Archive | March, 2017

EYEDOO Prescription Glasses online

EYEDOO Prescription Glasses online

Posted on 31 March 2017 by Chris Ford

The online prescription glasses game seems to have expanded so much in recent times. When I first bought a pair online a few years ago it was a new strange thing to do – much like ordering your weekly shop online, people were used to going into an actual store to select their specs.

As I say, I’ve done this before with a few companies with mixed results. The thing is you still need to go to an opticians to get your prescription and in my experience they are not too open to the idea of just sending you on your way to buy online.

One way they try to hinder this is by not giving you the pupil distance measurement (something it seems they don’t legally have to tell you). This is really quite annoying and one of the reasons a lot of people are put off online specs as to measure yourself seems a bit daunting. So let me tell you about my wonderful experience with Eyedoo and what they ‘doo’ (get it?)

Eyedoo have a range of both regular frames and sunglasses frames, ordering online was really simple. I selected the frames I fancied, uploaded a snap of my prescription card and that was it.  Now coming back to that pupil measurement, Eyedoo have a rather clever solution to get this.  They ask you take a selfie with your driver’s licence or credit card held under your nose and email it to them, from this they are able to work out your correct pupil distance. Clever eh?

So I ordered my glasses on Friday morning and amazingly Monday morning they arrived on my desk. I’m really very pleased with the glasses and the service, another big player in the game took a couple of weeks to get my specs last time I ordered them so this is amazing service.  My order came to just under £55 delivered which is fantastic value.

As an added bonus by buying your glasses from Eyedoo you are giving back too, as 5% of every purchase is  donated to Vision Care for Homeless People, a charity set up to provide eye care services to homeless and other vulnerable people in an accessible and friendly environment in which they feel safe, welcome and comfortable. Great idea.

 

Eyedoo can be found at www.eyedoo.co.uk

 

 

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Review – Bordelaise , Tooting

Review – Bordelaise , Tooting

Posted on 28 March 2017 by Chris Ford

Last weekend we were invited to try the Sunday roast offerings from new French bistro-cum-steak house Bordelaise located in South London’s Tooting.

I haven’t been to Tooting in years although heard good things but as we approached I have to admit slightly rundown looking indoor market in which Bordelaise is located I feared the worst.

As we passed a grimy looking phone stall and one shut shop after another things were not looking promising. But then we made it down the passage to Bordelaise which – as you can see from my photo – looks amazing (and actually totally out of place with its surroundings).

Bordelaise is owned by the ex-food and drink editor of the Independent and the two owners of other very well regarded restaurants so on paper these guys should know their stuff.

We arrived at midday just as Bordelaise opened and at the time their only customers, this always makes me feel a little strange especially with such a small dining area but service was polite and quick with drinks soon in front of us.

We ordered our roasts, (today was roast chicken with green beans and dauphinoise potatoes) after which our waiter asked us if we would like some cheese while we waited. It would be rude not to wouldn’t it?

We were shown most fantastic display of cheeses from which we picked our selection and were promptly served with some bread while we waited for our roast dinner to be cooked.

The main event soon arrived, as the plate sat down in front of me the smell really was out of this world, and both the portions of chicken and dauphinoise potatoes were extremely generous.

The chicken was perfectly cooked which a lovely crispy skin, the potatoes were completely out of this world though, in fact just over a week later I’m still thinking about their delicious garlicky goodness I only wish I could make these they truly were wonderful.

At £14 this roast is a complete bargain and if they keep these standards up I will without question return for more. After all, I do love my roast dinners.

We were not quite done yet though. I spied a chocolate fondant on the menu and if there is one rule in life you should stick by it’s always order the chocolate fondant. This one was most defiantly the best gooey chocolatey fondant I have ever had, bravo Bordelaise.

Chatting to the waiter about my earlier concern about the somewhat shabby locale, he informed me the arcade was going through somewhat of a regeneration and more and more interesting food spots were opening up. Indeed as I looked more closely on my way out I noticed the now open sushi bar, the craft beer shop and bar and several other spots that were shut when we first arrived. So it seems the future bodes well for both Bordelaise and the arcade.

