Food Review: SoLita, Northern Quarter, Manchester

solita nachos
Now I know that the Solita hype is nothing new. People have been raving about this incredible burger joint for a number of years in and around Manchester, however, I’m sure no ones going to mind a bit of burger talk on the blog today. I headed down to Solita with some of the guys from Yelp for a social last week (you can read more about the Yelp community here) and it was actually my second visit to the place, as I desperately needed to improve my opinion from my first visit.

I massively made an error upon my first visit to Solita. I did that ‘thing’ where we take a mates recommendation advice, in which this particular piece of advice was shockingly bad. So my friend had talked me into trying the Bacon Fat Popcorn starter, which I’m afraid to say was pretty terrible. If you have a bad starter, it kind of ruins the main meal in my opinion, and this particular starter left the worst fatty taste in my mouth. I can’t really describe it… but I do remember it ruining the taste of my burger as all I could taste was bacon fat. Bleurgh.

However, I avoided the bad recommendation this time and went for the Blue Corn Nachos topped with a three cheese blend, jalapenos, guacamole, sour cream and fresh salsa. Much much much better. I could have topped the nachos with smoked brisket chilli, shredded chicken or pulled pork, but as I wasn’t really sharing them with anyone, I decided not to be too greedy. A few members of the group ordered really tempting starters, and were a little more adventurous than me, such as opting for cheeseburger spring rolls and halloumi bites with dips, which id possibly go for next time…

So onto the main. Well I do love a good burger, but I always seem to prefer a chicken or veggie burger that little bit more, so I typically opted for the buttermilk fried chicken burger. It comes with a rich chicken gravy sauce for pouring onto the chicken, or for dipping. I did a bit of both, and it was delicious! Just the way a dirty fried chicken burger should taste. Juicy, cripsy and full of flavour. I opted to upgrade my regular fries to sweet potato fries too, which came crinkle cut and again were lovely. Again, I could have been more adventurous – they do loaded pizza fries and brisket chilli fries, which I shall leave to your imagination.

I couldn’t fault the burger at all- possibly a good 3000 calories on the plate but I enjoyed every calorie, so who is complaining?

I walk past the Northern Quarter branch numerous times during the week and t’s always pretty busy, no matter which day or evening you chose to go. I can totally see why- it has a fairly good atmosphere with an extensive menu, and theprices reflect those of it’s rivals Almost Famous and Luck Lust Liquor Burn, and I’d say the standard of food is equally as good. In fact, I like this place a little bit more than Almost Famous as I’m pretty sure they don’t offer a chicken burger? Correct me if I’m wrong though … I’ll check their menu later

A small, bustling restaurant in the heart of the Northern Quarter which I’d recommend for those with a passion for a good burger, and a big appetite.

solita manchester
solita buttermilk fried chicken burger
Whilst I’m discussing food on the blog today, I wanted to sign off with a quick mention regarding a place I visited in London the other week. I had two hours to kill and needed three simple things: green tea, WiFi, and a healthy soup. I’ve been eating out at ‘dirty burger joints’ and pizza places way too much lately, so I simple craved 120 minutes of laptop indulgence whilst sipping a detoxing tea and getting a portion of vegetables down me. I did a little bit of research online, and found Attendant- an underground cafe and coffee shop not too far around from the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street.

As it is under the road (so literally underground) it is super tiny, but size situation aside, this place is a very cool option to check out for lunch. With walls adorned with graffiti and quirky images, it’s a laid back, unique little place, ideal for catching up with friends, having a coffee or a light lunch.

I went for the roasted vegetable soup and it was delicious – so thick and tasty, packed with all sorts of vegetables. A very warming choice on a freezing cold, rainy day in Jan. It came with slices of buckwheat toast which made it more of a filling meal, which I decided to dip in my soup. The green tea I ordered was a nice loose leaf tea, which came in it’s own rather cute teapot.

