A lifestyle blog all about Birmingham, UK.

Thursday, 19 December 2019

REVIEW: Festive Menu at The Lyttelton Arms, Hagley

FINALLY being able to blast All I Want For Christmas is You at least 34 times a day, cosying up on the sofa to watch The Holiday (Two words: JUDE LAW) and being genuinely ecstatic at the thought of opening at least three new pyjama sets on Christmas morning; it’s safe to say the festive season is back and is it just me, or is it bigger than ever? 

As much as I love Mariah Carey and the love of my life (apart from my Fiancé) Jude Law, one of my absolute favourite aspect of Christmas is getting all dressed up and heading along to a restaurant to try out their festive menu. Because let’s face it, the festive menu is always the very best one they have! So I was delighted when I could put aside my Greggs Festive Bake aside for an evening, and head along to check out what The Lyttelton Arms, just down the road from me in Hagley, is offering festive menu enthusiasts this year.

When we first sat down, we were treated to the restaurant’s Christmas cocktail. You know me, I love Christmas, but I love cocktails more! The Sipsmith Bramble Royale was a total dream; spiced bramble gin topped with Prosecco, which was, of course, super tasty and the perfect start to the meal.

We quickly moved onto the food, and I was really impressed with the festive menu, with something for just about everyone. The menu includes Salmon Fillet, Steak, and of course, a full blown Christmas dinner with Turkey, stuffing and all the trimmings. 

For starter, I went for the Smoked Salmon and King Prawn Pot, which was topped with Devon crab crème fraiche and served with ciabatta. It was divine, and an incredibly generous portion. My guest went for the Deep-Fried Brie, coated in panko breadcrumbs, with a spoonful of spiced fruit and sloe gin chutney. Again, another very happy guest! 

For mains, I went back and forth for as long as I could between two dishes; the Roast Turkey (God, I do LOVE Turkey) and a Vegan option of Slow-Roasted Tomato and Almond Bake. I eventually went for the Bake, ultimately deciding to save my beloved Turkey for Christmas Day, but I was so glad I did. It was absolutely delicious! It was packed full of flavour, and was topped with beetroot, carrot, spinach and roasted celeriac. It was actually one of the best main dishes I’ve had in a very long time.

My guest opted for the Maple Pork Belly and Pig Cheek (it just SOUNDS festive doesn’t it?), which came accompanied with Dijon chive mash, cavolo nero, crisp prosciutto and red wine and sage jus. To say they absolutely devoured it would be a total understatement. Both main dishes came served with seasonal vegetables, including carrots, potatoes and of course, sprouts – it is Christmas after all.

Desserts was another difficult choice, and with it being a festive menu, there’s the usual suspects; Christmas Pudding, Blackcurrant Mousse and so on. But I actually went for a non-sweet dessert, because I believe at Christmas, you’ve simply got to eat as much cheese as possible. So I did. I went for the Cheese Board, which came with a wide selection of British cheeses and mixed seed biscuits, grapes, celery and chutney. It was gorgeous, totally indulgent and again, incredibly generous. 

My guest opted for the equally delicious Warm Chocolate Brownie, which came with Belgian chocolate sauce, honeycomb ice cream and a brandy snap crumb. I also enjoyed a beautiful Hot Chocolate to end the evening perfectly. 

This wasn’t my first visit to The Lyttelton Arms, and one of the aspects I love most about the restaurant is how cosy it is, with the perfect combination of traditional, countryside décor alongside touches of uber modern and fun décor. It is a very welcoming restaurant, and the staff, especially on this occasion, were absolutely lovely. There was a few teething problems with the festive menu, as it was its first night, but we were kept in the loop and nothing ever took too long. 

The only aspect of The Lyttelton Arms is as soon as you walk in; there is a notice stating how visitors must be dressed to be able to enter. I understand fully that the restaurant is trying to keep it as sophisticated as possible, but I often feel that these signs can be very alienating. However, the restaurant is still a lovely place to go, especially for a special occasion.
The festive menu is also very reasonable considering the amount you get. The Indulgent Festive Menu, which me and my guest enjoyed, costs £34.95 per person, and that includes a glass of Prosecco on arrival. The ‘Extra Special’ menu has a whopping five courses, and is £49.95 per person. 

