Big Stevie Cool

A Men's Lifestyle and Family Blog | North East England

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Monday, 4 December 2017

Sunday Dinner at The Sun Inn, Morpeth

This weekend we had a busy Sunday. We went to see The Lambton Worm Panto at Customs House (read Mrs Cool's review here). We also took the kids to meet Santa Claus at Wallington Hall so only had a couple of hours to have our dinner. Sunday Dinner is my favourite meal of the week so we checked google for reviews of local pubs and headed to one with 4.5 star reviews. We walked in and pretty much straight away walked straight back out again. It's seemed like an old man pub, not somewhere for the family to have a meal. There was a restaurant area but it was closed, there didn't seem to be any staff on hand and the seating wasn't right for a family of five. Who knows the food might be great there but we didn't hang around to find out. So next we headed to Morpeth and went to The Sun Inn and what a difference. 

The staff were there waiting to find us a table, it was quite busy but we managed to find a table perfect for 2 adults and 3 kids. Our waitress took our drinks order as we sat down and gave us some menus. I prefer Beer to Lager so was happy to see they had a few guest beers and decided to go for a pint of the Caledonian Edinburgh Castle and Mrs Cool had a glass of Merlot (Mrs Cool was impressed that our waitress knew that it was a Chilean Merlot)

Jack loves fish so when he saw Cod and Chips on the kids menu he was all over that and was really happy with how big his fish was. Heidi and Harry both went for Chicken Nuggets (Nuggets are life for those two) the nuggets also looked good and seemed to be homemade. 

The Kids meals comes with a drink and ice cream for dessert and for £6.95 I think this is quite reasonably priced. The staff also get some bonus points as they brought out the kids some water with their ice cream as they had finished their drinks which was a nice touch.

Mrs Cool went for Roast Beef and I went for Roast Pork. Both came with Mashed and Roast Potatoes, Mashed Swede, Seasonal Vegetables, a hefty Yorkshire Pudding and lashings of gravy. I was also happy that the Pork came with Crackling (I love a bit of crackling). Everything was delicious and the portions were huge, my pork was very thickly sliced and by the end we were too stuffed to have any pudding.

Our whole bill came to less than £50 which for a family of five we were really happy with and were happy to leave a tip as the staff were so good. We will definitely be back to The Sun Inn.

Well, that's all for now.

S

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Friday, 1 December 2017

Big Cool Five

I've decided to launch a new feature on my blog where on the first of each month I'll do a quick recap the five highlights from the previous month. These highlights are my Big Cool Five. November was a busy month for me and it was hard to narrow it down to just five. Here are Novembers Big Cool Five.

Dirty Bottles, Alwick
This little gem of a place is a new discovery for me and I can't wait to go back. If you like Smokehouse food you need to check it out. The burgers are amazing. I have written a full review here and it is definitely the worth the trip Alnwick.

Justice League
I'm a massive fan of Superheroes and have been looking forward to Justice League for a while. The previous DCEU movies have been criticised by some but I've enjoyed them. Me and Harry really enjoyed this one too. You can read my review here.

Alice in Wonderland at Northern Stage
Panto season is upon us and if you're looking for an alternative to the traditional pantomime then I can highly recommend Alice in Wonderland at The Northern Stage. The Cheshire Cat (above) was amazing and the Mad Hatters Tea Party was so much fun. You can read Mrs Cool's review here.

Ice Skating at Centre for Life
I know it may not look it but I'm actually quite a good Ice Skater. I mean, I'm no Torvill and Dean but I'm pretty good. The Centre for Life in Newcastle has had an Ice Rink every Winter for the last few years and it is definitely worth a visit. Heidi is already better than me and Harry is getting there too.

Longsands Fish Kitchen, Tynemouth
Another new restaurant I tried was Longsands Fish Kitchen in Tynemouth. This might be my new favourite restaurant in Tynemouth. It's already got a good reputation and had even won an award recently. The fish soup was sooo good.

Look out for my December Highlights next month.

Well, that's all for now.

S

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Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Justice League: A review



I make no secret of my love of DC Superheroes, Superman is my favourite of all superheroes and Batman is a close second. I'm also a defender of the previous movies in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). I don't think Batman V Superman was as bad as everyone made out. I actually quite liked Suicide Squad and, well, everyone liked Wonder Woman.