 

Bordelaise, Units 9-11, Broadway Market, 29 Tooting High Street, London SW17 0R

Nearest Tube : Tooting Broadway

www.Bordelaisde.co.uk

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Brunch at Galvin HOP

Brunch at Galvin HOP

Posted on 20 March 2017 by Chris Ford

Last week we reviewed a bottomless brunch at Kupp in Paddington. This week we check out another brunch with bottomless delicious Czech beer but this time its Pilsner Urquell at Galvin HOP.
Located in London’s Spitalfields Square Galvin HOP is their more relaxed pub like annex to the popular Galvin La Chapelle restaurant. Offering more simple straight forward dishes and with Pilsner Urquell (my favourite beer) in their tanks I was keen to check out their brunch offerings.
The brunch menu is served between 11.30 and 4pm Saturday, Sunday and bank holidays with the option to upgrade to bottomless Pilsner Urquell , Bloody Marys or Prosecco for a really very reasonable £10 for two hours.
As we walked in at 1pm I noticed already the place was busy (I’d suggest you definitely book ahead) we walked through the bar area to the main glass-roofed seating area for our brunch. Having never been here before I didn’t actually specify I wanted to sit here but it was a real bonus as Saturday was a lovely sunny day and the room really lit up through the transparent roof.

Galvin Hop
Firstly we had to select our drink, I knew already I wanted to go for the bottomless Pilsner Urquell, my girlfriend chose likewise and as we studied our menus our beautifully poured beers quickly arrived.

Galvin Hop
To start we shared some bread with quite possibly the tastiest smoked salmon I’ve ever tried, it seemed so fresh and flavoursome (maybe I’ve just always had bad salmon?) it really was rather good. The portion for the price was really generous as well.

Galvin Hop
Then onto our mains, by this time I was feeling more in a lunch frame of mind so I went for the deluxe burger which came with a fried pickle on top as well as amazing crunchy fat chips.

Galvin Hop
My girlfriend went for the steak and eggs which I was immediately jealous of when it arrived but I can’t eat two meals so it just means I will have to return so I can try it!
Throughout the meal Galvin Hops staff were excellent at staying on top of refreshing our beers and barely did I have a mouthful left before they were over with a replacement. What more can you ask for?
As we finished our meal our charming server explained she had recently returned from Pilsen in the Czech Republic (now called Czechia) where she had been trained how to pour the perfect pint of Pilsner Urquell. She asked us if we would like to see the different pours on offer, we of course said yes!

Galvin Hop
As you can see in the photo above the two pours were on the left the Hladinka pour with over a third of the glass foam results in less carbonation and a smoother drink. On the right the Milko pour which has a small amount of pilsner at the bottom with the rest of the glass filled with the wonderfully sweet pilsner foam, a desert in itself some Czechs argue! If you go I would highly recommend you ask to try these pours after your meal.
We thoroughly enjoyed our brunch at Galvin HOP, in fact we are already planning our return so I think that tells you all you need to know.

Galvin Hop
Galvin HOP ,35 Spital Square, London
Nearest Tube : Liverpool Street

 

 

*Galvin HOP offered us a free meal but agreed we would write an unbiased review, all words are the writers own and my love for Pilsner Urquell is strong and true.

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Harvester employ Comedian to improve their banter?

Harvester employ Comedian to improve their banter?

Posted on 17 March 2017 by Chris Ford

Known by most for their help yourself salad station family restaurant chain Harvester has enlisted the help of mock the week comedian  Rhys James to coach staff on injecting a bit of humour into their Harvester experience.

Rhys said “I once worked in a restaurant and my banter never received the appreciation it deserved, so it was great to live vicariously through the Harvester team. It’s the ideal situation – if they get a laugh, I’m a genius. If they don’t, then it’s all down to their poor delivery! Some of them did really well with their own improvisation, but I’m secretly going to put this down to my excellent training too.”

Comedy with your steak  and chips?  yeah go on then …

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Review : Casio Ediface Smart Watch

Review : Casio Ediface Smart Watch

Posted on 15 March 2017 by Chris Ford

Recently Casio sent us over one of their new range of Smart watches to check out – the Casio Edifice EQB-500DB. Here what we thought after a week’s use.

First of all the Edifice isn’t what I would call a traditional smart watch, actually it has more in common with a traditional watch but with a little tech built in.

The Edifice has a striking blue analogue face with a steel bracelet and outer case making it look very much in place in a professional environment. Some smart watches would like a bit out of place with a suit on, no problems here.

 

The tech inside has some interesting uses, the main one being its solar powered, so no need to change the battery or stick it on charge which amazes me for something with a Bluetooth connection.

Second – and my favourite feature – is the Global time sync. The watch automatically syncs the time to the time zone you are in so perfect for someone that travels a lot.

Talking of time zones, there is actually a second dial on the watch to set up with your preferred zone so you still know the time at home, again ideal for globetrotters.

Alarms can be setup on the watch via the connected app on your phone (both IOS and Android are compatible) and once set and sent to the watch you don’t need your phone nearby for the alarm to work. I found this particular handy in meetings when I had left my phone on my desk but the watch reminded me when I had to wrap things up.

