The Alchemist in Cardiff City Centre

A few weekends ago, I visited The Alchemist in Cardiff for my not quite sister-in-law’s hen party!

I’ve heard many good things about The Alchemist. They’re renowned for producing interesting cocktails, with the full works, smoke and all!

We came for dinner and cocktails (booked at 7:15pm) and were sat in the restaurant area of the bar. I have a few criticisms of this area.

  • The tables were very close together which didn’t make it easy to get in and out when it was full. Especially with one of the party being over 6 months pregnant!
  • The music was incredibly loud, even though it was a separate and designated area away from the bar. I think they would benefit from lowering the volume to allow groups to hold a conversation without shouting.
  • They started dimming the lights half way through our dinner which I thought was really unusual. I understand wanting an atmosphere but sitting and squinting wasn’t what I was expecting.

Cocktails were actually quite a challenge to order. There was so many options and they don’t label things vegan here. There is one specific cocktail that was labelled ‘The Vegan One’ which made me wonder whether all the other cocktails were specifically non-vegan.

Generally, most spirits are vegan. It may be something you’ll have to research before hand if you plan on visiting because we were a little blind sided. The waitress, although lovely, seemed to be a little bit clueless on what was vegan or not. She advised that she thought most cocktails that didn’t have cream in them were likely to be ok.

I chanced it (which probably wasn’t the right thing to do) and I ordered a Lightbulb Moment which contained: TANQUERAY GIN, PIMMS, GINGER BEER, RASPBERRY, LEMON, MINT. It was served in a spherical flask with smoke pouring out of it.

Lightbulb Moment

We were a party of 10 and the service was great. They were very patient with us the entire time, especially at the end when we were paying the bill!

So let’s get started on the food. There were a few vegan options available here which was quite nice to see. For the mains, this included:

  • Chickpea Korma
  • Moving Mountains Burger
  • Cauliflower Katsu Curry
  • Poke Bowl
  • Seitan in a Basket

Not all of us were vegan, but between us, we managed to order the chickpea curry, poke bowl and seitan in a basket.

I ordered the Seitan in a Basket and was pleasantly surprised at the quality of food. The seitan was very good and delicious. At first, I thought it was chicken and was concerned that I’d been given the wrong dish. I chose a larger piece and cut it open and it was clear it was definitely seitan. The fries were great and the coleslaw was lovely too.

Again, to be critical, they served the dish in one of those chicken shaped wiry egg baskets… Why? Why would you serve a vegan dish inside a chicken shaped basket? Even more sadistically, the actual chicken in a basket was also served inside the chicken shaped basket. I’m not sure which was worse to be honest.

Overall, the food was much better than I expected. I was really full afterwards from all the fried food, but it was worth it.

They had a very small pudding selection which included a poached pineapple and 2 flavours of gelato. I ordered 1 single scoop of mango gelato as I was too full for 3 scoops, but it was lovely.

For all 10 of us, the total bill came to £176.80. The £45 deposit that we paid was deducted from this, but a £20 service charge was added which we weren’t expecting. We weren’t the kind of group to kick up a fuss so covered it between us and the service we got did deserve a tip so it wasn’t so bad.

If you plan on taking a visit to The Alchemist, I recommend planning well in advanced and deciding your cocktails prior to your visit so you can try to accurately gage which ones are vegan. Everyone raved about their food so that shouldn’t be a worry for anyone!

Alex Gooch Bakery in Pontcanna, Cardiff

A few weeks ago, we went to Kings Road Yard to try The Lazy Leek (which you can read on my post here). Further down the lane is Alex Gooch Bakery.

Alex Gooch is an artisan baker who specialises in breads and pastries. In the shop, you can buy these breads, but you can also buy pizza by the slice or whole.

Tom ordered a pesto drizzled pizza at £10.50 and received ticket number 71.

My brother ordered a slice of kimchi pizza at £3 and received ticket number 72.

There was a bit of a wait for food at 7pm on a Saturday which is to be expected. We were sat fairly close to the store at a table and waited patiently for our food to come whilst also on the lookout.

Tom’s came out first with a young girl asking for order 71. We acted quickly and got his pizza in return for the ticket. With my brother at order 72, we were expecting it to come out shortly after. It turned out it arrived quite a while later!

I only had a bite of Tom’s pesto pizza but it was thoroughly enjoyable. The base was incredible and the drizzle of pesto really made it. The cheese was melted beautifully too.

The only criticism of the pizza that Tom had was that there were a few slices that were a little salty and the pizza had quite a bit of oil on it. It probably didn’t help that it was drizzled in all that delicious pesto!

My brother enjoyed his kimchi pizza and said he could really taste the kimchi. He did have to wait quite a while longer for his slice and he said it was a little colder than he’d have liked.

