Girly Brunch in Balfes

If you read my blog post yesterday on my girly day out on Saturday with my Mum, you’ll know that we started our day out with brunch in town before going to the The Shelbourne spa for some pampering.

Our restaurant of choice was one of Dublin’s best loved brunch spots, Balfes in the Westbury Hotel, which has been open for quite some time now, but until this weekend I still hadn’t gotten around to going despite hearing lots of yummy things about it. So when Mum and I were planning our girls day out, it was the perfect time to give it a try and see if it lived up to all the hype.

The first thing I noticed when I arrived, apart from the gorgeous New York chic inspired decor and marble table tops, was the friendliness and professionalism of the staff. The manager greeted us warmly, showed us to our table which was a lovely spot in the centre of the room, and proceeded to take our drink order.

Mum opted for her old reliable latte, while I of course, decided on a nice glass of bubbly – I mean why drink coffee when you can drink prosecco, right?! There’s nothing better than a glass of bubbly to kick off any girls day out and why change the habit of a lifetime I say.


The brunch menu in Balfes is very varied, with many different options from healthy to indulgent. There are paleo and gluten free options, vegetarian options, as well as sharing platters, oysters, and all the usual breakfast options you would expect to find on any good brunch menu.

Spoilt for choice, it took us a while to decide what we wanted to eat, but eventually I decided on the Turkey Burger with guacamole, salsa and coleslaw, and just because I felt like being a little bit bold, swapped out the sweet potato wedges for normal skinny fries – delish!

There was just the right amount of everything on this dish, and I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that there was no bread bun with the burger. The dish definitely didn’t need it, and it made me feel like I was being at least a little bit healthy, even if I was having fries!

I enjoyed every bite and overall think it was definitely worth the €17 price tag that accompanied it.

Mum went for a breakfast option, namely the Blueberry Pancakes with bacon and maple syrup which cost a very reasonable €10.50, and the first thing we both said when it arrived, was how fresh it looked. The pancakes were made with fresh blueberries within the pancake mix rather than cooked blueberries or a blueberry syrup which sometimes happens. According to Mum the pancakes were light and fluffy and the bacon perfectly crispy, and she too really enjoyed her dish.

Needless to say it was a great experience overall. The food was delicious, and the lively, buzzing atmosphere that filled the restaurant made it even better.

We will certainly go back, and I definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a reasonably priced place to eat for a good girly catch up. That’s not to say you couldn’t venture in with your other half either – I’ve already got Dave booked in for a brunch date in the next few weeks and I can’t wait!

Sorcha x

Review: The Shelbourne Spa

On Saturday just gone, my Mum and I had planned the ultimate girly day out with a trip to The Shelbourne Hotel spa in the heart of Dublin city. We’ve been planning a spa day for a while now, it’s something we try to do together at least once a year, and this year we decided rather than going away for a night, we would take a staycation break to The Shelbourne.

While we didn’t overnight there, we made our way into town early for a quick brunch before making our way over to the hotel for some good old fashioned rest and relaxation.

Our first impressions of the spa when we arrived were extremely positive. The soft lighting, the luscious fabrics and the peaceful atmosphere all set the tone for the day ahead. When we checked in the girl on reception was very welcoming and then showed us to the changing rooms where we could get ready for our day.

We arrived to the spa an hour early so that we could make use of the swimming pool and other spa facilities, but were slightly disappointed to find that the pool is actually part of the hotel’s leisure centre and as a result, was very bright and loud – children jumping into the pool doing water bombs is not my idea of a relaxing swim!  It did pass as people started to leave, but at this point we had abandoned the swimming idea and decided to spend our time in the steam room and sauna instead before going to change for our treatments.

At this point we were feeling a little let down, however, that all changed when we went for our treatments. When we left the pool area, we were brought into the relaxation room which is a gorgeous bright room overlooking St. Stephen’s Green. After a few minutes our therapists arrived to take us for our treatments and that’s when the real relaxation began.


The spa uses Pevonia and Elemis products, both of which I really like, so I opted for the Pevonia Hot Stone Massage and the Elemis Modern Skin Facial, both of which were one hour long. I also had the same therapist for both my treatments which meant I could enjoy being pampered for two hours straight – bliss!

