Love Lily Cakes

Laura 

I am always on the lookout for new places to visit for a good coffee or yummy food, so you can imagine how excited I was when I accidentally stumbled across a brand new little cake shop and cafe whilst out walking last weekend.

The sun was shining and the weather was warmer than it has been for a while, so I asked my Mam if she would like to go for a walk down to the beach with me to make the most of the beautiful day.  We had already stopped elsewhere for a coffee, but then decided to have a wander down to the beach at Roker.  As we were walking along the seafront I noticed a new name on one of the beach huts across the road, Love Lily.  

Intrigued by what it might be, we walked over to take a look.  As soon as we got to the door we immediately decided we had to stay and have some lunch.  

The first thing you notice is the beautiful display of cakes and homemade baked goods on the counter, as well as a selection of stunning wedding cakes available to order.  

The decor is fresh and bright, beautifully finished with ghost chairs and pretty chandeliers and a fantastic view of Roker Sea Front.  

We were offered a table in the window where we got to browse the lunch menu.  We both decided to order the smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich along with a couple of coffees.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from the food, the decor was beautiful but that doesn’t always mean the food will be.  However, when the food arrived I was genuinely impressed.  In fact, I’d go as far as to say it was probably the best sandwich I’ve had in a long time!  There was plenty but I still could have ordered another as it was so delicious!  Even the coffee was really good, I love a well made flat white!

After our lunch, and after staring at the display of cakes, we couldn’t resist getting ourselves a sweet treat! It was so difficult to decide what to get but we ended up getting a slice of lemon layer cake and mini Victoria sponge cake to share.  

Now, my Mam and I love to bake and are very picky when it comes to cakes, but we couldn’t find fault in these! The sponge was so light and fluffy and the buttercream was delicious. Even my Mam, who doesn’t normally like buttercream, enjoyed it.  

We loved the cakes so much we decided to ask the staff if we could order some for the day after the wedding as we have invited family and friends back to our house to continue the celebrations.  The staff were so friendly and helpful and I even got to meet Gemma, the genius behind all of the beautiful cakes.  She was more than happy for us to send her our order and I can’t wait to try more of her fabulous cakes, I know they will be a hit with our guests.  

I am so happy I stumbled across this charming little cafe, I’m definitely going to take Grant to try more from the menu.  I’m sure it is going to be a huge success!

Mother’s Day at Tyneside Cinema

Sian

For Mother’s day this year I wanted to try somewhere a little different from the norm. My Mam and I both have quite the sweet tooth and she works constantly around the clock so I really wanted to go out of my way and spoiler her. It’s more than she deserves, she’s put up with my chaos for 25 years! I’d decided to take her to Tyneside Cinema Cafe. They were doing an afternoon tea with a glass of Prosecco and a private screening of Mama Mia after. I thought ‘that is my Mam all over’, sweet treats and a girly film. I couldn’t go wrong!

Tyneside Cinema is one of the places that we should really go more often! It’s always our cinema of choice. It’s just so quirky, it’s such a convenient place to get a pre-film drink, or even a bite to eat after work, I figured my Mam would love it.

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We were greeted at the bar and shown to our table in the small screening area at the back of the cafe, all cordoned off for the afternoon. We were given our set menu for the afternoon along with a large pot of tea and a glass of prosecco, which was a very welcome treat!

 The bottom tier of the afternoon tea consisted of grilled cheese fingers, wild mushroom arancini, and Gougères – Savoury choux pastry rolls smoked salmon and cream cheese.

Our middle tier was, of course, fresh scones with clotted cream and jam

Finally, our top tier was all the sweets. Rhubarb and Custard Tartlets, Rose and Raspberry Macarons, Champagne Truffles and Honey and Lemon Madeleines.

After a short wait, our three tiers of delight was brought over to the table and our eyes quickly lit up with glee. We both decided to play the same strategy to tackle this greatness; start with the savouries, move onto the sweet and leave the scones till last. You have to leave the best thing till last right?

We started with the grilled cheese fingers, and they were just so scrummy! I’m not a fan of onion and they had onion in, but I would eat them again and again! I have to admit though I am a self-confessed cheese-a-holic. I politely passed on the smoked salmon, which was great for my Mam, she thoroughly enjoyed both of them. The Mushroom risotto balls were a big hit for both of us and we were pleasantly surprised with them.

