Top Christmas Toys: Anki OVERDRIVE Starter Kit

About this time every year parents start trying to second guess what their kids will ask for this Christmas. There are usually a handful of must have toys and parents end up queuing for hours to get what their children really, really want for Christmas. Well, I can save you the bother, because if you’re 8+ and you like cars, then you’ll be wanting an Anki OVERDRIVE for Christmas. Order now to avoid disappointment etc.

Top Christmas Toys - Anki OVERDRIVE Starter Kit

I first saw and played with an Anki OVERDRIVE last year and I’ve been waiting for my little ray of sunshine to be old enough for us to get one ever since. I knew that he would love it and more importantly, I knew both his Dad and I would too. This half term we’ve been putting the Anki OVERDRIVE starter kit (£149.99 on Amazon) through its paces to see if it is the ultimate gift this Christmas (spoiler alert – it is!).

The Anki OVERDRIVE starter kit contains 2 Robotic Supercars; 6 curved track pieces; 4 straight track pieces; 2 riser pieces; 1 four-car charging system and 1 tire cleaner pack. The starter kit is suitable for ages 8+ but under supervision, our nearly 7 year old mastered it in minutes.

Top Christmas Toys - Anki OVERDRIVE Starter Kit

Before you start it’s best to download the free Anki OVERDRIVE app onto a Kindle, Apple or Android device and plug your cars in to charge up. The cars take about 8 minutes to fully charge up, which then gives you around 20 minutes of racing action.

The track is really simple to set up and change about when you want to change your track format. The pieces of track are called ‘FlexTracks’. They are bendy, flexible track pieces which can go over bumps (like where your carpet meets a rug) without having to build up the level underneath. They click together really easily and have magnetic connectors which keep them in place. The magnetic connectors mean they can be easily pulled apart and reconfigured if you want to re-lay your track.

The cars are have artificial intelligence and are essentially self-aware robots. You set up your track and they drive slowly around it, memorising every twist, turn and bump; ensuring that when they race they can do it almost faultlessly. There are two supercars in the starter pack, but you can buy more separately if you want to.

Top Christmas Toys - Anki OVERDRIVE Starter Kit

To race the cars you need to use your smartphone or tablet. The cars are easily controlled using the app. The more races you win and the better driver you are, the more features the app unlocks.

The Anki OVERDRIVE is a fantastic bit of kit. The starter kit contains everything you need to start racing and you can always add more track and cars if you want to extend the fun. It’s not cheap, but we’ve played with it fairly robustly (the dog spent some time jumping on the tracks chasing the cars around). I’m hopeful it’ll survive the rigours of family life in our house.

As far as I can tell there are no downsides to the Anki OVERDRIVE, apart from racing obsession. The cars do occasionally skitter off the track, but you just clean the tires and they’re good to go again.

My son loved it, especially building the track and finding different configurations. My husband loved it so much I’ve found him playing with it in the middle of the night. If you’re looking for some family fun this Christmas, something a bit more dynamic than a board game, then you can’t go far wrong with an Anki OVERDRIVE!

We were sent the Anki OVERDRIVE Starter Kit for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own. Post contains an affiliate link.

Celebrate #ThunderbirdsDay with a #FAB Costume

This year Thunderbirds Day is on 30th September 2017 and fans all over the world will be celebrating their favourite show. My 6 year old son is just getting into Thunderbirds and loves to dress up. What better way to enjoy Thunderbirds Day than to dress up as Scott Tracy!

Thunderbirds Celebrate #ThunderbirdsDay with a #FAB Costume

Thunderbirds have been part of the national psyche since 1965. I remember watching the original series when it was repeated in the 1980’s and being in turns slightly terrified of the puppets and transfixed by their adventures. It’s incredible that the series is still going strong after all these years.

As the series has grown and changed, so have the costumes. This Scott Tracy costume is a fully printed all in one suit made from 100% Polyester all in one suit with velcro fastening at the back. It comes with a pair of gauntlet forearm accessories which you just velcro on and a detachable printed satin sash.

