Showing posts with label Dining. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dining. Show all posts

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Enjoying a Family Meal at Hickory's Smokehouse - A Review

My family and I regularly enjoy visiting family friendly restaurants and having a lovely meal together, but over the last couple of years we have found ourselves visiting the same places and quite frequently ordering the same meals. Therefore, when an opportunity recently arose to visit Hickory's Smokehouse, we were excited about the prospect of trying something both new and different. After carrying out a little research prior to our visit, I was shocked that we had never visited before and couldn't wait to find out more.

Hickory's aim to create an authentic family friendly dining experience based on the restaurants and bars of the Southern States, as well as providing a welcoming hospitality service that makes you feel appreciated as a guest. They offer a range of quirky extras including popcorn on arrival, the ability to have a campfire and toast marshmallows at your table, as well as milkshake masterclasses for children.


Hickory's Smokehouse have restaurants in numerous locations including Burton Green, Castle Bromwich, Chester, Gresty Green, Rhos-on-Sea, Southport, Wall Heath, West Kirby and Worcester. We are very fortunate to have several of them nearby, but for our first Hickory's experience we chose to attend the Southport venue and we couldn't have been happier with our choice.

On arrival we were greeted by a lovely member of staff who showed us to our table. On the way he pointed out where the cinema room was for the children, along with providing us with directions to the toilets. He advised that someone would be along shortly to take our drinks order, so we began to have a look through the extensive choice of beverages available. The drinks menu featured plenty of options to ensure that there was something for all tastes and it didn't take my family long to make their decisions - MILKSHAKES!

My husband and our three children Emma, Ben and Riley all chose the Strawberry Dream from the Shakehouse Selection, which consisted of Strawberry, White Chocolate and Marshmallow. My kids were invited over to the bar area to take part in a milkshake masterclass where they had the opportunity to create it themselves, which I thought was a really brilliant idea that encourages children to get involved and be creative. My youngest son Riley absolutely loves pretend play and often imagines creating his own milkshakes in this play kitchen, so to be able to do this for real was fantastic and he definitely enjoyed the moment. He is usually extremely shy, but the young man helping with the preparation was great with my children and they all excitedly made their masterpieces!


Despite the milkshakes being an extremely popular choice, I wanted to try something a little different instead, so I opted for the Raspberry & Mint Lemonade and I am so glad I did. I can honestly say that this was one of the most refreshing and tasty drinks that I have ever tasted and as well as being a thirst quencher it also complemented my food really well. Other drinks that feature on the menu included Healthy Blend Smoothies consisting of fresh fruit and vegetables, a range of All American Sodas & Iced Teas, a choice of tap, bottled and canned beers, numerous wines and all of this was in addition to some Southern Classic Cocktails which all sounded absolutely amazing. You are quite literally spoilt for choice!

After taking our drinks order, the waitress allowed us some further time to look over the menu. We were not rushed at all and it was great reading through all the options that were available. All of the starters sounded delicious which made it really difficult to choose only one. We therefore all agreed to order something different and then just help ourselves to a bit of each dish and share. This worked really well and it was great to see my children so keen to sample each item of food. From the children's menu we ordered Tortilla Chips with a cheesy dip and two portions of Popcorn Chicken with BBQ sauce. From the main appetizer menu we ordered the Burnt End Popcorn Bites (chunks of smoked beef brisket in a crispy cajun rub) and Barbecue Pulled Pork Smokehouse Nachos (nachos topped with bbq pulled pork, sour cream, avocado mayo, jalapenos & melted cheese). All of the dishes came really well presented and we were immediately impressed.


In between each course my children made the most of the cinema room. I absolutely LOVED this idea and think that the person who came up with this concept is a genius, as it meant that my children were sat in a relaxed and safe environment enjoying a movie, whilst my husband and I could enjoy each others company. It really was the best of both worlds in that we could have an amazing family meal together, but also have moments where we could have a conversation as a couple.