Overall, Attendant boasted friendly staff, a calming atmosphere and the best R&B mix on in the background. But that’s personal preference I guess! They offer so many tempting homemade cakes and sweet treats, plus a couple of other lunch options I spotted on the menu too such as avocado on rye toast and superfood salads. A decent spot to visit in London when you don’t want to go to a chain place…

attendant london
attendant
attendant london

Lifestyle: 10 Reasons To Love Your Life

what emma did

 

So Valentines Day is fast approaching, and no doubt there are a few of you out there that use this romance-indulgent day to feel crappy about yourselves. Analysing failed relationships, useless dates and a lack of good luck is quite common around the 14th February, so I wanted to use this excuse to put a post together to share to you girls why you should really use this occasion to love your life. Don’t be moping around; Valentines Day can be a celebration of loving your family, friends and yourself as well as partners. I’ve recently launched a range of super girly dresses over at my boutique, and as I was going through the photoshoots this morning, I felt a sense of happiness about how lucky us girls are to be able to dress up and take control of our lives – we can wear pretty clothes, we can embrace our inner femininity and in general, we can feel damn good about ourselves by doing the littlest of things.

However, too many of you out there don’t feel empowered by the little girly things you can do, so here are 10 reasons to love your life on the approach to Valentines Day. Why not share with a girlfriend whose feeling fairly lousy this February?

whatemmadid
what emma did

Dress 1 small
1. Dress yourself up
Nothing perks us up more than getting our hands on beautiful new clothes – especially pretty dresses. Finding an excuse to doll yourself up and pop on a cute little dress is priceless, and us girls are expected to love doing this. So follow the expectations! Take yourself shopping, treat yourself to some stylish new outfits, and plan a night out to some classy bars with your favourite friends. There’s no point in saving something for ‘that special occasion’, as you’ll often find it never arrives. So whip out that fab new frock and show off your shape, girl! (if you need some inspiration, I’ll shamelessly plug my latest dress collection that’s available on ASOS Marketplace!)

2. Make an amazing meal for one
What could be more enjoyable about cooking to your own tastes and preferences, and not having to give two hoots about anyone elses choices? Clear out the Friday before Valentines Day, and dedicate the evening to cooking your own favourite meal, personalising it to just how you like it. And obviously, don’t forget to bake yummiest slice of cake for dessert and enjoy your ideal meal with a sweet treat to finish. I find so much pleasure in cooking up a three course for myself or for a close friend, and making it exactly to my requirements. Plus, this Valentines Day, no meal is complete without a bottle of vino! I opt for Rioja every time, and this Valentines Day I’ll be buying in a bottle of my favourite ‘Bodegas Las Orcas’ Riojca from Roberson Wine. I think I’ll be cooking up an Italian this year…

3. Believe you are beautiful
Whether you think so right now or not, you are beautiful, and it’s time to start believing it. Sometimes we get so busy in our lives that we forget to do things that make ourselves feel good- getting our hair and nails done, putting on fake tan, going for a facial, plucking our eyesbrows, or just making an effort with make-up. Being beautiful isn’t all about our looks, but it certainly helps us feel that little more confident when we make the effort to pamper ourselves, to enhance our natural beauty. Make time to be your best self, and let your gorgeous personality shine through with confidence, and believe you are truly beautiful.

4. Indulge in your own favourites
Plan some ‘me’ time this weekend and indulge in your favourite box set series, wearing your favourite pyjamas, drinking your favourite hot drink, using your favourite crockery. Think about your favourite everything and use it all – remember what I said about saving things for special occasions? Today is a special occasion. You’ll never get this day again, so be selfish and spoil yourself with your personal favourites.

5. Learn something new
So six weeks into the new year, and you’ve already slipped out of your motivational mind frame. Well here is another excuse to get back into it! No matter how old you are, you can always learn something new. Try learning a new language that may come in handy in your career,  or take up learning an instrument on the weekends. The happiness you feel accomplishing something new will be another great reason to love your life. Also try to focus on the skills and abilities you have that not many of your friends have, and let these shine. Are you an arty drawer, a talented singer, or just a real speedy runner on the treadmill? Whatever your strengths, play on them.

6. Appreciate your health
If you are 100% healthy as you are reading this, then congrats, you have another huge reason to love your life. Your health can play havoc at any time (depressing but true) so appreciate the way your body is right now. There are so many people who suffer from all sorts of problems that you may not be aware of, or conditions that affect their daily lives. Embrace your current health situation, and be grateful.

7. Have life events to look forward to
There’s nothing worse than wallowing in self pity. If you’re a single lady this upcoming Valentines Day, just sit back and dream about how many amazing life events you possibly have in front of you. You are still to meet Mr Right, you are still destined to have that perfect wedding day, and you are free to be as ‘free’ as you like, so to speak. And, it’s not just love related events you have to look forward to. Who knows what exciting things your life holds in front of you associated to careers, friends, and adventures?

