A Weekend of Turning 23!

“That’s quite a simple title” I hear you ponder.
I agree, it is simple and mature. Much more mature than the title I wanted to write; “WOOHOO!! I TURNED 23 YESTERDAY, BITCHES! AND I CELEBRATED OVER THE ENTIRE WEEKEND!”
That level of excitement would make it seem I had turned 3, not 23!!

But yes, this weekend I celebrated turning the ripe old age of 23. Is it any different to being 22? Or 21? Or even 20, 19? Not really. I haven’t really felt a difference in age since I turned 19. Even still, it’s nice to celebrate with your nearest and dearest friends and family members.

From past experiences, I’ve learned to keep celebrations simple. As my birthday falls slap-bang during the Christmas season it’s sometimes difficult to organise a night out that suits everyone’s schedules, what with work parties and the fact we’re all Santa’s Helpers in some ways at this time! So simple it was. Ish.

Friday evening after work, I met up with my boyfriend to go a few drinks in Victoria. This was a fairly quiet affair – I didn’t want to not look forward to my night out with the girls the following day after all! We had a few bevvies before moving on to indulge in one of my favourite eateries – Wagamama! We both ordered which is undoubtedly the most popular and famous dish on the menu; number 71 aka the chicken katsu curry. I ordered some grilled duck gyoza and the mister had fried chilli squid.

Saturday was time for my big night out! The girls and I started the night at The Loft in Clapham – quite a small bar situated next to the Tescos, keep your eyes peeled for it though, it’s not easy to spot! I had intended to spend the entirety of the night in there but once we had arrived, we realised this was pretty much a pre-drink place. So we headed off to somewhere we knew we’d enjoy ourselves; good old Revolutions!

And enjoy ourselves, we did…

my ladies!
my ladies!
gotta love a bit of party string when you're getting down!
gotta love a bit of party string when you’re getting down!

We lost ourselves during the midst of shot downing, cocktail slurping and boogeying on down!!

Please, no one ask me how I felt Sunday….

Well since you just had to ask, I felt lushhhh! Dandy! Spritely! I woke up and literally flew out of bed, in fact.
Okay, I’m definitely lying to you all. I did not feel like any of those things. I felt tired, groggy, thirsty and hungry!
Drink responsibly guys!!

After laying in bed in my sloth-like state, I forced myself out of bed using the skills of my imagination… I had imagined a beautifully, greasy fry up waiting for me on the dining room table with a glass of milk, just willing me to devour it and ease these bad, bad feelings away.
Sadly, there was no such thing. My mum had to pop out so I was left to fend with myself. I’m not particularly skilled in cooking a fried breakfast (or cooking in general to be honest), so I settled for a scrambled egg and bacon sandwich. Mmmm, it definitely did the trick!

That evening, the boyfriend and I were due to going to Al Forno in Wimbledon.
Al Forno is a cute, traditional, Italian restaurant which, according to it’s website, offers a “true rustic Italian atmosphere”. Last year on our anniversary, I had wanted to go to Al Forno, unfortunately they were too busy and we hadn’t booked so this year when asked where I would like to spend my birthday celebrations, I thought this would be perfect!

Now, I’m not usually one for bad reviews. I’m not. However, I believe in customer service, customer satisfaction and above all, manners. Unfortunately with Al Forno, they failed deliver any of the 3.
From entering the restaurant we were ignored by staff. Many of them made eye contact with us when they could see we were waiting to be seated, but not a single person bothered to acknowledge us. We understood that the staff were busy, however it is not hard just to say “sorry guys, we’ll be with your shortly”. But no, nothing of the sort. After waiting for around a minute and a half to be noticed, my boyfriend told the gentleman that “greeted” us that we had a reservation for 2 at 6pm –  the man didn’t ask what my boyfriend’s name was to check the reservation, he just shoved us on to a corner table and walked away without a word.
After our starter was taken, we waited around 20 minutes for our mains. Again, we said to eachother that the restaurant was busy therefore we understood. However, it soon became clear that we had been forgotten about when a young member of staff noticed how long we had been waiting and asked if we wanted to order our mains. We said we had already ordered and were waiting for them – he then rushed off and we saw him speak to another gentleman who then spoke to the kitchen staff. Not good.