The premise of the film is classic comic book fare. With Superman dead (sorry to spoil the end of BVS) Earth is defenceless against an alien invasion. Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) already knows about the Big Bad of the movie, Steppenwolf, as thousands of years ago he tried to invade Earth with his army of zombie-insect-alien type things. Then, he was defeated by and alliance of Amazons, Altanteans and Men. Now he is back and is trying to find 3 boxes, called mother boxes, that once combined will reduce Earth to a desolate wasteland like his home planet.

Batman (Ben Affleck) saw visions of this in BVS and knows he needs help to protect earth. So begins his quest to unite the Justice League. He's been collecting info on the other heroes for the last 2 movies and now has to persuade them to help. The Flash (Ezra Miller) is on board straight away but Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) need a bit more persuading. They soon realise that even all of them together are not enough and they need to try and bring Superman back to life. The figue out they can use on of the Mother Boxes and the crashed Kryptonian Ship from Man of Steel and Batman V Superman to bring him back. Once Superman joins the team the tables are turned on Steppenwolf and Earth is saved.

I really like Ben Affleck as Batman and Wonder Woman is amazing again. I also think Superman in this film is the best version of Superman since Superman II. However, the new characters are some of the best things about Justice League. The Flash is great as a loner with seemingly no social skills and desperately in need of some friends. However the best newcomer award goes to Aquaman, I've always considered Aquaman to be a pretty lame hero, I never really 'got' him, until now. Maybe it's because he is played by Khal Drogo from Game of Thrones but this version of Aquaman is really Bad Ass! He's arrogant, he's cool and he don't need no help from no one.

I do have a couple of issues with the film, firstly I think it would have ben better if it had come after the Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg movies as the audience would have had more of a connection with the characters. Also some of the VFX were poor compared to other films of this genre particuarly the FX for Steppenwolf. However these flaws are not enough for me to dislike the film and I'm really looking forward to the next films in the series.

If you do go and see the film then make sure you stay for the mid and end credits scenes as it's worth the wait for the cameo right at the end.

Well, that's all for now.

S



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Monday, 27 November 2017

The Dirty Bottles, Alnwick.


I love visiting Alnwick, whether it's a walk around the castle and gardens or a trip to barter books to pick up something new to read, Alnwick is one of my favourite places in Northumberland. But I recently discovered a little gem that may be my favourite place ever, The Dirty Bottles.

It's a mix of vintage and modern with exposed brickwork and wooden barrels for tables which hark back to olden times while the tablet to place your order and your own beer/cider tap built right into the table, this was something I've not seen before. You can order a beer glass and then just help you self using the tap on the table and the tablet adds the cost of your drinks to your bill. This place definitely has a hipster vibe right down to the wash basin made out of a beer keg in the restroom. However it is not all style over substance as the menu is really special. If you're a meat lover you need this place in your life.

 

Mrs Cool went for the 2 meats and 2 side for £11 (bargain!) and had the Brisket and Pulled Pork with Chunky Chips and Mac and Cheese. There are a selection of sauces to choose from on your table and Mrs Cool said Korean Sticky BBQ Sauce was great on the meats and the Bacon Mayonnaise was perfect for dipping the Chunky Chips in. I suggest skipping breakfast and lunch if you're going for this one as the portions are massive.


They have some great burgers on offer with some brilliantly imaginative names. I was torn between Ginola's Stepover and Cheesier than the 80's but in the end I went for the 80's burger. A Double Beef Patty with Bacon, Black Pudding, Mushrooms, Blue Cheese and topped with Creamy Blue Cheese Sauce. All the burgers come with Fries and Onion Rings and these are great too. You need to wear your baggy pants for this bad boy and you'll probably need a nap afterwards but it is so worth it. This is one of the best burgers I've ever had as it has all of my favourite things in it.


The kids menu is pretty good too, Heidi was at a friends birthday party so she didn't come, she probably wouldn't have liked it anyway as she is a bit funny with meat. Harry, however, was in his element, he is just like his old man and loves a burger so he went for the Cheeseburger. Jack is only just starting to like burgers at home so wasn't adventurous enough to try one here and went for the Chicken Goujon. Both dishes came with fries and the portion sizes were pretty good. The kids meals also come with a drink and Ice Cream.


