1am finish: Marco and me
“My mother didn’t raise me to be a c***”
So said Marco Pierre White as he draped his suit jacket around my shoulders and beckoned over a waiter to top up my glass of Prosecco.
This wasn’t what I was expecting when I set out that evening to interview the man who once made his protege Gordon Ramsey cry.
I was at Marco’s in Brentwood – the restaurant which launched in December and serves a mix of Italian-inspired dishes and American classics – to have a brief chat with the 57-year-old chef, while he was in Essex.
I expected a difficult, challenging man. I thought I’d be granted mere minutes with him. Let’s face it, this was the fiery fella who once cut a hole in the back of the chef whites of one staff member who dared to complain about the heat in his kitchen. He HANDED BACK his three Michelin stars after five years and retired from the kitchen – despite being first British chef to be awarded three – and the youngest (age 32 in 1994) in Michelin history.
So, I did not expect to still be chatting to him about family, children, and comfort food, six hours – and several drinks – later, in the wee small hours at the spot, just off the M25.
“Affordable glamour” – Marco’s in Brentwood
So, tonight is the big launch party for Essex’s first Marco Pierre White restaurant (at Holiday Inn Brentwood) and it’s set to be a bit of a bash.
Arg from TOWIE will be making a personal appearance and will be singing live, while Gemma Collins and others from TOWIE will also be attending to celebrate Arg’s birthday.
As well as being on the guest list tonight, I was lucky enough to be invited to give the restaurant a whirl earlier this week (I’m still full now!) And I got to chat to Marco himself.
So what’s it all about?
Well, Marco’s New York Italian is a dining concept ideal for dinner, light bites or cocktails (I gave a bottle of the Bottega Fragolino Rosso a go. Made from red wine grapes, it’s a slightly sparking wine that tastes rather like a Kir Royal!) Continue reading
New menu launch: At Las Iguanas
Las Iguanas, on the Boardwalk, intu Lakeside, has just launched its new winter menu
There’s 12 delicious new dishes alongside classic favourites like fajitas (which I can personally vouch are a little bit of heaven on a plate), enchiladas, and its award-winning burgers. And with 14 new cocktails on the drinks menu to try, it would be a pity not to make a little stop off there for a post-shop natter.
Which is exactly what me and one of my BFFs did last night – making the most of the two-for-one cocktails (all day, every day, FYI.)
But what’s the new menu all about? Continue reading
Cheers! In the Aurum Bar
Sonny Jim is almost two and a half. And I’ve never spent the whole night away from him. (Obviously nights out with 2am finishes don’t count… I’m always there when he wakes up!)
But my birthday is just a few days away, so we figured it might be nice to actually have a night away.
And with the Seven hotel and it’s Aurum restaurant and bar practically on our doorstep, we couldn’t have dreamt up a better spot for our first baby-free mini break.
The exquisitely designed boutique hotel is set high upon Southend’s cliffs, within the beautiful Clifton Conservation Area. With 37 stunning bedrooms, including 5 luxury suites, a 70-seater modern British restaurant, a gin-centric cocktail bar and outdoor sun terrace, it’s London lavishness right here on Southend’s coast.
Going down well: One of my porn star martinis
When your local bar has an extensive revamp, reopens with a new name, new look and promises “epic food, creative cocktails and great times” then it was only a matter of time before I’d be checking it out.
The Oakleigh, in London Road, Leigh-on-Sea, launched a couple of week ago and is offering a new restaurant, cocktail bar and evening bar.
It’s on the site of the former popular Bellini Bar and Brasserie, which closed a few months back – and is run by the same folk, namely the McManus Pub Company.
I’ve had a fair few girly nights at Bellini (pre-baby, its oh-so-moreish jam donut cocktail gave me possibly one of the worst hangovers I’ve ever had!) so when I was invited along for dinner and drinks at the Oakleigh, there was no way I would be saying no.
The husband and I headed up there last night, after our tot was tucked up in bed and the babysitter safely installed in front of Love Island. Continue reading
Even the loos are lux: Ladies’ room selfie at Southend’s new Seven Hotel
Southend’s brand new boutique hotel opened its doors officially today, but I was lucky enough to be invited to the launch party last night.
The luxurious seafront Seven Hotel, in Clifton Terrace, offers 37 super lux bedrooms, a 70-person restaurant and a gin-centric cocktail bar, following a £4million project.
Last night I was among Seven’s first guests and enjoyed a decadent evening of sumptuous cocktails, in partnership with Tattinger Champagne and Copper Head Gin, as well as canapes from the new restaurant, Aurum.
The nibbles, prepared by head chef, Simon Webb, who has previously worked with the likes of the legendary Roux family, included monkfish cheek in black brioche buns, opulent oysters as well as carrot and orange ice cream (not a combo I’ve ever heard of before either!)
For one night, the tables in Seven’s plush restaurant were pushed aside to allow us to dance to tunes being played by DJ Shmia. Continue reading
Little lunch date: Sonny Jim at Birdwood
Heading to Leigh-on-Sea with a little one in tow? These places will make stopping for a bite to eat worth your while!
- TruLeigh Scrumptious, Broadway West. We held Sonny Jim’s post-Christening bash here. Which should give you some indication of how lovely I think it is. There is baby changing. High chairs. Friendly staff. Fizz to drink. And the tea room decor is just pretty lovely too.
- Piggy Went To Market, Elm Road, has plenty of room to get the pram in and to park it next to the table while still leaving room for others to get by. And plenty of high chairs. It has an alcohol licence too. And a stash of daily newspapers. And staff who are friendly and have no interest in rushing you out. Which is always good. Downside? No changing facilities on-site (but the community centre is just a couple of doors away…)
- Speaking of the community centre… Lorna and Lotties Cafe, on the ground floor of the centre, Elm Road. Soooo family friendly. And sooo reasonably priced. Me and Sonny Jim stop here for a hot chocolate (me) and milk (the boy) before our baby yoga class.