After an ideal rest time between courses, our mains were brought to the table. We had ordered:

  • Barbecue Hand Pulled Pork - Pulled and topped with barbecue pit beans, fries and house slaw (14 hour smoked).
  • Ribeye Steak 255g with skin-on-fries and peppercorn sauce
  • 2 x Grilled Chicken Burgers with fries
  • Mini Hickory's Burger with fries

All of these were well presented and in an eccentric way which was much more fun and interesting than traditional plates. My pulled pork and barbecue pit beans were in a mess tin, the fries in a cup with a pot of house slaw on the side and then these had all been neatly placed on a wooden chopping board.


My children's burgers also came on wooden trays placed within baskets, which I thought was great as it prevented any food slipping off the side when cutting. They also had their own cutlery and a kids activity pack which Riley enjoyed completing in between his burger bites.


Both Ben and Emma enjoyed the Grilled Chicken Burger which they both said was delicious. It is very rare for Ben to finish his meal when dining out, but on this occasion he ate every last bit, which speaks volumes in itself. They both felt that the portion size was just right and the chicken was cooked to perfection as well as being 'super tasty'.


My husband said that the rib eye steak was cooked exactly how he likes it and that the peppercorn sauce was not too overpowering. The knife cut through the steak with ease and it was tasty and flavoursome. He had mentioned to a member of staff earlier in our visit that he had not tried ribs before, so was kindly provided with a delicious sample that he ate alongside his main meal.


After enjoying our starters and mains, it was simply impossible for me to squeeze in a dessert, however my husband and children still had a little space and therefore eagerly cast their eyes over the menu. My husband selected The American Classic Waffles with maple syrup and frozen custard ice cream, Emma chose Homemade Waffles with Strawberries and Cream, Ben opted for the Homemade Waffles with Maple Syrup and requested no ice cream, and Riley ordered a cookie minus the milk. Two of my children had asked for very slight variations to their desserts and both of these requests were accommodated with no fuss at all.

Just like the rest of our meals, the desserts came beautifully presented and my family were all delighted with their choices when they arrived. My husband had been intrigued by the Frozen Custard Ice Cream and was unsure how this would taste, but said it was amazing and very different to anything he had tried before. It was also something that he would definitely like to have again in the future.

Overall we had an exceptional dining experience, with friendly staff, delicious food and excellent service. The extensive menu ensured that all our tastes were catered for and the staff were also very knowledgeable about the dishes and the restaurant brand itself. If we had any questions these were answered without hesitation and despite being busy, the staff were always very attentive and didn't seem rushed. Our meals were cooked to perfection and the whole family loved the cinema room as this allowed my husband and I to be able to have a conversation and enjoy some time together, whilst the kids enjoyed nibbling on popcorn and watching a film in between their meals. All of my children very quickly declared it their new favourite restaurant and there is no doubt that we shall be returning to Hickory's Smokehouse again very soon. Would we recommend Hickory's Smokehouse for family dining? Absolutely!


As well as an extensive breakfast, lunch and main menu, Hickory's have now also introduced some Smokin' Deals which are available every Monday to Thursday from 5pm and the current line-up includes:

Monday: Fajita Margarita £10.99 - A sizzling skillet of peppers, onions and your choice of Cajun chicken or chargrilled Cajun vegetables with warm tortillas and a signature margarita.

Tuesday: Bottomless Ribs £18.99 - Unlimited servings of baby-back ribs glazed with a choice of barbecue or bourbon sauce, served with fries and slaw.

Wednesday: Steak & Shake £10.99 - Flame grilled prime 8oz rump steak with peppercorn sauce and fries, finished off with a milkshake of the day. (There will be two choices available every Wednesday).

Thursday: Barbecue Blowout £15.99 - A Hickory's Platter consisting of pulled pork, bbq beans, smoked sausage, chicken wings, Kansas rib fingers and southern fried chicken, served with fries and slaw.