8. Create power playlists
One thing I love creating every now and again is little playlists on my iTunes that are completely tailored to myself, packed with ‘feel good’ songs. If you regularly go to the gym, go for walks, take on activities, commute to work, or just enjoy some alone time in general, make sure you have a powerful playlist to empower you on a daily basis. Fill it with songs that really lift your mood and inspire you.

9. Plan solo trips
There’s a big wide world out there, and you don’t have to be in a relationship or settled with a partner to go an explore it. It’s your life, and you have the freedom to explore the countries you want to see. Pick up some brochures and spend an evening making wish lists of places to visit. Then, when you are ready, make plans to book them. The world is enormous – don’t waste your time holding yourself back from seeing the places you really want to see. If you are worried about travelling solo, then look into solo travelling packages, or accommodation which really encourages lone travellers.

10. Have a clear out
So January was the month for making new ‘life’ resolutions. But instead of sitting there picking out new things to try, and thinking of old habits to break, did any of you try the simple task of just de-cluttering your life and having a huge clear out? Let your wardrobe reflect the calm, worry free life you want to create, and invest time over the weekend to throw out the old, and add a few new finds! Sometimes, old clothes reflect bad memories, so think logically when clearing out. Perhaps that stunning evening dress you wore to various events with your ex really does need to go on eBay now?

If you need a little help deciding what types of items you want to keep, and what ‘wardrobe personality’ you actually have yourself, take the quiz below put together by Bedroom Storage Maker. It comes with handy tips for how you can shake up your wardrobe style for 2016 too!

 

 

 

Fashion: WIN a Spring Playsuit on Instagram

what emma did
what emma did
what emma did

February has arrived, so in the world of What Emma Did, it means one thing – Spring fashion isn’t too far away! If you look closely around the website, you’ll notice I have a Boutique page across the top bar. This is where I display my collection of pretty dresses at affordable prices, all ready for my lovely blog readers to shop.

The great news is that from next week, I have loads of cute new dresses and playsuits perfect for the Spring/Summer season launching. Not only will you be able to shop online here on the blog, you can also shop over at my ASOS Marketplace boutique too. So to celebrate the launch, I’m giving away this brand new multicoloured floral playsuit, which is an essential poolside piece so the upcoming holiday season. Win this before it launches on sale!

All you have to do is join me on Instagram – if you don’t already!  That’s the place where I feature a lot of fashion and beauty competitions, sneak previews of new dresses, behind the scenes photos, and all sorts of lifestyle related goodness. Make sure you follow me over there and you’ll automatically be entered into the competition.

Open to UK residents only, ends at midnight on Feb 29th 2016. Good luck guys…

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Lifestyle: A Girly Valentines Day

whatemmadid
Valentines day is just one sweet week away, so I’ve been hitting the internet for some Valentines Day inspired ‘date night’ outfits. There will no doubt be tonnes of you out there who worry about what to wear for this romantic weekend, but I find it fairly simple because it’s just a really good excuse to get all dressed up. I feel it’s the perfect time to go as girly and pretty as possible – whether you are off for a night out with your single gal pals, a candlelit meal with your other half, or heading away for the weekend. And it might sound cliche… but it’s also an ideal chance to wear a bit of red and pink!

As most of my readers know, I’m a sucker for a dark colour palette. My wardrobe is bulging with black dresses, with the occasional white, grey and navy delight poking through for when I decide to change it up a little. But even I have decided to experiment with some feminine shades of red this year. Take a look at my two Valentines Day dress options from online retailer Want That Trend.

want that trend
want that trend
whatemmadid
what emma did
want that trend
want that trend
The first one is the beautifully embellished Lux Lia Red Bodycon Dress, £39.95. It is absolutely stunning, and I feel a million dollars wearing this. The intricate detailing on the little short sleeves are so beautiful, and the beading genuinely feels quite heavy to wear (in a positive way – like it’s been made with real care and quality in mind) plus this dress looks so much more premium than I thought it would for the price. Fantastic value!

