McDonalds Blogger Event, Birmingham

Sometimes, as a blogger, you receive an invitation to an event that is just too good to miss. It may include Champagne Cocktails, meeting celebrities, amazing fashion shows, or it may invite you to make your own Big Mac. Yes, I did say make your own Big Mac. That was the event that I took part in last week at the Small Heath branch of McDonalds, and I have to say it is one of the most fun events I had been to in a long time – and the Big Mac was delicious.

At a McDonalds Birthday party West Bromwich branch

At a McDonalds Birthday party West Bromwich branch

With my sister in McDonalds

With my sister in McDonalds

Joe and Renee in McDonalds

Joe and Renee in McDonalds

McDonalds has been around in the UK since 1974 (in Woolwich London, the restaurant is still there!) and is pretty much a part of everyone’s life, whether you have an occasional burger or are a regular visitor. But McDonalds is moving with the times, and the restaurants, ordering service and general delivery of food is all changing. Gone are the days when asking for a tailor made burger meant a very long wait, or when trying to order food with children meant standing in a queue with your pushchair, McDonalds is now aiming to deliver fast and convenient food.

One of the major changes to stores have been the electronic order pads that mean you no longer have to order at the desk. These offer all the food options, and the chance to tailor make your meal too, by removing sauce from burgers, changing chips for salads etc to literally create the perfect meal for you. The machines accept vouchers, as well as card payments, so you don’t miss out on money off offers. What I also like is the option to have the food delivered to your table – perfect if you have young children and pushchairs and don’t want to leave them whilst you wait at a collection point for your food.

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New Order system

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Another thing I was really impressed with was the electronic order boards above the counters. In the past these were manually operated, but now, the electrical system allows them to be changed immediately if items are no longer available. This stops the disappointment of ordering food that you can’t have.

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Once we had checked out the front of house, it was time for the exciting part, to don our hairnets and aprons, add our own special badges and to get into the kitchen. I have to admit that I expected the kitchen to be much bigger, but when you see how organised every operation is, you realise that lots of space is not a necessity. As child I went to a McDonalds birthday party and had a trip around the kitchens, so was surprised to see just how different the operation is now. There are no open grills for the burgers, but specifically time covered grills. Everything is done to precision, from the amount of onions added to a burger, to the squirt of Big Mac sauce. Every single order is done to order, no burgers are left sitting on the counter waiting to be chosen – this enables food to be piping hot and perfect. The whole space is supremely clean – not even a lettuce leaf left on a counter, and the general feeling is one of total efficiency. I was impressed!

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So Proud!

So Proud!

I loved making my own Big Mac, but was nowhere near as quick as the staff, who can literally make one of these in less than a minute. In fact, I loved the whole experience, the Small Heath branch felt like a really bright and friendly place to eat with your family, and the staff were truly friendly and seemed to have a real pride in their work, which is great to see.

*This is a sponsored post.

 

 

 

Brewers Fayre bring half term fun

Last week was half term in the UK, and, as parents looked for interesting ways to keep their children occupied, pub/restaurant chain Brewers Fayre launched a week of activity mornings. Children could enjoy a range of indoor fun whilst parents relaxed with a coffee, and then, once the morning was over, you were in the perfect place for a spot of lunch. I went along to the Walsall branch on Friday morning to check out the food and fun.

DSCN7169My little boy Joe was not with me on Friday as he was enjoying a week of fun on a footie camp with the WBA Foundation. But I did have my two year old niece Renee in tow, so I was interested to see what she thought of the meals and the activities.

The Walsall branch of Brewers Fayre is attached to the town’s Premier Inn, on the Wharf by the iconic Art Gallery. Inside the restaurant there was an area set out for the half term fun, with tables for colouring, face painting and balloon modelling. The staff were really friendly and welcoming, organising a high chair for Renee and immediately bringing Dennis the Menace colouring pictures to the table, as well as a balloon (instantly released to the ceiling but the thought was there) and a magazine.

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A rather murky view across to The New Walsall Art Gallery from the Brewers Fayre

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Balloon modelling

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Love the Balloon swords!

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The Brewers Fayre Beano style magazine

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Face Painting was charged at just 50p!

Renee enjoyed the colouring in.

Renee enjoyed the colouring in.

One of the great things about Brewers Fayre is that it is family friendly. The menus offer a lot of choice, from light bites to more substantial meals, and there are offers of two meals for £10, making them budget friendly too. Renee chose from the Menacing Meals menu where you can get three courses for £4.99. She was insistent on ‘Popin Chicken’ with chips, but we changed the beans for a side of garlic bread. The food was piping hot and a really substantial portion – too much for Renee to finish, but certainly enough for an older child to enjoy.