If you would like to find out more about Hickory's Smokehouse then you can visit their website or social media pages on the following channels:

Website: www.hickorys.co.uk
Blog: hickorys.co.uk/blog/
Facebook: facebook.com/hickoryssouthport
Twitter: @hickorys_
Instagram: @hickoryssmokehouse


*Disclaimer - We were invited to Hickory's as guests and received our food and drinks complimentary for the purpose of writing a review. Opinions are my own unless otherwise stated and this review is an honest reflection of our visit. Menu items/smokin' deals correct at time of our visit but are subject to change.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Our Weekend Break at The Shibden Mill Inn, Yorkshire

I really don't like going away without the kids, so we generally tend not to, unless it's to attend a wedding or business event, and at the most we will only have a couple of nights away a year. However, back in August 2016, I won a competition through Inn Places to win a night away in a beautiful suite, with a three course dinner and breakfast at a lovely hotel in the Shibden Valley, near Halifax. After putting off booking for several months, we finally decided that a night away might be nice for my husbands birthday and so we booked our stay for last Saturday 4th March.

A couple of nights prior to our visit, I did begin to feel anxious about our stay and even thought about cancelling, but my husband convinced me that all would be fine, and so I finally began to relax about it and started to look forward to experiencing some luxury and fine food.

The journey from North Wales to Shibden, took us just over an hour and a half, and it was an easy journey there without too much traffic, on what was a bright and sunny day. The sat nav did send us down a very bumpy cobbled lane as we approached our destination, but we remembered to avoid this when we left the following day.

The location of our weekend break was at the Shibden Mill Inn, which dates back to the 17th century and was formerly a water mill. The inn has retained a lot of its original features and character and these have been cleverly incorporated into the individually designed guest rooms. The Inn is literally a stones throw away from Halifax, taking only a few minutes to reach the city centre, however on arrival you truly feel as though you are in the heart of the countryside and away from the hustle and bustle of city life. It offers both 5 star guest accommodation and a fantastic dining experience, with excellent quality food available from a choice of several different menus dependent on the day and time of your visit.

On arrival we found a parking space and admired the pretty stream that ran alongside it. We saw lots of couples out with their dogs enjoying the sunshine and it seemed a popular place for walkers. We entered into the reception area where we received a very warm and friendly welcome and the gentleman who checked us in, guided us to our room and gave us a quick tour of the inn on the way. He showed us where we could visit the bar, and explained where we would be dining in the evening and the following morning.

As he opened the door to our room, we were extremely impressed by both the size and the decor of the room. We were staying in the Bower Suite which had been tastefully decorated, with a great combination of both traditional and modern furnishings. The bathroom was of a modern appearance with a wonderfully large walk in shower which had both a fixed and handheld shower option. In the main room was a spectacular bath, which has given me serious bath envy and is something I would love to have in my own home.


The bed was huge and looked lovely with its display of pillows and soft furnishings, and in front of this was a large sofa, which was ideal for watching television or simply having a rest. There were tea and coffee making facilities, a large widescreen television on the wall, a dvd player, and a retro look digital radio which supplied lovely background music into the room. In addition to all of these modern conveniences, there was ample storage space in the form of both a wardrobe and two chest of drawers, and the doors located to the rear of the room, opened out onto a lovely outdoor patio area.




Shibden Mill Inn has also thought about the little finishing touches to the room as well, and there were plenty of little extras available that help to make a comfortable stay, such as toiletries and an ample selection of tea, coffee and biscuits. The added addition of some magazines, and information on the Inn, finished the room off nicely, and our first impressions were that the room was both comfortable and luxurious.



We made a reservation for a table for two for 6:30pm, and headed to the bar area for a drink mid afternoon. The bar area seemed very popular and was quite busy when we visited at around 4pm. The seating areas within the bar are very charming, and the wonderful open fires ensured a nice warm atmosphere. The drinks were not overpriced, and after purchasing two drinks and some nuts, we were surprised to have a several pounds change from a ten pound note. After a drink and a chat, we returned to our room to relax for a while before returning to the bar area for dinner.

