Rico Libre: tapas with a twist!

Recently the ever popular Birmingham eatery Rico Libre, that has been situation in the city for over 5 years, has moved location joining forces with Kanteen based in the custard factory. This new unique collaboration of independent restaurants sees Rico Libre’s delicious tapas being served daily at the new location after 6pm.

I recently had the opportunity to visit Rico Libre in their new home and divulge in their delicious and authentic food! The first thing I noticed after walking through the door was how vibrant and fresh the new interior was. I’m definitely a fan of modern interiors so this one won me over instantly. The one thing that hasn’t changed about Rico Libre is that it still has the same ‘bring your own alcohol’ policy which I love! Sometimes going out to restaurants can become quite costly if you’re drinking a lot of alcohol with your meal but because of Rico Libre’s fantastic BYOB policy you’re able to get top quality delicious food without all the expensive alcohol costs! If you’re not a fan of alcohol then there is an extensive range of soft drinks and hot drinks available also.

Now onto the food! Rico Libre offer a vibrant menu with something available for everyone’s taste. From meat lovers to vegans, Rico Libre has you covered! As well as the main menu they offer a daily specials menu so you have the chance to try something different every time you go. There was so much delicious food to choose from I found it hard to narrow it down but eventually settled with 9 different dishes which I was shared with other people. The first dish to arrive at the table was the Pan de Ajo, which was a deliciously freshly toasted flatbread covered in garlic and herbs. I adore garlic so this was definitely a winner for me! The rest of the dishes arrived soon after and the selection we had opted forward:

  • Grilled Halloumi
  • Patatas Alioli
  • Pescado Blanco Frito
  • Gambas Pil Pil
  • Pollo Marbella
  • Chicken Wings with Alioli
  • Pork Belly
  • Duck Breast

All the food arrived hot and fresh and surprisingly there honestly wasn’t a single dish that I didn’t love! But out of all the dishes my favourite has to be the Duck Breast, not only because it was plated up so beautifully but because it was cooked to absolute perfection. The fresh raspberry and blackberry also complimented the dish nicely. A second favourite was the Pollo Marbella as it was unlike any dish I’ve ever had before. This dish consisted of chicken breast in a creamy white wine sauced with chorizo. The creaminess of the sauce was perfectly paired with the spicy chorizo making it a well balanced unique dish.

I’ve been to many establishments serving tapas where every dish tastes the same but that was certainly not the case at Rico Libre, with each dish having its own flavour explosion. I ate until I couldn’t eat anymore but as they always say “there’s always room for dessert!”, so being greedy I opted for two; the Crème Catalan and the Mousse de Maracuya. The Créme Catalan is in essence the Catalan version of a créme brûlée and is just as, if not more, delicious. It was cooked perfectly with it’s crisp caramel topping followed by a rich custard interior; what’s not to love about that! The Mousse de Maracuya was different to any dessert I have tried before. It consisted of a creamy passion fruit mousse inside of a chocolate cup topped with a fresh raspberry. You wouldn’t think passion fruit and chocolate go well together but trust me, they do! I found both desserts to be delicious and to my taste, but my favourite has to be the Créme Catalan because it makes me reminisce of the many good times I’ve had this dish whilst on holiday in Spain.

In a food coma I left Rico Libre feeling cheerful and content, if not a little bloated from the sheer amount of food I managed to eat! What I love about Rico Libre is that you almost feel like you’re being invited into someone’s home because of how warm and friendly the service is; you really feel like you’re being looked after as a guest in this establishment. Tapas has always been one of my favourite styles of food because I’m so indecisive about what dish to choose when in normal restaurants but with tapas I don’t have that issue as you can choose as many dishes as you want. This being said I’ve tried many restaurants within Birmingham serving tapas but Rico Libre has now taken the top spot as my favourite tapas restaurant. Delicious fresh food, a genuine warm service and a clean vibrant interior…this is what sets Rico Libre above all the rest. The extensive menu of daily specials means you could never get bored of coming to this restaurant time and time again, with each visit being a new flavour journey!

The full menus for Rico Libre can be found on there website here.

Have you been to Rico Libre yet?

Laura 

Disclaimer: the food I received was complimentary however I was not expected to write a blog post in return, all opinions are genuine and my own.

 

Flight Club Birmingham Review

Meet Flight Club – the trendy bar chain and worlds first interactive darts venue which opened its doors to the people of Birmingham back in July. The creative concept gives a fresh modern take on traditional darts, using state of the arts darts tracking technology combined with fun interactive games.

After having a blast on their opening night, I decided to return for the brunch social hosted every Saturday and Sunday, priced at a reasonable £25. Upon arriving, my partner and I were allocated our own table and oche (posh word for the dart line area) which was beautifully laid out with fresh orange juice, filtered water, bottles of prosecco and fun props to play with. Each guest receives a bottle of prosecco as well as unlimited fresh orange juice and filtered water. Can this get any better you may think? Yes, it can! You are also served unlimited pizza for the two hour duration you are there!

