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    VIP Drinking, Dining And Sleeping In Manchester

    Have you been to Manchester recently? If you truly want to live like a VIP you need to get to the home of the MEN arena, the Manchester City and Manchester United football teams, the Coronation Street stars and the new home of the BBC TV centre. All the celebs involved with these things need somewhere to hang out and so the city is crawling with places to feel like a VIP and to spot a VIP or two.

    I know this for a fact as I recently visited Manchester for the first time ever for a bloggers meet-up to talk about my book Get Rich Blogging and to meet the Capital Radio 102fm team over a glass of bubbly…as you do!

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    I’d heard lots about Manchester and felt really envious when friends from the North went on Twitter or Facebook and shared photos of their cool nights out. And that’s not to mention paparazzi photos of celebrities falling out of bars and clubs like Rosso, The Living Room, Panacea, Australasia, and The Alchemist.

    I had one night in Manchester and I found to my delight that living like a VIP is a lot more affordable there than it is in London, even with the hotel cost included. Here are my recommendations:

    (1)    The Alchemist: Pre-Dinner Drinks and Food

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    One of Manchester’s newest bars is the Alchemist on New York Street. I had high hopes as the opening night was attended by Coronation Street’s Jenni McAlpine and Antony Cotton as well as Shameless Stars and models. The décor is gorgeous – all distressed leather sofas and quirky light fittings but it is the cocktails that most people come for.

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    Here’s a close up of the creation he’s making.

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    Check out the Drinks Menu here and it will blow your mind.

    The food is super affordable with mains costing an average of £9.95 – half the price you’d pay in London.

    TOTAL COST: £23 for two cocktails and a delicious chicken dinner. Visit the Alchemist Wesbite

     (2)    Australasia: Cocktails and Dancing

    The attention to detail in this place is insane. You feel special from the moment you see the door – you enter through a glass pyramid and walk Down Under (as Australasia is Down Under, geddit?)

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    The menus are designed like passports (keeping with the travelling theme) and the interior feels bright and summery and upbeat. Can I live here please?

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    And while we’re at it can I work my way through the whole cocktail menu, please? Inspired by the Australasian / Pan Asian theme, the cocktails are full of delicious ingredients from Eastern Asia. Kumquat and Lemongrass Mojito anyone? Too right! The bar is open til 3am on Friday and Saturday so you can dance off the calories from the drinks.

    TOTAL COST: £7.95 for one cocktail. (In London, such unique drinks would be at least £9.95). Visit the Australasia website

    (3)    The Living Room:  A nightcap

    The Living Room opened in 1999 and to survive almost 15 years in a city where new things open all the time they must be doing something right! The strange thing is that it doesn’t look much from the outside.

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    But since 1999  there have been visits from Coleen Rooney, Alex Gerrard, tons of Hollyoaks and Coronation St stars, Katie Price and Peter Andre, Michelle Heaton, Pamela Anderson, N-Dubz and tons and ton of footballers. Its diminished a bit since Rio Ferdinand opened his own bar – Rosso – in Manchester but if you’re after a lively night out, I discovered that the Living Room has a fantastic vibe…and yet more stylish and very comfortable décor.

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    There’s a restaurant on the first floor (which I’d like to come back and try) but it’s the cocktails in the ground floor bar that attract the big crowds. Everyone dresses up and makes a real effort and as a result the barman will whip you up something guaranteed to satisfy your tastebuds. The menu caters for everyone – whether you like a signature Old Fashioned or a classic mojito or want to try something adventurous like a Porn Star Martini.

    COST: £7 on average for one cocktail. Although you may want more when you see the variety of drinks on offer. Visit the Living Room Manchester website

     (4)    Ibis: Affordable Hotel Comfort

    Ibis is a hotel chain with branches in most of the major cities in the UK and around the world. I wanted to stay somewhere central, somewhere reasonably priced (as I knew I would spend more time partying than sleeping), somewhere clean and somewhere offering a decent breakfast (to soak up the excesses of the previous night).

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    The Ibis on Portland Street was the ideal location for all the bars and restaurants and you could even walk to Harvey Nichols and Selfridges in just 15 minutes. That’s my kind of location. Their double room was really spacious compared to other so-called ‘affordable hotel chains’ I’ve visited, there was a wardrobe to hang up my party clothes, an effective hairdryer and the bed was seriously comfortable. Oh and there were towels and soap in the bathroom when I arrived which is another small luxury you don’t always get for a hotel in this price-range.

