REVIEW: Abbey House Restaurant, Selby

Ever since Abbey House Restaurant opened its doors in November 2015, we have been massive fans.

It's our go-to place in town for special occasions. We've celebrated birthdays, Mother's Day, anniversaries, Valentine's Day, the festive season and new jobs there.

So I was absolutely over the moon when I won a Facebook competition (it was a like and share this post, you know the type) which was run by one of Abbey House's local suppliers, Bert's Barrow, for a meal for two.

We booked in for Bank Holiday Monday, knowing full well that after the excitement of a wedding that I really wouldn't want to cook.

I have eaten at Abbey House more times than I can remember, but the reason I wanted to write a review this time was because I feel more people need to know about it. When we told friends where we were going, they hadn't heard of it. People asked what food they served, what it's like inside, how much it is etc.

The restaurant has an AA rosette - which is no easy achievement. They're only given to the real best - and Abbey House is Selby's only AA rosette restaurant. Yet so many people still don't even know about it. That makes me very sad. So, here's my attempt to make more people know about it. (Hopefully not too many that I struggle to get booked in for future occasions, though!)

We were booked in for 7pm, but arrived quite early. We enjoyed a lovely drink outside, taking in the last of the summer sunshine, before our table.

We were given the menu to peruse while we enjoyed our drinks. It's the first time we have been since the menu change, so it was nice to have some time to deliberate.

Our order was taken and we were promptly shown to our table - where we were given homemade wholemeal ciabatta to enjoy. I'm sorry there's no photo of this - we were both starving and dived in before I even had a chance to register!

We were both really impressed with the menu choices. Abbey House has a set menu - £13 for one course, £19 for two courses and £24 for three. It's really good value, especially when you see the quality of the food.

For starter, Tom went for the ox tongue, tomato chutney, Yorkshire blue, garlic, lovage oil.

While I opted for the Beetroot cured bream, chorizo jam, hummus, lime dressing, pickled cucumber.

I had never tried bream before, I did spend some time googling its taste/texture before ordering it. But I have to say, it was beautiful. The chorizo jam and hummus was perfect with it, as was the pickled cucumber.

I normally don't like cucumber, or hummus, but it all worked wonderfully well together for my starter. It's always nice when you try something new and it's a hit.

I can always count on Abbey House to be the place I try something new, because I always know it's going to be the best quality and prepared in the tastiest way.

We ordered a bottle of Merlot - our favourite tipple - to enjoy with the rest of our meal as we waited for our steak.

The atmosphere in Abbey House is lovely. The decor is simple yet elegant, and the vibe is really chilled - but you still feel like you're somewhere fancy.

The restaurant is spread across two floors, a smaller downstairs and a much larger upstairs. There's even a private table at the bottom of the ground floor, away from all the other diners, which is perfect for more intimate occasions.

Everything, even down to the music playing in the restaurant, just ticks all the boxes. The staff are friendly, pleasant and very conscientious. Nothing is ever too much trouble!

For mains, we ordered the flat iron steak (which is only served medium rare) with watercress, shallots, chips and pepper sauce. For good measure, we added a side of onion rings on. And when you see what they look like, you'll see why!

The presentation is impeccable - as you can see.

The chips are out of this world, as are the onion rings. They're proper onion rings in proper batter - just talking about them now is making my mouth water!

The pepper sauce is beaut, too.

I have to say, the steak at Abbey House is up there with the best steak I've had. It's cooked to perfection and is usually always my go-to main course. I really should be more adventurous and try some of the other delights - which include lamb rump, coley and pork - but I know I love the steak so much. And the chips.

We were both a bit stuffed after our main course, but we couldn't not have desserts.

The desserts are out of this world.

I think I must have tried almost every dessert they've done. From an upside down cheesecake when they first opened to an insane brownie.

Their new dessert menu includes chocolate tart, vanilla ice cream, raspberry parfait, a set lemon custard with Italian meringue and white chocolate and lime sorbet; as well as doughnuts.

Tom went for the milk chocolate tart with yoghurt and Tonka ice-cream, mango and cocoa nibs.

While I had the doughnuts with cream cheese, cherries and caramel.

They were proper fresh, homemade doughnuts and were just incredible.

The caramel sauce was out of this world too, and the cream cheese worked really well with the sweetness of the doughnuts and caramel.

They were the perfect way to round off an incredible meal.

As we finished our wine we both said how amazing the meal had been.

A few more tables came in while we were eating, but it wasn't as busy as it should have been.

People of Selby and surrounding areas - you don't know what you are missing!! Abbey House should be booked up weeks in advance - the most sought after tables ever.

If you don't believe me, then perhaps the words of celebrity chef Rosemary Shrager will convince you.

Rosemary was dining at Abbey House the same night as Tom and I, after her appearance at the nearby Sherburn Craft and Food Festival.

When the head chef, Lee, came out of the kitchen to chat to her, she was full of praise for the dishes she tried. She couldn't have complimented Lee, his menu and his creations any more if she had tried.