My therapist’s name was Ali and she was extremely good. She spent a few minutes going through some questions about my skin type, problem areas and concerns, and decided which specific products and scents to use on me based on my responses. She started off with the hot stone massage and I literally could feel myself begin to ever so slowly lower my shoulders and relax.

It’s funny how even when you think you’re relaxed your shoulders can be up around your ears, tense as anything, and you don’t even realise. Not to mention the many knots that had to be kneaded out of my upper back. The kneading was worth it though and the whole treatment was just amazing. I felt so relaxed afterwards.

From there she moved on to my face where she applied several products to brighten and rehydrate my skin which has been quite dull and dry recently. She cleansed, toned, exfoliated and then added a thick mask which was just incredible. As that set on my face, she gave me a shoulder and head massage with the same oils and at this stage I was pretty much falling asleep! There’s nothing like a facial and massage to make you zone out for a few hours.

All in all, I was really happy with my treatments. My skin was so soft afterwards, and my face was definitely brighter and smoother. As I sat in the relaxation room after my treatments eating my berry sorbet and berry fruits, it was hard to keep my eyes open and I drifted off to a world of my own for a good half an hour as the sun shone down on my face through the open window.


It was such a lovely to spend a Saturday, and my Mum equally loved her treatments too. The perfect city girly escape for some ‘me time’.

Both my treatments costa total of €210 which is very competitively priced with other spas in Dublin and I would definitely revisit another time. As I said, the only let down was the pool area which could probably benefit from being a little less loud and a little more relaxed. But at the end of the day, everything else was so great and enjoyable, it didn’t really matter.

Sorcha x

Quality Time

Happy Saturday everyone, I hope you all have a lovely weekend ahead of you. Last weekend you may remember me talking about me going on a trip to The Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin and I’m very excited to say the day has finally arrived.

Image: Tripadvisor

Mum and I decided to treat ourselves to a girly spa day today, my Dad and Dave are both away for the weekend so what better excuse to treat ourselves to something nice.

As much as I love The Shelbourne, I’ve never been to the spa there so we’re both really excited to try it out and have some good old fashioned rest and relaxation. We’re starting the day off with brunch in town, and ending it with dinner in one of our favourite places to eat near home so it’s pretty much the perfect staycation.

Not only that but it’s so nice to have some Mum – Daughter quality time, catch up on all the family news and no doubt get lost in conversation over who knows what. Although I’m lucky enough to still live close to my parents, it’s rare that you get these kind of days to properly have some quality time and I for one can’t wait.

It’s been a strange week this week. On Thursday it was the birthday of a very old friend of mine who sadly passed away before Christmas. We all got together with his family on Thursday evening to toast him, and it really made me realise how short life can be and how precious our time with the people we love is.

I’ll be back with a full report on the spa and all our treatments in the coming days so if you want to know how we get on then watch this space.

For now, I hope you all have a lovely Saturday wherever you are today too.

Sorcha x

A Perfect Saturday

Last weekend my sister and her new fiancé were home for the weekend. In case you missed my post last week, they just got engaged, and that meant some major celebrations were in order.

We are a complete foodie family, so where better to celebrate than the crème de la crème of restaurants in Dublin, Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud. For those of you not familiar with Guilbaud’s, it is one of Dublin’s top restaurants located beside the Merrion Hotel, and currently holds two Michelin stars. So we’re talking fancy, shmancy people!

  

Lunch was booked for 13.45pm and we had organised to have the private room for our celebrations. There were six of us in total, and the day was incredible. C’était incroyable!

When you arrive, you are led into a lavish sitting room area where you can enjoy a pre-lunch drink. This room has all the characteristics you expect from a Georgian townhouse, high ceilings with intricate cornicing, walls that host paintings from some of Ireland’s most famous artists, and luxurious, cosy furniture. All of which make this room a sanctuary of relaxation. You could so easily while away the hours in this room, conversing as you sip your champagne.


When it comes to the food, you have the option of ordering either from the Lunch or A La Carte menus, but for this visit we opted for the set lunch menu. At €55 for 3 courses, this is an absolute steel, particularly for a restaurant of such high standard.

Once we ordered and made our way to our table, we were given a selection of homemade breads to choose from – Tomato and Fennel, Walnut, Brown Soda, Baguette, there were so many options I can’t remember them all! I opted for the baguette and then our Amuse Bouche arrived. It was Eel with an apple jelly. At first I was a bit apprehensive of the eel, but actually it was delicious, and the perfect taster ahead of our meal.

