Cooking With Gousto

I love cooking, planning my meals weekly and going food shopping but, recently I’ve been feeling a little uninspired.

I partly blame the hot weather, making me want to avoid standing over a hot stove and, also I blame myself for always cooking the same few meals.

We all do it though, right?

We find a few family favorites and cook them to death.

My go to’s until recently have been Carbonara, Stir Fry, Thai curry with salmon and Lasagna. All good meals that I’ve well and truly perfected but, just don’t interest me anymore.

At this point I could have started just researching some new recipes and going food shopping for exciting ingredients but, life is too short and amongst working 12 hour shifts, I don’t always feel like spending my afternoon in my local supermarket. So, I began looking at Hello Fresh but, I didn’t get on with their website because I didn’t like the idea of having to pay for the box before getting to see what was on the menu that week.

But then, I stumbled across a company called Gousto! 

At this point I should add that this isn’t a sponsored post.

The concept is much the same as Hello Fresh I suppose, with food boxes arriving at your door with a selection of recipes you have picked.

Gousto lets you pick up to 4 recipes per week for your family and, each week they have 30 recipes to choose from. You can pay a little extra for some premium dishes too if they take your fancy and you can add extras like a bottle of wine.

I really liked having the benefit of browsing through their recipes before signing up, which really sold me and encouraged me to put an order in.

I should also add that all of their ingredients are locally sourced in the UK. Every ingredient you will need for every recipe is provided in little packets and sachets, which means that the measurements are all done for you, making life even easier.

Here are three of the dishes I’ve tried so far…

Teriyaki Rump Steak, Rice & Sesame Pak Choi 

I paid I think an extra £4.99 for this dish because I’d only tried steak once or twice before and was curious to try an Asian alternative that I knew my boyfriend would love.

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I didn’t have a great time with this recipe or the plating up though sadly. Gousto provide you with simple step by step recipe cards, so I thought cooking this dish would be pretty simple but, I undercooked the steak at first, had to put it back in the pan and then I became flustered and the end result was chewy. Not Gousto’s fault I might add and the rest of the dish tasted delicious. I’m just annoyed at myself because this was supposed to be our premium dish!

I definitely want to cook this dish again, as the Pak Choi steamed with sesame seeds and soy sauce was delicious and making a Teriyaki marinade out of soy sauce and honey was incredibly simple. I’m amazed that I didn’t know how easy it could be.

I’m also a little stubborn and determined to get that steak right.

Sloppy Joe Sliders & Gem Wedge Salad

Not going to lie, I was a little disappointed with just how teeny tiny these sliders were. However, they were actually pretty filling and the wedge salad was the perfect side.

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The dish was super easy to prepare, creating a sauce similar to a Bolognese with the beef, onions and carrots. All I needed to do was grill the buns, pop the mixture into the oven and top with mozzarella.

For the salad dressing, I simply mixed 3 sachets of mayo with a splash of white wine vinegar and some oregano to finish.

I was pretty impressed and my boyfriend loved this dish too.

An all round winner in the Collins Delamare household that’s for sure.

Ten-Min Creamy Tarragon and Mustard chicken

Even though I absolutely love love L O V E cooking, after work it does sometimes feel like a chore. So, this simple and healthy recipe was perfect for those kind of moods.

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The overall dish was so simple and really did take only ten mins, maybe a little less.

Brown rice takes forever to cook and although I think it’s worth the wait, I was pretty grateful to see that Gousto had given me a Tilda microwave wholegrain rice sachet for two.

This delicious meal felt like comfort food and I’ve officially been converted to wholegrain mustard. It’s an ingredient I’d only ever tried in mash before and never thought of pairing with rice.

Moving forward I think this is going to be a staple in my household this Autumn.

These are just a handful of recipes I’ve tried but, they offer such a wide selection for all dietary requirements. The range of cuisines they cover within 30 different recipes per week is commendable too.

I’m so pleased with all of the food I’ve experienced so far with Gousto and can’t wait to receive my next couple of boxes, which will include recipes such as Shredded Chicken Hoisin Wraps, Tofu Chow Mein, King Prawn Korma and, Red Pepper and Sasuage Pasta.

