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Ibiza Out of Season Diaries #2 | Dinner at Eivissa Castle

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It's that time of the year when winter festivities are firmly packed away and you're realising one can never own too many bikinis. Here is the next instalment of my Ibiza trip last year after a breezy flight and first night adventures, and it was our first full day! After leaving the land that was closing down for winter, it felt like we had a second chance at summer as we awoke to blue skies, warm air and the promise of that Ibiza magic. First agenda: breakfast! With only one night down, we passed upon the breakfast at our Hotel Arenal as it was clear it was an over 50s affair. A programme of show dancers and a magician in the evening, plus various OAPs in hotel towels sitting back on plastic chairs, revealed that either the party season had long ended, or we were certainly in ancient accommodation!

The best thing was the proximity to San Antonio beach and we strolled along the pretty much empty sands to a nearby classic greasy spoon with a sea view, right next to a KFC. It's clear San Antonio has every fast food joint you could wish for when you're abroad with the lads, lads, lads, and that was cool with us. As I mentioned in my last post, we really chose Ibiza on a whim and I was so ready for an easy, breezy ride. One of our only planned activity days was to visit Ibiza town so we hopped on a nearby bus and was soon at the capital. 

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A definite upgrade from San Antonio's startling booze cruise advertisements and 2-for-1 fish bowls, the town has a rustic, Mediterranean vibe with pretty pastel apartments and a port untouched by under age tourists. We couldn't help stopping by Pull & Bear and Berksha, and I observed what seemed to be the island 'locals'; those with deep tans, threaded hair braids and tie dyed clothes.

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The first goal was to climb Eivissa Castle for the sunset; the beautiful highlight Ibiza is known for. One of the things I enjoyed the most about this holiday was packing a small case exclusively of bright, summery clothes! Wearing these Missguided flares in Ibiza was the perfect place, and all of my festival floral crowns came in perfectly handy. My legs look freakishly long here due to my lens! 

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It's a surprisingly quick stroll along the cobbles to reach the 360 degree views from the top of the castle. We took in the views during dusk and could truly appreciate we were on such a small drop of an island in the gorgeous Balearic sea. I loved the beauty of a relaxed vibe and not having a 'holiday' in a rushed city with an overwhelming itinerary. 

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We wandered back down towards the centre, where the edges of castle are bursting with charming, open fronted restaurants with chalked menus on wooden plaques leaning against white walls. We chose La Oliva and a few glasses of Spanish wine perfectly complimented the fresh fish on offer. I love quaint restaurants that have beautiful, delicate dishes in a rustic, casual setting.

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I had the sea bass followed by a crème brûlée, which is fast becoming my go-to dessert. Despite the pudding, it was an extremely light and fresh dinner, made even more atmospheric by the falling daylight into a balmy evening of eating and drinking outdoors on the cobbled streets as passersby lazily strolled on. On a city break it's often hard to sift the best restaurants from the tourist-calling, laminated menu offerings that you always tend to plump for. This was such a treat to dine leisurely with friends and enjoy a relaxed evening meal!

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We headed back towards the bus stops, stopping off for one drink along the way as the town had such a perfect vibe. Once returned to the hotel, I experienced another pro of beach holidays. It literally took a shower, quick smoky eye and highlight, a party dress and soon we were ready to head out again and felt great. I wore a Boohoo dress that can only be reserved for a place that you spend most of the time wearing a tiny bikini anyway, as it's literally pants with a few strips of material here and there, and off we went off to the West End! I explained in my previous post but this is essentially the strip of San Antonio, Ibiza's party town. Our hotel was a quick stroll there in the warm evening air, so we arrived to the criss-crossing streets lined with bars raring to go. 

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Unfortunately the bars themselves were not... as in they were all closed. We wandered around, looking right and left for some signs of life or sounds of a bass, until we turned a corner and saw Soho's, the bar we had visited last night! It was their summer closing party (not quite in an epic proportion though) and all drinks were 1€. ALL DRINKS. Despite it being a crowd inside of around 40, the place was filled quite nicely and again we had the mercy of the DJ. A million requests later, the DJ had his hands in the air as Faithless blasted out to our modestly sized adoring crow, and we made friends with just about everyone. Sadly my floor length dress was not the item to wear in a bar that was attempting to drain every liquid in the place as by the end of the night, the hem was literally sodden by about a metre in whatever was on that floor. Nice. I literally left it to soak for about a week before washing it 20 times once I had brought it back home in it's own shameful bag. Never the less, a hilarious night!

