Saturday, 28 May 2016

Gourmet Burger Kitchen (Glasgow): Review

Gourmet burgers are now somewhat part of a the global burger revolution slowly but surely taking over the world. With burger joints popping up all over the UK, be that a franchise of massive chain restaurants or small, independent, artisan restaurants, burgers are everywhere. Living in Glasgow now, you can't walk far without meandering past a burger joint every few hundred yards, especially within the city centre. Home to its very own  burger district, Glasgow boasts many different burger joints, and with so much choice it can be a little daunting on deciding where to go...

With burgers on my mind one Friday evening, I tasked myself with the impossible duty of finding a burger bar which would meet the requirements of the whole party. It had to have a good selection of burgers, both meat and chicken, had to deliver its A-game on a varied milkshake offering, and it also had to boast some impressive sides to accompany the awesome burgers. Heading straight to the  so called 'burger district' I had one particular place in mind...The Gourmet Burger Kitchen.

I love burgers, fact. What I adore most about them is the casualness of eating a burger, and the ability to bond with people so easily over them. Casual dining allows you to get intimate with your food, holding it, pulling it apart, experiencing the textures of it, and it really allows you to get to grips with what your eating. Burgers are especially good for this, and it's probably why I enjoy them so much.

The Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK), is one of the UK's most popular burger joints with over 70 different restaurants across the country. It's a relaxed place, somewhere friends and family alike can visit for a casual meal, or if you want to get to know someone better, then it's a great place for a first date - a casual one of course... You order at the bar, which is pretty standard for these types of joints, and patiently wait as your food is cooked and then placed in front of you hot out of the kitchen, pretty simple.
Living in Glasgow for approximately a month now, I still hadn't managed to devoured a can of Irn Bru, shocking behaviour I know. So when I spied the orange, oh-so patriotic beverage, it had to be ordered. Spying milkshakes on my menu, I toyed with the idea of indulging in one throughout my meal, however, decided it would make a wise choice for dessert so would hold off. That being said, you know when someone orders something incredible and it sits there teasing you and they're no where to be seen and it's just kind of looking at you saying eat me? That's what happened with me and my sisters boyfriend's salted caramel milkshake.

Staring me in the face whilst he was absent from the table, I grabbed my clean fork, dunked it into the milkshake ever so slightly and inhaled the sweet, caramely dessert "Goddammit thats good. Oh shit, that is fresh!" Carrying on like nothing had happened when he returned to the table, giggling like silly school girls every two minutes, I eventually fessed up to my crime, only realising then that I'd reenacted a scene from one of my favourite films, Bridesmaids.

After my milkshake cravings had been conquered and my thirst for Irn Bru had been quenched, food was on my mind. For dinner I opted for the chargrilled chicken satay burger (£9.35) featuring warm satay sauce, crispy onions, garlic mayo, rocket, pickled onions and relish, satay chicken never tasted so good. My sister decided on the classic chicken burger with house mayo, relish, and salad (£8.65) - no where near as delicious as mine, and her boyfriend chose the GBK cheese and bacon burger topped with crispy bacon, BBQ sauce, house mayo, dill pickle and salad, plus cheddar cheese of course (£9.60). All burgers were cooked extremely well and the chicken was incredibly juicy and was very easy to cut into, ideal for when you're eating with your hands.

Usually protective over my food and known as 'the one who doesn't share food' in my friends group, it was decided that we would share our sides, ordering two portions of skinny fries (£3.00 each) and an onion ring stack (£3.55) to accompany our burgers. Not a lover of salt and usually someone who never adds salt to dishes, the Hei Hei salt had caught my eye on the table. I was intrigued to find out what it was. The Hei Hei is a mixture of normal salt, mild paprika and chicken salt  and tasted really different, a good different though. Who would have known salt could be so appetising...

I so badly wanted to indulge in a milkshake after my meal, alas, my full stomach said no. I had enjoyed my meal and didn't want to spoil it by pushing my body to its limits, so unwillingly admitted defeat.