The boxes cost about £34.99 per week and I understand it might not be the most cost effective, it’s definitely convenient for my lifestyle at the moment. I’m absolutely loving the growth Gousto has given me as a home cook and the confidence I’ve been given to step outside of my comfort zone with new recipes.

I’d highly recommend to anyone seeking an easier time in the kitchen. The recipes are easy to follow and really effective. Plus, you won’t need to spend time in the supermarket on your much deserved day off!

What’s not to like?

If you fancy trying Gousto  signing up is really simple.

To receive your 50% discount on your first two boxes simply enter KATE13656695 and enjoy!

 

 

Mount Edgecombe & The Little Fox

On a beautiful hot Sunday me, my partner, his dad and best friend traveled to Cornwall to attend the Mount Edgecombe Classic Car show.

The event is held annually on the first weekend in August, and it has become a family thing for us to attend in matching t-shirts with our almost 40 year old Scimitar.

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The event is so so much fun, as lots of classic cars from around the UK travel to be part of the exibition, paying £10 to socialise with other car enthusiasts and eye up each others vehicles.

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But, you don’t have to own a classic car to attend. You can simply visit for the day, parking your car separately or traveling on the little Cremyll ferry from Plymouth direct to Mount Edgecombe and, in addition to the cars, there’s a massive boot sale too.

The event is an all day thing, starting from about 9am with cars usually leaving around 5 or 6 in the evening and, as we were up at 5am getting ready to go we knew we deserved a good evening meal to end the day. So, we made a reservation at the Little Fox Hotel for a delicious dinner with a view.

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The Sunday evening menu was a little small and the by the time we had arrived the waitress had advised that the roast beef and steak options were no longer available, which we were all a little disappointed about to say the least.

However, in the spirit of feeling a little adventurous I decided to order roast duck with black pudding croquettes, something actually quite far outside of my comfort zone.

I’ve only tried duck once before whilst staying in the Cotswolds and had never dreamed of trying black pudding. The thought before that evening made me feel uneasy but as a meat eater anyway, I thought I’d give it a go and, I liked it.

I’m upset to say that and I certainly won’t be raving about it to my vegetarian mother.

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The overall dish and presentation was stunning however, I have to comment on the two little perfectly formed potato rosti.

I’m not sure if they were homemade or not to be honest? I like to think that they were but, they just look too perfect. They weren’t particularly rich and crispy like you usually expect either and, felt a little more like mash potato inside.

For pudding, we were given two menus which were a little confusing. There were lots of items available on both it appeared, until the waitress came back and mentioned that they were out of several options and we had to change our order.

I wanted the advertised lemon tart but, ended up with a classic dark chocolate and raspberry tart with chocolate ice cream and was not disappointed. The thing was beautiful. Very rich and the pastry fell apart on your spoon. There were also whole raspberries inside to add a lovely additional texture.

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What can I say?

The restaurant and food at the Little Fox Hotel is really special. If you’re in the area and fancy some good hearty food I’d recommend stopping by.

The meal for me and my boyfriend came to about £50 in total but it was certainly worth the money and, despite the lack of beef available on the menu, there were lots of other choices including fish and chips, halloumi and chips, roast chicken and duck!

What an incredible day all in all.

The service at the Little Fox could have been better but it certainly wasn’t terrible by any standard, and the car show is always great.

I’m seriously looking forward to next year already and if I haven’t said it before, I’ll say it again, I love coastal living! Having events like this, food, vast countryside and sea views is a total dream and I never want to leave the South West.

 

 

Mothecombe Beach & Schoolhouse

Whilst sunning it up in Devon this week and enjoying a lovely trip to Mothecombe beach we discovered a little restaurant named Schoolhouse.

I was a little skeptical of what to expect of their food after a few bad lunches recently but, upon closer inspection of their menu I was pleasantly surprised and couldn’t decide what exactly I fancied for lunch.

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Local seafront restaurants in my opinion usually produce the best food, as long as their chef is driven and given creative freedom, which it looks like he is! So, I was really excited to see all of the seafood they had to offer.