Next we moved on to the sweet stuff! I started with the macaron, which my blogging partner in crime, Laura, would definitely approve of, they were gorgeous!  Half way through we discovered they were filled with a raspberry jam and they were just everything, I could have eaten them all day! Not only did they taste good but they looked so appealing too! Next up we tucked into the honey and lemon madeleines, they were soft and so tasty, straight away you got a burst of lemon, the honey following, it was delicious. I was a bit dubious about the rhubarb and custard tart, I’m not the biggest rhubarb fan but that changed my mind, it was sweet, not too tart and the custard just complimented it so well. Unfortunately, the killer for both of us was the champagne truffle, it was just so rich and decadent, I couldn’t finish it, it was amazing, but it was all the chocolate! We’d hit a wall.

This left us in the unfortunate position of being too full to eat our scone! We both egged each other on! We couldn’t leave it, that would just be silly. With all our might we braved the scone, and it was worth it. I follow the Cornish method of Jam first and cream on top, but each to their own, they were just delicious. There was more than enough for the two of us, we had been thoroughly fed, and the Prosecco definitely helped.

Following on from the afternoon tea we were led to a small screening room on the top floor of the cinema where we were allocated a settee to enjoy the film on. Mama Mia is one of my Mam’s favourites, she sang her heart out and she always, without fail, wells up when the slipping through my fingers scene comes on. She’s a big softy!

We had such a good day, everything was organised and ran like clockwork. My Mam had a great day, which was all I was bothered about, the plus of the day was the hard work put in by all the staff at Tyneside Bar Cafe. It really did make her day.

D’acqua – New Menu

When I heard D’acqua was bringing out a new menu in March, I had to book a table straight away! Jimmy, the owner, had been posting a few menu previews on social media and they looked fantastic!  I thought it would be fun for Grant and I to go with Sian and James for a double date, as they had never been before and I was dying to introduce them to one of my favourite restaurants in Sunderland.  

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We managed to get a table on the new menu launch night, which for some restaurants means there may be a few hiccups and that some things may not be available, but not at D’acqua! You can tell that every last detail is thought of carefully and that the staff here are extremely passionate about serving food that is prepared to perfection.

It was a school night, but that didn’t stop us from indulging in a nice bottle of wine.  It complements the food, after all. One thing I love about this place is that the staff are clued up on what they are serving and can recommend a good wine to go with your food.  

The new menu has so many tempting dishes to choose from, it was difficult to decide.  For starters, I went for the rosemary and garlic baked camembert with red onion chutney and freshly baked bread (oh the bread), because, well, does it need an explanation?? This has got to be one of my favourite indulgent meals and it did not disappoint! 

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Grant had the Panackelty terrine which, for anyone not from Sunderland, is a twist on a local classic.  It’s got everything you could possibly want (unless you are a vegetarian) with corned beef, sausage, bacon and black pudding.  This version also comes with pickled carrots, HP sauce and melba toast.  Grant isn’t from the North East but is now an adopted Mackem and loves a big plate of Panackelty, and he was very impressed with this version.  Winner!!

Sian went for the cheese tart, which would have been my second option, because, again, cheese.  This was a perfectly sized starter with beautifully light puff pastry, creamy Wensleydale cheese, spinach and tomato chutney.  A lot of places can get this sort of dish really wrong, it can be too dry or too greasy, but this was delicious and perfectly cooked.  

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Finally for the starters, James chose the Moules Frites which I must admit, looked fantastic and was beautifully presented.  

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Onto mains and Grant, being the ultimate carnivore, chose the BBQ crate which consists of Double Maxim sticky pork ribs, rosemary chicken wings, Toulouse sausage and beef slider with rustic fries and salad.  Once again, the boy chose well, it did look delicious and I was slightly jealous when I saw it being placed in front of him on the table.  That was until I saw my main course, the pan roasted salmon with herb crust, pancetta and petit pois with white wine sauce.  As soon as I tried it I was so pleased with my choice.  The flavours in this dish are just superb! I would highly recommend it and I would definitely choose it again.  

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Sian went for the cod and chips, with Swedish Blonde Ale beer batter and the most mouth watering chunky chips.  The batter was so light and perfectly crispy and the chips were ‘proper’ homemade chunky chips, my favourite! I will admit I couldn’t resist pinching a few bites.  