And if you can't wait for all of the gossip from the other nights, my vlog is live! Would you consider an Ibiza visit?


Browns | Bullring, Birmingham

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My friends and I are realising the joy of midweek evenings. Of course we still see the weekend as the unmissable chance to see each other and let the working week slip away with the help of a cocktail and a dance floor, but now that is not enough. Five days is simply too long to trudge home after work, still holding the jumble of deadlines and delegations in your mind, while pondering if that dented tin of soup is still at the back of the cupboard. No, we need a pick-me-up in the middle of our working week to save hump day from being an excuse to dig out the takeaway menus. We need a real catch up to talk through the highs and tolls that life brings with each Monday, and we also need that Friday night of good food and chat before heading off to loud, distracting bars.
 
This is when we swoop upon the restaurants of Birmingham and have that initial conundrum of choosing our destination. I was offered an evening for two at Browns Brasserie and Bar, nestled warmly in Bullring's Spiceal Street; the central hub surrounded by the vibrant architecture of St. Martin's Church and the Selfridges silver domes. It was a case of knowing exactly where it was but never having had it pop into my mind as a destination to head to. 
 
With a thrilled pal in tow, we were welcomed into the sophisticated space, warmly lit with cosy corners and an open view onto the vast church. Stylish and contemporary, this is a perfect date place. A spacious table plan, flattering lighting and a soft ambience ticks all of my date night boxes!
I was pleasantly surprised by the extensive menu. Alongside a dedicated limited edition tender beef menu that my friend appreciated, the options across the starters and sharers made way for light mains, mains and grills. And many will be happy to note this includes gluten free options such as lobster and fries, and vegan options such as courgette, mint & lemon tagliatelle, to name but a few. I had earlier surrendered to the temptation of looking at the menu online before arriving as my new favourite thing is to choose our dish during the day so you can look forward to it! I was day dreaming of the whole baked Somerset Camembert but the variety of the Fisherman's platter trumped all other dishes. Severn & Wye smoked salmon, salt & pepper squid, Devon crab on toast, British mussels, and warm toasted bread. The bread was indeed warm, the salmon was indeed smoked, and the platter was certainly worthy of any fisherman's prize offering. I think with seafood you either love it or you steer clear, and this starter is for the seafood appreciation society. We accompanied this with the light feta salad, with the variety of tomatoes being a colourful twist.
 
 
Onto the mains. Oh what a revelation this lobster was! I'm now a lobster fan and I'm willing to share this with the internet. I had never tried lobster before! I feel the opportunity had never crossed my path and that is rather tragic! Despite the Browns signature cheesy fish pie and the sea bass generously accompanied by a stew of prawns, mussels and squid, I feel lobster is having it's moment right now and I had to get on board, mind the pun. It was a fresh, light, delicious treat and the perfect portion with perfectly crisp on the outside, soft on the inside chips and a mayonnaise with an avocado twist. I'm a lobster convert!
 
 
My friend opted for the steak and gave it beyond full marks. Browns have their own British farms to rear their own cattle so you can trust in the source of your steak.
 
Could we fit in any more food? There's always room for dessert! The menu was a struggle. Sticky toffee pudding, salted caramel profiteroles, caramelised lemon tart, or my current favourite, creme brulee? Decisions, decisions! But something called me to the banoffee pie with caramelised banana and chocolate popping candy. That certainly gave a subtle tingle to the rich caramel sauce and sugary white icing of the pie. It was like the best birthday cake with a gooey banana side and it completely disappeared from this plate! My friend opted for the chocolate brownie with the huge dollop of honeycomb ice cream and toffee sauce and was equally pleased.
 
Put Browns on your agenda and prepare for a perfectly satisfying evening. It's going to stay on my list for date options and also as a great option for family visits or group outings! Not forgetting to thank our super helpful waiter Domas for looking after us too!