I went for the crispy squid option with garlic aioli and salad and had to order some dirty fries on the side! The first time I tried dirty fries was an Hubbox and ever since I’ve been hooked and interested to see others interpretations.

In addition to my attempt at a light lunch, my boyfriend ordered the not so light house burger with beef and bacon, which according to the waiter was a really great choice.

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I think we both made fantastic choices for lunch though. My squid was really fresh and crispy and, although it cost £9.50 I was given an enormous portion that kept me satisfied with every mouth full. My dirty fries were also pretty good, covered in cheddar cheese, bacon and both red and spring onions. What’s not to like basically!

My boyfriend said that the house burger was one of the best he had ever tasted and honestly, I believe him. I’m kinda gutted I didn’t get to try any because it looked so so good and was stacked!

Definitely worth the money after a beautiful swim in the ocean that’s for sure.

My only regret is that I didn’t order, take a photograph or even acknowledge any of the delicious cakes they apparently had on offer.

In terms of the decor, everything is super rustic and laid back. Outside where me and my boyfriend had lunch were lots of old sofas and benches, covered in sand but were really comfortable and relaxing. Indoors is much the same, with lots of chalk boards, giant lampshades and antiques.

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If you’re ever in South Devon and want to check out some local food I’d highly recommend Schoolhouse. They might not be the most cost effective option but their food is certainly delicious and worth experiencing.

Also, Mothecombe beach where we spent our morning soaking up the sunshine is only a short walking distance away and there is a separate dog beach too.

Everything about Mothecombe is simply so beautiful, unspoilt and picturesque.

Yet, I should warn you of the £4.50 parking charge for the privilege of leaving your car at some local guys field.

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All in all, I hope you’ve all been enjoying the sunshine as much as I have recently.

Remember to stay safe when out and about during Summer. I love the beach but I always make sure to keep topping up my suncream. No matter what I never tan but I’d rather be pale in summer than burnt.

Make sure you keep eating and stay hydrated too!!

Dirty Delicious Hubbox

Hubbox essentially is an American street food joint based in the South West.  At the moment you’ll only find them in St Ives, Truro, Pentewan, Plymouth, Exeter and most recently Bristol.

They take pride in their ingredients and have gone out of their way to ensure that their food is locally sourced. Their potatoes come from Cornish Potatoes, their meat Phillip Warren Butchers and their veg comes from West Country Fruit. All of their coffee and alcohol is locally produced too from various UK based companies including Cornish Orchards and Harbour Brewery.

I’ve eaten at Hubbox about a zillion times since they opened in Plymouth a couple of years ago and I have no complaints. Their staff are super friendly and I always look forward to going back. I just wish they were around when I was a uni student because I would have spent my entire student loan eating from their menu and felt so fat and happy doing so.

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Their current menu (which I hear is set to change soon) has lots of choice in terms of beef, chicken, fish and veggie burgers. They also serve hot dogs, nachos, mac n cheese and various types of chips. Honestly I think there’s a little too much choice because I never ever know what to order. Literally just because I know it’ll all be delicious and I don’t want to make a mistake.

So, what did we order you ask?

My boyfriend was a little hungover so he wanted to go all out whereas, my non hungover brain was just craving a big greasy burger. He ordered the BBQ tray which I would only recommend if you have a larger than life appetite. The tray includes beef brisket, pulled pork, fries, chicken wings, a frank (hot dog), pickles, slaw and onion rings (which I stole). I wanted something a little less complicated and I ordered the Kim Yum Chick BBQ chicken Korean burger with dirty fries.

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What are dirty fries you ask? Well, they are delicious I can tell you that much. You can ask for any type of fries from their menu and just ask to make them dirty, which means adding their Hub sauce mixed together with diced white onions and plenty of jalapeños. If spice is your thing you’ll love this sauce. It’s literally so mooreish and like nothing I’ve ever tasted before. I wish I knew how to explain the flavour better but I think it’s something you just need to experience yourself. If you’re unsure whether you’ll like it but want to give it a try, just ask to have some on the side and they’ll be happy to do so.