Thunderbirds Celebrate #ThunderbirdsDay with a #FAB Costume

The satin sash features a sound chip which when pressed plays the “FIVE…FOUR…THREE…TWO…ONE…” blastoff sequence. The costume is machine washable, but you need to remember to remove the sound chip before you put it in the washing machine.

You can see the Thunderbirds sound chip in action in the short video below…

The sound chip is a brilliant addition, my son loved pressing it and as you can see in the video, he likes to strike a hero pose when the blast off noise is played.  The costume has a nicely printed front and a plain back. The detail is excellent and the accessories make this well worth the money.

This Scott Tracy costume is easy for my son to get on and off by himself. We ordered size 7-8 and I’d say it was true to size. My son is nearly 7 and fairly tall for his age. It fits him well and there’s still some room for him to grow. I like that the sash and gauntlets are detachable and he liked that too. This Scott Tracy Thunderbirds costume is a hit!

Pretend to Bee stock a good range of kids costumes, including Thunderbirds favourites like Scott Tracy, Virgil Tracy and Alan Tracy. The costumes are priced at £19.95, which I think is a about right for a costume of this quality with the sound chip included.

We were sent this costume for review purposes. All images & opinions are our own.

How to slash your shopping bill with Approved Food

I often write reviews and write ups of new products and services on my blog, things we’ve never tried before, but today I want to share with you my experiences with Approved Food, a company we have been shopping with for years.

Approved Food  are a discount online company selling products that are near or just past their best before date. Everything they sell is fit to eat and is really cheap, with most of their products being sold at around 70% less than you’d find them in the shops. I discovered Approved Food several years ago on the Money Saving Expert forums and I’ve been putting in regular orders ever since.

Slashing your shopping bill with Approved Food

When we shop at Approved Food we tend to use it to stock up on store cupboard ingredients and we tend to buy in bulk, because it’s often cheaper that way. Last week they gave me £30 credit to spend in return for this blog post, so I logged into my account and went on a spree. You can get an awful lot of food for £30 at Approved Food.

Like with any shop, it’s best to have a shopping list before you start. They probably won’t have everything you want in stock, but if you have an idea of what you need then that’s a good start. My store cupboard wish list was fairly standard. Pasta, tinned tomatoes, baked beans, some things for quick puddings, kitchen towel, soups, noodles, mayonnaise, sweet chilli sauce and so on. I always make sure I add a sweet treat to my basket, because I know once I’ve unpacked and everything put away I will deserve a little something with my cup of tea.

The Approved Food website is really easy to use, it’s just like any online shop really, and the food is all neatly categorised – baking, breakfast, pasta and noodles etc. Their newest products and biggest bargains are usually highlighted on their homepage. On the day I did my shop you could buy a 120g box of Maltesers for 1p, so I did.

Because Approved Food stock short dated food that brands and supermarkets won’t be able to sell in time, their stock varies from day to day. So if you’ve bought something one week and loved it, you might not be able to find it again on Approved Food for a little while. You’ll also find lots of your favourite brands and supermarket own brands in stock. You’ll see from my shopping list I’ve got Birds Custard, Branston Baked Beans, Hellmanns Mayonnaise, Knorr stock cubes, Napolina Pasta, Pepsi light, Seeds of Change organic pasta sauce, Whitworths figs and of course my bargain box of Maltesers.

Slashing your shopping bill with Approved Food

Approved Food often label supermarket own brands they stock as “Perfectly Good Golden Breadcrumbs” for example. When I unpacked the box I’ve discovered they are actually Sainsbury’s own brand breadcrumbs at half the price I paid for them in the shop. Fantastic.

Slashing your shopping bill with Approved Food

I spent £38.32 including delivery and if I’d paid full price for my products in a supermarket it would have cost me £93.67, saving me £55.35.

Delivery was £4.99. I often balk at delivery prices, but this is about what I’d pay to have a supermarket deliver my weekly shop. It is well packed, all the glass jars are wrapped in bubble-wrap and the big box contains several smaller boxes where the products are neatly packed and stacked. My Approved Food shop usually arrives in better condition than my weekly supermarket shop.