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    And as for breakfast…the buffet was immense!

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    There were sausages, bacon, beans, scrambled egg, mushrooms, tomatos, toast, croissant and baguettes as well as a variety of cereals and fresh and dried fruit. This was a five star breakfast for just £7.95. Talk about living, sleeping and eating like a VIP

    TOTAL COST: Rooms at Manchester Centre Portland Street start from £52 with a buffet all-you-can-eat breakfast costing £7.95. Visit the Centre Portland Street hotel on the Ibis website

    WEEKEND COST: £97.90 – INCLUDING HOTEL ROOM!!!!!

    Did I miss any bars out? Email zoe@livelikeavip.com, tweet @zoegriffin or comment below if you know of other VIP places in Manchester. I’d love to hear from you!

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    Inside The New Libertine West End Club

    If you’re looking for a new spot in the West End to party your way into the weekend – and we’re talking even a Wednesday night as Weds is the new Thurs etc – then the Libertine (formerly known as Chinawhite) is the place to be. How do we know? We had a sneak preview. On a Weds!

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    Last night, the LiveLikeaVIP team got dressed up to have an exclusive taste of the West End night club – the hidden gem just behind Oxford Street- for it’s press launch.

    Filled to the rim, the average sized club was dimly lit ready for any of us to hit the middle of the dance floor – but of course all the buzz was around the Moet champagne first and some inventive Belvedere vodka lemon bitter shots and ginger beer cocktails!

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    To keep the guests in fine tune with the deep house and party classic tracks loud enough to drown out any conversation, we were treated to an array of tasty appetisers ranging from vodka marinated sea bass and yorkshire puddings and beef with horseradish to tasty caramel and chocolate shortbread biscuits and to die for chocolate mini brownies – there was a certainly a great enough selection of nibbles to fill that space while we got cosy in the intimate cocktail lounge away from the busy main club.

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    The cocktail lounge which is just before you walk through to the main club area and bar is an area of comfort and where you may want to stop for a few appetisingly inventive cocktails from the ginger beer with cranberry juice and vodka cocktail on offer to an ordinary champagne cocktail starting from £9 upwards.

    We did wonder though, how the magnifying glass used to read the bookmark style menu tucked away in a book went down after a few drinks!

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    It is however the perfect part for if you do fancy winding down or getting ready to move onto another club – the cosy cocktail lounge with its jazzy playlist and dim lit lights, allows you to have the best of both worlds in one night – and if you’re anything like the VIP team – we do love to start our night off with a cocktail or two.

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    The Libertine is certainly a new club in the West End to venture to – especially being in the prime location just behind Oxford Street. You have a varied bar, a cosy cocktail lounge. And you’re guaranteed to be given that VIP treatment with a member of staff to safely escort you down to the exclusive club – now that sounds like it!

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    A Long Night At Camden Blues Kitchen: VIP Review

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    When the weather is freezing – or pretty much all year round if I’m wearing heels – one thing that really annoys me is walking between bars, restaurants, bars and nightclubs. I don’t like the way the wind messes up my hair, I don’t like passing random people in the street and I definitely don’t approve of having to queue up before entering each new venue. The Camden Blues Kitchen is the answer to all these problems. It’s even perfectly situated on London’s Camden High St with just a five minute walk from either Camden Town or Mornington Crescent Tube stations. And on the night I visited it was BUZZING:

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    The idea is to start at the lively bar for an aperitif, move to the hearty American themed restaurant, retire to the bar for a stiff one while you pick up the courage to dance and then head to the front of the stage area to soak up all the live music. After the band’s wrapped up, the DJ goes on until 3am on Fridays and Saturdays.

    But how does it work in practise? You only want to stay all night in a place if you’re enjoying it, right? Well, I definitely approved of the pre-dinner cocktail I chose. In fact, I almost did not want dinner to start as the cocktail menu is that enticing. I chose a whisky sour. Made from Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Lemon Juice, Egg White and Angostura Bitters it kicked a punch and kick-started my appetite at the same time. Cheers!

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    My date Rob went for an Old Fashioned-  a classic – but made with Woodford Reserve Bourbon. I had to sip a bit for taste purposes and I was surprised by how much sweeter it was than an Old Fashioned made with Scotch as the base. Very refreshing. Very dangerous!