We were both very much looking forward to our evening meal, and being a social media addict, I suggested that we both left our phones in the room so that we didn't get distracted. This would be the first time in a very long time, where I could enjoy my food hot, without having to help my youngest son Riley with his dinner, and so I couldn't wait for our dining experience.

On arrival in the restaurant, we confirmed our reservation details and we were seated on a table for two in the corner of the main bar area by the extensive display of awards that Shibden Mill Inn have received over the years, This was certainly a very impressive collection of trophies and plates from numerous awarding bodies and they must be very proud to be able to show off these accomplishments to their guests.  My only negative comment here, would be that it was so busy near where we were sat, that my chair got knocked into several times by passing guests, which did get a little frustrating after a while. Therefore if we were to eat here again, we would request a table away from the bar in a quieter location of the dining area.

This minor annoyance was soon forgotten however, once we viewed the menu, and saw the wonderful array of dishes that were on offer. The waiter came and took our drinks and food order promptly and politely, then he also provided me with some information on the choice of wines available. He was happy to answer any questions that we had regarding the dishes, and seemed very knowledgeable of the menu. Both our drinks and starters arrived very quickly, and we both tucked in to our starters of Chicken Liver Pate with potato bread, roasted chicken skin butter & rhubarb gel. This came beautiful presented with the bread in the form of a mini loaf that you could cut to your size requirements. The pate came in a lidded jar with the rhubarb gel set on the top. This was the perfect sized starter portion and was absolutely delicious.

Once our plates were collected there was a suitable waiting period between courses and so it was nice to be able to have a chat together over a drink whilst waiting for our mains. My husband had chosen the Waterford Farm 6oz Fillet that came accompanied by a meat and potato pie, grilled kidney, and onion gravy. He also purchased a side order of dripping fat chips. I opted for the Beer Battered Scottish Haddock, with dripping fat chips, mushy pea ketchup, tartar sauce, and lemon. I realise that this may sound like a boring option given the amazing selection of choice on offer, however I had read a review a few days prior that had recommended this dish, and being a huge fan of comfort food, I was very keen to try it out.

Neither of us were disappointed, and as our main courses arrived, both our eyes lit up with delight at both the portion quantity and the lovely display of food on offer. My husbands fillet was cooked to perfection and he stated that it was one of the nicest meals he had had in a very long time. My fish was also delicious, and the mushy pea ketchup accompaniment was a treat when combined with both the fish and the dripping fat chips.

I somehow managed to finish my huge portion, and so politely declined the option of dessert. My husband was not going to miss out on sampling what was available however and so he ordered the Sticky Toffee Pudding with stout and toffee sauce, and salted caramel ice cream. This was the perfect end to our three course meal, and we both thoroughly enjoyed the menu choices we had made. Sadly I have no pictures of the food due to not taking my phone to dinner.

The following morning, breakfast was just as delicious, with an ample selection of continental offerings, and the ability to order a cooked option too. We both opted for the full Yorkshire breakfast, which was both tasty and filling, and the sausage and bacon were cooked just how I like them. The waitress service was very friendly, and she frequently came back to the table to ask whether we would like any tea, coffee or toast.

Unfortunately, our little weekend break had to come to an end, but we thoroughly enjoyed our stay and the wonderful meal that we were provided with. As I mentioned previously this was a competition win, however had we paid for our stay it would have cost £262 (including drinks we had ordered at the bar) which I actually feel offers incredible value for money for the accommodation and standard of food we were provided with. Our accommodation was in the Bower Suite which is the most expensive of the rooms, however all the rooms are beautifully decorated and can be viewed on their website here: Shibden Mill Inn

If you are thinking of staying at The Shibden Mill Inn, then here are some tips:

* Check in is from 2pm, which is quite early compared to some other establishments. Therefore take advantage of this early check in time to make the most of your stay.
* If dining in the evening, request a table away from the main bar area.
* Check the website prior to visiting to see their latest dining offers and the menus that will be available during your stay.
* Visit the website and select "Latest Offers" to view some great deals on packaged stays, or stays for longer periods, to get the best value for money.