We ordered ‘bruschetta alla caprese’ to share between us, which was nice.

brushcetta alla caprese
brushcetta alla caprese

Our mains finally arrived. My boyfriend ordering chicken with mushrooms in a peppercorn sauce, accompanied by sautéed potatoes.
I ordered a pasta dish with pancetta and spinach in a cream and mascarpone sauce.
I was relatively happy with my main, aside from the fact I was half heartedly asked if I would like parmesan cheese sprinkled over the top, said yes please, then was waiting around 2 minutes for the waiter to bring it over. I daren’t ask for black pepper (not that I was even offered it), I didn’t want to risk my food going cold!
My boyfriend, however, was not pleased. His potatoes were undercooked and he found the mushrooms to be quite sloppy.

grilled chicken with mushrooms and potatoes
grilled chicken with mushrooms and potatoes
pasta with pancetta and spinach in a cream sauce.
pasta with pancetta and spinach in a cream sauce.

We had finished our mains and had our plates collected – however, we were not offered the dessert menu at all. Fancying a coffee, my mister tried countless times to grab the attention of members of staff but after 10 minutes of trying we gave up, stood up and asked for the bill.

I was left deeply disappointed with Al Forno that evening. This was our first visit and for a special occasion – we received no level of customer service at all. Many things the staff should have picked up on, they didn’t. This was my first visit to Al Forno and unfortunately it is likely to be my last. Such a shame considering I had heard such great things regarding this restaurant.

So, that’s the negative review done and dusted. Let’s move on to a positive one!
Bill’s! My, my. How I now love this place!

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Monday morning (15th December – my actual birthday), my mum, boyfriend and myself headed out to Bill’s restaurant in Wimbledon for a booked birthday breakfast! Once again, I had seen mouth watering photos of the food and heard rave reviews, so I was very looking forward to this place!
Bill’s is situated behind the Odeon. There are literally so many of them around now though, so I’m sure you’ll be able to find one that’s local enough for you!

Everything was utterly fantastic! The service was top notch – we were welcomed by the manager with  an inviting smile and shown immediately to our reserved table. Our waitress was fantastic! Offering compliments on our orders, helping us make our decisions, giving us plenty of time to look whilst also not taking too long to meet our needs. I honestly, could not thank the staff and chefs at Bill’s enough – they certainly made my morning fantastic!

Try not to dribble! Here comes the food pics…

my delicious hot chocolate with cream!
my delicious hot chocolate with cream!
my hot chocolate, boyfriend's latte, mum's double espresso/macchiato
my hot chocolate, boyfriend’s latte, mum’s double espresso/macchiato
my scrummy scrambled eggs with crispy bacon on sourdough toast
my scrummy scrambled eggs with crispy bacon on sourdough toast
mum's Bill's breakfast with black pudding
mum’s Bill’s breakfast with black pudding
the mister's Bill's breakfast with beans
the mister’s Bill’s breakfast with beans
yum!! these incredible pancakes to share!
yum!! these incredible pancakes to share!

I don’t usually like pancakes… but oh my word!!
EVERYONE needs to make time in their life to try this! Incredible!!

After having a look at the goodies inside the shop – yes, Bill’s has a shop in case you’d like to recreate any of their delicious meals at home! Along with their own tea bags, beer and apple juice bottles!

We then raced home so I could enjoy the most important part of my birthday… PRESENTS!!!!

yaaaay!!
yaaaay!!

I cannot thank all my friends that wished me well and came out for my birthday enough – you guys truly are one of a kind!
Special thanks goes to my Mum & boyfriend for being there with me on the actual day and making me have the best birthday possible!
I am incredibly grateful for all these wonderful people in my life!

Until next year, folks!! 🙂

As always, below are the links for the places I visited this weekend!
I would highly recommend Bill’s for breakfast – book in advance though, they’re very popular!!

http://bills-website.co.uk/
http://www.alfornowimbledon.com/ (if you’re feeling up to it!!)

London – Clapham High St

http://www.theloftclapham.com/
http://www.wagamama.com/

Thanks for reading, guys!

xo

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