The Italian Kitchen Glasgow

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Last week I was invited, along with four other bloggers, to try out the new menu at The Italian Kitchen in Glasgow’s Merchant City.

The restaurant has been part of Merchant City’s landscape for over ten years now but has recently undergone a complete refurbishment. The interiors are welcoming and inviting with warm lighting, and the menu is extensive, with something to suit everyone.  All food served in The Italian Kitchen is freshly made daily, using quality ingredients, and this really reflects in the dishes I tried.

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Image courtesy of www.italian-kitchen.co.uk

We were served an amazing array of breads, including freshly baked bread with oils & olives, and three different foccacias with rosemary & garlic, chilli & garlic, and with cherry tomatoes, basil & garlic.

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An array of Italian breads

I love a foccacia bread, and the highlight of this selection for me was most definitely the Foccacia Al Pomodoro with the freshest, sweetest little cherry tomatoes.

For starter I ordered the Crostino Con Funghi E Dolcelatte.

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Crostino Con Funghi E Dolcelatte

This was a stunning starter, with delicious garlicky Portobello mushrooms dripping in melted dolcelatte and crunchy pine nuts. The flavours were beautiful, and the contrasting textures worked perfectly to make this  a 5 star dish!

For main course I ordered the Bucatini All’Amatriciana Con Sardon E Crema – a hollow spaghetti with pancetta, spicy sardo sausage, and onions, in a creamy tomato sauce.

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Bucatini All’Amatriciana Con Sardo E Crema

I had never tried Bucatini before, but really loved this as an interesting alternative to spaghetti. The sauce was well seasoned and not too creamy, the Sardo sausage was deliciously herby, and the crispy pancetta on top really finished this dish perfectly.

After a healthy serving of bread, and a generous starter and main course, I questioned if I would have room for dessert, however I find it hard to pass on Tiramisu, so I didn’t…

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Tiramisu

The Tiramisu was beautifully presented and did not disappoint. Beautifully light and fluffy mascarpone mousse, complemented by chocolate and light sponge soaked in coffee – this was a winning combination of flavours executed really well.

As well as being served a delicious meal we were also given a demonstration of how to make our own ravioli by chef Raphael. I have to say he made it look incredibly easy, but until I get myself a pasta maker and get to grips with it, I will most definitely be returning to The Italian Kitchen for their fresh ravioli… We were given some to take home with us, which I thoroughly enjoyed the following evening after a late shift at work. The spinach and ricotta filling was light and herby, and the pasta was perfect!

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Chef Raphael demonstrating  how to make the perfect ravioli

Thankyou to Marco and his team for entertaining us and serving us a delicious meal. I look forward to my next visit very soon…
If you find yourself in Glasgow’s Merchant City and are looking for somewhere inviting to eat a fresh, tasty Italian meal then please check out The Italian Kitchen and let me know what you think…

Indian Tapas Meets Craft Beer At Crossing The Rubicon, Glasgow

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Crossing The Rubicon opened on Glasgow’s Great Western Road at the end of 2016, and in my mind is the most exciting addition to the West End’s dining scene in some time. It is from the same family as Drygate Brewing Co, so if you love craft beer and exciting beers from around the world this place is definitely worth a visit.
As for the food they specialise in curries, serving small plates, and they have a really impressive selection of vegetarian and vegan dishes to choose from.

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Last week I was lucky enough to attend a bloggers evening at Crossing The Rubicon where we were treated to a fabulous showcase of some of the restaurant’s popular dishes… #bloggingtherubicon

I left this event with the biggest of smiles on my face following a feast of beautiful, delicious, fresh, and flavour-packed dishes. I thought I would share with you here some of my favourite dishes from the evening…

To begin, we munched and crunched through some poppadoms and pickles. There was a delicious little pickle of shredded apple with chilli and lime that was bursting with contrasting flavours and textures, and was the perfect accompaniment to the poppadoms.

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Poppadoms & Pickles

Next up we had a selection of vegetarian pakora and some black pudding and crispy chicken pakora. The crispy chicken pakora was the star of this show – delicious velvety chicken encased in a crispy coating of batter. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

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Black Pudding Pakora & Crispy Chicken Pakora

We were then served some hot buttered chapati with an array of vegetarian and vegan dishes. The Chana Chat was a beautiful cold salad of chickpeas with lemon and herbs, bursting with fresh and zingy flavours.