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James chose the seafood sizzler which was loaded with beautifully fresh cod, salmon, squid and mussels with onions, mushrooms and tomatoes.  This boy loves his seafood!  

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I must admit, we were all pretty stuffed after our mains, I don’t think we left anything on our plates as it was all too good to waste.  However, when our waitress asked if we would like to see the dessert menu, we couldn’t resist.  

James and Sian shared the cheese slate, which is their usual third course choice.  There was a great selection of cheeses and Artisan biscuits, which was perfect for them to share.  

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I couldn’t resist the chocolate fondant with pistachio ice cream (my favourite) and white chocolate bubble wrap.  This was so indulgent but had to be done, and was absolutely worth the calories!

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I would definitely recommend paying a visit to D’acqua and giving the new menu a try.  If you have been there before you will know what a little gem this place is and if you have never been before I can assure you, you won’t be disappointed!  We will definitely be back soon to try more from the menu!

Restaurant Review – Shilling

James’s Birthday is a big deal for me! I Like to go all out and do the best I can to make his day special. One part of all of our celebrations is a meal out – it’s everything we love – good food and good times. I’d heard really good thing about this place on the quayside – Shilling. The more I heard about it the more it crept up my list of places to visit – and it’s new, I like new! I’m fully supportive of a company which chooses to open its doors in the North East!

Shilling is located on Sandhill on the Quayside, Next to Uno’s and Avika. It first opened its doors last December. My first impression of the place was great; the decor is right up my street, rustic and quirky. The high ceilings are amazing, as are the tinted glass walls.  There is also the most beautiful spiral staircase and the circular chandelier is life!
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We were greeted by a lovely gentleman, who showed us to our table. Our visit was on a Wednesday in the middle of the month, it was quiet, there was only one other couple in the bar who had arrived minutes before us. We opted to sit downstairs as opposed to the restaurant upstairs, it would have been too quiet to sit alone! We took a table in the corner out of the way but still amongst things. We were informed that there were a few changes to the menu on show, due to recent changes which was fine by us. We were presented with their main a la carte menu, and the early bird menu, which was a fantastic offer! 2 courses for £15, 3 courses for £20.

For drinks we opted for a bottle of house red, we were shortly informed they’d run out but were offered another bottle for the sample price, which was fine by me. We then decided on our food options. As tempted as i was by the early bird menu, I’d already picked out my options at work when I was daydreaming about my food! I didn’t want a huge starter so I went for one of the bar snacks – Oxtail and Potato Bon Bons. James went for the braised pig’s cheek and tongue with homemade black pudding, pear and HP sauce. We were then informed that the tongues had just arrived and were curing, but they could give him more cheek and black pudding to make up for this. Black pudding is one of his favourite things so he was thrilled about this! For mains I went with the pheasant Breast, leg wanton, veg and jus and James opted for the pork belly, creamed potato, sausage meat faggot and veg.

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Our starters arrived and we were quickly impressed. The braised pig’s cheek starter looked absolutely unreal, like something you’d get from a very upmarket restaurant, the presentation was flawless! My starter still appealed to me, I wanted a bar snack I got a bar snack, they looked good, and tasted even better, full of meat which just flaked and melted in the mouth.  We were both very pleased with our plates

Next up was mains –

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My first time trying pheasant was a good one I have to say- it was delicious and succulent, it was gamey but not too much. I loved the rainbow veg, it just added a wealth of colour to our plates. I wanted my jus on the plate, simply because it was gorgeous! I like a good sauce! And the wonton was different but so good! Gave an extra bit of something to the fish. James, however won the night I feel, I had a taste of the belly pork and it was simply amazing. Part of me wished I’d picked his plate, or at least pinched the rest of it! We had both made very good choices!

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We did have dessert- James spotted the cheese board on the menu right from the get go – we love a good cheese board and this one was fab. I was a tad too full to enjoy it completely unfortunately, I was having too much of a good time on the other courses. We got a selection of Northumberland cheeses, crackers, chutney and celery. It was a plate full of a good time and just enough to make our night complete.

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Overall James had a fab birthday, and risking taking him to a new place over a much loved regular restaurant definitely paid off. I’d have loved to see it a bit busier but I guess we just picked a quiet night. I’m also keen to try out their cocktail menu, their Instagram is always full of tempting concoctions. I can’t wait to return!