The second dress is a sweet little wrap detail skater dress in a deep wine colour, also from Want That Trend. This one is much more simple than the other, yet still makes a bold statement, and it’s one I know I’ll wear for many occasions other than the good old V-Day. I’m also pretty impressed with how much the wine colour suits me – I need more of this shade in my life!

what emma did

Anyway, fashion aside, there’s lots more to Valentines Day than just fancy frocks and looking cute. If you are a singe pringle this year and feeling a little down in the dumps about Valentines Day approaching, then read on. I’ve rounded up a few pointers to close up this post to hopefully let you leave this site feeling a little more upbeat. Take note of these three girl power ideas, and have a fun filled time next weekend, instead of looking at that letter box with sad puppy eyes (who needs a card anyway?)…

1. Enjoy being single
Come on single ladies – the world is at your feet. You have more options out there now than ever before. Dating is literally at your finger tips, with online sites and dating apps taking the single world by storm. Some of my girlfriends have the best social lives I know, because they are always heading to some fancy restaurant or trendy bar on some type of hot date. What’s the worst that can happen? I used to go on some super fun dates, which would make lovely stories to share with my friends. Then on the other hand, I’d go on some horrendous ones, but they make hilarious stories, so it’s a win-win game! I’ve heard a lot of people raving about Urban Social as the best online dating site, so maybe give that a go as a starter. Make it something new to try for 2016…

2. Plan an escape
If all your positivity has officially gone out of the window, then you could use Valentines Day as an excuse to go on a mini break in the UK. Why not round-up your fellow singletons and book a lovely little hotel in a city where there is plenty to do to keep busy? Or, depending on your preference, somewhere where there is nothing to do, except relax, eat nice food, indulge in some Prosecco and have the ultimate chill. Wow, I really want to do this myself now! There is nothing out there saying that romantic breaks are just for couples, so plan your own romantic getaway with the girls. One of my favourite hotel sites to check out is The Hotels Partnership website – they have a dedicated romantic breaks page where you’ll be sure to find some luxury inspiration over there.

3. Feel the love
So Valentines Day has the stigma around it that it has to be based on sharing the love between a girl and ‘their guy’. Heck, this is old fashioned. Why not switch it up a bit? If Valentines Day is a day designed for saying ‘I Love You’ and treating your other half, then there’s nothing stopping the singletons expressing how much they love other people.  Visit your parents and tell them how much they mean to you, make a homemade card to your bestie with a cute personalised poem, or make yourself something creative like a photo gallery pin board of you with all your favourite people. Who needs a man, huh?

Food: A Week in Food …

 

espresso martini
I seem to be talking a lot about food lately, but I have figured it’s one of my very favourite topics, so it’s OK to bore the pants off you all with endless foodie talk and photos, right? I’m almost very tempted to say that food and eating out might actually be my favourite past time, so I’ve got to watch I don’t turn this blog into a shrine of my social life. The thing with living in Manchester is that I am surrounded by amazing food options every bloomin’ day, and last week saw me clock up a fair few visits to some of Manchester’s eateries.

So where did I eat, and where do I recommend? Take a read below (and listen to your bellies growl…)

turtle bay manchester
turtle bay starter
1. Turtle Bay, Oxford Road
So I came here on a whim with work colleagues last week, and I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t through choice – we were just really struggling to find a place to seat 16 of us wandering around on a Friday afternoon. Anyway, what a great last minute option it turned out to be! I had roasted duck wraps to start, which came split into three portions and were crispy, hot and tasty. They were slightly on the large side for a starter, so well worth the money, and also as to why I opted to share these with a friend. I also kicked off with an Espresso Martini like I usually do, and it was a decent one if I do say so myself, coming from a regular Espresso Martini drinker…

The main meal however had to be my highlight. After taking around 15 minutes to decide what to chose because the menu is so good (they have a section called ‘one pots’ and I couldn’t pick which Caribbean themed dish I wanted as they all sounded fabulous). In the end I went for the ‘Rastafari Run Down’ one pot – a combination of butter beans, sweetcorn, sweet potatoes, coconut milk and all sorts of veggies with brown rice and fried dumplings. It was creamy, spicy and full of flavour, and I felt like I was getting a real mix of veg. Truly delicious, couldn’t fault it at all. I’d love to go back and try the other one pots!

The incredible one pots aside, they have amazing burger options and jerk pit BBQ choices too. As for the fried dumplings; I can’t say I have had these before but I would definitely recommend them after trying them here. Possibly not the healthiest, but they have all the taste of regular fluffy dumplings with a crispy coating. YUM.

tariff and dale
2. Tariff & Dale, Northern Quarter
I came here for the first time after hearing so many people rave about this new-ish Northern Quarter venue. I popped in for food and a drink with an old friend who has just moved back to Manchester after 4 years, and I chose Tariff & Dale to try show him how much ‘cooler’ and hugely improved the NQ has become. I was slightly disappointed at first, because for some reason I assumed from the exterior it would be a little classier than its neighbouring Whiskey Jar and El Capo bars. However, it was just as dark and moody inside as the others. In terms of atmosphere, it boasts a laid back and casual ambiance – ideal for after work drinks and food from my observation.