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    So, onto the dinner…I love appetisers and I love mini-burgers so I was very tempted by the option of mini sliders (three mini burgers). There’s Cajun blackened shrimp and tortilla chips and dips – this is a place you could visit and share some starters. However, Rob and I kept it simple with some hot buffalo wings and another Bourbon.

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    It was nice to have something to pick on while waiting for the main course and they’re not overly hot (think medium at Nandos) so you can eat them without embarrassing yourself or drinking too much to soak up the heat. At the Blues Kitchen, the only excuse for drinking lots is the fact everything is so tasty! The bar specialises in Bourbon with a different special every week. The Van Winkle 12 year was the special when I visited and it was not just special it was extraordinary. With a touch of vanilla after-taste it was smooth, rich and also slightly sweet. It matched the sauce of the wings perfectly.

    So, back to the food….one of the tastiest dishes I have eaten in the past month must be this dish of pulled pork served with coleslaw and a side of sweet potato fries. Pulled pork is slow cooked pork shoulder and marinated in BBQ sauce before being pulled off the bone by hand. It was meaty, juicy and I devoured it so quickly that Rob hardly had a chance to try it. And I’m normally a chicken or fish or steak girl – I don’t normally each much pig! It’s hard to capture the taste with a photo – just go in and try it and you will not be disappointed.

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    The portions are man-sized as you can see from this photo – wow!
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    We also opted for Southern Fried Chicken served with onion rings and more coleslaw. The chicken was super-size  but there could have been more coating on it. If you have a big portion of chicken and it is lightly coated, what you’re left with when the chicken goes is a regular white chicken breast. Great if you’re on some kind of diet though – so girls, don’t let the fact that you’re visiting an American themed restaurant scare you into thinking  you’ll be consuming tons of calories.

    Plus I assure you that you can work off the calories with the music.

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    The entertainment varies depending on the night of the week you visit so your bible with be the events calendar you see on the Blues Kitchen website. And girls, there is one more bonus. I reckon there were definitely more men than women on the night we visited – maybe as much as 65:35 – and if they’re visiting The Blues Kitchen it clearly means they have great taste in music and party places.

    Not only is it a one-stop place for drinks, dinner and dancing – you may find a date too!

    COST: Cocktails are excellent value at £7.50 (and they’re strong) while the Bourbons range from £5 to £75 (for the rarest). Starters are approx £7 and mains average £14 (although the portions are so big you may not need both). Take £50 and you’ll have a fantastic night out from pre-dinner drinks to dinner to dancing til 3am.

    Visit the Blues Kitchen website to check out the entertainment details, drool over the menus and book.

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    Afternoon Tea (And Fries) At Rihanna’s Favourite Hotel

    We have just got some juicy goss at the G.I Joe: Retaliation press conference attended by the HOT Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock – look out for that post coming soon – but first we decided to do a bit of investigating while we were at the ultra fancy Corinthia Hotel.

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    We love reading things like Time Out but you can never really tell what its like from that so we have some photos that we took and we experienced it as you might – paying for everything and being wowed by the opulence….A home away from home for stars like Bajan beauty Rihanna, The Corinthia is as glam as they come, certainly outdoing The Dorchester and The Grosvenor place with their modern surroundings.

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    Worried about busting the budget on an afternoon snack, Zoe decided to go for a glass of sparkling water, while Tajha went for some refreshing and exotic Mango tea. A snack of fries was served with some heinz tomato ketchup, mayonaise, mustard and HP barbecue sauce in some ultra cute condiment jars.

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    Including service charge this only set us back £14.63 showing that you don’t always need to spend a fortune to pass an afternoon in a top hotel. If you’re looking to blow a bit more of a VIP budget that us, then you can choose from your typical Club Sandwich for £17  to a Cumbrian chargrilled beef burger served with a choice of hen eggs, dried cured bacon or Mrs Kirkhams Lancashire cheese with fries for £14.

    Or if you are feeling adventurous there’s a hand chopped beef steak tartare with toasted sour dough for starters for £10 – the menu is that vast!. Look at the choice of hot beverages for a start!

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    For this plush setting- and cutlery – there is a price tag to match whether you’re coming for an Afternoon Tea like us or a three course meal with some tasty treats to finish off this service like a almond meringue or a cranberry apple tart.

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    No matter what you spend you should see at least one if not two celebrities entering or leaving The Corinthia and that is worth paying for!

