One of my favourite things to do is go out for meals with friends. I love cooking and have always loved experimenting in the kitchen, but there's something really lovely about finding a great place to eat, settling down with friends and enjoying your evening whilst someone else cooks the scrumptious food for you. A couple of weeks ago I got to enjoy such a perfect night like this, trying out some of the tasty offerings at Leicester Highcross shopping centre with some lovely local blogger ladies.
Over recent years Leicester has drastically changed, entirely for the better, getting a much-needed revamp of the City centre. I used to live in Leicester many years ago (a good 16 years ago now) and at the time it wasn't much to write home about; there was a good variety of shops but everything was a little run down and in desperate need of some TLC. In 2008 Leicester finally got the overdue and well-deserved makeover it needed, creating a huge shopping complex that is one of the best places for all your shopping needs in the East Midlands.
Every City centre has a shopping complex though, right? But there's something Leicester Highcross has that makes it really stand out for me, and that is the impressively vast, beautifully modern and extremely diverse dining quarter that is a force to be reckoned with. Tucked away at one end of Highcross, it's accessible via both the shopping centre itself as well as the winding streets which envelope Leicester City centre. If you've ever been to Westfield shopping centre at Shepherd's Bush in London, it's similar to the outside dining area, but with a lot more to offer. There's an incredible variety of cuisines on offer with everything from eateries great for any budget, to your more treat venues for creating the perfect date night or when you want something with a little more style and technique. The best bit? There's some big names situated at Leicester Highcross that you would otherwise have to travel to places like London or Birmingham to experience, such as Bill's, Ed's Easy Diner, and for those sneaky in-between shopping treats, Krispy Kreme.
When I was invited along to try out some of the fantastic food that Leicester Highcross has to offer, it was impossible to say no - an evening with scrumptious food and local bloggers? What more could you want! It was the perfect opportunity to spend some time in Leicester, which I don't do nearly often as much as I would like, as well as seeing faces old and new for a lovely intimate blogger evening ahead; Nancy who writes over at Sugar, Darling?, Emma who writes over at not your average, Steph who writes over at FAIIINT and Hareem who writes over at Iheartmexo, as well as the lovely Gabby who put together the evening for us.
The evening started off at Bill's, a restaurant I had heard a lot about but somewhere I had never visited before myself. I arrived along with Nancy and the first thing I noticed was the wonderful décor; modern, stylish and chic all whilst having a certain homely feel to it, lovely. Once introductions were out of the way we were introduced to Bill's and the newly revamped menu from one of the lovely team members, before being presented with an amazing array of dishes from the menu that looked as good as they tasted.
There was a huge variety including Spiced Tortilla Chips with Tzatziki, Guacamole and Salsa, Crispy Lemon Squid and Chorizo Sausage Roll in Puff Pastry, as well as my personal favourites from the evening; Bill's Giant Green Olives, Grille Paidina Bread with Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil, Crispy Crumbled Halloumi, Hummus and the tastiest of all, Bill's Cheese on Toast. I tried a little bit of everything - minus the Chorizo, and I was honestly in food heaven! Everything was perfectly presented, beautifully cooked and extremely flavourful without being overpowering. It's definitely inspired me to visit Bill's again, which I hope to be dragging my partner along to soon for a much needed date night!
Next up we headed over to Handmade Burger Co, another place I had never ventured to before but one which has definitely swayed me into going for burger's more often - and as a non-burger fan, that's quite something! It's safe to say we all went to town at Handmade Burger Co, putting all blogger shyness aside so we could tuck into burgers, fries, sides and dips whilst having a good old gossip and chit-chat.
Before getting stuck into the menu, we decided to try the drinks on offer with a few of us going for a shake. I was in an indulgent mood and decided to see what the Banana and Peanut Butter Premium Handmade Shake was like, being met with a deliciously thick, tasty and very strongly flavoured shake that kept me going throughout the entire meal!
It took me quite a while to decide which burger to try out, as burgers aren't my usual favourites when eating out and I can count on one hand how many times I've eaten a burger in the last 2-3 years, so I was definitely a little clueless about what to go for. The menu is incredible vast with every filling and topping you could imagine as well as some really bizarre concoctions and flavour combinations that I never would have dreamed of. In the end I decided to go for a new addition to the menu, the American BBQ Bacon Stuffed, which is a combination of Swiss cheese topped with smoked bacon, Handmade Burger Co BBQ pit sauce, mayo, shredded iceberg lettuce and red onion served on a fresh brioche bun with homemade coleslaw finished off with a gherkin. Gosh, that was quite a mouthful, as it was on the night too - this burger was huge! I delved into a side of sweet potato fries with rosemary salt and lots of traditional lemonade to wash it all down.
To finish off a very indulgent evening we also got to see what Handmade Burger Co had to offer dessert wise, deciding to try out each of the 4 sundaes on offer, sharing them so we got a taste of each. The sundaes were absolutely huge when they were brought over to us and quite a surprise as I think we had all expected desserts on a plate (and yes, we had completely missed the menu saying 'sundae' which definitely would have given it away!), but we got stuck in nonetheless and boy were they the most scrumptious end to the evening. The 4 sundaes we delved into were Strawberry Cheesecake, Bramley Apple Pie, Brownie & Waffle and my personal favourite which I am still craving now, Banoffee Pie; an incredible mix of vanilla ice cream with banana, biscuit and caramel sauce topped with whipped cream, incredible! I would go back to Handmade Burger Co for the Banoffee Pie sundae alone, it was that good.
Overall it was a really lovely evening and a wonderful opportunity to see just a small selection of what Leicester Highcross has to offer. I know it won't be long until I'm back for more, especially that delicious sundae! Next time I plan to do the perfect mix; shopping followed by scrumptious food, and I'll be sure to share my beauty buys and all the delicious food with you when I do! I've already downloaded the brand new Highcross PLUS app ready for my next visit, which has some fab exclusive offers as well as news on the latest and Highcross news. If you're a Leicester lovely yourself, make sure to check it out here.
*This was a complimentary blogger evening, all views are my own - Disclaimer