I was very lucky to be part of a group of local bloggers, who were invited to a cocktail masterclass at Be At One.

Conveniently located on Richmond Hill just off Bournemouth Square, Be At One is the ideal venue for a night out, or just a cheeky after work drink.

We were welcomed with a lovely Bellini and guided through the rather extensive (and ever so tempting!) cocktail menu. We were also told about the Be At One app, which asks you a few questions about your favourite spirits and flavours, in order to recommend the perfect cocktail to suit you.

Emma having a go at mixing up a cocktail  


I started off with a Banoffee Old Fashioned, a fun take on one of my favourite drinks. I’ve never had a cocktail quite like it, but I loved it. The banoffee foam on top was amazing.

Emma ordered the Petty Filoo which, as you might imagine, tasted exactly like a boozy fromage frais. Delicious – and look how cute it was!

For my next cocktail I chose the White Chocolate Kinder Bueno. OMG. This was one of the most indulgent and absolutely delightful cocktails I’ve ever had. Creamy and rich, this one went down a bit too easily!

  
James was very knowledgeable and friendly, and told us all about his love of cocktails. He shows off his flair skills and his delicious creations over on his Instagram.

Thank you so much to Be At One for a wonderful time, though I totally blame you for the kebab shop cheesy chips I wolfed down at about 8 o’clock in the evening…oops.

Recently, I received quite possibly the best email ever. No, not my Hogwarts acceptance (I’m still waiting), but an invite to La Piccola on Holdenhurst Road, to sample their bottomless Prosecco brunch. I was promised 90 minutes of sumptuous Italian food, washed down with as much Prosecco as I could throw down my gullet. Ideal, no?

Salad

A simple, but delicious, caprese salad. The deep-fried tortelloni – amazing!

This glorious offering is available to book between 12 and 5pm every Saturday and features decadent charcuterie and cheese platters, a Cicchetti section of small plates including calamari and gnocchi (both sublime!) and, of course, plenty of pizza.

I’ve been to La Piccola before, for a standard à la carte meal, so this was a nice change. It was a great way to sample lots of different dishes, and the sociable ‘tapas’ style setup was perfect as there was a large group of us.

The restaurant has a really lovely, classic Italian feel, with rustic decor and green chequered table cloths. The staff who looked after us were all knowledgeable, friendly, and more than happy to have their photo taken!

As a vegetarian, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of choice I had. Naturally, I demolished the cheese board, and enjoyed wonderful grilled vegetables, along with a fab choice of meat-free pizzas.

I honestly didn’t feel like I was missing out at all, except for the charcuterie board – cured meats are my main temptation as a vegetarian! If you love simple Italian food done well, I would definitely give La Piccola a go.

What happens when you dine with bloggers!

 

I tried The Croft for the first time a few weeks ago and I’ve been hooked ever since. They have a lovely menu full of vibrant salads, wraps and the most incredible cakes.

They also make fantastic coffee and wonderful smoothies. As soon as Bournemouth was treated to its first rays of sunshine, I cooled off with a lovely watermelon, strawberry and apple smoothie.

Smoothie

My two favourites, the sweet potato and beetroot salads, are both bursting with colour and flavour (though of course I had to add a cheeky bit of halloumi to mine).

Sweet potato salad

Beetroot salad

If you’re feeling more in the mood for some carbs, their fries are absolutely divine! My absolute favourite thing from there though, has to be the chocolate orange gluten-free polenta cake. It’s moist, it’s sumptuous, it’s moreish – all those unsettling words that for some reason actually sound alright when you’re talking about cake.

Cake

Their menu is packed full of tasty, healthy options (and a couple of indulgent treats as well!) – I highly recommend. It’s probably a good thing I don’t work round the corner from them anymore, if only for the sake of my bank account!

Takeout box

 

If you’ve read any of my other food related posts, you probably already know that I’m a massive fan of the Urban Guild group of restaurants. In fact, two of them get a mention in my guide to the best places to eat in Bournemouth, and I was lucky enough to take a pizza making class at Urban Reef last year. Spoiler alert – I was very bad at it!