The GBK experience is somewhat relaxing, and tasteful. The staff were extremely pleasant and looked after us well, and the food was cooked exactly how I like it. I especially enjoyed the satay sauce on my burger as it was more like a paste, which stayed on my burger much better than a runnier sauce, allowing me to get a real satay taste in every bite. The milkshake was bangin' and my Irn Bru took me to a euphoric state. I wasn't sure if it was all the sugar, or the fact I forgot how damn good it tastes, but boy I have missed it. The interiors of the restaurant are pretty funky, and further influence a chilled out vibe. I've wanted to visit GBK for ages now and I'm so glad I did. Next time I'll be sure to leave space for a milkshake.

If you can, definitely try out he Hei Hei sauce, and with a huge selection of burgers, there's something for all tastes. You can always mix it up and order off the menu - the staff are super helpful and will ensure to make your GBK burger experience one you'll be dying yo go back for.

    For Now...

 Just Julia

Thursday, 19 May 2016

NY American Grill: Princes Square (Glasgow)

After recently moving to Glasgow three weeks ago, I'm a newbie when it comes to knowing the best places to eat out, the best cafes with the most delicious hot chocolate, the best cocktail bars, and most importantly, the best places to shop.

Luckily for me, Glasgow's first ever Style Mile Shopping Festival (25 - 30 May), happened to launch within the first week of residing in the city. With over 1,500 shops, Glasgow is one of the UK's best places to shop and is recognised across the nation as a shopper's paradise - although I've never pictured a paradise which rains so much!

Some of the biggest brands and major High Street retailers can be found on the city's 'Style Mile' - the square mile in the centre of Glasgow housing a vast selection of shopping outlets including Buchanan Galleries, Princes Square, St Enoch Centre, Argyll Arcade, John Lewis, and House of Fraser.

To anyone who loves a good day out splurging in the shops, an important factor to any shopping spree is eating on the job. Partial to a shopping trip, turned food frenzy with a side of sophisticated drinks, choosing the best place to eat out is vital to rounding up a successful day shopping.

So, when I was invited along to try out one of the restaurants in Princes Square participating in the Glasgow Style Mile Shopping Festival,  which boasts an abundance of divine food and drink outlets, there was one place I just had to visit...NY American Grill. A barbecue sauce lover and all round American cuisine fan, I quickly skimmed over the menu to ensure there was something which took my fancy. Waiter, I'll take the menu.

Starting off our evening my boss, my colleague and I got stuck into the cocktail menu, checking out the funky drinks the restaurant had to offer. With something to suit all tastes, this decision was a difficult one to make, sweet or savoury, gin or vodka, the choices were unlimited. The best part, they have special deals on some nights, and this particular night, a selection of cocktails were half price, score.

Opting for a Salt or Sweet?, my colleague, Leanne, ordered her candy floss inspired cocktail, the Carolina Candy, whilst Becky chose a sophisticated rose petal cocktail, Rose's really smell like...
I must admit, seeing the cocktails arriving at the table I would have had some serious cocktail envy had they not been placed directly in front of me. 

