Family breakfast whether at home or out and about is one of our favourite things. Before we had children, some of our loveliest times were enjoying a Full English and comparing the best ones on offer at pubs, greasy spoons and restaurants. We imagined ourselves as restaurant reviewers never imagining that one day we would be just that!

My Dad used to make an amazing cooked breakfast and it was always the very thing my Mum fancied if she was feeling off colour. Similarly, my husband makes the best breakfast in my house. To be honest, timing all those food items is daunting to me so I leave it to him.

On Saturday, we were invited to try the family breakfast on offer at the Red Lion in Horndean – one of a number of Table Table outlets across the UK.

breakfast

We arrived to a friendly greeting from the manager. Before being shown to our table, a waitress explained where to find the various tasty treats on offer some of which were self-service and some of which were served to the table. The restaurant was quite busy with a wide range of age groups including families with small children, a group of teenage boys and couples. There was plenty of space for everyone and we did not feel at all crowded.

Service was very friendly and particular thanks goes to Jess who was so very lovely with my shy daughter. They bonded over a love of croissants and hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows! I think it is really important that family-friendly restaurants provide not only affordable and healthy food but also are genuinely nice to the children. Too often, I find the staff ignore the children and I don’t like that.

My daughter was thrilled with the wide range of pastries on offer and ate an amazing amount. She enjoyed putting Nutella on her toast and she felt very special when freshly-baked croissants were delivered to her by the lovely Jess. She also enjoyed yoghurt whilst my husband relished a bowl of fruit salad, always one of his favourite things.

Both my husband and I ordered cooked breakfasts and you could choose the specific items that you liked best and lots of them too if you wanted to go down that route. The breakfasts did take a while to arrive but I don’t mind that at all as the reasons were explained to us and we were offered another treat as compensation. We were both delighted with the food when it arrived and it was worth the slight wait.

I particularly enjoyed the bacon which I usually find so disappointing. It had a smoky taste to it and was thicker than usual. The mushrooms were proper ones not those bland tinned ones that too often appear. Black pudding is now apparently a super food so I had to have that too!

My husband had at least one of each item on offer – he has quite the appetite! He comments, “The choice was fantastic. The delay was an issue but at least you knew it was all freshly cooked so that could be forgiven easily”.

Check out the wonderful offers that make eating out out a real option for families even if working to a budget and whatever time of day.

You and your little ones can choose as much as you like from the cooked and Continental selections, including crispy back bacon, succulent premium sausages, eggs as you like them, hash browns, pan-fried mushrooms and more, alongside beautifully baked pastries, cereal, fresh fruit, plus chilled juices, tea and unlimited Costa Coffee.

And the best bit is that up to two under 16’s eat breakfast for free when one adult orders a full Premier Inn Breakfast.

This offer applies to Table Table restaurants situated next to Premier Inn hotels:

Free breakfast for two children aged 15 or under when purchasing an adult breakfast. This offer is available weekdays 6.30am-11:30am and weekends 7.00am-11.00am

This offer applies to Table Table restaurants not situated next to Premier Inn hotels:

One child under 10 years can choose from either a cooked breakfast, a vegetarian breakfast, eggs on toast, beans on toast or a two egg omelette when one adult purchases and Ultimate Cooked Breakfast meal deal or an Ultimate Vegetarian Cooked Breakfast meal deal.

Mum Muddling Through

Pasta shapes and sizes can be confusing. I think many of us stick to the same old pasta shapes whether that is spaghetti,

Wouldn’t it be great to impress your family and friends with your impressive knowledge of pasta shapes and to try some of them out in exciting new dishes?

Check out this fabulous infographic from Jamie’s Italian explaining all the different shapes and types of pasta. It takes a look at where about in Italy they originated from, some food pairing and history to each shape. I love how learning about food so often involves a little history and geography too.

Jamies-Italian_V6

I am a big fan of pasta. My mum never used it but when she was away for the weekend I would cook pasta for my Dad and he loved it.

When I first started dining out as a young adult, a lovely local Italian restaurant would always be my choice.

Weirdly although I love seafood and pasta, I don’t like them put together. Apart from that every pasta dish is welcome. In fact, I may well check out Jamie’s Italian for myself.

A partnership between Jamie Oliver and his Italian mentor, chef Gennaro Contaldo, Jamie’s Italian offers tasty and affordable meals. I like the idea that the food choices are similar the ones you’d find people eating all over Italy. The family-friendly restaurants see pasta being made onsite daily and also offer an award winning children’s menu. Jamie’s Italian are also committed to only using the best possible ingredients and all produce is high welfare and sustainable.Since opening its first restaurant in Oxford in May 2008, Jamie’s Italian has become one of the biggest success stories in high street eating, as perfect for business lunches as it is for couples, young and old, as well as families.

What are your top tips on pairing food and wine?

When I was a child, wine was not a feature in my life with my parents drinking beer or spirits.

I first learned about wine on a holiday with my brother to France as a young adult. He is a lot older and had lived in various countries developing a good knowledge of fine wines. I found the topic fascinating but over the years, a lot of that knowledge is long forgotten.

So if you ask for my top tips on pairing food and wine, I would probably say white goes best with fish, red goes best with meat and always invest in a good dessert wine for puddings. I would advise a rose rwine for Valentine’s Day for its pink colour and that would be about it.