In terms of my burger, the best way I can describe it is like a really REALLY good KFC Zinger because it’s essentially a slightly tangy buttermilk chicken burger. Inside of their burger itself is a Korean BBQ sauce so you would expect a little kick of some Asian spices, which I didn’t really notice but that’s okay because it’s damn tasty regardless.

My boyfriend loved his meal but had to take a break because as you can imagine, it was really filling. I didn’t get to sample anything apart from the yummy buttermilk fried onion rings but he assured me that the tray was worth the £17.95 it cost.

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Overall, I just love the Hubbox ethos. I commend them for being able to make fantastic good quality food at a competitive price and, I appreciate the efforts they have gone to in order to support other local farmers and suppliers when creating their menu. They are a force to be reckoned with, a big competitor in the Plymouth burger industry. I think they are here to stay and us Plymouthians absolutely love having them.

If you’re ever visiting the South West I would highly recommend trying to track down a nearby Hubbox. Their food is seriously dirty and delicious in so many ways.

Check out their website and drool over their food at your leisure!

Supporting Local Cafe’s – Make

I enjoy venturing out and supporting independents whenever I can and, I’ve loved watching my hometown of Plymouth’s creative community grow in recent years.

With community spirit in mind, I visited Make recently to sample their homemade food thanks recommendations from my mum and sister. Make are based at  140 Vauxhall Street in Plymouth and their premise not only runs a cute cafe but, is used as a workshop for crafts including sewing and crochet. I’m not creative with fabric at all so I’m purely invested for the food but, their workshop space looked fantastic and if you’re interested in getting creative they have a calendar you can access on their website.

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Their cafe and workshop space is neatly organised to sit side by side and is completely void of clutter. The space feels so warm, inviting and well, really creative! From the minute I walked in the door I felt welcomed and couldn’t wait to try the food.

In an aim to show support I obviously had to sample a good variety from their menu including tea and coffee. I started off by drinking a lovely strong cappuccino whilst pondering their menu choices and changing my mind over and over again. Their menu is almost entirely vegetarian and vegan friendly you might be pleased to know, although they do have some meat options available too.

img_0050I almost ordered the brunch poached eggs on toast but at the counter was tempted by their savory muffins so instead, ended up ordering a cup of mushroom and thyme soup with a vegan olive and pesto muffin.

By God did I make the right choice! Their adorable mug of soup was delicious, not too heavy and the muffin was light yet filling as well. My sister ordered their cheese muffin too, which meant we could split them in half and sample each others with the soup. We both agreed that the olive muffin was the better choice but both were pretty tasty to say the least.

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After a much needed catch up I decided I wasn’t leaving until we had cake. They only had a few options available and I was hoping for a little bit more choice but honestly, I was pretty satisfied with my soup and any cake was going to be a bonus. I went for a yummy citrus orange polenta cake accompanied by lots of tea whereas, my sister chose their chocolate and salted caramel brownie.

My orange cake was really delicious but maybe a little too heavy after a big savory muffin (my poor choice not theirs) and the brownie looked pretty damn delicious too although, I didn’t sample it unfortunately.

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I used to work right around the corner from Make so I’m kind of gutted I didn’t ever visit sooner. Regardless, I’ll hopefully be going back in the near future and I might even bring my boyfriend if he’ll let me.

Their food in taste and presentation feels really special so if you’re looking to take a friend or relative out for a little something to eat I’d highly recommend Make. They’re more than just a cafe. They’re a real space to grow, get creative and enjoy good food.

Oh and, they’re also a dog friendly cafe! Which means, if you’re venturing out with your adorable doggo to the Barbican anytime soon you can stop for a little something to eat without a single worry.

If you love their food and their ethos they can also plan events including children’s parties, Hen Do’s and Baby Showers! You can find out more about all of their products, workshops and events by visiting their website https://www.makeat140.co.uk

Side note, it’s so incredibly important to support local retailers, cafe’s and other businesses alike whenever you can. Your support in buying their products and providing exposure through social media means an enormous amount. It’s particularly important when the weather is bad (e.g. recent snowfall) because businesses can really suffer more than you might realise.  They will see their profits change during good and bad weather and this impact can ultimately save or shut down your favourite.