Slashing your shopping bill with Approved Food

If you want to stock up your store cupboard at a fraction of the cost of what you’d spend, even if you normally shop in a discount supermarket like Aldi, Approved Food is well worth a look. Stocking up my pantry on the cheap has got us through some tough financial times over the last seven years or so and as a result I’m very fond of Approved Food and recommend it (both on here and in real life) to anyone who likes saving money and eating well.

Visit the Approved Food website to see what bargains you can find.

I was given £30 credit to spend at Approved Food in return for this blog post. All images and opinions are my own. 

How to slash your shopping bill with Approved Food

Review: Gousto Recipe Kit Boxes

This week we have been trying out the Gousto recipe kit boxes. We were sent a voucher code which got us a two meal box for two people to review. We have had and paid for Gousto boxes in the past, so we knew what to expect.

When you order your Gousto box, you choose from the meals they have on offer that week. They have a broad range of recipes to choose from, all include nutritional information and have estimated cooking times. I’m a vegetarian and there were several interesting meal kits to choose from. I chose the Lentil Veggie Pie and the Egg Fried Vegetable Cashew Stir Fry.

You can choose 2 or 4 portion options and they will box up virtually everything you need and deliver it to you. The ingredients they don’t include tend to be standard store cupboard things like salt, pepper and cooking oil.

Review: Gousto Recipe Kit Boxes

My box arrived in great condition, it was packed with a cool pack and everything was fresh and vibrant. As I unpacked the box I checked everything off against the recipe card included. The recipe card for the stir fry had not been put in the box, so I tweeted Gousto and they sent me the link. Almost everything I needed for the lentil pie was there, save for the lettuce and the cheese. I’d not been able to check if everything for the stir fry was included. I discovered later that I was missing several key ingredients.

The contents of the box, when stored correctly are good for up to six days. The day after the box arrived I decided to cook the lentil pie. I followed the instructions and put the pie together. I did end up adding some extra seasonings to boost the flavour – specifically mushroom ketchup and some chilli sauce. The box was also missing the cheese and I’d been sent 300g of potatoes and not the 400g specified in the recipe, so I had to use additional spuds. I was a little disappointed at this stage.

Review: Gousto Recipe Kit Boxes

Thankfully the lentil pie was an absolute triumph. It was utterly, utterly delicious. The portion size was more than ample for two people and even stretched to feed my six year old son who thoroughly enjoyed it too. We will be making this again!

A few days later I wanted to throw a quick dinner together. I opted for the Egg Fried Vegetable Cashew Stir Fry. Using my iPad I looked at the recipe Gousto had sent me online and quickly realised I was missing both the rice and the honey. At this point I got a bit cross, but I had some basmati rice in the cupboard, but no honey which I had to substitute for agave syrup.

The recipe called for “fragrant basmati rice” and I wasn’t sure if the rice they should have sent would have included any flavourings or whatever, so I threw one of my own vegetable stock cubes into the rice as it cooked and hoped for the best. I followed the simple recipe online and produced a tasty stir fry. I very much enjoyed it but felt it needed more protein and next time I would have used two eggs instead of one. Or perhaps induced some tofu.

Review: Gousto Recipe Kit Boxes

It was a good stir fry and I enjoyed the crunchy cashews on the top. If I were to make it again I would change a few little things, more egg, some tofu, fractionally less chilli heat.

All in all I think I got a bit of a dud box. I was disappointed that so many key ingredients were missing. If I’d had the recipe card when I’d received the box I could have checked, but I’d trusted that everything I’d need, everything that was key to the recipe would be included and it wasn’t. I’d be pretty disappointed if I’d paid full price for the box and found so many things missing.

One other thing to note is that side dishes aren’t included. The lentil pie was just the pie. Any extra vegetables or accompaniments you might want on the side you will need to provide yourself.

We have had Gousto boxes in the past. Last year my husband really wanted to cook some nice interesting meals for us. He tried a Gousto box for about six weeks and we really enjoyed trying new things and being a bit more creative with our meals at home. This is why this time I think I got a dud box, we’ve always been happy before.