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Hot Buttered Chapati & Chana Chat

The Dhal Makani was a rich and buttery lentil dish which was warm and comforting, like a hug in a bowl (am currently Googling Dhal Makani recipes for tonight’s dinner alongside writing this post!). I neglected to get a good photo of this dish, so just get down there and order yourself a pot!

I really loved the Crispy Tofu Mutter. The light crispy tofu was perfectly complimented by a deep, rich, pea and cumin curry.

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Crispy Tofu Mutter

This Roast Carrot and Sweet Potato Korma was perhaps my favourite dish of the night! Rich, sweet and creamy – what’s not to love?! But really… korma has the potential to be sickly sweet, yet this dish is executed perfectly and was a firm favourite amongst my fellow food-loving bloggers!

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Roast Carrot & Sweet Potato Korma

From the meat dishes on the menu we tried the Tandoori Butter Chicken and a Venison Madras. The Tandoori Butter Chicken was perfection… the tomato and butter masala was full of flavour, rich and buttery, and most definitely worth a return visit.

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Tandoori Butter Chicken

Just when we though we couldn’t fit any more food in to our very well looked after tummies, a Vegan Chocolate Pot arrived at the table. As I plunged my spoon in to this little pot of chocolate I thought this is going to be too dense, too rich, too much… oh how I was wrong! Yes, it was dense in texture, however it melted on the tongue with heavenly bursts of orange and subtle little explosions of chilli. This was the perfect ending to a night full of flavour-packed dishes.

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Vegan Chocolate Pot

I thoroughly enjoyed this huge selection of dishes we were lucky enough to try, and I have already picked out some dishes from the menu that I will be returning to try, such as the Ox Cheek Bhuna and the Lamb Achari Saag. I should also mention how impressed I was with the selection of vegan and vegetarian dishes on the menu. This is the perfect spot to take your vegetarian and vegan friends to.

I really hope that you pay Crossing The Rubicon a visit if you are local to Glasgow. The food was packed full of flavour, the staff were lovely, and the beer selection was huge!

Huge Thanks to Crossing The Rubicon for inviting us along to try your dishes. You’re a lovely, talented bunch, and I wish you all the success! See you soon…

 

Celebrate Burns Night With The Calvin Haggis Burger At Byron Burgers

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Byron is getting into the spirit of Burn’s Night in true Byron style – with a delicious burger special, available exclusively across all Scottish Byron restaurants from Monday January 23 to Sunday January 29 2017.
The Calvin Haggis features a 6oz hamburger patty, haggis, bacon and onion relish, a classic tattie scone, American cheese, dry cure bacon, fried egg and blanched white onions, all finished off with a dollop of Byron sauce and sandwiched between a soft glazed bun.

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The Calvin Haggis Burger – wow!!!!!

Last weekend I was invited along to Glasgow Byron, on West George Street, to sample the mighty Calvin Haggis burger…

This is definitely not a burger for the faint of heart (or for those with small appetites)!
I was a little concerned that the haggis may be a little overpowering, however it works really well alongside all the other components of this amazing burger. The contrast of the crispy bacon against the soft egg and smooth haggis, meaty beef patty, and soft tattie scone make this a really exciting combination of flavours and textures.

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Hungry Squirrel enjoying the Calvin Haggis Burger

I am a little sad that this burger is only available for one week, and am hoping that it will prove popular and maybe, just maybe, they might keep it as a permanent fixture in the Scottish branches of Byron?

If the Calvin Haggis doesn’t float your boat, there are plenty of other tasty dishes to choose from at Byron, and a great selection of sides and starters to tantalise your taste buds. We were very spoiled during our visit to Byron, and alongside the Calvin Haggis burger we feasted on nachos, the Cluckosaurus Rex burger (fried chicken breast, streaky bacon, onion ring, cheese, jalapeños, pickles, onion, BBQ sauce, and mayonnaise), bacon cheese fries, courgette fries, blue cheese dip, chipotle mayonnaise, and coleslaw. Phew!