All in all the Edifice is a solidly built watch that has some cool ‘smart’ features while retaining that classic look. Perfect for travellers and techies alike.

The Casio Edifice EQB-500DB has a rrp of £325.00  for more info head over to www.edifice-watches.co.uk

 

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Flight Night at Jackson & Rye

Flight Night at Jackson & Rye

Posted on 14 March 2017 by Chris Ford

Jackson & Rye , we reviewed their latest city opening last year and if you remember we were blown away with the food and service well they contacted me recently about their new ‘ Flight Night’ which I went along to check out.

jackson & Rye

With ‘Rye’ in their name you can probably guess these guys are fans of Rye whiskeys so their latest concept Flight night is all about that. With so many varieties of Rye available there’s a flight to suit most taste and Jackson & Rye have designed a concept to show this off.

The four flights kicking off flight night are laid out below, James Goggin , Jackson and Ryes Rye expert explained to us that the whiskies have been grouped into categories that encompass the main flavour profiles whiskies can exhibit.

 

The WRYEht Brothers – The Perfect introduction to Rye

jackson & Rye

Ezra Brooks Striaght Rye  – Rittenhouse Straight Rye – Copper Fox Rye

Possibly my favourite of the flights we tried on the night, the Ezra Brooks in particular interested me and the story behind the brand. It was originally created in 1957 to take advantage of the shortage at the time of Jack Daniels even down to the label being just a tad similar!  I loved the spicy sweetness from this whiskey, James explained this comes from charring of the barrels.

The Rittenhouse was interesting in that its 100% Proof and James explained has stayed relatively the same since it was first produced in 1934 , this Rye was again sweet with hints of honey and orange,very nice!

Cooper Fox only opened their distillery in 2005 so a relatively new player in the whiskey world. This whiskey is made with barley, able and cherry wood producing a lovely fruitiness.

For the Love of Rye – Thee Ryes in in Rye content

Bulleit Rye – FEW Rye – High West Rendevous Rye

Bulleit known for their high rye content whiskies it makes sense they would produce a Rye and this one is my favourite of this flight , spicy with a hint of cherry this is one I have plans to pick up a bottle of.

FEW has a lower rye content that the Bulleit and is 46.5% Cask strength, as my grandad would say that will put hairs on your chest!  This one was a little strong for me but still really interesting to try.

High West is also a newbie, the distillery was setup in 2008 after the owners became inspired after a visit to Makers Mark. High West honours the way Rye used to be made with a high rye content and full flavour.

The Many Faces of America – A trio of Bourbon, Rye and Malt

jackson & Rye

Makers Mark Bourbon – Sonoma Rye – Balcones Single Malt

Makers Mark contains no Rye instead Wheat, resulting in a caramel flavour with a sweet sugar soft on the palette.

Sonoma again a new distillery opened in 2010 , they use grains from all over the world. Using two copper pot stills over an open fire this whiskey is distilled twice.

The Balcones distillery was setup nine years ago from scratch including building their own stills. Their goal was to produce a Texas Whiskey. The result is a big, bold single malt.

The Sprit of America – Three traditional Bourbon flights

jackson & Rye

Eagle Rare Bourbon – Basil Hayden’s Bourbon – Smooth Ambler Contradiction

Eagle Rare bourbon is produced by Buffalo Trace and is regularly touted by those in the know as the best value bourbon for the price, this is a smooth dry bourbon with hints of toffee.

Basil Hayden’s Bourbon is produced by Jim Beam but is steeped in history dating back to 1796, Mr Hayden was one of the first to add rye to their bourbon, this is a spicey sweet whiskey with a hint of peppermint.

Finally Smooth Ambler Contradiction is a wheated bourbon and rye bourbon blend from west Virginia.  This one tasted of vanilla and coffee, possibly the most interesting of the bunch to me.

 

Flight Nights are available at Jackson and Rye every Wednesday for £9.95 for three small shots.

For me info on flight night and Jackson & Rye head over to www.jacksonrye.com

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Mothers Day Flowers, where and what?

Mothers Day Flowers, where and what?

Posted on 13 March 2017 by Chris Ford

With Mother’s Day coming up I thought I’d share my recent experience ordering flowers online, with so many options out there (good and bad) it’s helpful to share when someone is good and my experience with Prestige Flowers was faultless from the moment of ordering to delivery.

Being our anniversary a few weeks ago I wanted to send my girlfriend some flowers, I haven’t ever done this before so thought it would be a nice surprise.