Review: Gousto Recipe Kit Boxes

A Gousto box costs from £27.49 with free delivery. The cheapest box is for two meals for two people. It is not an inexpensive way to eat. But it is the kind of thing I would order if I was in a cooking rut and needed some inspiration, or if I were going on a self catering holiday and wanted some nice meals for a few days. It’s not something we can justify on a weekly basis, for us a Gousto box would be a treat.

Despite my disappointment with my last Gousto box, I would say that we almost certainly will order them again in the future. Like I said, falling into a cooking rut is a regular thing. I often cook the same family meals over and over until we are all bored stiff of them. A Gousto box is a great way to liven up your meal times. But you do really need to double check that they’ve sent everything they should have.

Grab a £20 discount on each of your 1st and 2nd Gousto orders, on any sized box, meaning the 1st & 2nd boxes could cost £7.49 each. The discount code to use is TORNADO. You can find out which meals are available this week on the Gousto website. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I was sent a voucher code to purchase a Gousto box, all images and opinions are our own. We were not been compensated for this blog post.

Review: Chad Valley PlaySmart Alphabet & Numbers Learning Games

The small boy loves puzzles. They play them a lot at nursery in school and he had a few favourites which we’ve bought him for home. He loves matching pairs and anything with letters, numbers or counting. We were sent the Chad Valley PlaySmart Alphabet and Numbers Learning Game to review, which I thought would be right up his street.

The Chad Valley PlaySmart Alphabet and Numbers Learning Games is suitable for ages 3-6 years. The small boy is four and this was perfectly pitched for him. He’s just getting into numbers and letters and really gets excited when he recognises them correctly, we do a lot of play around this at home at the moment since he likes it so much.

Chad Valley PlaySmart Alphabet and Numbers Learning Games

The Chad Valley PlaySmart Alphabet and Numbers Learning Game comes in two parts, there is an Alphabet Lotto Game which comprises bingo style boards with images and letters on (H for Hat for example) and a number dominoes game, which is like traditional dominoes but with colourful cards depicting frogs and horses etc. The game also comes with a set of reward stickers, something which sets every four year old child’s heart a flutter!

Chad Valley PlaySmart Alphabet and Numbers Learning Games

We began by playing the alphabet lotto game. You can play it two ways, the match the image to the board way, which we did, or the slightly harder match the letter to the corresponding letter on the board. I think this is something which we’ll be doing with confidence in a few months, but for now we embraced the simple joy of just matching the letters to the right image on the lotto board, we also talked about what letters and pictures there were. It’s all good learning.

Growing up, I’d play dominoes for hours with my Grandma and I still love a game. The Chad Valley PlaySmart Alphabet and Numbers Learning Game includes a lovely set of board dominoes, with each piece having animals instead of dots, for example, four dogs and five owls. The small boy really loved this and enjoyed counting the numbers of animals and finding a matching half to put his domino against.

Chad Valley PlaySmart Alphabet and Numbers Learning Games

It was a really fun game and we enjoyed playing together. I’m less fussy about sticking to the actual rules of the game and prefer to just try and guide him in the right direction if possible, but as long as he’s learning and most importantly having fun then it’s all good.

You can play with up to four players, so it’s a lovely game for our little family. It’s really versatile too, you can stick to the rules, or make up your own as we tend to do. I know it’s a game that he will enjoy playing when his Grandad comes round for the afternoon, they like to sit together and do puzzles, just like I did with my Grandma.

We like to have puzzles like this around because he does really enjoy playing them, he’s a really active boy so it’s nice to sit down and do a focussed activity with him, even just for a few minutes. The Chad Valley PlaySmart Alphabet and Numbers Learning Game is great for:

  • Stimulating the brain
  • Increasing vocabulary
  • Encouraging creative story-making
  • Having fun with words and rhymes
  • Building confidence and concentration
  • Improving numeracy skills

The Chad Valley PlaySmart Alphabet and Numbers Learning Game costs £9.99 from Argos and we think it’s a versatile game that will last many years, being played with differently as he grows and develops.