So I was very impressed by some advice from Roberson Wines on pairing food and wine. Anything that makes me appear more clever than I actually am is always a big hit with me!

food-and-wine-pairing

I have never considered how to match wine with vegetable dishes. As I love Sauvignon Blanc and am on a healthy eating plan, I like this match very much! Vegetables tend to be low calorie so a sneaky glass of wine is allowed, right?

I am eating more fish and trying new types so it was good to hear about new to me wine varieties that suit fish dishes.

I was interested to read that you can pair whites and roses with meat on occasion.

Again, I am eating more game as it is lower in fat that other meats and means my husband does not miss out as he does not like fish at all. Love the idea of pairing tasty game with a rich red. I don’t drink red wine much but I savour a good red when I do.

I want to experiment more with Asian cookery and was intrigued to learn that there are wines that go better with spicier food.

On the days where all that makes life better is chocolate, I will now know what wines to choose for different varieties too.

What are you top tips for pairing food with wine?

Eating healthily at Christmas can be a huge challenge. At least that is the received wisdom with practically everyone you speak to saying it is inevitable you will put on the pounds or possibly upwards of half a stone over the festive period.

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Should we challenge that thinking?

Today I passed the local butcher who has some amazing deals on meat. My husband pointed out that actually only he and I like traditional Christmas meats so much of the meat may go to waste unless we commit to some creative uses of leftovers.

So my first question for you is …

Are you a victim of clever marketing messages at Christmas? Believe me, these messages can pile on the pounds on the scales and remove the pounds from your pocket very effectively.

When we consider the traditional Christmas dinner, it is packed with loads of really healthy elements. Turkey is low fat. Vegetables are good for us. There are ways to cut down on calories too particularly by deciding HOW you will cook things and what additions you may or may not make.

So my second question for you is …

Isn’t it time we celebrated the very healthy Christmas dinner?

Whilst shopping today, I picked up a pudding bowl with every intention of making my own Christmas pudding this year. My husband then pointed out that he is the only one in the family that likes Christmas pudding and that he thought it was daft for me to go to all the time and effort of making one when he would be happy with a small value one from a supermarket. I ate Christmas pudding for years to avoid upsetting my Mum but I hate the stuff.

So my third question for you is …

Do you eat things at Christmas that you don’t really like? Is that slightly daft?

I am not saying don’t enjoy food at Christmas. I am not saying you are a sinner if you put on weight over the holidays. What I am saying is that if putting on pounds will get you really upset, you can ensure it does not happen.

So over to you!

The Rules

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I am so looking forward to reading your talks of health, fitness and well-being. I promise to comment on each post and to promote via my social media networks.

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Our family were invited to visit the Red Lion at Horndean in Hampshire for a meal. The Red Lion is tucked away in a village very close the A3(M) and conveniently located next door to a Premier Inn. The pub restaurant is spacious and suitable for large or small groups. It was family-friendly but I could also envisage it providing a very suitable place to meet for a business lunch or breakfast.

Red Lion Horndean

We were delighted by a friendly greeting from the lovely Emily who showed us to a table and checked that it suited our needs. Emily was also very efficient ensuring that she took a drinks order whilst we perused the menus. She also told us about free refills on Pepsi. All of the family liked how we were given time to decide what we would like to eat without any sense of pressure. My daughter can be shy around adults but seemed very comfortable with Emily and the way she spoke to her. An activity pack was offered which my daughter declined as she was too busy talking about her latest game.

The menu was impressive giving a large choice of traditional pub fare and more unusual choices too. It was big but not so huge that it was daunting. This is pet hate of mine – menus that take about a decade to read!

My husband and I opted for a sharing platter as a starter. We enjoy such platters but were really impressed with this one as it was not gigantic but quite sufficient. I hate it when the starter is so enormous that you don’t feel ready to eat your main and a pudding is pretty much out of the question.

My daughter chose vegetables for her starter. Isn’t it great when you eat out and can also feel they are getting a good contribution to their 5 a day?

Our mains arrived promptly and were well cooked and we all cleared out plates. My daughter had cod, my husband gammon and myself a glorious beef lasagne as I was in the mood for comfort food with the cold weather.

The puddings were superb with my husband opting for cheesecake and myself for banoffee pie. We did end up trying each others too.

cheesecake

My daughter has a small pot of chocolate dipping sauce with a generous portion of various fruits including strawberries and orange portions.

The venue was quiet when we arrived and although it got busier as the day progressed, it did not feel cramped as there was plenty of space between tables. I enjoyed seeing all age groups from babies to the elderly there. I always think this is a recommendation of a place in itself.

Throughout the meal we felt very relaxed and happy. It set up a great mood for the day.

Payment was dealt with efficiently and a loyalty card was offered which is cool because we will definitely be back.

The only slight negatives were not about the food or service. I noticed a dodgy door lock in the ladies loo and felt the baby change area should be signposted better. There were slopes which I imagine make the place more accessible although my husband felt these needed marking better.

Here are our scores on the doors!

Starters – 10 out of 10

Mains – 9 out of 10

Desserts – 9 out of 10

Service – 9 out of 10

Affordability – 10 out of 10 – we had 3 in our party and the drinks and food bill came in at less than £50

Atmosphere – 9 out of 10 – we felt very relaxed, unrushed and enjoyed how the restaurant seemed to actively welcome all age groups.

Location – 7 out of 10. The Red Lion at Horndean is convenient for business people staying at the Premier Inn who could grab an early breakfast or a business lunch. Although not the most vibrant village, Horndean is close to countryside walks, the coast and the tourist attractions of Portsmouth.

Do you think you will visit the Red Lion?