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    Chocoholic’s Paradise: Zoe Visits Lucky’s Of London

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    When it comes to treats, do you prefer chocolate or cakes or chocolate brownies? Personally, I like all three and I like it to be presented beautifully and with an added touch of magic. Thank goodness that I came across Lucky’s of London – the makers of delicious desserts and chocolates that satisfy people with high standards and a diva sense of style, like me. And this is a bold claim because I know how to cook my own desserts, I am hardly ever satisfied…that is, until I tasted what’s in the photo above.

    But before I tell you exactly what it is, let me set the mood. Things always taste better if they’re presented well and Lucky’s of London has now burst onto the London dining scene in a big way with a new fairytale cafe in central London, close to Oxford St, Regent St and Covent Garden. How cute is this? It’s like a magical garden but you stay warm and toasty and without any wasps as it’s inside!

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    Until recently, they mainly operated online – and I spent a lot of time dribbling over my laptop as I looked at their website – but it’s even better when you can smell what you’re buying and see others eating the creative flavour combinations. Also, the staff are very quick and happy to advise on flavours if like me, you take a while to work out what you fancy.

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    If you’ve been shopping or to the theatre, you’re tired and you don’t fancy a chain sandwich bar or a bland fast good restaurant (because you have VIP standards) then it’s open 7 days a week for multiple flavours of hot chocolate and the most mouthwatering, tastebud tantalising, stomach satisfying thick chocolate covered brownies, thick chocolate covered honey cakes and cakes in jars with lots of juicy toppings.

    I took my mum, from whom I get my chocolate addiction, to try their Mad Hatter’s Chocolatey Tea for Two. It is mind-boggling good value at £15.95 for two (that’s just £7.98 each) as you get a choice from several flavours of homemade hot chocolate. a savoury cake, a cake in a jar (weird but it works) and their signature brownies and cakes. My mother and I were so excited about going that my dad caught the chocolate fever and demanded to come along too. Thankfully, it’s easy to have tea for an odd number at Lucky’s as you can order the Queen of Heart’s Royal tea for £7.95 which contain all the items for one person. Like I said before, what amazing value!

    Pictures speak a thousand words so look at the photo below and let me know if you agree that this is a potential winner for both the best value and tastiest afternoon tea in London. I honestly can’t believe you get all this for £7.95 a head.

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    So what is it? At the bottom left and right you will see savoury cakes. The bottom left has emmental cheese and oregano and the one on the left has gruyere cheese and ham (my favourite). At the bottom you’re seeing the 70% dark chocolate hot choc infused with sea salted caramel. My parents, on the other hand, opted for delicious creamy white hot chocolate that tasted like melted Milky Bar. At the top right is the chocolate covered brownies and in the centre are the cakes in jars.

    Here’s a close up of the cakes in jars as I know it’s a weird thing to imagine:

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    You get a thick layer of creamy icing to dive into at first bite. Push the spoon in a bit more and you’re rewarded with some crunchy cake to soak it up. They’re not big but they are quite tasty and non-choc lovers can try the Berry Velvet – red berry icing with red velvet cake.

    However, it is without a doubt the brownies that will cause you to gasp with satisfaction. If you leave without trying one there is something wrong with you. Included in the afternoon tea deal you can choose from one large size cake or two smaller sizes, My mother went for the smaller ones as she wanted to try different flavours but I knew I liked chocolate and caramel and so I went for a large  chocolate brownie with caramel drops covered in 40% milk chocolate. Check out the thickness of that chocolate on the outside, which means the brownie inside is kept moist, juicy and almost wet with runny caramel drops!
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    The attention to detail at Lucky’s is incredible! The menu is themed like Alice in Wonderland and all the items are related to characters in the book. And look closely at the menu and you’ll see the unique flavour combinations – a Chunky Nutter consisiting of white chocolate chunks and a pecan brownie or Mellow Mania consisting of a chocolate brownie and marshmallow covered in white chocolate. YUM!

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    USEFUL INFO: If you’re inspired by the magic and want to visit Lucky’s, their pop-up cafe is located in Kingly Court, London W1B 5PW. You can see a map at  Lucky’s Online as well as details of how to order if you can’t wait that long! NOTE: All of the online deliveries arrive in the most exquisite, fluffy and crystallized packaging, adding luxury to your life, or your loved one’s life, on many levels.