Note: We were sent the Chad Valley PlaySmart Alphabet and Numbers Learning Game for review purposes, all images and opinions are our own.

Review: Good Night Anti Snoring Ring

Having shared a bed with my husband for 20 years it’s safe to say we’ve pretty much grown accustomed to each others nocturnal noises. Despite this we do occasionally have a night where one of us snores much, much, MUCH louder than usual, leading to threats of divorce, or beheading or both. I’ve often toyed with the idea getting an anti snoring ring, so I was pleased when we were sent one to try out.

Good Night Anti Snoring Ring

We were sent the Good Night Anti Snoring Ring which is an acupressure ring you wear on your little finger at night. It has an open top (see picture, I’m finding it impossible to describe) so you can adjust it to fit your finger properly. The inside of the ring has some lumps where the ring presses against your acupressure points, It also had the words “Good Night” inside it, which makes me smile a bit.

Good Night Anti Snoring Ring

I wasn’t sure how effective it would be, but I was keen to give it a go. We were sent the small size which regrettably was too small for hubs big meaty man hands, I was hoping it might stop him honking like a goose in his sleep. It fit very nicely on my delicate lady hands, so I tried it out for a few nights. All you do is put the ring on half an hour before bed so it can start stimulating the acupressure points and that’s it.

I was impressed. Hubs reported no snoring, though apparently it was hard to tell because he was asleep. But he tends to get up an hour or so before me and I wasn’t snoring then so I’m guessing it works. I also felt like I’d had a slightly deeper sleep, certainly I woke up each morning feeling more refreshed than usual. I’m not a great sleeper so I did notice not feeling like death warmed up each morning.

I would say that when we first received this I had a really horrible cold but thought I’d try it out anyway, it really didn’t work when I had a cold, but I was likely mouth breathing anyway.

The Good Night Anti Snoring Ring doesn’t work for everyone, it works for approximately 85% of people who try it, which isn’t bad odds really and worth trying if you’re sharing the bed with someone who makes the windows rattle. I’ll definitely carry on wearing it at night and look into getting a bigger sized one for hubs.

UPDATE 18/4/15
We are delighted to report that we managed to get a larger sized ring to fit my husband, he has worn it virtually ever night since, with the difference in his nocturnal honking and snoring being pretty significant. In fact he thought he’d been magically cured of snoring so left it off for a night and he was back to his normal honking, snorting, snorting self. I refuse to share a bed with him now if he’s not wearing it. So huzzah! I get my husband back. It works, it really works. It’s amazeballs!

The Good Night Anti Snoring Ring is fairly widely available and you can currently find it in Boots for £29.99 or Amazon for £21.79.

Note: I was sent the Good Night Anti Snoring Ring free of charge for review purposes, all images and opinions are my own.

Review: Testing a BBQ Burger Maker – The Results

I’m a veggie but the boys eat meat. Where possible I like to know where our meat comes from; make sure it’s been treated right and it’s good quality. We like to cook from scratch, and whilst it’s easy to buy ready made burgers for the barbeque, it’s also pretty darn easy to make them yourself. We were sent a burger maker to try out, but did it make great burgers?

We like to buy good quality steak mince from our local butcher; season it with salt and pepper, shape them into patties and barbecue or grill to perfection. The only part of this process which tends to fall down is my pattie shaping. I often end up with quite lumpy burgers, which then cook unevenly, which isn’t ideal.

I was sent this Kleeneze Burger Maker and Store to try. It’s a simple piece of kit, you just make up your burger mixture, pop it in the maker and press. It squashes and shapes it into a uniform burger shape and size ready for cooking. It’s really simple to use and easy to clean.

Burger maker

It comes with a plastic tube which you can stack your burgers in to keep them fresh ready for your barbecue. The burger marker is ideal to use to bulk make burgers. You can then freeze them in batches for use at a later date.