We'll definitely be back as there are so many other dishes I needs to try. The Dirty Bottles also has a roof terrace that we didn't get see and it looks great for sampling their cocktail menu. You can stay over in one of The Dirty Bottles Luxury Boutique Rooms and I think we will be doing this soon as the rooms look great. Check out The Dirty Bottles website for more information here.

Well, that's all for now.

S

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Monday, 20 November 2017

10 Burgers to try in the North East

I have long been a lover of burgers and I'm a bit of a dab hand at making some great homemade burgers (just ask Mrs. Cool) but I love having someone else make me a burger. The North-East has no shortage of burger joints so I've decided to share with you 10 burgers to try from around the region.

10. West Coast Classic
MEAT: STACK @ No.28, Newcastle
Credit - The Twin Thing
This one features last on the list as it's a place I've not personally tried yet. It is next on my list though as quite literally EVERYONE I've spoken to who has been have said it is amazing. This is the West Coast Classic, the melted cheese, the onions, OMG!

9. Avocado Club Burger
Smashburger, Newcastle

Toppings really make a good burger great. As a big fan of avocado it was inevitable there would be a burger with avocado on this list. The Avocado Club is the most salad heavy burger on the list but it ain't a healthy option, the ranch dressing and bacon are also great. On a side note Smashburger also have some of the best fries I've ever had.

8. Trio of Burgers
South Causey Inn, County Durham

What's better than a burger? Three burgers. These sliders are made with different meats. One is Game, one is Lamb and the third is Beef. Each has different toppings and aren't too overwhelming as each one is only a couple of bites.

7. Turnbulls of Alnwick Burger
Hawthorns at the Crown Plaza, Newcastle

This is the most expensive burger at £16 but totally worth it. You can tell the meat is the highest quality as the patty is from Turnbulls of Alnwick. The Gruyere cheese is sooo good and has a great melt and really goes brilliantly with the Maple Smoked Bacon.

6. Cheesemas No.1
Byron, Newcastle

This one was a special that Byron had last Christmas and I really hope they bring them back this year. Smoked Bacon, Mature Cheddar and an onion ring, a proper filling burger. A double patty with this one so you may not be able to move afterwards.

5. Sloppy Joe
Fat Hippo, Jesmond

This one is on the secret menu and you need to be in the know. Join The Herd and get the herd card and when you go just ask for the secret menu. The Sloppy Joe is two patties topped with chilli and jalapenos and sour cream, so unctuous, so messy, so good.

4. Capital B
BURGER. Newcastle

The newest place in Newcastle and it is already getting a good reputation. This is the signature burger the Capital B. A Beef patty topped with Slow Cooked Brisket, French Brie and pickled red onion. These burgers are seriously juicy and you need a good pile of napkins handy when having this one.

3. Cheesier than the 80's
The Dirty Bottles, Alnwick

This was the most recent burger I've had and I really love this place. A meat lovers paradise and the burgers are incredible. Two Beef patties, Black Pudding, Bacon Blue cheese, mushrooms and lashings of blue cheese sauce the topping just keep coming. Try this one and you will definitely start getting the meat sweats.

2. Chilli Burger
Evans Bistro, Whitley Bay

Another secret burger that makes an appearance on the specials board from time to time. A Beef patty with chilli and the cheese is somehow melted right into the chilli (I'm drooling just writing this) it's topped with onion rings. A mammoth task trying to finish this and you will probably make a mess if you try and eat it with your hands (but that's what you want in a burger).

1. PB&J
Fat Hippo Underground, Newcastle
Credit - Fat Hippo
Ah, my true love. My go to burger whenever I get the chance, The PB&J. The rest of the list have come very close but this is still my favourite. Double patty topped with peanut butter and Bacon Jam. I might have to nip to toon to get one right now.

Have you already tried any of the burgers on the list? Do you have any favourites I haven't mentioned?

Well, that's all for now.

S


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Friday, 17 November 2017

Paddington 2: A Review


In these times of strife you sometimes need a little bit of old fashioned, non-threatening family fun and what better than a polite little bear in a duffel coat and a dusty red hat. Paddington 2 is a great film for the whole family.