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Top left – nachos
Top right – Cluckosaurus Rex
Bottom left – courgette fries, bacon cheese fries, blue cheese dip, chipotle mayo
Bottom right – coleslaw

Of all the sides we ordered I most enjoyed the coleslaw. It was crunchy and light, and really fresh, and the perfect accompaniment for the meaty burgers.

The star of the show without doubt was the Calvin Haggis burger. Huge Congrats to Hayley of Glasgow Byron for coming up with this innovative burger  – a perfect burger to celebrate Scotland and Burns Night.

If you fancy wrapping your jaws around this Braveheart of burgers then make sure to pay a visit to your nearest Scottish branch (Glasgow, Edinburgh, or Aberdeen) of Byron this week (January 23 – January 29).

A Night At The Fairmont St Andrews

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If you are a regular reader of the blog you will have seen that in September I spent two days in Fife experiencing the very best of Fife’s larder. I was very kindly offered a room in the Fairmont St Andrews for my overnight stay.

Situated on a 520 acre estate, Fairmont St Andrews is a luxury resort offering peaceful surroundings and panoramic cliff top views of St Andrews and the North Sea.

My first visit to the Fairmont St Andrews was back in 2007 for a friend’s hen do, where we had a lovely lunch in the clubhouse and got to experience the spa and treatment rooms. The Fairmont St Andrews really is the perfect setting for celebrating, relaxing, and pampering.
Since my last visit, the hotel has undergone extensive refurbishment, bringing it up to date, and ensuring it maintains its place as one of Scotland’s leading luxury hotels.

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The lobby of the Fairmont St Andrews

The designers have been really successful in reflecting the surroundings of the hotel in their interior design. The Atrium area features a spectacular lighting sculpture by renowned artist, George Singer, named Zephyr, which emulates shoals of fish in St Andrews Bay and the blowing reeds on the cliff tops.

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Zephyr by George Singer

The colour palette in the public areas (which is remarkably similar to my own living room!) is warm, inviting and relaxing. I particularly loved the library and only wish I had a longer stay so I could have really enjoyed the facilities at the hotel.

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The library

I was lucky enough to spend the night in one of the hotel’s suites. The suite was spacious with a separate sitting area, dining table, a desk to work at, the comfiest of beds, and a luxurious bathroom. Here is a room tour…

Due to a busy itinerary for the Feast Of Fife Bloggers Weekend I had very little time in my room, but I had a wonderful night’s sleep in beautiful surroundings, and an excellent breakfast the next morning.

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Left – obligatory hotel robe selfie
Middle – bed of dreams
Right – a perfect breakfast to start your day

I can only dream of a child-free break with Mr Hungry Squirrels here in order to further enjoy the luxurious setting that the Fairmont St Andrews provides. The suite would also be perfect for a stay with the Little Squirrels. However, the thought of some adult-only time is a little more appealing. There is so much to take in at the Fairmont St Andrews, from two championship golf courses, to the sumptuous Signature Spa, to an array of eating and drinking facilities, not to mention the Savoy Afternoon Tea.

With Christmas looming, I can highly recommend gift vouchers for the Fairmont St Andrews as the perfect present for your loved ones in need of some rest, relaxation, and pampering!

Many Thanks to the Fairmont St Andrews for having me for the night. I hope to see you again soon…

Feast Of Fife – The Newport Restaurant by Jamie Scott

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After a fabulous first day for the Feast Of Fife Bloggers Event at Eden Mansion, there was just enough time to check in to our accommodation for the night, and get ready for an evening at The Newport Restaurant in beautiful Newport-On-Tay.

Jamie Scott, Masterchef: The Professionals Winner 2014, and his wife Kelly opened the restaurant in early 2016. The menu is heavily influenced by its surroundings and by the seasons. Have a look at their current menu… Just reading the menu makes me smile and makes my mouth water.

Our evening kicked off with a cookery demonstration and talk from Jamie himself. Jamie’s excitement and enthusiasm for food is clear to see and I love his approach to using what is on his doorstep in Fife.

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Left – Jamie Scott, Masterchef The Professionals Winner 2014
Middle – a crate of produce foraged from the Eden Estuary
Right – vinegars, pickles and preserves

We were shown upstairs for dinner, and were all in awe of the stunning views over the River Tay. We had a perfect evening for capturing some shots on our cameras with a most beautiful sky.