I felt so proud hearing her speak so highly of the place - and I only hope more people go out and try the place for themselves.

Our meal was part of the competition prize, but our drinks and side orders were to pay for. In total, this came to £34, meaning that were we to pay for our meal too, our bill would have been £82.

For a three course meal for two people, with a bottle of wine, gin and tonic, glass of prosecco and side of onion rings - especially of the calibre it was - I don't think that's at all bad.

The quality of the food speaks for itself - I tried to make my photos look as impressive as possible but, honestly, they don't do the incredible taste justice.

If you don't fancy the set menu on an evening, I can highly recommend Abbey House's Sunday dinner menu. It's one of my favourite places to go for Sunday lunch, purely because it's such good value for money. And, just like the rest of their menu, is excellent quality.

It's also one of my mum's favourite places, too. Being coeliac she struggles to find places that can adapt their menu to her allergies. Abbey House are more than accommodating, often creating gluten free desserts especially for her! They honestly can't do enough for you.

If you don't believe me, try for yourself. I would highly recommend it!


An open letter to my best friend on her wedding day

Dear Soph,

I started writing this post quite some weeks ago. It was on Tuesday, July 11 to be precise - the day we went for your first wedding dress fitting.

I hadn't yet seen your dress so I was so unbelievably excited to see it for the first time. After a somewhat stressful drive there (bloody Great Yorkshire Show!) we made it to the shop just in time.

As you disappeared behind the curtain to get into your dress, my heart was beating so fast. I couldn't wait to see you in your dress. I can't describe the pride I felt when I saw you in it. You looked absolutely breathtaking.

The day is finally here now - the day I get to escort you down the aisle and watch you marry the love of your life, the lovely Paul.

You two first met 'romantically' after we had gone for a meal at Capri, in Selby, for my 17th birthday. It was 17th October 2008. You'd gone out into town afterwards and got chatting to Paul.

From there you started dating and, before long, you were boyfriend and girlfriend. You didn't have the easiest of roads at times, but you fought for your relationship and came out the other side stronger than ever.

After getting engaged and buying your lovely first home, you got your gorgeous little Digby and Frodo. You've got the perfect foundations laid for the most perfect marriage and family life together.

The way you have handled the obstacles that you have come across is inspiring. I really could not have coped the same way as you have, with Paul working away for such long periods at a time. While you struggle, and admit it gets difficult, you handle it so, so well. I really could not be as strong as you. I'd be moaning all the time!

The pair of you together are just a dream. When I see how Paul looks at you it makes me melt. I am so, so glad you've got someone who takes care of you so well and, quite clearly, adores you.

I have so many fond memories of you and Paul, particularly in the early days of your relationship when we used to go out in town and would see him and his mates out.

I recalled this memory the other day, as part of my pictorial countdown to your wedding, but I'll talk about it again now.

We'd not long been 17, it was just a couple of months are you and Paul met, and we used to go out in Selby. Carly was working at the Blackie at the time, so we used to get a lift into town with her and go into the pub as she was starting her shift. We used to always make sure we walked in with Carly so that the bouncers would ID us. In fact, we had no worry of this as they often thought you were the older sibling!! Awks.

We'd be out from about 9pm usually, not daring to move onto another pub incase we didn't get in and were left outside in the cold.

I remember going out the first weekend after New Year and it being so, so quiet. I think there was only really me, you, Paul and his mates out! I remember us dancing to Kid Cudi 'Day N Nite' on the little dancefloor in Blackie. That song always reminds me of those nights.

Just like the Lady Gaga song, Just Dance, reminds me of the next morning when it woke us both up and we rolled over, looked at each other and sang 'RED ONE' really loud before bursting into fits of giggles. We then went on to lay in bed eating custard creams for our breakfast. It's the stuff dreams are made of.

There are so many things that remind me of the memories we've shared over the years we've been friends.

I've never been able to eat Wotsits in the same way, Dolly Mixtures always make me smile when I see them on the shelf in the supermarket, and I can't listen to Ella Henderson's 'Ghost' without howling remembering all the crazy videos you have of me singing it.

We've been through such an incredible amount together and have been there during every big event in each other's life. We've fought at times, my lord have we fought. We've had some screaming rows which, now I look back on and find hilarious.

My personal favourite was when you thought I'd blocked your number and you rocked up at my house and we were just screaming at each other. I remember Tom sat at the bottom of the stairs, peering round the corner into the lounge every so often to check we weren't ripping each other's hair out. Fast forward half an hour, though, and we were hugging on my sofa, crying and telling each other how much we loved each other and how special our friendship was.

We're mental. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

I've always wanted a sister and, our biological make-up may be different, but I'll always count you as a sister. Like we say, we're soul sisters!

You're the Dec to my Ant (I said it the other way round cos you'd definitely be Dec, being the shorter one!), the Minnie to my Mickey, the fish to my chips, the ying to my yang.