With food now fundamentally on our minds, we nestled our head into the menu, sipping on gin and juice.
For starters we opted for the melted cheese and chive potato skins accompanied with sour cream dip, and the Florida-style coconut shrimp - jumbo shrimps coated in a coconut tempura batter served with a mango chilli dip. The shrimp was unbelievably juicy, and much, much larger than I had anticipated. The batter melted in my mouth, as did the shrimp, and the mild mango chilli dip really complimented the softer coconut batter. Leanne's melted cheese and chive potato skins looked ridiculously cheesy, and definitely got the seal of approval from her.
Obviously mains were a difficult choice, I deliberated between tacos, an American style pulled pork sandwich, Southern fried chicken and a hot dog...After much deliberation, I decided on The Big Apple hot dog, a smokey dog topped with American cheese, smoked bacon, Carolina bbq pulled pork and crispy onions. Leanne settled on her veggie burger with chipotle mayonnaise, and Becky decided on The Big Cheese - a delicious cheeseburger. With mac and cheese playing on all of our minds we decided it would only be fair to indulge in a wee side order of the cheesy-gooeyness. All of the dishes were served with skinny fries which suited me perfectly.
Whilst having a nosy around he restaurant, which is much bigger than I had originally anticipated, I came across a number of NYC inspired interiors. The booth chairs are very common to those found in traditional American diners, and the long bar filled with spirits reminded me of some of the bigger, more mainstream bars I visited when I visited the Big Apple last year. The restaurant was cosy, and didn't feel like it was situated within a shopping centre. The healthy choice on the cocktail menu made the eatery an easy choice for somewhere I would now probably easily recommend for cocktails with my girl friends when they come to visit for a spot of shopping.
After dinner we had time for one last round of drinks, this time sampling You're Average-ation and the Dip Dab martini. Again, good choices. Overall my experience at NY American Grill situated in Prices Square shopping centre was brilliant. From the quirky drinks menu to the extensive, but well thought out food menu, the eatery was a definite hit with me and will be somewhere I'll definitely be returning wether that be during or after the Glasgow Style Mile Shopping Festival. 
The restaurant is running a 20% off deal on the a la carte menu throughout the festival period when you quote "Style Mile"and register a discount card. This is subject to a maximum table of six people. As well as the MY American Grill, there are many other restaurants participating in the event throughout Princes Square, Buchanan Galleries and the St Enoch centre. Be sure to check out the website for the full details. There are also a number of shopping offers and numerous events taking place throughout the festival so be sure to get involved when you can!

  For Now...

Just Julia

*I was gifted a £100 voucher to spend by Princes Square on food and drink within the centre.


Tuesday, 17 May 2016

The cat in the window cafe (Aberdeen): Here kitty kitty

An afternoon spent with some furry friends is an afternoon well spent. When you love animals as much as I do, the thought of spending some quality time with the cutest cats in town really does sound right up my street. So when my boyfriend invited me to check out Aberdeen's first cat cafe with his friends, I couldn't resist tagging along to see what all the fuss was about.
The first recommendation I'm going to make before I continue is book in advance, especially if there's a big group of you and your looking to visit the cafe at peak times - Saturday's and Sunday's are insane. With limited spaces available you want to ensure you've secured a spot before rocking up - and yes, before you ask, we'd booked in advance. Thank God.

Arriving five minutes, ahead of our booked time slot, we were greeted by the lovely owner, Heather Lynch, who is clearly very passionate about the cat's wellbeing, ensuring they, as well as the guests, are well looked after throughout the experience.

In total there are eight cats who reside at the cafe, four of which decided to show face and come out to play whilst we were there. Graced by the gorgeous Napoleon, a fluffy male chinchilla Persian, Theodore, an adorable cream tabby male Scottish fold, Pancake, a beautiful female silver tabby exotic shorthair, and Boo, a black male moggy who slept the whole time on a cosy rug. Our feline friends were a little quieter than originally anticipated, however, it was 5pm on a Sunday, and quite frankly, I'm usually slouched on the sofa catching up on the latest reality TV show I've missed the previous week - touché.

If you're looking for some thrilling play time with the cats then it is recommended that guests visit the cafe first thing in the morning. Later on in the afternoon they tend to be a little more mellow, and much more relaxed - hence we got the cold shoulder from the other four cats who decided to hide away in their separate relaxing space throughout our visit. I don't think I know anyone else who would be allowed to sleep on the job, trust me,  a late afternoon nap would be greatly welcomed in the working work, however, I'll just have to leave the napping to the cats.

Although the cats were more lethargic in the afternoon, Napoleon, Theodore and Pancake were very much up for keeping us all amused throughout the hour we had with them.
I'm not usually a but person, but...I'm going to be the bearer of a wee bit of not so positive news...I wasn't too impressed with the cakes at The Cat in the Window Cafe. I know, it breaks my heart to say it, however being the monstrous foodie I am, getting the food and drink element of an establishment is a must for me. I don't know if it was because we visited the cafe nearer the time of its initial opening, or if it was because we had visited later on in the day, but the cakes my boyfriends pals allowed me to try weren't that great. It's possible that since my visit they've made a few changes to the bakes and brought their cake game back, but sadly the cakes really weren't up to scratch in my opinion, and I had to pass on the offer of a second taster - heartbreaking.