I had certain criteria being I needed a company that could deliver on a specified day and idealy in a box as my girlfriend isn’t always in the office or around and they could sit there for a few hours, I wanted my gift to remain in the condition they were sent and Prestige allowed me to cover both those things, I specified Friday and that’s exactly when they came, in a large discrete cardboard box to protect the flowers

Being happy with the last order and with Mother’s Day coming Im considering which bouquet to order for my mum, Prestige offer and with a specific Mother’s Day selection (click here ) the process is beyond easy for someone like me that knows next to nothing about flowers, the addition of the free chocolates is a nice touch too and shows mum you have gone that extra mile ( even if you haven’t! haha

 

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Review: Kupp, Paddington Bottomless Brunch

Review: Kupp, Paddington Bottomless Brunch

Posted on 13 March 2017 by Chris Ford

Last week I had a real craving for some Krusovice, a Czech pilsner that’s not widely available in the UK at the moment.

But one of the places it is available is in KuPP in Paddington so we made plans to ‘Czech’ this riverside venue out at the weekend.

Kupp bottomless brunch

KuPP’s website says the menu was developed around a desire to use notable Scandinavian ingredients in a British way, having never been to the region I was really interested to see what it had to offer.

We arrived at KuPP on a lovely sunny day eager to have some lunch and tuck into some quality Czech beer, on the table I noticed they had a bottomless brunch menu. I see these things as a bit of a challenge much to my girlfriends dismay!  What’s interesting about the bottomless brunch here is that it includes beer, most places do them with prosecco, so again this excited me. Bring it on!

Kupp bottomless brunch

With any type of bottomless or unlimited offer there are rules, in this case for £30 we had 90mins in which time we could have as many pints or a choice of two cocktails and smorgasbords as we liked, providing we had finished the previous one beforehand.

Service started off a tad slow, and we wondered if this was part of the plan to stop me consuming more than one pint but no things soon picked up as the restaurant filled up a bit and we got tucked into our food.

Kupp Bottomless Brunch

Fiske board

The smorgasbords are quite substantial, with a generous helping of smoked salmon and trout and prawns the ‘Fiske’ board was a favourite of both of ours, it tasted fresh and was well presented.

Kupp Bottomless Brunch

KuPP board

The KuPP board had lovely mini meatballs and a gorgeous chorizo sausage roll as highlights.

Kupp Bottomless Brunch

Smokin Roast board

Finally we tried the Smokin Roast board, which was a kind of deconstructed roast dinner while my girlfriend tried to eat some of the veggie board but realised she had taken on too much by that point!

Kupp Bottomless Brunch

Veggie Board

The beer of course was on point (I knew it would be) but the real surprise for me was the food, it was of such high quality I guess higher than I was expecting for something like this I would without a doubt recommend KuPP for their brunch and most even more to try some beautiful Krusovice by the canal in the sun.

Kupp, Paddington

Nearest Tube : Paddington /Edgware Road

http://www.kupp.co/

Kupp bottomless brunch

 

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A Beery break in Brno, Czech Republic

A Beery break in Brno, Czech Republic

Posted on 09 March 2017 by Chris Ford

Brno is the second largest city in  Czechia (formaly the  Czech Republic), Prague being the first, and in  my mind a far nicer place to go. Yes Prague has a lot of history and is beautiful but there are so many sites devoted to the place I thought I would talk about my favourite Czech city Brno.

The first thing you notice is there are no stag parties like in Prague, the locals simply won’t tolerate it, bars won’t let men in in big groups for fear of the town getting the Stag destination reputation that  Prague has and for this I’m very thankful for. Brno is a place you can go with a small group of friends or as a couple and feel right at home. Here are my top beer and food tips from my multiple trips to Brno in recent years.

 

The Czechs aren’t using the Euro yet so you will need some Czech Krouns , we found a weekend of generous drinking and eating left us with plenty of change from the £100 we brought with us, so Brno certainly won’t break the bank.

 

We stayed at the Barcelo Palace, it’s a nice hotel located in I think the perfect spot as its central while not right in the town centre either, within two minutes you are able to get to some top spots.

 

The Czech Republic’s national drink of choice is beer, and they tend to have the pilsner style (having invented it hardly surprising) and you will find no shortage of watering holes around the city, here are some of my favourites

 

Pivnice U Poutníka – Starobrněnská 16, 602 00 Brno, Czechia

A Small front room bar with a larger back space.  There were t wo taps on my visit, the double hop Poutnik and the nefiltrovany Poutnik 12 lezak, both delicious and the only place Im aware of to get them in Brno. This place gets really popular in the evening and things keep going until the early hours.

