Saturday, 10 September 2011

Date Night - Dinner and Cocktails

Last night, Liam and I went out on a "date". We're not a couple that normally does "date night". Indeed, with the children, we rarely get to go out together in the evenings. However, my Dad was visiting and had agreed to babysit, good times! :)

I wanted to be able to enjoy the evening without feeling bloated, so I decided to keep my food during the day fairly light. However, I know if I skimp on meals I'll end up snacking loads, so the aim was to eat decent meals to keep me going without needing to snack. It kind of worked. I started the day with a decent breakfast - pumpkin porridge topped with blueberries, coconut sugar and desiccated coconut:

This tasted great, and kept me going until about 1pm when I had lunch. A slightly random mix, but delicious nonetheless - red and white quinoa with bulgar wheat (a mix I picked up in Waitrose the other day) with a roasted pepper, peas and sesame smoked tofu, topped with a little Thai peanut sauce  that I found in Lidl...

This was really tasty but, despite being "healthy", there was too much of it. I felt uncomfortably bloated for an hour or so after this - I really must learn that I don't always need to clear my plate!

The munchies did attack late afternoon though - I had a few spoonfuls of Dark Chocolate Dreams...

and then I had a cinnamon soy latte in Costa while Izzy had her ballet lesson (no point going home between dropping her off and picking her up as the lesson is only 30 minutes).

This was at 5pm and I didn't eat again until our dinner reservation at 8pm - I wanted to make sure I was hungry :)

Dad arrived once Toby was in bed (he reluctantly agreed to put Izzy to bed but not Toby, haha, bad decision - Izzy didn't end up going to sleep til about 9pm!!), took a quick photo of us...

and then we headed into Exeter. For our meal, we went to Strada. I'd already looked at the menu online and decided what I thought I wanted - Liam thinks this is strange, but it makes me look forward to the meal even more! We both stuck to tap water during the meal, and shared a starter of mushroom risotto balls with a melting mozzarella centre, breaded and fried...

Mmm, these were delicious. They fell apart a bit too easily, but the flavour was great. Liam loved them too, although he kept forgetting what it was that he was eating!!

For my main course, I decided to have a selection of sides as I fancied those more than any of the pizza, pasta etc dishes. The waitress was really accommodating and arranged for them all to be presented on the same plate (luckily, as the table was rather small!). I chose courgette fries, butternut squash with sage butter and pine nuts, and broccoli with chilli butter...

I loved all of this course! The courgette fries were delicious - much better than my homemade attempt - they were quite clearly fried, as you would expect in a restaurant, rather than baked as mine were - and the coating was fantastic. The butternut squash was my favourite part of the meal - cooked to perfection and with a really subtle flavour from the sage butter, allowing the natural sweetness of the squash to shine through. The broccoli was cooked well, but the chilli was a bit too much for me - my lips were stinging!

Luckily, Liam and I both had room for dessert after our mains. (He had salmon with lentils and green beans for his main course - which he said was nice, but I think he missed having stodgy carbs!) Liam stuck to his usual favourite and had a chocolate fondant...

I chose the figs cooked in red wine and cinnamon with marscapone vanilla cream...

This was nice, but didn't quite live up to my expectations. I'd been expecting fresh figs (not sure why, as that would've probably been too mushy) so these were a bit chewy in comparison. The flavour was fantastic though, and the marscapone worked really well. I managed to finish it anyway, so a successful meal in my book!! :)

After our meal, Liam and I walked over to a cocktail bar - Coolings. I was saying on the way over that I felt great - not bloated, not too full, just pleasantly satisfied. I thinking having sides for my main course worked really well, as I often find the pasta or pizza dishes are too large, yet I still end up eating all of it. Plus this way I got to try out several different things which helped with my indecisiveness!

I did begin to feel a bit bloated after my first drink though - I drank it rather quickly I think! Liam had his beloved mojito, and I have an 'Exotic Passion' - vodka, passion fruit liqueur, lemon juice and cranberry juice...

This was really tasty - so fruity and way too easy to drink!

For my second drink, I had a French Martini - I love this glass with the twisty stem!

Delicious, but quite strong! I used to work in a cocktail bar and drink all the cocktails on the menu (not all at once...usually) with no problem - the children are making me get old too quickly!!

After the second round, we decided to head home. It was really nice to get out the house for a few hours and enjoy some time together. We got home to find that Izzy had been up to mischief though - apparently dad had put her to bed at 7.45pm, but then at 8.30pm he heard noises so went to investigate. She was sitting on the kitchen step, with the jar of coconut oil and a knife in her hand! I think he got there just in time, before she tried to eat any though - on quizzing her this morning, it turns out she thought she had the Dark Chocolate Dreams in her hand (both have blue lids) so she'd have been in for an unpleasant surprise!!

Well, that was my evening. I hope everyone else is having a good weekend. We've had a relaxed day today - the children had naps 10am-1.30pm - they were obviously both very tired!! Then this afternoon, Liam took Izzy swimming and I took Toby for a walk in the local park. Toby hates swimming at the moment so I am going to start taking him alone whilst Izzy's at school to get him used to it - at the moment it's frustrating taking them both together as Toby only last 5 minutes in the pool, if that. Hopefully he'll get more used to the water soon!

When you go out to a restaurant, do you look at the menu in advance or do you wait until you get there to decide what you want to have? I always like to have a look at the menu in advance, but I don't always decide exactly what I'll eat. With the Strada menu though, those sides really stood out to me, and a good decision it was! :)

Before I go, don't forget to check out Rachel's giveaway. She is walking a half marathon overnight through London on 1st October, to raise money for Cancer Research UK, and has organised a fantastic International giveaway to help raise more money. Such a great idea. Good luck Rachel! :)


  1. I love looking at menus before I go out. Initially it was because I wanted to make "healthy" choices. Now I'm not too bothered about that because I want to eat what I want rather than what I think I should have, but like you said I like to look forward to what I'm going to have. Your meal looks lovely :-)

  2. I love to look at the menus before I go, to check there is something I like. and it helps me decide what to eat for the rest of the day too. Those figs look lovely.

  3. Yey, I'm glad you both agree - I will tell Liam that I'm not the only one who likes looking at menus in advance!! :-D

  4. I like to look in advance and I loooove getting a few starters or sides as my main hehe I often prefer them to the mains!

  5. Because there are so many things I can't eat I always check menus in advance, and sometimes call places to ensure that they can adjust or omit certain ingredients.

    I think more people actually look up menus than don't to be honest, particularly women!



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