The Kleeneze burger maker costs only £6.99 and is worth getting if you like cooking and preparing food from scratch. If like me you’re not very good at hand shaping a burger, then this burger making kit is really useful.

I would add that it’s not just for making meat burgers. I’ve made veggie burgers in this burger maker too and it really helps form a firm veggie burger that won’t easily fall apart when it’s being cooked.

Disclaimer: I was sent a burger maker kit by Kleeneze for review purposes.

My Summer Holiday look with Joe Browns

We usually holiday in England and it can be pretty hard to pack for, as you never know what the weather is going to throw at you, in this case layers are usually your friend. For most of my English holiday I can get away with shorts (because legs dry quicker than trousers), but it’s good to have a few nice things to take with me, just on the off chance I get taken out somewhere posh.

I love hats and scarves. A scarf is a really practical item whatever the weather; shading you from the sun or helping to keep you cozy if it’s cold, and hats make me look adorable, so I’m never too far away from a hat. I’ve long been an admirer of the slightly hippy boho-chic style of clothes from Joe Browns so I was excited to be given the chance to style up my own summer outfit.

I chose this beautiful maxi dress, it’s a really happy, summery colour, hides a multitude of sins and can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. Perfect for packing as it folds up to virtually nothing. I wore it on a night out and was told by the small boy that I looked like a princess. Bless him.

Joe Browns

I loved this handsome, practical Santorini scarf and it contrasts with the dress, but I also know that it’ll be in year round use. It was always in my bag on holiday, ready to pull out to shade my shoulders, or wrap around me and the small boy if the clouds gathered and it got a bit chilly.

Joe Browns

Likewise the hat was awesome. It’s a funky but feminine trilby and I looked pretty cool in it, but the small boy was forever stealing it for himself. I have a thing about shading my face from the sun, it’s a bit moley so I’m always cautious, and I know that sun ages the skin. If it’s sunny I’m always in a hat and this cute one will go with pretty much any outfit. I love it.

Joe Browns

I like Joe Browns, you can always find something a bit different, something funky and practical. I’m not a girlie girl, but I like that I can find clothes that I love there, things that will make me stand out for the right reasons. So what do you think of my summer holiday look?

Disclaimer: Joe Browns were kind enough to send me the above items free of charge for review. This has not swayed my opinion on the items either way.

Charlie Banana Swim Diaper Review

Being a keen swimmer I am dead-set on the young ‘un following my lead. We try and take him swimming as often as we can. The small boy is 3, we potty trained him soon after Christmas, but (sorry son) he’s not quite got the hang of where poo goes and he’s not yet dry at night. We’re not rushing him, he’ll figure it out in his own sweet time with some gentle encouragement from us. It does mean that we still have to be careful about continence at the swimming baths.

Step forward Charlie Banana! For the past three years we’ve put standard disposable swim nappies on him and watched in horrified amusement as they’ve soaked up pints of pool water. We were after something more suitable and something less babyish for him.

Charlie Banana Swim Diaper Review

We liked the look of the Charlie Banana Swim diaper and training pant. They have a range of designs to choose from. They have a soft, waterproof outer layer and an organic cotton layer inside to absorb any accidents. The elastic around the waist and legs is good and strong, so nothing untoward can escape.

We ordered the x-large size as he’s tall for his age, and they were quite roomy, so they’ll last a while even for fast growing little ones. They were comfortable and not bulky to wear and swim in, and he thought he was pretty smart in them.

To give them a rigorous test we also took them on holiday with us to beach-test them. As you can see from the picture they made for rather fetching beachwear. The small boy gave them the full work out, meaning they endured a dip in the Atlantic, sat on a number of sandcastles and he had both kinds of accident in them (once again, sorry son).

Charlie Banana Swim Diaper Review

The Charlie Banana Swim Diaper can also be used as a daytime training pant and I can see why, though it might be a bit bulky underneath their clothing, but fine if they’re just ambling about the house on a hot day in just that and a t-shirt maybe.

