Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Restaurant Review: Bottomless Pizza & Prosecco at Buca Di Pizza, Manchester


Today brings a new Manchester restaurant opening that I was really excited about - Buca Di Pizza*.

This independently run pizzeria has already made a name for itself in Leeds for its  'Tutto' deal - unlimited pizza orders with bottomless refills of prosecco or house lager for an hour and a half.

Sounds like a dream to me!

I went down to the new cellar-style restaurant on Lloyd Street (close to Red's True BBQ) shortly after the opening to see if it lived up to expectation.

The restaurant is really nicely decorated inside. Walking down the steps from street level, you feel like you've stumbled across a real hidden gem. Buca Di Pizza, Manchester feels like an unassuming, Italian cafe, classically designed but with quirky relics lining the walls.

Opting for the Tutto deal, of course, I started off with prosecco (which was perfect) before trying the 'house' birra - which I'm usually a bit dubious of but I was pleased to find that Buca Di Pizza's was great!

The Pizzas

I was amazed at the choice on the menu. BDP specialise in Neapolitan style pizzas with 'a modern twist', with the menu split between classic Italian toppings and their own creations - including notable pizzas like 'The Snake Charmer' (Goan coconut curry sauce, chilli glazed paneer, lamb koftas, onion bhajis, grated carrot & beetroot, mint yogurt) and 'Rome of the East' (sweet potato & chickpea sauce, crunchy fried falafel, herb marinated feta, red onion, rocket and chili & mango dressing).

Our first pizza choices were a 'Nduja Love Me?' for me (tomato & basil sauce, grated mozzarella, mascarpone, spicy nduja paste, pepperoni, roast chicken, sundried tomatoes) and a 'Hickory Pig' for Chris (hickory barbecue sauce, grated mozzarella, chantico spiced cheddar, smoked pancetta, hickory smoked pulled pork) - both from the 'Pizza Buca' creation menu.

Both were well made and piled high with good quality toppings - impressive! Mine was very tasty and even though I'm usually more of a classic girl, the multitude of toppings seemed to work really well together; the mascarpone especially was a delicious touch. Chris was happy as Larry with the Hickory Pig as he loves BBQ sauce base pizzas but they just aren't for me so he doesn't have them often!

We ate these a little too quickly, eager to try a couple more. Next up were two pizzas from the Classic menu - a simple Pepperoni and a Frestosa - tomato & basil sauce, stracchina cheese, rocket, prosciutto and balsamic glaze. I found the balsamic a little overbearing on the Frestosa but other than that, these were great too - though we definitely preferred our first choices from the Pizza Buca menu!

We didn't manage much from our second pizzas so the friendly staff kindly boxed them up for us to take away.

At £25.95 per person, the Tutto deal represents great value - and quality! Though if stuffing your face isn't necessarily your thing, the individual pizza prices are really reasonable and they also serve pasta dishes too.

Is bottomless pizza and prosecco something you'd like to try?


Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Restaurant Review: Steak Out at El Capo, Manchester


Another food review today, and not somewhere that would immediately come to the fore of my mind when thinking of somewhere to eat - it's Mexican-themed Northern Quarter bar, El Capo*!

Steak Out Monday

Chris and I joined El Capo for their Monday 'Steak Out' - an appetising deal of steak for two, two sides and a bottle of house wine for just £25, impressive indeed!

We're both big fans of a steak and having never eaten at El Capo before, we were eager to find out if this deal was as tasty as it sounded.

Not wanted to miss out on cocktails, we ordered a couple of those while we waited for the food. I had the house margarita: tequila, sugar, lime and salt - it was strong!

Chris had the 'Cocktail With No Name' - a homage to Clint Eastwood's masculine 'The Good, The Bad and The Ugly' character, containing the not-so-masculine ingredients of mango vodka, creme de peche, lime, lychee and pink grapefruit. This one was really good! 

On to the main event! The steak looked and tasted soo good. Substantial, well-seasoned (with extra salt and pepper on the board to taste) and sliced up so we could see how perfectly cooked all the way through it was. It was executed beautifully, medium rare as ordered.

We felt like our two sides were well-chosen: a wonderfully gooey, cheesy and tasty mac and cheese, with triple cooked sweet potato wedges. Both sides were delicious and went well with the steak.

The house red wine, an easy-drinking Merlot was the perfect finishing accompaniment.

I was majorly blown away by the value and quality of El Capo's steak night. The colourful and casual surroundings (and the fact that Happy Hour lasts until 7pm!) make it the perfect impromptu evening out as an antidote to the Monday blues.

My next trip will definitely be for 'Wing it Wednesday' - 50p chicken wings all night!