There was an impressive selection of ten different types of freshly baked pizza made using the finest ingredients, with choices for everyone…whether you’re vegetarian, vegan or an avid meat eater Flight Club have you covered!

Photo courtesy of Flight Club Birmingham

The pizzas were so delicious that I wish I could have stayed and tried them all as they were certainly some of the nicest pizzas I have ever tried in Birmingham. I’d even return again just for the pizza! A personal favourite was the ‘pork sausage pizza on a garlic cream base with braised leeks and smoked mozzarella’.

Photo courtesy of Flight Club Birmingham

If you’re not a fan of alcohol or if you just don’t like prosecco then the Flight Club team will happily make you some exciting mocktail alternatives instead. So no matter what your preferences are, Flight Club will make sure that everyone is having an amazing time! One thing which I didn’t realise before going to Flight Club is that they record snapshots and highlights from your entire night and send them to you via email, so you can look back at them any time you want. I love this concept because most of the time when I’m having fun I forget to take photographs to save the memories, so Flight Club have you covered on that aspect!

I applaud the new experience which Flight Club has brought to Birmingham, bringing a creative and contemporary concept which stands out against the array of typical traditional bars found within the city centre. So whether it’s your birthday, hen-do or you just fancy a day out with a difference, then I’d definitely recommend Flight Club to be your first choice to go to, you won’t regret it! More information about pricing, menus and what they offer can be found at Flight Club Birmingham.

Will this be your new brunch spot?

Laura 

 

Marmalade at The REP

Photo courtesy of Marmalade at The REP

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to be invited to the re-opening of Marmalade at The REP theatre in Birmingham. Over the past couple of months Marmalade has been rejuvenated, with the addition of a new outdoor terrace, delicious new menu and a live events programme. Marmalade is situation near the newly redesigned Centenary Square making it the perfect location to pop in for a bite to eat or for your pre-show meal!

Their exciting new menu has been designed to utilise locally sourced ingredients and suppliers where possible, not only promoting local business’ but also reducing the environmental impact sourcing ingredients has!

Firstly, I tried some of their small plate options (which would make perfect starters). I opted for the fava bean patties with a tomatillo chutney and dukka spices as well as the chicken liver paté with onion jam and toasted bread. Both were full of flavour and really morish, I had to stop myself from eating more as to leave room for the mains!

For the main I opted for the battered catch of the day which was served with mushy peas (on the normal menu they are served with triple cooked chips). This dish was cooked to perfection, I couldn’t get enough and the mushy peas were the best I’ve ever tasted.

I also tried the chicken & chorizo jambonette, glazed baby carrots & gooseberry jam. The jam perfectly complimented the succulent chicken and really brought the dish alive!

For desserts I was spoilt for choice but eventually decided on the chocolate & coffee mousse with chantilly cream and pecan praline. The soft airy slice of chocolate deliciousness really hit the spot! My friend opted for the apple & rhubarb crumble with coconut ice cream – the perfect balance between sweet and tart.

After discovering that Marmalade also offer afternoon tea I couldn’t resist trying it. I was also surprised to learn that they do a vegan afternoon tea (which I was greedy enough to try as well). The selection of sandwiches and cakes was perfect- some establishments skimp on what they give you but Marmalade is definitely NOT one of those. I couldn’t decide which was nicer, the standard afternoon tea or the vegan option as they were equally as scrumptious!

To my delight, Marmalade have also revamped their drinks menu. They have set up a new relationship with local brewery company Purity Brewing co. from Warwickshire. The brewery supply their standard beers as well as a fantastic new Marmalade flavoured pale ale (crafted especially for the re-opening of marmalade!). Unfortunately the ‘Marmalade Pale’ was a one off brew, however you can continue to try their other offerings such as Helles lager, Longhorn IPA and Pure cider all year round. If beer isn’t your thing, Marmalade has a fantastic range of cocktails on offer, with an exciting new addition being the Martini Fiero (created through a partnership with Martini!). If you’re teetotal you can find an inviting selection of mocktails or award winning ethically sourced coffee, supplied by the local roasters Iron & Fire. Whatever your taste there’s something for you!

Photo courtesy of Marmalade at The REP

If your looking for somewhere to find fresh locally sourced food at a reasonable price, or to drink some handcrafted beverages whilst relaxing on a terrace, then Marmalade at The REP is the place your place! The full food and drinks menu can be found on their website here.

Disclaimer: The food and drink I received were complimentary, however I was not obligated to do a review, and all opinions in this post are my honest opinions.

Will you be visiting Marmalade at the REP?

Laura 

 

Garnier Ultimate Blends Hair Food

Garnier recently debuted a new product to their Ultimate Blends hair range – the Hair Food 3-in-1 Hair Mask, and they definitely proved to be popular. I’m not the biggest fan of hair masks from ‘drugstore’ brands, but on offer for £3.50 each I couldn’t resist purchasing some to see what all the hype was about.