Never the less, it’s still a nice place, just very dimly lit and typical ‘shabby chic’ NQ like. Cocktails looked impressive from the menu, and I was more than happy with the food. I went for the hake and potatoes, and my friend went for the steak, and both meals were lovely. We dined downstairs and although I felt a little like I was in a cave, it was generally a decent dining area. I’d say that the staff service was fairly slow, and it took ages to get the bill to say it wasn’t that busy inside, which is a tad annoying when you need to dart off. But we took advantage of the 50% offer for January, which made the bill mega cheap! Definitely have no room to complain…

pita pit manchester

3. Pita Pit
OK so this isn’t exactly a restaurant, but Pita Pit is an eat-in or take-out healthy pita place which serves up a mean… well…pita bread! I walk past here all the time and have never stopped in before, until last week after a spinning class and I wanted to try a nice, healthy salad. I never eat salads – I always need that shining piece of carbohydrate staring back at me. You know, the sandwich option, or some form of potato or noodles, something ‘stodgy’ like that. Anyway, I went for the most filling salad, which was the falafel version, with an array of salad and light mayo. It was so delicious and really filled me up, therefore I’ve made a mental note to visit here more often for lunch.

4. Love Pizza
Now for the best bit – pizza time! I spent last Friday night having the girls round at my place, for an evening playing catch up. As we all know, a girls night in isn’t complete without an abundance of pizzas and wine, so this was totally on the food itinery. As I work in the center of Manchester, I headed to Love Pizza straight from finishing, which is a dedicated pizza delivery and take-out place offering affordable hand-crafted pizzas. Based on Hulme Street, they are literally a stones throw away from the city.

My visit was painless from the offset, as I managed to park up my car outside for free on the main street as it was after 6pm. Always a bonus in Manchester on a Friday night! You can’t really miss Love Pizza due to their bold red store front and colourful interior, and the super friendly pizza guys greeted me as soon as I entered with friendly smiles and a warm welcome. So lets get one thing straight, I love pizza. In fact, I adore it, it’s like my number one weakness. Any toppings will do, but I’m a sucker for a BBQ base, chicken, and vegetable options if I have to pick three favourites.  So I went for a bit of a mix for us all to share: The BBQ chicken (with jalapeno sauce to spice it up), The Veggie, Hula Hula Hawaiian and  The Bombay Surprise (a spicy chicken tandoori version, with red onion, spinach, mozzarella & fresh green chillis – and boy was this a hot one!). Each pizza had a gentle kick of spice and flavour, making these pizzas have a much more unique taste than the other pizza places out there.

Along with the large 15″ pizzas, we also tried a 7″ ‘The Zeus’ – a concoction of Tomato Sauce, Feta, Red Onion, Green Olives, Chopped Tomato, Green Pepper, Oregano & Basil. This size is a lovely starter idea to have alongside the side orders of chicken wings and wedges, which we piled ourselves up with too of course. I could tell that Love Pizza had put every effort into preparing a selection of wings to suit everyone’s tastes – they come in Piri Piri, BBQ and Sweet Chilli flavours and were so ridiculously tasty! I would go as far as to say the BBQ wings were tastier than those at a few specialised Wing places in Manchester, but I won’t name and shame…

The best bit about Love Pizza is how affordable the offerings are, for the great quality you receive. They recently have an offer on for x2 12″ pizzas for £10, and x2 15″ for £16, which in my opinion is great for a Manchester Pizza place. Us girls were all super happy – as were our bellies- and it really made our Friday night. A five star rating for me!

love pizza
love pizza
love pizza
love pizza
love pizza
spicy wedges
love pizza
love pizza
love pizza
love pizza
love pizza
love pizza
5. Hog Roast Manchester
Another foodie option in Manchester I came across last week was Hog Roast Manchester – a hog roast company that provides this traditional spinning meat idea. I’m basically planning my 30th birthday in a few months time and have been looking at caterers in the area, and was pleasantly surprised when I came across this company. I mean, who doesn’t love a good old hog roast? Definitely an option for me to consider, but also one I wanted to share in case it helps anyone else out who may be party planning for a variety of guests…