Have you eaten at El Capo


Thursday, 8 June 2017

Viking Arty Party at King Street Townhouse, Manchester


A few weeks ago I finally got to attend an event I'd been super excited about for some time!

Organised by Viking Direct, their day of arts and crafts - dubbed the Viking Arty Party promised to be filled with mini classes taught by expert crafters. With my wedding right around the corner, I was very pleased about trying my hand at some useful DIY skills!

All hosted at the fabulous King Street Townhouse Hotel, in our own private room with a roof terrace on an absolutely gorgeous day.

Above image by Matt Chappell

Modern Calligraphy with Artsynibs

This calligraphy class with the incredible, Joyce was the one I was most looking forward to and my favourite of the day. I'd had a mini class with Joyce before at a blogger event I'd organised and I was super keen to pick up more tips from her before writing out my wedding invites!

As part of our session, we were all given a set to take home from Manuscript, containing a pot of ink, a nib holder and three different styles of nibs. After Joyce's first session, I'd bought some supplies of my own to practise with but I'm really enjoying using this set! It's really good value to buy and I'd highly recommend it to anyone starting out with calligraphy, it even contains a little beginners guide.

Even though I'd done this before, I have to admit I struggled a little at first! Once I got into it with some expert advice from Joyce, I found my wording was looking a lot better.

Notebook Customising with The Crafty Hen

Next up was notebook customisation with craft collective, The Crafty Hen. This one was definitely a nostalgic experience, reminding me of school homework at the beginning of term when we were tasked with covering our exercise books - just like back then, the decision of what materials and colours to use was a tough choice!

Plans for my notebook quickly became a bit ambitious and I really struggled to finish it on time! Fortunately I was able to give it a final flourish with some gold leaf foil.

I used various shades of coloured card, attached with double-sided tape, finished with some vintage-style wash tape.

I was really pleased with how my notebook turned out and it's given me plenty of ideas for creating our own personalised guest book at the wedding (if there's time!).

Block Printing with The Crafty Hen

My last crafty session of the day was with Stacey, also of The Crafty Hen. Stacey showed us how to create our very own rubber stamp, all from a simple eraser!

She told us that for creating a rubber stamp, the simpler the better. Thinking I was going fairly safe with a cloud design, I still struggled to get the print effect just right.

We decorated plain office folders with our designs - an easy way to brighten up something everyday.

Above image by Matt Chappell

I really enjoyed this event; something a little different with lots of lovely people and new skills being learnt! I can't wait to try out some of these new crafts in prep for my wedding next month.

Thanks for having me, Viking!


Friday, 19 May 2017

Opening of Italian-inspired Cafe Bar: Enzo


As you might well know, I can't get enough of Italian food. So when I heard about a new Italian-inspired eatery opening in Manchester city centre, I couldn't wait to check it out!

The concept of Enzo is an interesting one - Italian-influenced food, combined with the laidback cafe bar culture of Australia. I think this is actually just what Manchester needs! There have been many times I've found myself looking for a drink and bite to eat in the late afternoon but not necessarily looking for a full-on restaurant or busy bar experience - or even just a good cup of coffee, when the likes of Costa and Starbucks feel completely uninspiring.

Introducing, Enzo!

Enzo Prosecco
Multi Coloured Pizza Light Up Sign
Fresh Pizza Manchester
Fresh Dough Manchester
Fresh Dough Pizza Manchester
Handmade Pizza Manchester
Fresh Handmade Pasta Manchester
Freshly Made Cakes Manchester

There for the launch night, we were served a selection of pizzas to try from the broad menu. All fresh-tasting, soft with crispy edges and with a huge selection of toppings on offer; my favourite was definitely the Ndjuja - created with dolcelatte cheese, spicy nduja sausage, toasted walnuts and rocket!

We also got to sample one of the pasta dishes which I was secretly hoping would be the Pesto Genovese! Handmade penne pasta with the freshest homemade basil pesto with toasted pine nuts. This was divine!

Washed down with a few glasses of prosecco and ice cold bottles of peroni, the mains were definitely a hit.

Afterwards we were pleased to get to try Enzo's famed coffee (worth the hype) and some samples of the homemade cakes.

Freshly Made Coffee Manchester
Pizza Sign Manchester

There's something about Enzo that feels so brilliantly unique. The passion behind everything presented is easy to see. Finding out more about the restaurant, they make all their pizzas, pasta and cakes fresh - every day.

The coffee, too, is fantastic. Freshly ground, Italian and presented with flair - a far cry from most of the chains lining Market Street.

The decor feels vibrant, yet relaxed in style - making this a great place to meet friends over good food and drinks.

It's hard to believe that something like this exists so centrally in the city. Located on Fountain Street, it's well worth straying away from the hustle and bustle of Market Street to find!

Have you tried Enzo yet?

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