The range consists of four different masks:

  • Moisturising Aloe Vera & Coconut (for normal hair)
  • Repairing Papaya & Alma (for damaged hair)
  • Smoothing Coconut & Macadamia (for frizzy and unruly hair)
  • Nourishing Banana & Shea (for dry hair)

As someone whose hair is more on the dry and damaged side, I opted for the nourishing Banana and Shea mask, as well as the repairing Papaya & Alma mask.

Initial Impressions

I felt the packaging of the product was a change to the standard garnier packaging, really giving emphasis on the ‘natural’ feel. Unlike other products, the ingredients are actually explained down the side of the packaging which is really useful if you want a better understanding of the products you’re using! The products also displays a few claims on the side of the packaging which include:

  • 98% natural origin
  • 100% vegan
  • 98% biodegradable formula
  • No silicones for a natural feel
  • Many ingredients being from botanical origin

The Garnier Ultimate Blends Hair Food boasts many benefits to hair, but one of the main reasons I decided to buy this product was the smell. They honestly smelt good enough to eat. The conditioner itself has a thick, silky consistency which in my opinion is perfect for a hair mask.

Two Week Update 

Leave in conditioner – I used it on both wet and dry hair, but found it didn’t not really make my hair any softer and it felt quite heavy.

Conditioner – I used it like a standard conditioner leaving it on for a few minutes and then rinsing. I found this was more effective than using it as a leave in conditioner and it did leave my hair quite soft.

Hair mask – I found this use to be the most effective at making my hair silky soft. After washing my hair with shampoo, I’d leave the mask on for around 2 hours, and then rinsed. Not only was my hair super soft but the fruity smell was a lot more aromatic- which I loved!

Is this product cruelty free? 

The packaging clearly says it’s a ‘vegan formula’ but this product can’t be classed as 100% cruelty free as Garnier is owned by the L’Oréal brand. Garnier themselves do not test any of their products on animals, and their products are not sold in China. However, some products made by their parent company L’Oréal are in fact tested on animals in China as it’s a legal requirement there, so most people will still see Garnier as a company that tests on animals.

What’s good to hear though is that L’Oréal are actually currently working with the Chinese government to introduce their new innovation ‘Episkin’, whereby human skin is lab engineered to be used for product testing instead of animals. Hopefully this will be something that’s implemented in the future to finally stop all testing on animals.

Final Thoughts 

Will I be repurchasing this product? YES! I can’t resist the amazing fruit fragrance of these hair masks and how soft they leave my hair. I will be permanently adding these hair masks to my hair routine and will hopefully be able to try the rest of the Garnier ultimate blends hair food. If you’d like to try it for yourself you can purchase it here.

Have you tried any of the other 3-in-1 masks in this range?

Laura 

Mario Badescu Oil Free Moisturiser Review

Big news – after years of searching for the perfect product for my spot prone oily skin I think I have FINALLY found it! Since a teenager I’ve suffered with hormonal acne breakouts and blackheads, trying nearly every product you can think of to combat them. Whilst some products did seem to work for the spots, I couldn’t find anything that actually managed to get rid of my stubborn blackheads until I discovered the Mario Badescu oil free moisturiser.

The Low Down

The bottle isn’t that large at 59ml, however a little bit goes a long way. The moisturiser is SPF 30, meaning it does have a thick suncream consistency and smell, but it soon dries off once you’ve applied it. I was worried about my skin feeling oily after application but after leaving it a few minutes to absorb fully my skin was left feeling fresh and awake! Some of the main ingredients are:

Glycerin – hydrates your skin and acts as barrier, working well for oily skin types.

St John’s wort – soothes and repairs delicate skin.

Green tea extract – a powerful antioxidant giving protection against environmental pollutants, UV radiation and premature ageing of the skin.

Aloe Vera – hydrates and softens the skin.

The product itself is dispensed through a ‘flip out’ style nozzle applicator, which can actually be a bit of a disadvantage at times, because product gets stuck in the applicator and dries out, meaning that when you squeeze some product out upon next application you get some of the left over hard residue come out.

The Results

Suffering from very oily skin I’ve always been scared of wearing moisturiser daily, as I’ve never really found one that agreed with my skin. However I thought I’d give this one a shot, and for the FIRST time ever used a moisturiser every morning and night for a month. I wasn’t expecting much but the results shocked me. The blackheads which I’ve had for over 15 years and haven’t been able to get rid off had completely disappeared! My skin was glowing and I felt confident for the first time to leave my house makeup free. Not only did it leave my skin spot and blackhead free, but I was also left is super soft glowing skin. The only downside I found to the moisturiser was that if I wore it under makeup then my foundation didn’t last as long. This was a slight inconvenience but it was nothing some blotting paper and a bit of powder couldn’t fix, it was definitely worth it for the results I was getting!

During the month I had university’s exams I became so stressed that I let my skincare regime slip and forgot to apply for moisturiser for a few weeks. Low and behold the dreaded blackheads returned, so you have to be consistent with the moisturiser to make sure they don’t reappear. Overall I can finally say that I’ve found my holy grail product! Although a little pricey at £25 a bottle it’s worth every penny in my opinion. If you want to try it for yourself you can purchase it here.

What’s your holy grail product?

Laura