lovely bloggers I met who are definitely worth checking out:

 

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Enzo Manchester review header image

 

New pizza place in Manchester?

Oh yes please, let me just call up my pizza-loving sister and we’ll be there, don’t you worry.

Enzo has had a successful run from its base in Nantwich and there was a lot of hype online when the news spread that they were looking into opening a city centre restaurant. Sure enough they followed through with their plan and last week we called in for the launch evening.

Traffic had been an absolute nightmare, so the minute I flung my car into a space, I ran to secure my seat at the new Fountain Street pizzeria. Walking in a bit flustered from my run, I was greeted with smiles and was offered a nice cool drink as I chose a perfect, people-watching window spot.

A few moments later, a wonderful waitress came round with a plate of marathon peanut butter bars, cut into bitesize pieces ready for tasting. Not a great lover of chocolate, but hungry and with still no sign of my guest, I decided to try one as a tummy teaser. So much nicer than I was expecting! In fact so nice I needed another when she passed by again. I had my eye on that plate for an apres-pizza treat.

 

 

It wasn’t long before my sister showed up and we were ready to try a selection of the menu and see how Enzo had managed to establish itself in the competitive world of pizza making.

When I ran past earlier, I thought it was quite strange that they were so close to Pizza Hut, setting themselves not just on the same street but literally a few feet away from an established brand selling the same product, very strange no?

As the pizzas started to be brought round I realised that they may both be selling pizza, but that’s about the only similarity. There’s no deep pan here at Enzo, all the dough is prepared fresh on site daily and it’s very much all about the authentic crispy, Italian-style pizzas, offering a variety of unusual – well thought out – toppings.

As the meat wasn’t halal, they made sure to pass round a selection of vegetarian options for us, including some that were vegan friendly. Vegan cheese isn’t one of my favourite things on earth, but it wasn’t bad, and my un-enthusiasm is linked more to personal preference rather than taste.

 

 

The pesto pizza with feta was a real treat, as well as the buffalo mozzarella. With all these delicious varieties being showcased, I grabbed at the menu wandering where they planned on fitting themselves in price wise. Nice surprise, the prices of even the fanciest sounding pizzas were very reasonable.

Before heading off we were also treated to a couple of pasta dishes to try out, just like the dough all pasta is homemade, fresh on site! Now thats impressive.

 

 

The energy at Enzo was really refreshing. They look like an established franchise-style restaurant, but the service and grounding of the company is very much that of a family-run independent, where the focus is on keeping things fresh, wholesome, ensuring there is real taste and passion in everything they do and serve. Nice to see such a place in the middle of the big City.

It’s a feat making the journey into a high profile city centre location, for anyone, but more so for restaurants. The food scene in Manchester has definitely taken off over the last few years, with seriously stiff competition. Hopefully Enzo will continue doing what they do best, focusing on keeping the food ‘real’ and the atmosphere positive. I look forward to seeing them stay on for the long haul!!

Can’t wait to take the boys with us next time, see if the coffee is as good as the pizza…

 

 

*** Many thanks to Enzo Manchester for inviting us to the launch evening. As usual all opinions, thoughts and images are my own. In keeping with my last article on going ‘real’ with my photos, all images here have not been adjusted in any way! ***

 

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“Will you start the fans, please!”

If those words fill you with extreme excitement, you MUST book to visit the Crystal Maze Manchester experience.

My sister and I, like many others grew up watching the TV series back in the 90’s. Richard O’Brien hosted a game show with a difference, where teams fought to beat the clock and complete challenges to collect crystals. Each crystal buying you time in the iconic crystal dome where you and your team mates will scramble to collect tickets, which will then translate into prize money.

OK, so at the Manchester experience, you won’t win any money.

But you WILL have the time of your life!!

The preview nights have been ongoing for the last two weeks and I decided to secure a team to test it out as pre-birthday celebration last Friday.

Lets start with the venue…

IT’S PERFECT (insert lots of smiley-heart-eye-emoji-faces)

The Manchester experience is at the old Granada Studios and I was expecting it to be good, but not this good. Exactly like the TV series there are four zones: Medieval, Futuristic, Aztec and Industrial and these guys have really gone to town to try and re-create the magic of each section. There are tunnels, narrow corridors, overhead walkways, bridges and sand! The Aztec zone really did have sand!!

 

Crystal maze manchester zone map from tv show

 

Before you go in, you have the opportunity to wear one of the fetching Crystal Maze jackets and take a group picture. Which we did. However, you don’t get to wear these stylish suits as you do the games, they are purely for picture purposes. Don’t be sad though – you will most definitely be grateful they didn’t let you wear it once you get in as you will get very warm as you dash around.

 

crystal maze manchester group picture

Our team – The Hateful Eight

 

After all the paperwork and safety briefings, the first task is the most important – choosing team and sub team captains. Sub team captain very important, just in case the team captain gets locked in. Of course, as the pre-birthday girl and organiser, I forced myself into the team captain role and appointed my partner in crime G as the sub.

A short welcome video from the legendary Richard and then boom! Out pops our very own Maze Master – Edward-something-something-something-the seventh. He was eccentric, dressed in tweed, very tall and skinny, carried a briefcase… oh and most importantly, he was BRILLIANT. The Maze Master job was one that was quite sought after, the Crystal Maze opened the applications out to actors and actresses as it is very much a dramatic role rather than simply having a host walk you through.

I’ll get back to Edward later, but let’s move on…

After a quick getting to know each other session, it was time to get cracking. 60 minutes on the clock and we were off.

The games! Oh gosh, they were completely on point. I was so pleased. Just like the original once again, you can choose between physical, mental, skill or mystery. The Maze Master offers the options in that particular zone and as the captain I got to choose who played WHICH game.

I’m not going to ruin the surprise for you by describing them all, but think maths puzzles, laser beams, pulley ropes, puzzles… and they’re all SOOO GOOD!!!

Once the chosen team mate is in the room facing their task, the rest of us could watch through windows… you know what I’m going to say next, it was just like the TV show!

I could give you plenty of tips at this point – such as, don’t all shout at once, read the instructions clearly out loud, move on if you don’t understand something… but the beauty of the game is once you’re there and the door has closed, even when you’re watching someone else do the task, you’ll completely forget everything you’ve read or heard as adrenaline kicks in and you move into competitive mode.

We won seven crystals in total, that gave us 35 seconds in the dome. We came soooo close in some games but we didn’t want to risk losing a team mate (although I’ve heard there are some novel ways of getting them out, so maybe its worth a try??)

Now, I said I’d come back to Edward-something x 3-the seventh. I kid you not, this guy was incredibly talented. Throughout our whole experience, he stayed in character, he worked off our enthusiasm and played a truly exceptional host. He was comedy GOLD. Our very own compere to take us through and he literally had us in stitches the whole time – G and I took the brunt of his jokes (we did ask for it though 😉 ).

 

 

If I could do this whole thing again. I would. All day every day until we’d tried every single challenge. And I’d want Edward to go through the pain of leading us all through it too.

If you want something fun to do with a group of friends, whether you’re a fan of the show or not…

BOOK THIS.

But book it NOW – because those slots are filling up fast.

 

 

 

*** Booking information ***

Ticket prices vary £45-£55 depending on when you book – Click here to see what available

If you don’t have a team of 8, you will be placed with other people, I’d say that’s a neat way to make new friends.

There’s a trailer on the website if you want to get a real feel for it – But if you can resist, I’d recommend leaving it a surprise 🙂

 

 

Have you tried the Crystal Maze? Were you a big fan of the TV show?

 

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