An evening with Roland Mouret at Selfridges Birmingham

One of the best things about being a blogger with an avid interest in fashion is that sometimes you actually get to meet your heroes. I have been so fortunate to meet the likes of Stella McCartney, Markus Lupfer, Philip Armstrong and Amanda Wakeley, and last week I got to add another illustrious name to that list, when the charming genius Roland Mouret made a visit to The Balcony at Selfridges, Birmingham, for a very exclusive fashion show. I was very lucky to get a front row seat.

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It is now eleven years since the Galaxy dress burst onto the scene and enchanted the fashion world, but Roland Mouret still designs the most exquisite dresses that are made to embrace curves. The trunk show at Selfridges was the perfect way to showcase the current designs of the man known as The Master of the Iconic Silhouette, and with French music setting the scene beautifully, and Champagne, Cocktails and canapes courtesy of The Balcony, the stage was set for a memorable evening of high fashion and French style.

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The clothes were impeccable, from wool crepe evening dresses in vibrant colours, to very sexy stretch crepe jumpsuits that come in every shade…as long as it is black. Each and every piece was beautifully cut, something that is always a feature of Mouret designs, with interesting draping details on shoulders and daring opening on the back of the tops. As ever, the dresses were the standout designs – no-one can create a dress that fits and flatters in quite the way that Roland can, but the jumpsuits were elegant and gorgeous, making a smart and sexy alternative to an evening dress. The show was, in a word, spectacular.

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I was super starstruck at the end of the show to get the chance to chat to Roland, who asked if I had enjoyed the show and was frankly charm personified. I was actually meant to interview Roland at the V&A a few years ago but he was unable to the do the time slot, so this was a lovely consolation.

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All in all, it was a pretty special and totally unforgettable evening.

With huge thanks to Clive Reeves PR and Selfridges for the amazing invite.

Happy 1st Birthday to The Balcony

One of Birmingham’s favourite food and drink venues celebrated its first birthday with a rather swanky party last week. The Balcony, situated in Birmingham’s iconic Selfridges and part of the Searcy’s group, has become a place renowned for its fabulous cocktails and eclectic food choices, as well as a celebrity haunt, and it enjoyed a first birthday party that was high on style and substance, with music from a string quartet and canapes that showed off the favourite dishes from The Balcony’s menu.

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Alice Weyrk, general manager of The Balcony said about the night:- “Birmingham is a wonderful city, and we’re so glad we’ve been able to contribute to what is a thriving culinary scene. Searcys is famed for its Champagne bars in London, and we’re very happy that our venture into Birmingham is proving successful. We look forward to seeing what the next year of trading will bring, and thank all of our customers for their support this year. We had a great time at our party, which we hosted to thank those that have made the restaurant what it is – the people and businesses of Birmingham!”

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This was such a fun night. The champagne and the cocktails flowed freely as I got chance to catch up with some of my favourite bloggers and foodies. One cocktail in particular was very good, it mixed vodka and water and some sort of syrup with the layers separating as you drank, hitting the water as you reached the bottom. It also contained Rosemary, which gave an added, but very welcome flavour.  The famous deconstructed club sandwich Martina, complete with soft quails egg was still raising eye-brows, whilst the mouth-watering ham hock and fabulous mini burgers were as delicious as ever.

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The Balcony has sold 23,000 glasses of Champagne since it opened in the Winter of 2013 (you can read about the opening here) and the guests at the 1st birthday enjoyed yet more of that Birmingham Balcony hospitality. I had a wonderful night with my sister Jodie, and would like to say a huge thanks to Alex from Waa Agency and the Staff of the Balcony for the invitation.

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Alex from Waa Agency with Blogger Emily Jayne

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An Afternoon Picnic at The Balcony, Selfridges

Ever since I attended the opening party of The Balcony restaurant in Selfridges, Birmingham, last December, I have been itching to try out the Afternoon Picnic. The restaurant, part of the Searcy’s group, had shown guests their take on a traditional afternoon tea, but due to consumer copious amounts of food and scrummy cocktails on the night, I had not been able to sample any of the delights on offer. This was something I knew I had to put right.

So last Friday I took myself off the iconic Bullring Birmingham store with one of my favourite blogging ladies, the gorgeous Miss Emily Jayne, to sample the delights of an afternoon tea that promised to be a twist on the traditional. The Balcony’s afternoon Picnic certainly delivered on its promises.

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DSCN8197The Balcony offers a gorgeous modern fashion vibe for guests, with stylish table arrangements and a beautiful fashion mural which so suits the ethos of Selfridges as a modern, vibrant place to shop and dine. The dining experience began with a glass of Moet Champagne, the bubbles chilled and perfect for what was an exceptionally hot afternoon.

And then the tea was presented…on what is, quite possibly, the sweetest picnic table you will ever see. The benches were home to the sandwiches, which, in this case, were actually deep filled buns. There were three in total, Coronation Chicken, traditional cucumber with creme fraiche and smoked salmon. Each was flavoursome and delightful, with the Coronation Chicken my personal favourite – packed with flavour but not too spicy.

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DSCN8198With the buns finished it was time to turn to the cakes. This was also the perfect time for tea to be served. I opted for my usual English breakfast tea, which I love served very strong with just a dash of milk. Emily went for the fresh mint option which is very refreshing. We were both super impressed with the presentation – the fabulously rustic ironware teapots were so unusual and kept the tea piping hot. I enjoyed the tea so much I asked for a second pot, which was not a problem.

In terms of cakes/pastries, it has to be said that if you are a fan of macaroons, you are in for a treat. The thick chocolate inside the macaroons was rich and delicious. These were the best macaroons I have ever tasted, well worth the chocolate smears left all around my mouth. There was also a deliciously light lemon drizzle cake which was moist and had a real summery taste of citrus. And, of course, there were scones, with clotted cream and little pots of jam. I must admit I am not always a fan of jam served in the jar, but as this was part of a picnic, it fitted perfectly with the theme of the tea. The scones were large and so soft and fresh they crumbled when cut. They were so tasty they could’ve been eaten without any cream or jam, they were that good.

DSCN8204The whole picnic experience was a sheer delight from start to finish. The service was impeccable, and the staff professional; attentive, butnot to the point of being intrusive. The food was of a high standard and gelled well together as an afternoon tea. I loved this twist on the traditional and will certainly be paying another visit very soon.

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*With thanks to the staff of The Balcony, Birmingham and Alex Mansell of Waa agency for the review opportunity.