So, I urge you to please still go out, visit your favourite independent or try somewhere new, making sure they stay afloat even when the weather is miserable. I promise it’s worth it if you want them to stick around.

Carbonara Overload at Prezzo

If you happened to read my last blog post, you might be aware that I’ve been having a little panic about what the hell I’m doing with my career and how I’m going to spend time with my loved ones.

It’s hard to fit everyone in and around conflicting work schedules but, we all try our best to make it work. Whether it’s due to finances, laziness or lack of free evenings, me and my boyfriend rarely go out for dinner either.  But, we decided to visit Prezzo last Friday night thanks to a lovely £40 gift voucher as one of my work leaving presents. We were both a little tired but planned on having dinner followed by a few drinks to wind down from a long week.

The night started off with our taxi being 15 mins late and me pacing up and down the sitting room impatiently waiting. From then on the night went sort of downhill. Nothing went horrendously wrong but we weren’t all that talkative, our food was relatively mediocre and we ended up coming home around 10.

I hate to be critical but, I’d never been to Prezzo before so, my expectations were pretty high. Knowing that they have a prime spot at Royal William Yard and lots of venues across the UK, to me meant that their Italian food must be pretty damn special.

Classic Italian dishes are pretty hard to get wrong I say! I mean, everyone loves a good pizza or hearty bowl of pasta. They are relatively easy dishes to cook at home too but feel really special when cooked with high quality restaurant ingredients you might not have in your kitchen cupboards.

So, what did I order you ask?

I chose the chicken and wild mushroom ravioli with a carbonara like sauce, paired with a tall glass of Rose wine. The dish was pretty yummy but I was slightly peeved that my pasta bowl had sauce on the rim, which should have been wiped off before serving surely? I’m just being picky but presentation is important. Also, the chicken and mushroom filling wasn’t particularly strong which was a shame.

We both must love carbonara and so, my boyfriend ordered the Prestigio chicken and mushroom carbonara pizza however, we both felt it tasted more like breakfast. The pizza was lacking in sauce and the richness you would find in this great classic pasta dish. It was simply overwhelmed with the taste of two fried eggs and, I know it’s supposed to be a twist on the recipe but, maybe it was too much.

 

 

I wouldn’t say I’d never go back to Prezzo but it definitely wouldn’t be my first choice. We both love Italian food and it’s a cuisine I regularly cook at home, which added to the disappointment. I’m just glad that we had gift vouchers, else I would have been really disappointed to have had to pay £53 for our dinner. Maybe next time I’ll order something more exciting. Lots of other dishes caught my eye, so maybe I just ordered the wrong one.

Simply putting this failed evening down to tiredness on our part, a bad taxi driver and carbonara overload in all the wrong ways.

Bill’s Bill’s Bill’s

Do you ever just walk into a restaurant and feel like you’re at home? Well, that’s how I feel about Bill’s Diner.

I had seen the restaurant being built on my route to work every morning, so I was really intrigued and looking forward to the day it opened. I wanted to see what all of the hype was about.

I’m all about supporting local businesses and I know, I know, that they’re a big chain restaurant across the UK but, to me that’s why I’m so impressed I suppose. From their well thought out breakfast, lunch and dinner menu’s to their great customer service and interior design, I’m in love. I feel comfortable, happy and invited every time I have visited the Plymouth branch (4 times so far to be precise), and I would forever recommend friends/family/anyone to visit their local.

They have been able to capture the art of an amazing laid-back approach to food and customer service, whilst being able to maintain a high quality. It’s simple really. Tasty food. Good pricing. Great staff. Warm atmosphere.

So let’s go through the food I’ve tried on my visits shall we?

My first trip to Bill’s was for my 25th birthday in November with my mum and sister. My sister had recently visited Bill’s for breakfast and encouraged us to make dinner reservations. I initially thought there was too much going on with the menu and that it seemed quite busy but, I quickly changed my mind when I found several things I wanted to eat right there and then.

So, I went for deep fried Halloumi sticks to share with my sister and the most amazing buttermilk chicken burger with apple slaw, sweet potato fries and Cajun mayo. I accompanied this with Bill’s own pink lemonade.