However, that said, and on a more positive note, the coffee and tea's we were offered were great, and I thoroughly enjoyed my hot chocolate too. All of the drinks at the cafe come equipped with a cat protector - a drinks topper to all you individuals who are unfamiliar with the cat cafe concept. I was really pleased about this as it ensured I could relax knowing no foreign mouths were going to be sneaking a taste of my drink. 
The interiors were gorgeous and on arrival I instantly felt relaxed in the modern, chic cafe. With accents of neutral colours throughout, fluffy rugs and pillows, bean bags to lounge on and natural wooden tones throughout, I could have easily fallen asleep in this haven of pure relaxation.

The cafe was very clean and on arrival, you are immediately asked to take off your shoes at the front door, so having a pair of socks in your bag is a definite! The design of the cafe is open plan, however, the area (main cafe) where the cats stay and the guests interact with them is strictly locked once guests are inside, ensuring the cats are kept safe in a controlled, relaxed environment. Staff lock guests into the room and prepare the coffee's and cakes in the separate entrance room. Staff are always on hand to take orders and answer any questions, and also interact with the cats to encourage them to approach the guests. There is a quiet room for the cats where they can escape to eat and drink, and get away from the main cafe if they choose, which is great as it means they can interact with guests at their own leisure.

Overall my experience at The Cat in the Window Cafe was pleasant and very much filled with joy - happy endorphins and all that. The cats are all very well looked after and the owner seems perfectly polite and educated on how to care for the cats, which I enjoy a lot. I would definitely recommend heading along to the cafe, especially if you've never experienced the concept before. I hear they are now offering milkshakes too so it sounds like a second visit will be needed very soon!

Due to only four cats coming out to play, Heather offered everyone in our session a 50% discount which was very generous of her and was totally unnecessary - a good way to do business in my eyes and very much appreciated by all guests.

My five top tips on how to survive your first cat cafe experience:

1. Be prepared to be rejected...if you can't handle the cat's not wanting to play with you then it's maybe best you don't go...they can be heartbreakers after all, but are total sweethearts when they do come play.
2. Purchase a hot chocolate. With all the excitement of kitty's roaming around half way through your visit you may need to invest in a sugar rush, and what better way than to replenish with a hot chocolate!? Especially when they come fully equipped with a cute cup topper!
3. Warning, cats do bite and scratch and are animals that like their own space. Don't get needy and don't get upset with them. You wouldn't get sassy with someone else visiting your home so don't be a diva in theirs.
4. Understand that you can't take them home. I know they are gorgeous and oh-so-fluffy, but you can't take them home as much as you'd love to. And yes, before you ask...they will be able to see the wriggling fluff ball in your bag..if you want to return, it's not a good idea.
5. Have fun. Even if you dislike cats you're bound to have fun watching these wee cuties roam around having a ball!

  For Now...

Just Julia


Sunday, 8 May 2016

Definition Clinic (Aberdeen): Review

Over the past few years Aberdeen has experienced an influx in new entrepreneurial businesses popping up all over the city, offering individuals something a little different and adding character to the area.

One area in particular which has grown exceedingly is the West End of Aberdeen. Now a communal hub of new business, the Claremont and St Swithin Street area has flourished over the past two years, churning out some of Aberdeen's most popular cafes and fashionable wedding dress shops to date.

Definition skin and laser clinic , which is situated on Chattan Place, is a professional skin and laser clinic based in the West End, providing solutions to skin issues. Headed up by owner, Lucy Tuck, the experienced team provides a professional service in a relaxing, stylish environment. The clinic, which consists of relaxing sea blue interiors through a wash of white, instantly relaxes you, allowing the whole experience to be as calming as possible.
The clinic's name, 'Definition', is central to owner, Lucy Tuck's vision, proclaiming that beauty need only be enhanced, thus, the treatments the clinic boasts only ever help add to the individuals true , natural beauty.

Established in 2009, moving into the Chattan Place premises just over a year ago, Lucy and her team have worked tirelessly to continue to make the salon into the success it is today. Inviting me along to see what all the fuss was about on Thursday afternoon, I realised how dramatically the building had changed and how she had transformed the space into a harmonious, tranquil sanctuary.