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DSCN7178My dad was also dining with us, so we went for the two options for £10. Dad went for the classic sausage and mash, which came with garden peas and onion gravy. It was a lovely dish, very rustic looking and (so I’m told) really tasty – proper comfort food, especially on a cold, wet day. The mash was soft and fluffy, the sausages had just enough spice and the gravy was a great finishing touch.

DSCN7180I opted for one of the new dishes on the menu, the Red Pepper and Caramilised Red Onion Quiche. This was a delicious, deep filled quiche, with a mature cheese flavour that was toned down by the peppers and onion. Again this is a very substantial dish, served with a side salad in French dressing, and chunky chips. I am a real fan of quiche, and this is a really lovely one, very filling and full of flavour. I also chose a side option of coleslaw which I really enjoyed. This was not supermarket mush coleslaw overflowing with mayonnaise, but chunky sliced cabbage and carrots in just the right amount of sauce.

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DSCN7183We all really enjoyed our meals and our dining experience. Service was prompt and friendly, with a lovely touch was when we had finished our meal when Renee was given a balloon poodle that she just loved.

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You can view all Brewers Fayre menus here, and find your nearest restaurant.

*Our meal was paid for by Brewers Fayre in exchange for a honest review, all opinions are my own (and Renee’).

Frankie and Benny’s great new kids menu

On Sunday, my family and I were invited along to Frankie and Benny’s at The Fort Shopping Centre in order to review their latest children’s menu. As a family, we are already big fans of the Italian/American restaurant, finding them to be very family friendly with a great extensive menu, but I had never been to The Fort branch before. Needless to say, we had a wonderful time.

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Joe and dad.

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Enjoying my Amalfi Sunrise

The children’s menu has been extended, with new options that include ‘build a burger’ and ‘wrap it up chicken’ options.  The children’s menu is good in that it is divided into two separate sections, ‘kids’ and ‘juniors’ so that it caters for both younger and older children. Joe, at 6, still chooses from the younger version, but I like the idea that slightly older children can still eat at the reduced cost (£7.75), rather than having to choose from the adult menu.

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DSCN6942[1]We began with drinks and starters. Joe chose the ice cream milkshake in chocolate. It was very creamy and tasty (I know – I couldn’t resist trying it myself) and I liked that it was served in a plastic beaker rather than a glass. It was lunchtime so I resisted the alcohol and opted instead for a ‘mocktail’. The Amalfi Sunrise was beautifully refreshing, a mixture of mango, orange and lemon with a splash of grenadine and lots of ice. The mango came through strongly and was just delicious.

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I chose a starter that I knew Joe would enjoy too. This was the garlic dough balls from the specials menu. This is a bowl full of tasty garlic dough balls served with a pot of garlic and parsley dip on the side. It was a very decent sized helping of dough balls that were cooked perfectly (I have had these in the past when they have been rather burnt.). I think that a little extra garlic butter would be good, but other than that, this was fine and Joe enjoyed them too.

DSCN6951[1]Pete chose the Meatballs Italiano as his starter. This is an impressive dish with two large pork and beef meatballs covered in a delicious tomato, chilli and onion sauce. The meatballs are generous in size (about the size of a faggot) and serving them with ciabatta means that the lovely sauce can be mopped up too – no waste in this dish!

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For our main meals we again looked to the specials menu (2 courses for £11.95 Sunday to Friday – menu here.) I chose a vegetarian option of Pasta Verde, and this was a lovely, big, rustic plate of food. It usually contains peas, but they happen to be one of my idea of food hell so I asked for them to be left out of my dish. I was really impressed when I was offered different options, and added onions instead. I really enjoyed what was a filling, substantial meal, and think this could also be a great option if served with chicken too. Pete tried the Pulled Pork pizza. Again this is a good sized dish, but due to the dry nature of the pork it may be better served with an accompaniment – barbecue dipping sauce maybe?

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Joe chose to have the cheeseburger meal with chips and beans. I was impressed with how tasty the children’s options were, and the portion size was just right – in fact, Joe couldn’t quite finish – especially as he was leaving room for a new dessert he had spotted on the menu and was super excited about…

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The dessert had quite frankly got me excited too. The Ice Cream candy shop consists of 2 scoops of ice cream and glass milk bottles of sweets, all served with a jug of chocolate sauce to pour. It comes on its own tray, and there is an old-fashioned paper bag to take home any sweets left over (as if!). There was also a packet of popping candy which caused sheer delight for Joe (and his dad). For just £1.95 this is an absolute bargain – a perfect dessert which is worth popping in for even if you don’t want a complete meal. It is Willie Wonka’s perfect pudding and Joe thought it was pretty near perfect too.

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We had a lovely time at Frankie and Benny’s. The service was friendly and attentive, and the food was affordable and tasty. We will definitely be dropping by again soon – for Sweetie shop desserts of course!

The Fort Shopping Park Blogger Badge

*We were invited to sample the menus as part of the Fort Bloggers programme.