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    VIP Sisters Date At Sophie’s Steakhouse Covent Garden

    joanns2When my sister Joanna (above) and I heard about the legendary Martini cocktails served at Sophie’s Steakhouse, we added it to our ‘To-Do’ list of places to visit in London. Did they disappoint? Well, I wouldn’t be writing this post if they did because I wouldn’t waste your time, readers, on anything negative just as you wouldn’t want to waste  time going somewhere that wasn’t suitably fabulous.

    Happily, when it comes to Sophie’s, fabulous is just one of the many positive adjectives that springs to mind as my Joanna and I found out on our sisterly bonding night. When it comes to restaurants – especially steak restaurants – I had always wondered whether it was  possible to have a restaurant that girls and guys enjoyed equally. In my experience, men tend to like meat and as much of it as possible whereas women like a bit more variation in flavours (and portion sizes) and tend to value the atmosphere and vibe as much as the food.

    In recent months, London has seen the opening of female friendly steakhouses but in branding it female friendly, what alpha male could hold up his head in there unless he was on the pull? And in the more traditional London steakhouses, I never get turned on by a man spending more than £50 on a cut of meat when he can use that money buying me flowers or a new Chanel lipstick.

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    However, Sophie’s Steakhouse has been open in Chelsea since 2002 and no London restaurant can survive more than 10 years unless it’s doing something right. In 2008 they added to their success with an outpost in Covent Garden in the heart of theatre land and whenever I walked past and looked inside the dark tinted windows people looked like they were genuinely laughing and joking. In the past, if I’ve been to a restaurant and I haven’t liked the food then there would be more chance of Victoria Beckham wearing a onesie than me cracking a smile.

    WHAT WE LIKED ON OUR VISIT?  The buzz – the atmosphere of a restaurant is important to me – as I mentioned earlier – as the tastiest meal in the world would be ruined if it looked like a hotel lobby and it was empty. (I’m always a bit freaked out by a restaurant with no diners inside). Sophie’s in Covent Garden is cavernous – there is room for 220 diners and more at the bar – and I am sure they were pretty full the Thursday night we visited. However, the clever interior design means there are tables to fit all sizes and even better the booth for two my sister and I sat in was spacious enough. It was also suitably  far apart from the table next to us, meaning we could hear each other talk and drink those delicious cocktails without worrying of bashing into  our neighbours. I did not want to spill my Rutini (vanilla vodka, rose petal and strawberry liqueur, fresh strawberries, egg white, lemon juice and sugar).

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    The cocktails! Now I have started talking about the drinks I may find it hard to stop waxing lyrical as they were divine. The Martini menu could be one of the longest in London (check it out on the Sophie’s website here) with so many different combinations of drinks that could be shaken up and poured over ice into a chilled 10oz Martini glass, (a standard Martini glass is 6oz). The Chilli Martini

    However, it’s not just about Martinis as there are all the popular classic cocktails (Mojitos, Old Fashioned etc) and some new twists on the fizzy ones. Below right, you’ll see the  Fruit Bellini, which I had instead of a dessert while my sister had a traditional dessert cocktail with ice cream and Baileys.

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    Steak. Now this is what we were both amazed by and I may have even gone to bed dreaming about it. We could have shared a Chateaubriand or a Porterhouse between two but we wanted to mix things up a bit and try a few different dishes. (As I keep saying, I think this is quite normal when it comes to what girls like doing in restaurants). So we opted for a ribeye (below) where the juicy cut was marbled with fat, brilliantly served raw so it was even more tender and FULL of flavour.

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    As we knew the steak was coming, we opted for a lightish but very taster starter to share. The scallops with pea puree and pancetta set things off on the right note as the scallops were succulent and soft to the bite. The pea puree had a definite kick to it, offsetting the creamy scallops perfectly.

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    Alongside the Ribeye, we opted for a rack of ribs, which come slathered in Sopie’s signature steak sauce. I’m a bit of an expert in spare ribs (it’s a guilty pleasure) and I can witness these had a lot of meat to bone ratio. Sometimes I get annoyed when you end up having to play spot the meat on the rib, but check out the photo below to see evidence that these are fantastic value and the sauce is every bit as tasty as it looks.

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    There are more options on the menu suitable to those watching the calories like a peppered steak salad or a warm chicken salad but we all deserve one treat day a week. When I saw giant, crispy, fluffy onion rings going to the next table I wanted some of my own so we ordered them with perfectly crispy chips. These survived multiple dips into the steak sauce served with the ribs without going soggy, which is one of the things I personally think makes a good chip (must be dippable).

