Sky high dining with a view - A review of Hutong at The Shard

It's no secret that I love oriental food - combine that with delicious cocktails and the most amazing views of London and it'll come as no surprise that Hutong at The Shard has now become one of my new favourite restaurants:

Having heard so many good things about Hutong at The Shard I was really excited to experience the food and atmosphere for myself. Upon arriving we were seated right next to the window giving us the most beautiful views of The City and St Paul's.

Water was soon poured and we were left to peruse the extensive food and drink menu, all whilst admiring the beautiful views and feeling grateful that we had the day off to enjoy London in the sunshine. 

As we were celebrating my birthday we decided to start with a round of cocktails. Unfortunately I didn't write down the names but both were absolutely delicious, refreshing and sweet but still with a good kick of alcohol and I loved the additional touch of the mini ice cream cone on my drink.

As it was our first time at Hutong we weren't sure what to have so we decided to try the Experince lunch menu which turned out to be a really good introduction to the restaurant and the Northern Chinese style of food from head chef Fei Wang.

To start there are a selection of dumplings elegantly presented and served traditional style in a wooden steamer. We were both really impressed with these - it's easy to go wrong with dim sum but these were cooked to perfection with just enough bite to the skin and filled with the most delicious meat and vegetables inside. The Xo sauce crystal dumplings and rose champagne shrimp dumplings were particular highlights which really stood out.

Before main course there's a palette cleanser of classic poached monkfish in lamb broth. This was light and refreshing but at the same time packed with flavour and umami richness. I was so pleased to see it served traditional style with a light stock base and it really reminded me of my mum's home cooking - the ultimate compliment to the restaurant.

Time for another round of cocktails and again you could tell a lot of care and attention had gone into the choice of ingredients and they both turned out to the the perfect accompaniment to our main course.

Mains were a delicious mix of sauteed cuttlefish with gong vegetable, enoki mushroom and sichuan chilli, crispy beef tenderloin, bell peppers, dried garlic and black bean and wok fried pak choi with garlic sauce, served with a generous portion of chef's picked vegetable fried rice. Like with the previous courses we were so impressed with the complex layers of flavour. Each dish was so authentic and with a mixture of crispy meat, soft fish and light vegetables it was nicely balanced too.

Despite the luxurious location Hutong at The Shard had a really nice relaxed vibe, and with dark wooden decor and hanging lanterns it wasn't hard to imagine we were somewhere far more exotic than London. Staff are attentive but happy to leave you to talk too and we were able to enjoy a leisurely long lunch without feeling rushed or in the way.

Finally to end there's a mango pudding with fruit salsa. I'd describe this as similar to a set custard or panna cotta - creamy and smooth with a delicious burst of mango flavour running throughout. After the intense flavours of the main course this was the perfect dessert and a lovely end to the meal. 

Overall we were both so impressed with Hutong at The Shard. There's a great selection of cocktails to choose from, the food is authentic and delicious and you really can't go wrong with the beautiful view. A great restaurant to visit for any special occasion and we'll no doubt be back to try more of the menu before too long! 

Have you ever been to Hutong at The Shard? What are your favourite restaurants in London?

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Yoga and brunch at Dalloway Terrace - a gentle and mindful start to the day

Having really gotten into fitness and healthy eating last year I was determined to keep it up in 2018. So when the opportunity came up for a yoga class and brunch at the beautiful Dalloway Terrace it seemed like the perfect chance to reset and get back on track after an indulgent Christmas break:

The Yoga Class with Lululemon
The yoga class started bright and early at 7am and our particular session was run by Kate Lister - a singer turned yoga teacher who was so friendly and great at motivating the class despite our early start. Yoga mats are provided by Lululemon and our session was a good mix of breathing exercises, flexibility and specific body postures.

I'd say it was suitable for both beginners and intermediates but if you're more advanced then you may prefer something more challenging. Now I must admit I'm not the most flexible and am usually more of a weights and cardio girl but despite this I still enjoyed the yoga class and came out feeling more relaxed and inspired.

Dalloway Terrace
Located in the heart of Bloomsbury Dalloway Terrace is one of the most beautiful venues in London and having seen it so many times on other blogs and Instagram I couldn't wait to see terrace for myself. It's decorated with the most beautiful hanging plants and greenery and as soon as I walked in I felt like I was in the most enchanting secret garden. 

There's elegant marble decor, overhead heaters and cosy blankets to keep warm with during the winter. And with food and drinks served throughout the day it's the perfect place to escape from the outside world. I know I definitely want to go back to try the afternoon tea and for some after work cocktails.

Dalloway Terrace brunch
Straight after the yoga class we were led up to the beautiful Dalloway Terrace which was all set up for brunch and as it was so early we had the whole terrace to ourselves too which was lovely. To start with there's a tea or coffee plus your choice of a juice, followed by one of 4 freshly prepared brunch bowls. 

I've included a photo of the menu above so you can see the choices available but I'd highly recommend the London Greens Juice and Rainbow Acai Bowl. With a mix of seasonal berries, banana and assorted nuts it tasted as good as it looked and along with the cup of steaming hot tea certainly helped to set me up for the day. 

Brunch is a relaxed affair - something to bear in mind if you need to run off to work after. There were only about 8 or so of us in the class and most people we happy to stay and chat after so it turned out to be a relaxing and gentle start to the day.

Overall both me and my friend really enjoyed our yoga class and brunch at Dalloway Terrace and it's a lovely way to reset and be inspired for the new year. The class runs every Thursday morning till the end of January and you can find more information and purchase tickets here

Have you ever visited Dalloway Terrace? What are you favourite exercise classes and brunch locations?