Pivnice U Poutníka

Starobrno Brewery , Mendlovo nám. 158/20, 603 00 Staré Brno, Czechia

Starobrno

Starobrno is the big beer of Brno and this is where is made right here in town. The Taproom and restaurant is massive and has been completely refurbed in recent years offering modern décor with classic traditional dishes and more contemporary both served to excellent standards. Of course the beer is as fresh as can be served directly from the brewery next door it doesn’t have far to travel!

Starobrno

 

Výtopna, Starobrněnská 339/12, 602 00 Brno, Czech Republic

While you won’t be blown away by the food here ( think fast food, burgers etc ) all your drinks are delivered by the model train that travels around from the bar to all the tables, you have to have one pint of Starobrno here just to experience that!

U Bláhovky – 54 Gorkého St.

U Bláhovky

This place has had a cult following since the late 1990s. Excellent Plzeň (Pilsner lager) on tap in fact this place was recommended to my by Vaclav the Pilsner Urquell head brewer as serving a great pint and hes right it does. You should get here early though this place fills up quickly in the evenings but it’s worth the visit and you will most certainly be drinking with locals. One warning this place is about a 20min walk from the main square but not an unpleasant one and google maps is your friend.

Pivnice U Kocoura, Biskupská 6, 602 00 Brno, Czechia

Pivnice U Kocoura

Along with their own brand lager and Pilsner Urquel this place has a rotating tap menu from different Czech breweries and was the only place in Brno I had an IPA which was both Czech And delicious. The bar and inside seating area is quite small but outside is a large beer garden boasting a fantastic view for you to take in while enjoying your beer.

 

Potrefená Husa Brno , Starobrněnská 334/3, Brno-město, 602 00 Brno-Brno-střed, Czechia

Potrefená Husa Brno

This place is part of a chain owned by the Staropramen brewery but don’t let that put you off we really like it. Its modern cool bar with great food and the entire Staropramen range including the excellent unfiltered version. Also has a nice outside seating area.

Pegas Brno , Jakubská 4, 602 00 Brno-Brno-střed, Czechia

Pegas Brno

This is a cool beer hall and microbrewery, they only sell their beers and they are really good. Lots of locals in here and grumpy waiters, but worth it. Theres also a hotel upstairs which I have stayed at in the past , but in my opinion not worth the premium they charge for it.

 

Monte Bú restaurant,  Údolní 532/76, 602 00 Brno, Czechia

Monte Bú restaurant

This place is a bit of a cab right away but so worth it. Certainly the best steak Ive ever had and really cheap too, I had the tomahawk steak which is served and cut at your table, all washed down with fantastic pilsner even talking about this makes me want to go back.

Monte Bú restaurant

Flights

If you are London based like me Ryanair fly directly into Brno airport from Stanstead , Id also recommend booking a taxi in advance for airport pickup as there isn’t a rank as such and most cabs hanging around are already pre booked. There is a bus service from the airport into town but I have yet to try it.

I hope this has inspired you to take your own trip to Brno its one of my favourite places to holiday and maybe it will be yours soon too.

 

 

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London Pride – Unfiltered

London Pride – Unfiltered

Posted on 08 March 2017 by Chris Ford

A few weeks ago I was invited to the launch of a new mystery beer from Fuller’s, which they promised to be ‘their biggest in a generation!’ So my heart sank slightly when I was greeted with the London Pride signage as I walked into the event.

London Pride – Unfiltered

The thing is, London Pride and me have a bit of history. Before I was into decent beer, in my youth I would drink whatever was cheapest. And at a local bar the Pride was dirt cheap. Trouble was I really didn’t like it and that opinion has stuck with me years later. Even now having got into ‘proper beer’ I haven’t revisited I since.

London Pride – Unfiltered

First of all the Unfiltered variety is on keg, which isn’t new for Pride but I have certainly never had it that way, so the beer is served nice and cold – like I’m used to with my craft beers.

In addition to that it’s dry hopped and unfiltered.  Does that make for a decent pint? Well, yes I actually quite enjoyed it. Would it be my go to if I saw it in a bar? No but It’s certainly now on the consideration list and miles better than the usual offerings of Becks and Foster on tap at some places.

I have to confess the beers were free at the launch so I did wonder now a week or so later did that cloud my judgment? So I popped open a can of Pride Unfiltered last night to revisit the beer and it still ticked all the right boxes.

London Pride – Unfiltered

I wouldn’t say I’m a real ale convert yet. But this is one step further into that middle ground towards me one day being that guy. I think that’s where this could do well. It’s not a craft beer, but it’s not really a real ale. It’s kind of in between and decent, and surely that can only be a good thing for beer drinkers and pubs alike?

London Pride Unfiltered is being trailed initially in 12 Fuller’s  pubs before a larger roll out later this year. For more info head over here

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