I can’t recommend this menu, and restaurant, enough. If you’re looking for a place to catch up with family and friends over the festive period whilst enjoying wonderful food and drink, head along to The Lyttelton Arms. 

The Lyttelton Arms: 9/10

*DISCLAIMER: I  was fortunate to be asked along to the venue to try the festive menu in return for a blog post. I didn't pay for the experience, but left a tip and paid for travel there and back. I was not expected to write a good review, I genuinely enjoyed the experience.


Friday, 6 December 2019

REVIEW: Peter Pan, The REP Birmingham

I’ve had the total joy of enjoying The REP’s Christmas shows for the past three years, and there’s one thing I always say to someone heading along to the show; always expect the unexpected. The REP has such a fantastic way and process of putting on shows that take a production, spin it on its head, make it modern, inclusive and totally creative, that I can’t wait to shout about them to everyone around me. 

This year’s is no different. Peter Pan – Reimagined, which takes to the stage until January 19 2020, is a modern take on the classic story. Forget the grand Georgian home in London, this show is set in a block of flats in Birmingham. Forget the homely, welcoming family, this show is based on kids living with a foster carer. 

Wendy and her little brothers were separated from their mother, and are currently living with Jess, who is trying her best to look after them all. Wendy has taken on the role of the protective mother to her brothers, and struggles to trust adults as they have always let her down. One night, the boy who never grew up, Peter Pan, gives Wendy the chance to escape to a magical world, Neverland, which is full of fun, energetic, and mischievous Lost Children. 

However, Neverland is also home to naughty mermaids, a hungry crocodile and of course, Captain Hook. The story follows Wendy and Peter Pan desperately try and save themselves, her brothers and the Lost Children from Hook, whilst the audience learns about why the children are lost, and what they wish they could have from a family. 

What makes this story so different from the original though is that this story is much less about Peter Pan himself, and so much more focused on Wendy, making it a refreshing, feminist reimagination. From the very start of the show, the audience becomes involved in Wendy’s story, desperate for her to feel like she can just be a kid again, and not always have to be the one looking after everyone else. Wendy has so much sass, but watching her enjoy herself is truly heartwarming. A particular moment where Wendy has to think good thoughts to be able to fly actually brought a tear to my eye, it was such a beautiful aspect of the production.
And yes, the cast very much do fly! With the help of ‘shadows’, which we are introduced to at the beginning and by the end we barely notice, many of the cast members fly, bounce and swirl across the stage, making the production so magical and fun. 

The set is a star in itself, we go from Jess’s flat in Birmingham to urban Neverland, to the Lost Children’s home and to Skull Island, with so much ease. Every single aspect of the set is so creative and imaginative, with my favourite touch being the crocodile being made of car tyres, making each scene a total feast for the eyes, with the audience constantly noticing cool creative touches throughout the production.  

It didn’t stop with the set either, there are so many sides to this show that make it so cool, fun and different from the original. Instead of soft, gentle songs, what we would expect, the audience were treated to group dances and a rap, where the whole audience got involved. There was also a real feminist edge to the show, which pleased many audience members, as well as a handful of Birmingham references that we all absolutely loved, of course!

Every single cast member was full to the brim of talent, comedic timing and enthusiasm. Peter Pan, played by Lawrence Walker, was just brilliant, by being frustrating and cocky, yet fun and loveable. The uber talented Nia Gwynne takes on the role of both Hook and Jess, and was excellent at both roles, however her take on Hook was fascinating, bringing a humble touch at times to the traditionally evil role. However, the star of the show was Cora Tsang, whose take on Wendy was just beautiful and so relatable, she is definitely a star in the making and I can’t wait to see what she does next. 

The production may be a modern twist on the classic story, but the festive message remains the same; the importance of family. How we all need to be looked after from time to time. Home is where you feel safe and secure, but that home can be anywhere, and your family is who you love. I can’t recommend this show enough. It is creative, so much fun, and full of life and imagination. It’s not a panto, its better!

Peter Pan: 9/10

*I was gifted two press tickets to enjoy this production from The REP Birmingham in return for a review on this blog. 

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