The Canal House is launched in Birmingham

Last week saw the revitalising of a legendary Birmingham venue, when The Canal House launched in the old James Brindley pub. The James Brindley had been a Birmingham landmark in the 1990s, but had, in recent times become a bit of an eyesore on the skyline, lying empty for the past 8 years. Now, as The Canal House, it looks set to bring those glory days back, as it is once again a beautiful venue, with great food and cocktails.


We went along on launch night to try the food and cocktails and to soak up the atmosphere, and were not disappointed. It is a fabulous venue, with the large space giving off the vibe of traditional wharfside buildings, with lots of wood and glass. Inside feels spacious with lots of attention to detail, I love the high ceilings that make the place so light and airy, the use of wood for the floors to give a rustic feel, and the fabulous use of glass, whether to create skylights, or in a vintage form in the glass bottles and lanterns that make up the amazing chandeliers (such a talking point). There is also a rather beautiful private dining area that would be amazing for a birthday celebration.

The cocktails are one of the real plus points of this fabulous venue. The Canal House is putting its own twists on classic cocktails, so rather than a Mojito, I had The Cuban Influence, and rather than a Long Island Iced Tea, I had Narrowboat Iced Tea, which was described to me as like Fizzy Cola Bottle sweets in alcoholic form and was just delicious, even served in a glass bottle with a bag of sweeties attached. No Ordinary Labourer was a chocolate/coffee mix that even came with Bourbon biscuits. All I can say is that it was so good I had it twice.

The drinks were divine, a real destination on the cocktail map, but the food easily matched it. From appetisers liked the baked kale and sesame seed crisps (brilliant, with just the right amount of spice) to Homemade Houmous that was served with generous helpings of warm flatbread and crudites, the food was of a high standard, with everything well thought out for flavour and portions. The mains are incredible, from Grilled Seabass brilliantly teamed with avocado, to the famous hanging kebabs that you pour garlic butter over for an absolute taste sensation. I chose to have mine with sweet potato fries, a bit of a favourite of mine, and these are by far the best I have ever tasted. And, if you had room left for dessert, the baked chocolate chip cookie dough was just gooey and delicious, my dream dessert.

I loved my first visit to The Canal House, it is a vibrant, warm and inviting destination that is sure to be a favourite with those who love good food and exciting cocktails. I can’t wait to go again.

Work+Play at Malmaison – A Girly Night In

Last week I was invited to enjoy a girly night of food, pampering and cocktails at the very stylish Malmaison. It was strictly ladies only as we were treated to manicures, blow dries, makeovers and arm massages, whilst the prosecco flowed and food was served in the guise of the new Malmaison menu. If all this wasn’t bliss enough, we also had the chance to create a special cocktail that matched the colour of our nail polish.

Malmaison is home to the lovely La Petit Spa, a haven in the heart of the city where you can enjoy full spa treatments, as well as manicures, pedicures and make overs. On the evening espa were offering hand cocktails that left your skin smelling divine and feeling silky smooth and soft. There was also the opportunity to have a manicure using the new CND Shellac and Vinylux colours, adding a nail colour of your choice. My nails were in particularly bad condition, but they were shaped beautifully and my trademark red shade was added – it proved to be very popular on the evening.

Once the paint on my nails had dried it was time to create a cocktail to match the colour. Thankfully, there were no Bloody Mary’s in sight as I opted for a raspberry martini styled cocktail that contained a lot of vodka, including Absolut Raspberry. It was very sweet, totally delicious and it looked amazing too, although, as a Mojito fan, I did wonder whether I should’ve opted for a green shade, just to create my favourite cocktail of them all.

Cover FX make up, who you can find in both Harvey Nichols and Selfridges in the city, were on hand to find your perfect foundation and also introduce their brand and hero products. I love the fact that their custom enhancing drops can be added to your moisturiser or foundation to create a new dimension to a base product, whether it be to add a metallic glow, a sunkissed look or even to highlight your cheekbones. Custom FX really is a brand of beauty innovation, a brand I was not familiar with, but already love.

With nails and make up sorted, hair was next on the menu, with blow ltd on hand to create the perfect express style look. Blow are sometimes referred to as the Uber of the beauty world, as they will come to your home and sort all your beauty needs. On the evening we were looking at the fast beauty to go menu, and I was so pleased with the beachy waves that I was treated to.

 

And, of course, there was food. I loved the chargrilled chicken breast and crunchy Thai salad – a perfect summer dish, whilst the desserts were to die for, particularly the fresh red berries and vanilla marscapone (pictured below) and the warm steamed summer pudding. I love a good dessert and these rated really highly on the pudding-o-meter.

I left Malmaison feeling totally relaxed and pampered, with gorgeous hair and shiny nails. It was a wonderful night in a fabulous destination.

*With thanks to Malmaison and East Village PR for the invitation.

Father’s Day gift ideas for the discerning dad

Father’s Day is the next special date in the family calendar, and with the bank holiday is over, we can now firmly concentrate on finding the right gift for that special man in your life, whether he be your own father, or your baby daddy. All the usual suspects are available – beer, socks, unispiring toiletries, but if you want to find something a little different, more thoughtful or unusual, then step this way as I show you a few things I have my eye on.

Football Crazy – these may be the answer.

Toffs is a fabulous company that makes reproduction football shirts from bygone days. They have a wide range of shirts from teams that are in the Premier League, and also shirts from other divisions. The shirts can range from tops from the 1970s, to shirts that go right back to the 1920s and 30s. These are perfect for anyone who is nostalgic for the golden age of football, or who has a very special memory linked to an equally special shirt.

West Bromwich Albion 1978 Away Retro Football Shirt £43 Click to visit Toffs

If a football top is not quite your dad’s thing, maybe a signed photograph of his favourite player would be a good option, especially as it could cost less than £20.

Personalised Arsenal Giroud Autograph Photo £19.99 Click to visit Toffs

A wooden watch

Wooden watches have become a big fashion story in recent years, looking stylish, often hand crafted, and making a genuine fashion statement. Tense watches currently offer a free engraving service that means that, as well as looking beautiful, they can be totally personalised for the person you love. These are a gift that show thought and elegance, and will totally last forever.

A touch of Mr Bond

In the month when my favourite Mr Bond, the suave smooth Roger Moore, died, a great gift for your dad could be a little piece of James Bond himself, or at least his favourite drink. Selfridges have another great gift idea from Tipplesworth, a mini martini set that is sure to leave dad ‘shaken not stirred’ when he opens his present on Father’s Day.


TIPPLESWORTH Classic martini mini cocktail kit £19.99 Click to visit Selfridges

What are you getting for your dad, baby daddy this Father’s Day?