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    And all this is fantastic value for money. Both the Chelsea branch and the Covent Garden branch of Sophie’s Steakhouse have Express Menus with pricing options for one course, two courses or three courses. The Covent Gareden one is ideal pre-theatre and you could pop into the one in Chelsea for a satisfying  lunch after shopping on the King’s Road.

    COST? Steak is very reasonable with the 10 oz ribeye steak £21.50 and a half rack of ribs at £10.95 . Both are served with chips as standard. For food, you could order cleverly for £20 a head (including a side of those onion rings) but if it’s a special occasion you’ll feast like a king for less than £40. Now just beware of those cocktails (on average £10 each)…

    Visit the Sophie’s Steakhouse website to check out the menu in advance and for booking info.

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    A VIP Preview Of The Port House – Delicious

    It’s not everyday you get served steak before you take off your coat. But at The Port House on London’s Strand that’s what happened to me during the opening night launch party. And who doesn’t love a service like that!zoe-steak

    Just two doors away from London’s Adelphi theatre, Ireland meets Spain at this tapas-gin themed bar which is certainly haven for diners who want a thrilling taste from both their food and drinks. Plus there is a  dark, sexy atmosphere not just created from the fusion of flavours but the cosiest of back rooms to pass the night away.

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    Owned by Irish brewery, the Porterhouse,  the drinks are to die for. The Gin and Tonics came in different flavours with strawberry and rose or orange and cinnamon and even a rosemary one. We were amazed at how lovely the evening was and the hard to please  Steve from the London Cocktail Scholars agreed!

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    The opening of the Irish-owned bar proved that the Irish and Spanish can work together with spanish tortilla, salty whitebait and a changeable Gin and Tonic menu all under one roof. Now doesn’t that sound like it’s worth your money?

    WHAT WE LIKED? That tasty mini sirloin steak once you enter the door. If you’re a meat lover, then the selection of meats here will certainly grab your fancy. Zoe certainly enjoyed that mini Sirloin steak. But you can also choose from pan-fried quail if your feeling extra adventurous or some marinated pork loin with smoked paprika mayo – yummy.

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    The fish selection is quite broad with the option of this tasty whitebait if you like fish on the saltier side. Or crispy-skinned sea bass with lentils and pan-fried scallops with cauliflower puree and powdered jamon iberico –  this doesn’t just sound so healthy, it is incredibly tasty.

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    The  gin galore with the daily changing menu of G&T flavours. The fact that they brew the gin themselves, says a lot about the quality of it (them being Irish) and the fact that it’s all served in balloon glasses. Such a pretty way of serving drinks…

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    The atmospheric room certainly makes The Port House perfect for a night with a potential beau. Who wants harsh lighting while your trying to get into date mood. Low lighting and candle-lit tables. Sounds perfect for that VIP rendezvous. Zoe wants to go on a date here.

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    THE COST : It really depends on how greedy you are. As the table next to you gets their food you may get food envy and order more. Take a credit card, just in case! 

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    Inside The Vaults At Voltaire Launch Party

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    London’s newest chic champagne bar opens today but we had a sneak preview of the Vaults at Voltaire at its lavish launch party with plenty of Pommery Champagne that kept guests fizzing till the early hours.

    Among the crowd was pop Princess  Sophie Ellis Bextor looking effortlessly glam as she and her husband Richard Jones provided us with a few current and vintage chic sounds on the decks. Sophie even let us in to a little VIP exclusive revealing that she has been working on a new single and album that will be out in September later this year!

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    This was a true party. Whereas some events are on for a few hours, this started at cocktail o’clock and ended the next day! (Well, 1am). The team at Voltaire delivered a night of VIP style with countless fill-ups of Pommery champagne, tasty nibbles and must I mention again, plenty of champagne!

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    Opening on Valentine’sDay, we highly recommend you visit this bar if you are anywhere near the city of London. It’s full of cosy vaults and intimate booths and spaces so you can indulge in good conversation and even better drinks in privacy and style. How nice is this? The private booths contain a dock for your iPod so you can set your own background music!

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    And once inside it’s bigger than you think as the main room extends quite far back.

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    Situated across from the newly refurbished Blackfriars station, we suggest you budget £30 per head to indulge in tasty food, the finest cru and an inventive menu of exclusive cocktails.Not to mention the cigar garden! Yes that’s right – a garden where you are encouraged to smoke cigars.How decadent!