Let’s face it, in a restaurant like this it’s really just all about the food, so here’s a look at what I ordered:

Starter: Onion Soup, with a Hint of Langoustine

 

Don’t let the title of onion soup fool you here. This was onion soup on an entirely different level. It was rich and creamy, and the more you ate, the more flavour that came through. In one mouthful you taste chive, in another taste cream, in another you get Langoustine. Each mouthful a wondrous journey of discovery! This was simply heaven in a bowl.

Main: Monkfish with a Tomato Curry Jus, Potato Gnocchi and Courgette

 

I’m not usually a big curry fan but I love Monkfish and decided to give this a try. As with all things in this restaurant, nothing is ever as it seems and the curry flavour was oh so subtle. Just enough to give the fish a kick while remaining gentle and respectful of the delicate Monkfish flavour. Delicious on so many levels. Our mains were accompanied by creamy mashed potato and green beans, all so wonderfully French.

Dessert: Cheese Plate


I know many of you might be thinking cheese, seriously?! I know, I’m weird like that. I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth and I love cheese so this was a no-brainer for me. I had a mixture of both Irish and French cheeses, opting for the milder choices as I’m not really one for blue cheese.

Just because it looked so pretty, I also had to get a picture of the desert that everyone else opted for which was a Raspberry Parfait with Aerated Rice Pudding. Apart from looking amazing, I was told that it tasted amazing too, so happy campers all round.

Petit Fours

 

The Petit Fours you get here are unlike no others I’ve seen. You’ll have to excuse the missing item in the picture which was a sweet sponge, my Dad had it eaten before I got my photo!

My sister and I cut each of the rest in half and shared them between us: Quince Jelly, a mini Lemon Meringue Tart, a Pistachio Cake with Pistachio Crum, a Raspberry Macaroon, and the best of them all, a White Chocolate, Piña Colada and Pineapple Cake Pop. Oh. Dear. Lord. This was a little explosion of happiness in your mouth. Utter indulgence. Delicious doesn’t even cover how tasty this was.

All washed down with some Champagne and beautiful wine.

Once lunch had finished, we made our way into the bar of the Merrion Hotel, grabbed a seat by the fire and ended the day by drinking some more red wine and talking all things weddings and politics (given the day that was in it).

I am by no means a food expert, but the day was so enjoyable that I wanted to share it with you. How all Saturday’s should be spent I think…

Oh and for all my fashion loving followers, here’s a look at what I wore for our day out!

Sorcha x

Angelina’s – The New Kid in Town

Angelina’s, one of the newest hot spots in town, has been on my list of restaurants to try for the past few months. I’ve heard lots of good things about it, and some not so good, but when the girls and I were looking for somewhere to go for dinner and drinks, we decided this was the perfect place.

Part of the same group that owns The Dean, Angelina’s looks like you imagine it to look. The interior is very cool, think quirky lights, fifty shades of grey (the colour kind), mixed with parquet flooring and super comfy red leather booths. It’s warm and welcoming, and the kind of place you could happily sit for hours catching up with friends.

The food, of which I failed to get many photos, disaster I know, is simply delicious. To start I had the Crab Salad with fennel and cos lettuce which was fresh, light and the toasted pumpkin seeds sprinkled on top gave it that extra crunch. The perfect starter in my view.

I followed this by opting for the Halibut which was bursting with flavour, the almonds and samphire that accompanied it were so tasty, I almost wanted to eat it over again. For our side dishes we ordered the parmesan fries and snow peas which were equally yum. My only criticism is that when my Halibut arrived it was covered in mushrooms and mushrooms were not listed on the menu. I hate mushrooms. Like I mean, I really hate them. So had I known they were served on the dish I would have most definitely ask for it without. But I just pushed them to the side of my plate and carried on.

To finish, the four of us treated ourselves to a Vanilla Honeycomb Sundae and Lemon & Vanilla Mascarpone cheesecake to share between us and they didn’t last long let me tell you. I could take or leave the cheesecake but that’s simply because I’m just not a big fan of mascarpone. But the Sundae, oh dear lordy. The honeycomb was crunchy and melt in your mouth just as it should be, and the caramel sauce was to die for. Heaven in a glass.