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Next we took our seats, in readiness for the five course tasting menu that was put on for us. We began with a selection of snacks, including a simply divine Anster Cheese Gougere – the lightest, fluffiest savoury choux you could dream of with a heavenly molten middle filling of fondu-like  Anster cheese. I love pork belly, and I love bau, so the Puddledub Pork Bau was definitely a hit with me. The Buckwheat, Flowers & Curds was beautifully light, with contrasting textures, and beautiful colours from the edible flowers.

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Left – Anster Cheese Gougere
Middle – Puddledub Pork Bau
Right – Buckwheat, Flowers & Curds

Our next course was an Autumnal Salad, described as a selection of the seasons offerings. A beautiful plate with contrasting textures, and layers of flavours… This was a huge hit with many of the guests, with many of us commenting that this was one of our favourite dishes from the night. The fact that Jamie can make a salad so exciting speaks volumes about his skill as a chef.

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Amazing Autumnal Salad

For the fish course, Pittenweem Mackerel was served with Pittormie Tomatoes & Basil. I do not eat fish or seafood, however I was served a lovely Greek style tomato salad.

Before the meat course arrived we devoured a beautiful treacle and stout bread with whipped creme fraiche butter. The flavour of this malty bread was warm and the whipped butter was deliciously light.

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Treacle & Stout Bread with a Creme Fraiche Whipped Butter

Next we were presented with a beautiful plate of Starr farm beef with mixed onions. I especially loved the short rib, with its intensely beefy flavour, and the little crispy onion rings were just perfect – light and crunchy against the melt in your mouth beef. My only grumble with this dish is I would have loved more sauce/gravy (but then again I am the girl who always asks for more sauce/gravy)!

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Starr Farm Beef – Smoked Shoulder, Short Rib & Allums

Finally, for dessert we were served Newport Plums with popcorn, liquorice and white chocolate. Unfortunately for me I am not a fan of liquorice, so found the liquorice a little overpowering, but I thoroughly enjoyed the plums and the panacotta. Once again the presentation was perfect.

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Newport Plums, Popcorn, Licquorice & White Chocolate

This really was a fantastic evening at The Newport, especially sharing it with a group of like-minded food-lovers. Jamie and Kelly and their team have created something very special in Newport-Upon-Tay and I highly recommend a visit to their beautiful restaurant if you are visiting Fife.

Thankyou so much to Jamie & Kelly and to Welcome To Fife for hosting a fabulous evening with amazing food.

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Cheers!

 

 

Sunday Roast at The Trading House Glasgow

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On Sunday, Team Squirrel was invited to try out Sunday Roast at The Trading House.
Situated between Buchanan Street and George Square, The Trading House’s location couldn’t be better. This was our first visit to The Trading House, and definitely not our last.

Housed in the old Clydesdale Bank building on St Vincent Street, The Trading House has a lot of space to fill, and it does it perfectly. We were all impressed with the attention to detail in the interior design, and loved the warm, cosy feel that the interiors give to such a large space. For the Little Squirrels there was plenty of interesting features for them to feast their eyes on, and they both loved exploring the nooks and crannys of this interesting space, not to mention every toddlers dream staircase!

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Top – stunning bar at The Trading House
Bottom – Little Squirrels exploring

As for the food, we had been invited to try out the Sunday Roast from the menu, so we ordered Roast Chicken for myself, a Roast Chicken and a Roast Beef for the Little Squirrels, and Mr Hungry Squirrel had Roast Halloumi.

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The Kids Roast Dinners! 

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Sunday Roast Joy!

All of the roast dinners came with roast carrots, roast parsnips, cabbage, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and cauliflower cheese, oh, and stuffing with the roast chicken. Seriously, all the trimmings!!!

Mr Hungry Squirrel is vegetarian, and absolutely loved his roast Halloumi with all the trimmings. Both kids made a good attempt at their dinners but portion size was a little too generous for the little ones. I thoroughly enjoyed my roast chicken dinner, loved all the trimmings, especially the big pillowy Yorkshire pudding. My only wish was for crisper, fluffier, roast potatoes.

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Littlest Squirrel loved the Yorkshire pudding

The highlight of our Sunday Roast for the Little Squirrels was, of course, dessert. On the menu, the kids Sunday Roast explains that they can choose two scoops of ice cream. The best surprise was when our server delivered these little trays of sand (crushed biscuits), with beach bucket and spade for the ice cream. Such a lovely presentation that brought big smiles to all our faces!