With three treatment rooms, a nail bar and a reception area, the clinic is a busy wee place and it is recommended you book your appointment in advance as the therapists are usually booked up in advance.

On arrival to the clinic, Gail, who has over 15 years experience in the industry, took me through my initial consultation, investigating the type of skin I had and the products I would usually use. Unbeknown to her, her nightmare client sat eagerly in front of her.

I have never really taken my skin regime seriously, and when it comes to being consistent with it ans using toners, cleansers and exfoliators its pretty much non-existent. Shocking I know...Makeup wipes and bar of soap is usually what I use to wash my face, and the odd exfoliator, however after the looks on Gail's face, I knew I was about to be informed of what my skin really needs, and why I need to take more time in caring for it. Addressing any of my concerns about my skin which consisted of me questioning her how to get rid of blackheads, Gail talked me through why exfoliating, cleansing and toning is vital in keeping cells healthy to ensure their elasticity for the future.

Carrying on from the consultation, Gail informed me about my Dermalux™LED Phototherapy treatment which I was receiving for the first time. Lying on the cosy therapy bed, an obscure machine was placed above and around my head, kind of making you feel like you'd stuck half of your head in a plant pot, but a nice, clean, quirky looking plant pot at that.
I don't really have many skin problems in all honesty, I'm extremely lucky in that respect especially for not looking after it the way I should, however this specific treatment is said to be excellent for all skin types and is great for those who suffer from acne, eczema, psoriasis and many other skin concerns.
Using three coloured wavelengths of viable light with rejuvenating benefits, the treatment is non-invasive, allowing skin cells to absorb the light, using it as a source of energy to fuel and repair damaged cells or kill bacteria. It's a natural biochemical reaction, very similar to that of plant photosynthesis, so when I say you feel refreshed after it, it might not all be down to the endorphins the bright light usually triggers.

The process, which results in radiant, youthful and naturally healthy skin, stimulates the production of collagen and elastin, boosting circulation and accelerating tissue repair. Lasting 20 minutes, the treatment is beneficial to all skin types and can help injured skin cells return to optimum health.

The treatment makes your face feel warm, almost as if you are sunbathing on a beautiful beach, this is due to the stimulation of blood circulation and no, before you ask, the light does not give you a tan. However, it does stimulate the blood circulation and cell hydration, giving skin a healthy, radiant glow. The treatment is highly relaxing and helped relieve a lot of stress. During the treatment I was given a small pair of goggles to wear to block the light from your eyes, however, the light is not damaging to eyes, as bright as it is.
There are no side effects with the treatments and due to the treatment boasting LED lights, it cannot damage the skin,

As an added extra I was offered a complimentary foot massage or an arm and hand massage throughout the appointment. Lying there feeling like I was on a beautiful hot beach on an exotic island, Gail massaged my arms and hands almost sending me to sleep. Thank god the appointment is only 20 minutes long or I would have been snoozing!

With regard to results, I instantly saw a difference. My face was slightly red (which was anticipated and explained to me in advance), however, my skin felt very plump and hydrated. It definitely felt like the treatment had made a difference and even a few days after the treatment I still felt my skin looked flawless.

The best part about this treatment is that you can put your make up on straight after. Gail had mentioned many of her clients get this treatment just before they go on a night out which I'd never thought of! With phototherapy the results are cumulative and improvement will continue even after the treatment has stopped. You can take treatments in quick succession to achieve optimum results and because the treatment doesn't harm the skin there is no limit to the amount of treatments you have.

Definition has rapidly expanded its offering to clients, allowing them opportunities to experience a greater variety of luxury services. Other services at the clinic include; advanced PRIORI skin peers, laser/IPL hair removal, skin rejuvenation, aesthetic treatments like Harley waxing, VITAGE facials, massages, manicures and gel polishes.

The clinic offers complimentary consultations, allowing the therapists to design a plan best suited to your skins needs. If you're interested in booking in for a consultation call the salon on 01224 433111 - you'll be in great hands!
  For Now...

Just Julia
© Just Julia

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