It was all washed down, as it so often is, with a couple of glasses of prosecco and a cocktail at the end.

But. And there is a big but here. I’m sorry to say, our waitress was incredibly rude. When I say rude, I don’t mean just stressed and busy, I mean plain old rude. Everything seemed like such a hassle for her, there was tutting, and sighing, and I’m pretty certain at one point there was eye rolling. It was bad but we were enjoying ourselves so let it pass. That was until the time came to pay the bill.

Almost afraid to, given her attitude, I asked for change of a €50 note, purely so I could leave a tip when paying my portion. The look of disdain on her face was shocking. She snapped the note out of my hand, then said what do you want? I asked for a combination of 20’s and 10’s, then she snapped again, and said tell me exactly what you want of each. Hmmm. If she had asked in a nice way, or if it was not possible to give me change, I would have understood but there was just no need for the attitude.

When we arrived for dinner at 5pm we were told they needed the table back at 8pm. Totally fine. So as 8pm approached we had asked for our bill and asked if we could then move to the bar to have our cocktail – again eye rolling. After a round of nervous laughter at her reaction amongst the girls and I, she eventually told us she would hold four seats at the bar where we could move to once we had paid.

I’m talking less than five minutes later the bill was paid (it would have probably been a lot quicker only we were waiting for her to come with the card machine), when we went to move to the bar we were told by said waitress that we didn’t move quickly enough and she couldn’t be responsible for holding us seats. She got extremely snotty with one of my friends, it was so bad that at this point, we went back to the table and removed the tip we had initially left.

We mentioned the issue to one of the bar guys, he was lovely and seemed to know immediately who we were talking about. He didn’t seem surprised either. He told us he would speak to the manager which I hope he did as I can’t imagine we’re the only people who have experienced this.

The thing about it is, I loved the atmosphere and I loved the food, we all did. It was so close to being perfect and it would have been if it wasn’t for her.

My friend who made the booking is making a formal complaint so I’m not going to name any names here, but beware if you are visiting Angelina’s anytime soon.

Having said all that I will return. I want to give it another chance because of how much I enjoyed everything else. But next time, I will request that she doesn’t come anywhere near our table.

Sorcha x

Brunch Time: Union Café

This weekend was all about brunch for me, so much so, I went to the same place on Saturday AND Sunday. Who does that?… Anyone?! The place in question was the new Union Café in Mount Merrion which I have heard a lot of great things about over the past few weeks, but with our wedding and Christmas I just hadn’t got around to trying it.

Yesterday was the day I finally got to give it a go when I met with two of my oldest friends for a good old fashioned girly catch up. Unfortunately they hadn’t been able to make the wedding, and one of them also just had a baby, so needless to say we had a LOT to talk about!

The girls were already there when I arrived and had a lovely cosy table with a big couch in the centre of the room. Sometimes when you sit at couches in restaurants I find you sink into them so much it’s hard to eat your meal, but these were so comfy and the perfect height. We ordered some bubbles and began chattering away, eventually realising we had to actually order some food.

The all day brunch menu has a great selection, but as we met later in the day, we decided to opt for salads rather than breakfast. I ordered the Dundrum Bay Crab Salad and the girls ordered the Rotisserie Free Range Chicken. The portion sizes were large so we took our time eating in between sipping our drinks and catching up on all our news. My salad was lovely and fresh, and the crab was particularly tasty too. The girls had nothing but good things to say about their choices also.

Although it was very busy when we were there, we didn’t really notice which is always good sign and the atmosphere was very relaxed. After a good two hours, we said our goodbyes, but having seen the breakfast menu, I was excited to be revisiting this morning with one of my besties.

When I arrived at 10.30am, it was very quiet but the lovely atmosphere still remained. I ordered a cuppa and perused the menu until my friend arrived a few minutes later. This time I went for the Bacon and Eggs which was delicious (if not a little bold), but so reasonably priced for the portion size. Once again, we were left to sit and relax with no interruptions, ordering another round of coffees two hours in.

All in all, I really enjoyed both experiences here and will definitely be back for brunch again soon. I’m also looking forward to trying out their dinner menu. Unfortunately one friend of mine did have a bad experience here a little while ago, but I’m hoping that was just a once off and that the high standard I experienced will continue.

Only time will tell…

Sorcha x