Overall, the burger was like something I had never tried before and it was really really delicious. Messy I might add though. You’ll most likely need a knife and fork for this one. Oh and, It was so good that I ordered it on my second visit to Bill’s too by the way.

I loved that the dish overall came with sweet potato fries and that you didn’t have to request them. I also loved the apple slaw. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect but it was really refreshing and even though they did use mayo, it didn’t bog down the dish and make it heavy. Oh, and Cajun mayo on the side! Who doesn’t love that.

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In the background you might be able to see my mums dinner. She’s vegetarian so she ordered a Calliflower steak with toasted fregola, roasted tomatoes and veggie gravy. She was very very impressed to say the least.

We even ordered dessert too. My family has a big sweet tooth! We shared their Baked Alaska but unfortunately I was so excited I completely forgot to take any photographs to show you. Rest assured, it was heaven though. If you like all things sweet and are willing to share it’s the perfect treat.

My third visit to Bill’s was another kind of celebration. It was the 28th December and I’d just taken a big step with my work.

I handed in my notice to pursue a new career.

With progression and wellbeing playing on my mind a lot towards the end of 2017 I had definitely made the right choice. So, I arranged for me and two close work friends to go for dinner to talk, celebrate and commiserate me leaving work at the end of Jan.

On the thought of trying things new and making big decisions, I ordered steak and peppercorn sauce for the first time. I had always wanted to try steak but was always a little cautious. I love beef burgers, lasagna, cottage pie etc so I knew I’d enjoy it but, the price had always scared me. I wanted to make sure that when I ordered it that it was perfect and I wouldn’t regret it. I felt confident on that day and decided I trusted Bill’s.

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I was initially a bit confused because I hadn’t ordered a flat iron steak and I had envisioned something more juicy but, it did the trick and was really filling. Now I can say that I like medium steak and will definitely be ordering it again whenever I get the chance.

In addition to our mains, we also had a champagne cocktail or two to celebrate change in 2018. My favourite cocktail was Just Peachy Bellini and Aperol Spritz pictured below.

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ALSO, we ordered desserts and I took a photograph this time. I wanted something a little less chocolaty which is unusual for me, so I went for the apple crumble and my friend ordered the chocolate brownie. Both good choices that left us feeling comfortably full and satisfied.

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Yesterday, I visited Bill’s again but for breakfast this time. I had heard some great things about their breakfast menu and was really excited to take my boyfriend there spontaneously. There was so much choice and all I knew was that I wanted a poached egg with something. I almost ordered the Eggs Benedict but last minute swapped to the veggie breakfast (great choice) but without the pesto roasted tomatoes.

The dish included one slice of toast covered in Guacamole and the other with tomato hummus, topped with two poached eggs, mushrooms and basil. This breakfast took me to my happy place. It was delicious and paired with a strong cappuccino, I felt great.

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I’m not vegetarian but I love vegetables and never ate much meat until recently (hence my curiousness about steak). Honestly, this is probably the best vegetarian alternative to a fry up I have seen in any restaurant, independent or chain. Usually there’s lots of egg options and veggie fry ups but they aren’t always very creative. This one felt uplifting. I wasn’t missing out because I wasn’t eating meat.

My breakfast yesterday has inspired me I suppose. I’ve never been a breakfast person and was always a fussy child when it came to food. If/when I do eat breakfast it’s always so dull and boring. Basically toast or porridge. Until 2017 I barely knew how to make a fried egg. Still don’t, not really. But, I’m willing now. I have found a love for eggs and hummus both together and as separate meals and the combination together made me very happy. I need to be more adventurous with breakfast in 2018 and I need to learn to poach an egg, else I’ll be visiting Bill’s every weekend for this breakfast.

So, there you have it. That’s my review on Bill’s! Generally just feeling really pleased to see such a huge chain like Bill’s come to Plymouth. Everytime I’ve visited it’s been super busy and every table around me has loved their food. It’s great to see Plymouth growing and getting the attention it deserves from Nationwide restaurants and shops.

So go check out Bill’s if you haven’t already. You’ll probably find something you like and will leave feeling all sorts of satisfied.