Naturally, I was thrilled when I was invited to review the menu at Urban Beach. Dave and I popped along and had ourselves a lovely date night. We started out with some cocktails (I can highly recommend the French Martini), before ordering our three sumptuous main courses.

French Martini

Starters were a tomato and asparagus salad for me, and some delicious crab for Dave.

Tomato and asparagus salad
The salad was vibrant, fresh and bursting with flavour.

Crab meat starter
I must admit, I was very jealous of Dave’s crab. It had a wonderful fresh, delicate flavour that was perfectly complemented by a lovely rich sauce.

The only thing that left me slightly disappointed was the lack of choice for vegetarians. On the specials menu there was no vegetarian starter at all. Even on the main menu, my options were fairly limited. Luckily I eat fish, which gave me a bit more variety.

EDIT: It’s been brought to my attention that there is actually a separate veggie and vegan menu. I guess this means I’ll be going back there soon! All in the name of research, of course…

Onto the mains. I had the sea trout in lobster sauce, while Dave had the Beef Wellington.

Sea trout

My mouth is watering just thinking about this dish. The fish was moist (a tiny bit more rare than I’d usually have, but lovely nonetheless) and melt-in-the-mouth, while the black rice and lobster sauce rounded out the textures and flavours perfectly.

Beef Wellington

I didn’t try Dave’s, but the beef looked like it was cooked perfectly and the whole lot disappeared pretty quickly, so it’s probably safe to say it was a winner.

Even though we were both very full by this point, we somehow managed to squeeze in some dessert (I know, what a hardship!).

Dessert ended up being my favourite part of the meal. I ordered sticky toffee pudding, which is not normally something I would go for, but it sounded too delicious to pass up.

Let me tell you, it was absolutely incredible. And the toffee sauce? I wouldn’t mind taking a bath in that stuff. Honestly, I could drink it as a beverage. I shouldn’t, but I definitely could.

Sticky toffee pudding

Chocolate fondant

Dave had the chocolate fondant, which tasted as amazing as it looked. Seriously though, that plating!! Gordon Ramsay would approve, for sure.

Verdict: As always, Urban Beach did not disappoint. The atmosphere and service were both excellent, and the food was divine. I would have liked to see a bit more choice for vegetarians, but quite honestly, with a sticky toffee pudding that good, they could offer a bowl of gruel as the veggie option and I probably wouldn’t care.

Book here.

Places to eat in Bournemouth

Man, do I love me a freak shake. What’s not to like? It’s a milkshake (good), piled high with squirty cream (goooooooood), topped with any kind of candy/cake/biscuits your heart desires (yaaaaaaaaaaaaas).

I’m also a huge fan of iced coffee. So naturally, I got to thinking about how I could bring these two great things together, for a slightly more grown-up spin on the freak shake.

You know, a drink that doesn’t look like all the leftovers of a kid’s birthday party, thrown in a glass.

I had a little think about what would work nicely with coffee, and decided that Lotus Biscoff biscuits would be the obvious choice. I’m also a great lover of the flavour of banana with coffee (sounds weird, but seriously, it’s so good!), so decided to use some dried banana chips.

It seems a doughnut is almost mandatory, so I threw one of those on, as well as a ton of squirty cream, and a liberal sprinkling of crushed biscuits and banana chips. Of course, you could use whatever you want as a topping. It would be fun to play around with different combinations – you could even add a splash of Baileys if you fancy making it boozy!

The chocolate sauce I drizzled on the inside of the glass (and generously all over the top!) was Sweet Freedom vegan Choc Shot, and naturally, the iced coffee I used was Jimmy’s. They’re a fab company based just down the road from me, and I’ve been obsessed with their cute little cartons of iced coffee since I discovered them when I moved to Bournemouth.

It’s also worth noting that they’ve recently released a dairy free version, so if you wanted to make this an entirely vegan treat you could, with just a few easy tweaks. I found some delicious looking vegan alternatives to squirty cream here.

Psst – you can now also buy vegan Baileys. Just sayin’.

Bottoms up!