Pop down to Kings Road Yard in Pontcanna to see what else is on offer and try a delicious vegan pizza for yourself!

Cobbles Kitchen in Ogmore-by-Sea, Bridgend

On the main road headed down to Ogmore beach, just before The Watermill pub, is a little cafe called Cobbles Kitchen. Cobbles Kitchen is only a small establishment but have so many food options to cater for various different dietary requirements.

A few weeks ago, my brother and sister came to visit and we went to Cobbles for brunch. My sister is making a conscious effort to cut out meat and has many vegan days. We ordered the vegan breakfast and my brother ordered the breakfast burrito. I also ordered a soy latte to accompany my breakfast.

Soy Latte

My latte was fine. The coffee was a little more bitter than I’d like and the foam at the top was unusual and very thick, not what I expected. I didn’t actually finish my coffee and instead moved onto water.

Vegan Breakfast

Breakfast consisted of 2 sausages, mushrooms, baked beans, a grilled tomato, avocado, tofu scramble, a homemade potato hash and a slice of toast. I’ve had the cobbles breakfast before, but on this occasion, it was the best I’d had.

The toast was delicious and crisp. The avocado was perfectly ripe and the tofu scramble was flavourful. The potato hash was my favourite part. When I’d had breakfast on previous occasions, it had been soggy, but this time round it was cooked well and retained it’s structure.

My brother said his breakfast burrito was ok, but on the tomato-ey side. He still enjoyed it all the same.

Cobbles Kitchen has so many options so it’s a great location to bring omni friends and family. And of course, only being down the road from Ogmore beach is great too and ideal for a day trip.

Castellamare Cafe in Mumbles, Swansea

Castellamare is located right on Bracelet Bay in the Mumbles in Swansea. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the beautiful area of Swansea, South Wales, you’re truly missing out.

Swansea is a truly beautiful part of Britain and the world. There are stunning views across the bay and to the ocean, and the Welsh are well known for their hospitality. Wales is a gem and I highly recommend every visit.

View from Castellamare

Anyway, moving back onto Castellamare. Even though I don’t live in Swansea, I’m a member of the Swansea Vegans Facebook page due to my proximity to the city. I found on the group the the cafe started offering vegan cheese for their pizzas!

Castellamare is made up of a restaurant and a cafe, but on this occasion we went to the cafe. I wasn’t 100% confident that the restaurant offered the same menu.

We perused the menu and there were lots of vegetables on offer. Tom ordered a vegan version of their vegetarian pizza which had lots of roasted vegetables. I ordered a vegan pizza and added mushrooms, spinach and olives. We also added a side of chips. I did ask what vegan cheese was used but the staff member wasn’t sure but she could confirm it was vegan which was good enough for me!

The pizza was lovely! For the 2 pizzas, 2 sides of chips and 2 drinks, it came to around £38 which is fairly reasonable. The pizza was a great size and the chips were lovely too. The cheese was lovely and creamy but you could tell it was different to the normal cheese they used.

There are many other vegan options in Swansea if you’re out and about. HappyCow will give you plenty of ideas! I would say, if you’re in the area then I recommend a visit, but I actually recommend you come and visit Swansea and then come here and also Boo’s Kitchen (which I’ve written about here) for your vegan food!

The Lazy Leek in Pontcanna, Cardiff

Tucked away in the nook of Cardiff in Pontcanna is The Lazy Leek. We needed to come into Cardiff to run some errands on a Saturday evening and thought we’d pop down for some dinner.

We drove down and spent a fair while looking for parking. A lot of the area is permit parking only so be wary if you’re driving. We finally found somewhere to park and walked over to King’s Road Yard where a little street food area had been set up.

The Lazy Leek is on your right and you walk down the lane and is very clearly sign posted. Their menus are emblazoned on the wall on their chalk boards with various burgers and sides.

I’ve included images of the menus below for your perusal! I’m sure they’re available on their website as well. There are drinks available too! Don’t forget that everything here is vegan so you don’t need to worry about whether your food is cruelty free, because it will be!

I ordered a portion of Cauli Wings and Dirty Fries. My sister and brother both ordered a King Katsu burger each.

The portion size of the loaded fries was more than I expected. At £6, I thought it was very reasonably priced. The Cauli Wings came in at £4.50 which is quite pricey, especially with only 6 pieces, but there were delicious too.

The King Katsu Burger

Apologies for the average picture of the King Katsu burger! I can’t comment on it personally but my brother and sister enjoyed their burgers and it did look very appetising. At £8 a pop, they’re a little bit on the expensive side for take out burger but with the options and the size, it’s worth a try.