    We’re hoping to film inside the venue to show you more of what it’s like but in the meantime you can visit the Voltaire website for more details.

    Cheers!

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    Restaurant Of The Week: Fire & Stone

    Celebrities love the Westfield shopping centre and we do too but shopping does make us work up an appetite. There are a lot of eating options at the mall, but the outside of Fire and Stone caught my eye. And once I saw the choice on the menu, I knew it was one for me.

    At Fire and Stone you can indulge in a selection of 17 pizzas inspired by toppings and flavours from 17 cities of the world so it feels like you are travelling the world without the hefty pricetag of flying. And that dreaded jetlag!

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    Where? Fire & Stone, Southern Terrace, Westfield Shepherds Bush, W12 7GB, 0844 371 2551

    What We Liked? The Spicy Cape Town Pizza.  This spicy pizza will definetly bring you the heat from Cape Town with its blend of exotic and moreish flavours. I chose to go for the bland option without the sour cream and parsley topping, which for those sesnistive to a lot of spice, would even out the sweet and spicy kick from the shredded beef and green chillies.

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    Danish Blue Cheese & Roasted Garlic Hand Stretched Parmesan Baked Flatbread. Less oily than your typical garlic bread. And full of much more flavour. This Parmesan baked flatbread is a cheese fanatics dream. Topped with melted Danish blue cheese and roasted garlic, this tasty flatbread ticks all the right boxes including filling you without the large calorie intake to go with it!

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    Great Music. It’s not so often that you will end up in a restaurant and find yourself nodding away to the playlist while you eat away. Catering to the city crowd, alongside the plush décor and low lighting, their playlist will put you in a mood for more than good food. But a great start to a plush night out!

    Choice. If pizza isn’t your thing. You could grab yourself a pasta or a main salad which will still give you that authentic twist which the pizzas have.

    Tips. Do add a salad on the side of your tasty pizza to even out those rich flavours. The chilli king prawn & avocado for an extra kick or a simple rocket salad for that touch of added freshness.

    Cost. It depends if you’re planning on having a lunch-time bite or a dinner date with a few cocktails. On average, we’d say  £15 at lunch and £30 for evening (because you’ll want to try a couple of cocktails).

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    Restaurant Of The Week: Pan Chai

    How often did you eat somewhere nice in 2013? If you’re anything like the Live Like A VIP team,  you may have experimented a bit and ended up finding one gem and a lot of average places. VIPs should never do average so we are making it our mission to taste a few places and showcase the gems every single week.

    If we’ve found a good venue then we will write about it on a Friday and if we don’t find a good place we won’t waste your time. Luckily we started the first week in style as Pan Chai is INCREDIBLE.

    PC2

    WHERE? Pan Chai, Harrods food hall, 87 -135 Brompton Road, London. 0207 823 0471

    WHAT WE LIKED?  The freshness of the sushi and sashimi. I have eaten at most sushi restaurants in London so I know the difference between warm rice as a base for fish that has been in the fridge for a while to moist rice and fish so fresh it could swim down The Thames. This was definitely the second option. You can see the chefs  make it for you so when the conversation dries up, the kitchen is entertainment in itself. It’s hard to describe how nice it was in words…check out the photo I took of it all below.

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    The wasabi. Ask the chef to try fresh wasabi and it will blow your mind as well as your tastebuds. For some reason, I never knew where wasabi came from and learned it was simply the grated pulp from what looked like a root vegetable. It’s a lot stronger than the paste that’s normally served.

    The diversity of the menu. While sushi and sashimi is a big focus of the menu, chef Ian Pengelley has thought about the non-fish eaters too. Live Like a VIP’s Sam is not a fish fan and said the tender chicken satay was to die for. Ian is from Gilgamesh in Camden where duck and watermelon is a speciality and it’s on the menu at Pan Chai too. Here’s what Sam ate:

    panchicken

    TIPS:  You must order the Toro. One bite of this succulent cut of fish almost gives you the same endorphin rush you get from eating chocolate.

    If you are easily confused, you can’t beat a sushi platter. You can guarantee it will all taste great and the platter is served with a foaming cup of dry ice to impress your date.

    THE COST: It depends on how hungry you are. I recommend checking out the Pan Chai menu on the Harrods website and work out what you want in advance.

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