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Five all time favourites - my top beauty discoveries of 2017

A new year new beauty refresh and having had a de-clutter and clear out of my beauty stash recently there are 5 products which have really stood out as favourites from 2017:
These days I'm all about make up products which perform and are quick and easy to apply and this ticks both of those boxes. It's a twist up eyeshadow pen and comes in the most gorgeous shimmery golden bronze. It's so pigmented and creamy to apply - you can blend it out for a softer look but once dry it'll stay in place and won't budge till you remove it at the end of the day. A great one for mornings when you're in a rush or to keep in your handbag for those last minute after work dinner/drinks. 

As someone which short straight eyelashes mascara is always a struggle but No 7 stay perfect long lasting volume is a new favourite. The thin brush manages to catch every eyelash, coating them with dark black pigment and subtly lengthens and volumises for a more sultry wide eyed look. What I really like about this mascara though is that it's a 'tubing' formula so it never smudges when I'm out and about but is so easy and mess free to remove with water at the end of the day.  
This was a game changer for my skincare routine. The key ingredient is glycolyic acid which gently exfoliates and brightens the skin, leaving a more radiant flawless complexion. Since discovering this I've stopped using manual exfoliators completely and now only use this about 2-3 times a week. My skin tone looks more even, any scarring disappears quicker and my skin just generally looks more bright and youthful.

4. Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream
Like the Alpha H liquid gold this as become somewhat of a cult product and I think it's an absolute essential if you suffer from dry winter skin. A thick balm similar to that of Vaseline (but with much better ingredients) it warms up on contact with body heat and just melts into the skin. It takes a little while to sink in so I find it's best used at night on the face although it also makes for a great lip balm and cuticle softener too. A really versatile product and a great staple for any skincare obsessive.

Along with the Burberry eye colour contour this was another wedding discovery from when I was considering doing my own hair and make up last year. If you're someone who loves the look of natural curls but struggles to do them with a traditional curler then you need Babyliss curl secret in your life. Similar in shape to a pair of straighteners it has a curling mechanism at the end, which takes in the hair and curls it to a soft wave or defined curl depending on your temperature and time setting (there are 3 of each and it beeps at the end to let you know when the hair is ready for release).

I must admit it was a little scary at first seeing my hair being 'swallowed up' by the curler but as long as you brush through first and do thin sections at a time there's very little chance of it getting tangled and even if it does you can just release the curlers to free the hair. It takes about 30-45 minutes to do my medium-fine long hair and I like that Babyliss curl secret automatically alternates the direction too so that the overall look is much more natural.
Have you tried any of these 5 products? What were your favourite beauty discoveries of 2017?

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Looking back on 2017 - my personal highlights and goals for the new year

Happy New Year everyone! I can't quite believe that that another year is over and now here we are the first few days of 2018. I've always thought of the new year as a chance for a fresh start, rather like turning the chapter of a book and as is customary this time of year I thought it would be nice to look back on the last 12 months and to make some plans for the new year:

Health and fitness
This was probably my biggest achievement last year. I've always had a love hate relationship with exercise but in a bid to tone up for the wedding I signed up with a PT and it's been such a game changer. We do a combination of weights and cardio which is always such a killer but very effective and for the first time ever I'm actually enjoying going to the gym 3-4 times a week and seeing the results.

I must admit I've been feeling somewhat lost since leaving medicine but in 2017 I was proud to have been offered a promotion, pushed myself to do a live TV interview, had articles published and completed several difficult projects at work.

Towards the end of the year I felt like I had a clearer understanding of how I wanted my career to progress and started taking steps towards my dream job something which I plan to build upon in 2018. 

Cambridge staycation
Around February we enjoyed a much needed staycation in Cambridge. It was a perfect long weekend filled with romantic walks, delicious food and lots of exploring in one of England's most historic cities. Having graduated a few years ago it felt strange to be in such a university town but there was such a sense of hope and ambition and I certainly left feeling more refreshed and inspired!

We had 2 weddings in 2017. A really beautiful reception for a friend then just weeks later our very own at Kew Gardens! It was a day filled with so much love and laughter. We were blessed with the most perfect heart felt ceremony and we were lucky that so many of our friends from all over the world came to celebrate with us.

Mini moon in Italy
Straight after the wedding we hopped onto a plane for a week of sunshine and pasta in Italy. We loved the beautiful scenery and relaxation in Sorrento and it was so nice to enjoy the all delicious food and world famous sights in Rome.

Admittedly 2017 wasn't my best year blogging but despite this I've been lucky enough to be offered some amazing opportunities and continued to make great friends within the community. Highlights include multiple beauty launches, reviewing a steak restaurant in St Paul's, a festive cooking class and most surreal of all attending an intimate gig with the boy band Blue to celebrate nPower going green in December.

It's funny because 2017 didn't feel like my best year but looking back it's made me realise that it was surprisingly eventful and I've achieved more than I originally thought.

The biggest highlight was definitely getting married but I guess with the wedding and all the planning being such a big part of our lives in 2017 everything else ended up taking a bit of a back seat. And so despite some positives I don't feel like I've progressed as much as I would have liked to with regards to my career and blogging.

As a result as I've spend much of December figuring out my plans for 2018 and I'm looking forward to starting the year on a high and hopefully achieving all these goals:

- Build upon the steps I've already taken to find and land my ideal job
- Be more organised and productive with blogging, create more lifestyle content and hopefully work with some of my dream brands
- Continue with the gym and personal training to maintain my health and fitness
- Travel more. So far on the bucket list is SE Asia for our honeymoon, LA to visit a friend and hopefully a short weekend break somewhere in Europe too
- De-clutter and invest in some new wardrobe pieces
- And finally to purchase and move into a new flat/house together

What were your 2017 highlights? Do you have any goals/resolutions for the new year?

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Life lately - six November highlights
We got married - a quick catch and life update 
2016 - the highlights 
Life - December and January round up
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