I regret that we didn’t know about these swim pants sooner, they’re ideal for little ones learning to swim and would’ve saved us the faff with those horrible disposable nappies. They’re just £8.50 a pair, which I think is a really competitive price, especially considering the quality of the swim pants. I reckon they’re a very good buy.

Disclaimer: We were sent the Charlie Banana Swim Diaper shown in the pictures for review. This has not swayed my opinion of the product either way, my thoughts and opinions are always honest.

New Summer Menu at Gusto Cheadle Hulme

A little while ago I sampled the delights of Gusto Didsbury, the food was nothing short of delicious and a cracking evening was had by all. I was therefore excited to be invited to Gusto Cheadle to try some dishes from their new summer menu.

Being one of those vegetarian types I took along my trusty sidekick and eager carnivore chum Bob, who had the difficult task of eating all the meaty and fishy things. A tough job, but someone’s got to do it!

Gusto CheadleDue to a mix up we arrived two hours early, but nevertheless we were made to feel welcome. We shared a bottle of the Banchetto Rosso, a light, easy-drinking red and nibbled at a couple of new dishes from the menu. It was a not unpleasant way to while away an afternoon.

Gusto Cheadle

First up we tried the fried Pecorino cheese with tomato chutney. Two thick wedges of Percorino in a fine polenta crust, served with a good dollop of lovely tomato chutney and some dressed leaves. It was a hearty starter, Bob felt it a was a little dry, but I enjoyed it and thought it made a nice alternative to halloumi.

We shared a small portion of the hand made artichoke tortellini with sautéed mushrooms with parsley and butter. This dish divided us, we both loved the tortellini and enjoyed the mushrooms, but I felt the sauce was too salty and overpowering, whereas Bob thought it was just “well seasoned”.

Gusto CheadleThankfully before we devoured the entire menu by ourselves, the others arrived and we could begin the tasting proper. We began by having a selection of starters wafted in front of us. We tried the Bresaola with home pickled mushrooms and rocket; Home cured salmon tartare and quails egg; Crisp baby gem and Speck ham with tonnato sauce; Cannellini bean dip with cucumber and baby leaf salad with fennel crispbread and Bruschetta with avocado and tomato.

All were popular; I particularly loved the Bruschetta with avocado which was simple but beautiful. Good ingredients treated with respect. Bob was very fond of the salmon tartare. I thought the cannellini dip was lovely, very light very summery, like hummus but light on the garlic.

Gusto CheadleMoving on to the new main courses on offer at Gusto we sampled the Saffron risotto with a white crab salad; Home cured salmon, shaved fennel, orange,  radish and radicchio with a crème fraiche dressing; Baked fillet of seabass with roasted pepperonata, drizzled with lemon purée; and Roast lamb rump on a courgette, aubergine and tomato galette with a salsa verde dressing.

Gusto CheadleThere wasn’t a lot of veggie types like me to sample, but I managed to gobble down some of the excellent saffron risotto. Bob loved the seabass, it being perfectly cooked and the roasted pepperonata offering a welcome zingy hit to the dish. His personal favourite was the lamb rump, which came out perfectly pink and as soft as butter.

Next up, as if we had room (but we somehow managed) were the desserts. One of my favourite things about Gusto is their puddings are by no means a menu afterthought. They’ve created some new summery puds, we tried the Gusto Bellini – a peach and Prosecco jelly with a Prosecco foam. This was a light and fruity end to the meal, the Prosecco jelly being an excellent palate cleanser and the fruit helping to fool you into thinking it was an almost healthy option.

My personal favourite was the Italian Mess. A Gusto twist on the famous Eton Mess. A light berry meringue, filled with vanilla chantilly cream, raspberry coulis and topped with summer berries. It looked and tasted like perfection on a plate. My only grumble was I dislike the leafy stalks being left on my strawberries, but otherwise this was as perfect a pudding as I’m likely to find.

Gusto Cheadle

There were some real gems on the new Gusto menu, some I’m literally salivating at the thought of trying again, and try again I will.

Disclaimer: We were invited guests of Gusto Cheadle and we were not asked to pay for our food or drink. These are my honest opinions of what we ate on the day.