I highly recommend a visit to The Lazy Leek for those of your who haven’t already been. It’s all worth a try and I really enjoyed my loaded fries and cauli wings. I may not be making another visit straight away, but I’ll definitely be headed back in the near future!

The Cruelty Free Beauty Box Deluxe [August 2019]

The second edition of The Cruelty Free Beauty Box Deluxe has arrived and it is, again, another delight! You can read about the first edition in my previous post, here.

I’ve been waiting for my box as soon as the shipping e-mail was sent. It arrived last Friday and I couldn’t wait to open it.

Before the shipping, I ordered myself a Natura sheet mask as I loved the one I received in one of my previous boxes (read about it in this post). One great thing that The Cruelty Free Beauty Box offers is that you can order items on their website to be shipped with your beauty box. This saves on shipping costs and means more treats!

Under all the beautiful and protective, recyclable shredded paper was my sheet mask, so I was glad it made it into my box successfully. Then came the seed paper product lists. I was too excited to read through them so kept digging for the products. I came across all the beauty products first which included a facial bar, a skin scrub, a balm and a gel eyeliner.

Then I thought… wait, where are my lifestyle products?! What I hadn’t realised was that I hadn’t dug far enough into my box… My lifestyle treats included some sweets, a compact mirror and my favourite item… a tote bag with the infamous words…

Don’t worry. You’re just as sane as I am.

Luna Lovegood (Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling)

For readers of my blog, I went to the Warner Bros Studio Tours the week before this box landed on my doorstep so it felt like fate for this tote bag to be bestowed upon me! Especially when it was a quote from my fellow Ravenclaw, Luna Lovegood.

So the breakdown of this box:

The total worth of the box is £102.75, so for £39.95 it’s an absolute bargain. Everything is full size which is great, especially for the things that I like!

As much as samples are great for trying things, it’s a pain if I love it and I run out. Also, if there’s something I’m not a fan of, I can give it to someone else who may benefit more out of it and I won’t feel silly giving them a small sample size.

I have yet to use everything in my box, but the House of Wonderland Alice in Wonderland compact mirror is now a staple in my handbag, alongside the Luna Lovegood tote bag.

I have yet to be disappointed by The Cruelty Free Beauty Box so I recommend giving them a try. Don’t forget that the lifestyle box isn’t the only box available. There are smaller and cheaper boxes available with different items which you can find here.

Self Care Sundays: Issue 2

Welcome to another issue of Self Care Sundays. I took a beat after a long week of work and treated myself to a relaxing bath and face mask.

Here are the products that I used this week:

Before moving onto the products, thrown into the picture above is my Spectrum Kind Cup which is cute and small; perfect for a cup of tea. It’s made of polypropylene which is also widely recyclable so when it’s worn down, it can be recycled!

Also, the best chocolate around, Nomo Chocolate. Available in Tesco stores, my favourite is fruit and nut but they have other flavours available too. Vegans out there who haven’t tried this chocolate yet really need to! You’d never know any different, it’s so good!

With those bits over, let’s move onto the skincare products…

Lush Face Mask: Cupcake

So, I’ve actually had this Cupcake face mask from Lush sat in my fridge for months. I hadn’t used it until last week but it still smelt amazing.

The mask was interesting. The smell was lovely, but I found the texture strange. It was easy enough to apply and wash off, but I didn’t feel like my skin was any better for it.

I don’t think this is something I’d recommend. Lush do have plenty more face masks so I’m sure I’ll be trying one of those in the future, but Cupcake won’t be one I’ll be buying again.

Lush Bath Bomb: Snow Fairy

As always, a bath bomb is necessary during one of my self-care sundays. I love a colourful bubble bath and the lovely smells.

This week was the Snow Fairy bath bomb which I believe is a Christmas special, and likely to have been hanging around in my secret stash for a while.

Snow Fairy has a gorgeous sweet smell to it, and I love a bright pink bubble bath. There isn’t much else going for it except for the gorgeous smell but that’s more than enough for me!

Maria Nila Head & Hair Heal Masque

Finally, I’m going to tell you about my favourite product this week which I’ll definitely be using regularly going forward.

In the first picture on this post is the Maria Nila Head and Hair Heal Masque. I actually received a full sized tub of this in a vegan Glossybox I ordered months and months ago. I’ve written about Maria Nila products before, you can find the post here.

This hair mask is absolutely incredible. It smelt truly amazing and was easy to put on. The texture was thick and creamy, and ran through my hair beautifully. I left it on for the recommended 10 minutes.

After I finished my bath and dried my hair, I was left with a gorgeous, frizz-free mane! My hair smelt incredible for days afterwards and it was left feeling the softest it’s ever been.

I highly recommend this product. It was nourishing and really did leave my hair and scalp feeling refreshed.