Overall, we had a fantastic stay, and definitely hope to return again in the future as a family.


Monday, 14 September 2015

They Shoot, They Score!


My children have so many activities that they love to do, but two of their most popular ones are football and eating! So after racking our brains of how to keep them entertained for yet another rainy summers day, it seemed the perfect decision to combine these activities together and visit the new Cafe Football restaurant in Manchester, located within Hotel Football, right next to the Old Trafford football stadium.

The restaurant itself, is nicely presented, with numerous television screens so that you can keep upto date with all the football. We particularly loved the wallpaper by the seats that was like a recreation of the premier league sticker book entries.



The seats were comfy, and it has a great view overlooking the Old Trafford Stadium. On arrival we were warmly welcomed and seated, and the children were provided with their own menus which doubled up as activity sheets. I love it when restaurants and cafes do this as my daughter always gets quite flustered when ordering so when you can write on them she likes to tick off what she will be ordering to help her. They also featured a colouring sheet on the reverse and a wordsearch puzzle to keep kids entertained whilst waiting for their meal. The childrens menu is nicely laid out with easy to read text and graphics, and features a lovely selection of meals.


The waiter came over straight away, and was really friendly and chatty. It is always nice and welcoming when staff make an effort to talk to the kids. He seemed really enthusiastic and came across as loving his job which again just adds to the nice friendly atmosphere there. He took our drinks orders whilst we took some time to look over the menu and came back promptly with what can only be described as "the nicest milkshakes ever" according to the kids. They came presented in a small milk bottle, and the kids loved the quirkiness of them!


The main menu itself, is themed around football match favourites and features a lovely selection of meals to suit all tastes. I have fond memories of going to matches with my dad as a child, and we would always get a steak & kidney pudding and chips smothered in gravy. To my delight this was offered on the menu as Scholesys meal and so this was exactly what I ordered. The boys in the family opted for the burgers, which came nicely presented in ceramic versions of burger trays and my daughter went for the fish finger sandwich which she said was delicious.

My only very minor criticisms would be more in relation to their website as opposed to the actual restaurant. Firstly, there doesn't seem to be clear instructions as to wear to park. We drove around a few times before asking one of the Manchester United stewards who kindly directed us to a car park located across the road behind the adjacent Premier Inn hotel. If you are local and know the area then it is probably really easy to find, however having travelled from North Wales and not knowing the area well, we did have to drive round a couple of times in heavy traffic to find this.

Secondly the kids menu isn't featured on the website. I always like to plan ahead and see what is available in a restaurant beforehand and make sure that there are meals that my children will like and enjoy, in addition to getting a good idea as to how much it will cost. However in saying this, I would like to add that the social media team on facebook and twitter, along with the staff at the hotel & restaurant are very responsive to any queries and will quickly answer any questions you may have, and I am sure they would be more than happy to email a copy over if asked.


Unfortunately, we didn't have the chance to have a look around the hotel, so I cannot comment much on that, however I believe it has a rooftop pitch which my son would absolutely love, and based on our experience in the restaurant alone we will definitely be returning the next time we manage to get tickets to a match. My children have already been asking when we can go back for a meal, so when we do return we will aim to make a weekend of it!

For further information and to download the menus, The Cafe Football website can be found here.... Cafe Football

Our Top Tip....We visited at 12 noon on a non match day and it was reasonably quiet, however I can imagine that it would be very full in the evenings, weekends and on match days and would therefore recommend booking in advance where possible to avoid any disappointment.

I hope that you have enjoyed our review and should you have any questions then please feel free to add a comment below and I will be happy to assist as best I can. I would also love to hear comments from others who have visited the restaurant or stayed at the hotel, so please feel free to share your experiences with us in the comments.

Disclaimer. All opinions are my own and this review has been written based upon my own experience. I have not received any monetary payment in exchange for this review and it was written of my own accord to share information regarding our visit. Information was correct at time of visiting in August 2015 but is subject to change and I would always recommend visiting the restaurants own website for the most up to date information.