The film starts with a flashback to Paddington as a cub being found by his Aunt Lucy and Uncle Pastuzo when he is adrift on a log about to go over a waterfall. We then see Paddington (Voiced by Ben Wishaw) in London with the Brown family looking for a present for his Aunt Lucy's birthday. He finds an old pop up book of London and decides it's perfect as Aunt Lucy always wanted to see London. The problem is that book is very rare and quite expensive.

Paddington embarks on some jobs to try and make enough money to buy the book. This involves some funny scenes as Paddington tries being a barber and a window cleaner. I could hear my kids giggling away at these scenes and I found the quite funny myself.

Next we meet the villain of the film, Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant) a once prominent actor whose star is fading and has had to resort to making dog food commercials. Hugh Grant is brilliant and really hams it up and plays Phoenix as a proper luvvy (and slightly unhinged, especially in the scene where he is talking to himself). Paddington tells Phoenix about the book but Phoenix knows more valuable than anyone else suspects (due to a side plot about his grandfather and a travelling fair) he plots to steal the book for himself. Paddington witnesses Phoenix (in disguise) stealing the book and gives chase. After a case of mistaken identity Paddington is accuses of the theft and sentenced to jail.

Paddington being the friendly bear he is he decides to try an make friends with his fellow inmates. He meets Knuckles McGinty (Brendan Gleeson), The mean, Gruff looking chef at the prison. All the inmates are scared of knuckles but Paddington being the nice bear he is manages to make friends with Knuckles by sharing his Marmalade sandwiches. Paddington, Knuckles and few other inmates plan to escape so Paddington can clear his name. On the outside The Brown family are looking for the real thief and Phoenix Buchanan is using the pop up book like a treasure map to find a hidden fortune. Will Paddington clear his name, will Phoenix get away with it, will Aunt Lucy ever get a birthday present? You will have to see the film to find out.

This is a rip roaring yarn with lots of fun, a lot of laughs and some sad moments too, Mrs Cool shed a tear at one particularly sad scene but ultimately it is a really heart warming film. I haven't seen the first film but I'm familiar with Paddington and know the story. I don't think I missed any thing by not having seen the first one and I think everyone who sees this will enjoy the delightful joy and pure fun that the Spectacled bear from darkest Peru brings to the big screen.

If you're looking for a different family film you can also read my review of Thor: Ragnarok here.

Well, that's all for now.

S



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Monday, 13 November 2017

My Grooming Regime

A little while a go I posted my tips on how I dress to impress and I'm going to follow that up My Grooming Regime. I start by by washing my face simply with a bar of soap and basin of warm water. I'm currently using a bar of Honey I Washed the Kids from Lush it doesn't smell 'soapy' and it moisturises my face so I can keep my youthful good looks. Sam doesn't believe me when I say that other people can't believe I turn 37 next year but it's true!
On to my facial hair. To keep my beard in check I use a Men's Trimmer (you can watch a trimmer review here). Most of the time I let my beard grow and I go through phases of having my beard either long or short. At the minute I'm keeping it quite short and give it a trim every couple of weeks but on special occasions I need to do a bit of styling and a good trimmer will will let you do that too. After trimming I will give it a quick brush with a beard brush. Once I'm happy with how my beard is looking I finish with a little beard oil. I like to use one with a woody or spiced fragrance.

I haven't always had a beard and only started growing one in my 30's. I do very much prefer it though and think a beard gives a more distinguished look. I'm sure you'd agree......
Being a Ginger my hair is the bane of my life and as it is quite thick as well it is constantly not doing what I want it to do. Through my teens and early twenties I used a LOT of gel to keep it in place but as I've gotten older the wet look just won't do any more. I tried wax for a bit but don't like that either. I've decided that I've reached the point in my life where all I need is a good brush and zero product.

Mrs Cool recently got me this little set from Bluebeard's Revenge, the brush really helps tame my unmanageable barnet and the beard brush is a revelation. The beard oil is cuban spiced and I love it.
Do you have any preferences when it comes to grooming?

Well, that's all for now.

S


*this is a collaborative post
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