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Brilliant presentation of the kids ice cream

We all had an excellent Sunday Roast at The Trading House, and we highly recommend this as the perfect city centre location to satisfy your Sunday Roast cravings. Eating out with toddlers can be challenging but it was clear to see the Little Squirrels thoroughly enjoyed their Sunday lunch. Happy kids = happy parents!

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The Private Dining Room at The Trading House

The Trading House is a beautiful venue. We both loved the private dining room and ale tasting room which you can book out for celebrating a special occasion or for a business meeting. We both have big birthdays coming up in a few years time, and would love to celebrate with friends and family here.

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The Ale Tasting Room

Many Thanks to The Trading House for having us for Sunday Roast. Mr Hungry Squirrel and I really loved this venue, loved the food, and would also love to go back for some kid-free time, to sample what the bar has to offer.

Thaikhun – New Kids Menu For Little Adventurers

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The Little Squirrels and I were recently invited to try out the new children’s menu at our local branch of Thaikhun in Silverburn, Glasgow.

THAIKHUN is an exciting new casual dining experience from the owners of Chaophraya Thai Restaurant group, with 8 branches nationwide in Aberdeen, Glasgow, Newcastle, Manchester, Nottingham, Guildford, Cambridge and Oxford.

This was our first visit to Thaikhun, and as big fans of SE Asian cuisine we were excited to try it out.
I really like the interior design of Thaikhun in Silverburn. It is filled with Thai treasures and memorabilia, with lots for little eyes to feast their eyes on. There is ample seating and the seating is well laid out, with plenty of booths, which is great for families so you don’t feel like your kids are disturbing other diners too much.

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Thaikhun Siverburn

I am a big believer in exposing my kids to as many different cuisines as possible, as growing up my parents brought me and my brothers to a wide range of restaurants regularly, which I feel has really cultivated my love for food and for eating out, and my love of different cuisines.
The new children’s menu at Thaikhun is all about enticing children to become more adventurous with their food.

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Kids menu for your little adventurers

For £5.95 your little adventurers get some vegetable sticks to start, a main course, a drink, and an ice lolly for dessert. Also there are some free creepy crawlies for the bravest of your little ones to try out (great for Bear Grylls fans)!

I was really impressed with the kids menu… rice and noodles always go down well with the Little Squirrels. The food itself was really tasty and nicely presented for the little ones on a brightly coloured tray. I had ordered Fried Chicken with Jasmine Rice and Noodles with Pork and a No Nuts Satay Sauce for the kids. Littlest Squirrel got stuck in to the chicken and rice, but the sauce on both kids meals was a little on the spicy side for my kids palettes. I did expect the sauces on the kids meals to be a little milder to suit younger palettes.
The ice lolly for dessert went down well with my little ones, but I would like to see something a little more fresh, colourful, and exciting than a shop bought ice lolly for the kids dessert, such as a fruit platter with a scoop of ice cream on the side.

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Left & Right – Littlest Squirrel enjoying her chicken and rice
Middle – Noodles with Pork & No Nuts Satay Sauce

As for the addition of the creepy crawlies, Littlest Squirrel was intrigued and did try a mealworm but didn’t go back for more. At 17 months, she has not yet learned the Yuck factor associated with creepy crawlies so was game to try them. My three year old was not so keen (neither was I)!

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Left – creepy crawlies with every kids meal
Right – the Little Squirrels intrigued by the edible bugs

From the full menu there was plenty of delicious-sounding dishes to choose from. I had vegetable spring rolls, and beef with chilli and Thai basil. I was really impressed with the flavours in both dishes. The Spring rolls were fresh and crunchy and the beef with chilli and Thai basil was beautifully fragrant and spicy.

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Left – vegetable spring rolls
Right – Nua Prad Kra Prao, beef with chilli and Thai basil

Overall, I was really impressed with Thaikhun Silverburn. It is definitely a welcome addition to the food outlets in Silverburn, and I will definitely pay another visit. The staff were all friendly and helpful, the interiors were fun and comfortable, and as for the new kids menu – it is fun, tasty, and great value.

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Thanks for having us Thaikhun Silverburn!