I am so incredibly happy, proud and honoured to stand beside you as you and Paul say your vows and make your lifetime commitments to each other. You guys are inspirational and couple goals in so many ways. Tom and I are lucky to have you in our lives, and I cannot wait to see what our future will hold as the awesome foursome.

Congratulations to you both on your wedding day, here's to the new Mr and Mrs Duck.

I love you both insane amounts


A look at what's been on my plate this week

I was going to incorporate this into my last post, about being nominated for Woman of the Year, but I realised it was starting to reach 'War and Peace' length.

I just wanted to share with you some pictures of what I have been eating this week, for those of you who doubt that you can actually eat nice things and still lose weight.

This was what I had for my tea last Thursday.

They were supposed to look like chicken goujons, but they're more like pieces/strips/shapes. No matter, though, they still tasted amazing.

To make enough for two people, I made breadcrumbs from four slices of wholemeal bread (using your HEB for each person) and mixed them with garlic salt, paprika, mixed herbs and a bit of pepper.

I dipped the chicken in some beaten egg, then rolled it in the breadcrumbs, and put on a baking tray (that had been sprayed with Frylight to stop them sticking!) Then, I just simply baked them in the oven at 180 for about 25-30 mins until the chicken had gone nice and golden and crispy.

Then, voila!

My chips were done in the Actfiry. I chopped and boiled them slightly before drying them off, spraying them with Frylight and then coating in paprika and garlic salt and putting in the Actifry for about 40 mins.

Easy peasy. It looks totally naughty, but it was completely syn free.

Similarly, my breakfast on Saturday morning.

Bacon - with the fat cut off - poached eggs, beans, two slices of wholemeal toast (HEB) and some tinned plum tomatoes. Completely and utterly, 100% syn free.

Who says you can't have a big breakfast with bacon and still lose weight?

My favourite meal of the week, and probably that I have made for some time, was Monday night's tea.

It was quite a faff and time consuming to be doing when I got home from work but, oh my, it was totally worth it.

So, here we have plain boiled rice (obvs) with a chicken curry and saag aloo.

The saag aloo was just incredible. The recipe said it served four (I think it was meant as a main dish, rather than a side) so I have loads left in my freezer for another occasion. The recipe was from the Slimming World 'Fakeaways' book and, whilst quite time consuming, was really easy. The list of ingredients was long, but I realised most of them were herbs and spices I already had on my spice rack anyway.

The chicken curry was just something I threw together myself.

I thinly sliced one red onion, diced a red pepper and crushed some garlic cloves and threw them in a pan with some Frylight, turmeric, ground corriander, ground cumin, cumin seeds, and garam masala. Once the vegetables had started to soften, I added the chicken breast (which I'd chopped into chunks) and squirted in some tomato puree. I also added a chicken stock pot and a little bit more of the herbs, as well as some salt and pepper.

I left it all to marinade/cook for about 10 minutes, making sure to keep mixing it all together so it didn't stick to the pan. I then added a tin of chopped tomatoes, brought the pan to the boil, and then left it to simmer for another 10-15 minutes. I think I threw some more herbs in, and some mustard seeds, throughout the simmering stage and just kept tasting the sauce to make sure it tasted like curry/wasn't too spicy.

It was absolutely beaut!

Unfortunately, there's none of the curry left as Tom went back for seconds (and not just a little bit, another whole plate full!)

I've eaten some lovely things this week, and have tried a fair few new recipes. For me, that's the key to maintaining - variety. I get so bored eating the same thing all the time and like to mix it up and try new things.

I also love cooking and trying new dishes, experimenting and working out what works well together.

After last night's inspiring group I felt totally motivated for today.

I seem to have brought the entire tupperware contents of my cupboard to work.

For breakfast I've got chopped strawberries with fat free Quark and the 5% sugar Cheerios; lunch is a jacket potato with tuna mayo and sweetcorn (2 syns for the mayo) and some carrot batons; an apple and a clementine to snack on; and plenty of water.

I think tea will be leftover pork meatloaf (an adapted version of a Jamie Oliver recipe to make it more Slimming World friendly) with linguine - nice and quick before my hair appointment!

This weekend's menu consists of lasagne and homemade chips, Slimming World friendly Saltimbocca and maybe a roast dinner. I bloody loved the roast we had the other week and totally could eat another one of them this weekend!

Incase you missed it, here was the spread:

Anyone who doesn't think you can't eat good meals and still lose weight, think again! No rabbit food or traditional 'diet food' here!

You may also like: Slimming World friendly recipes

A few words about being nominated for Woman of the Year

When my lovely Slimming World consultant, Beth, text me last week to tell me I was a finalist in our group's Woman of the Year competition you could have knocked me down with a feather.

I couldn't believe it in the slightest. All the incredibly inspirational, amazing women at my group and I was one of four who had been picked as a finalist. I feel like a winner every week I go to Slimming World anyway, just with losing and keeping my weight off, so this was the cherry on top.

In group last night we all got up to say a few words and I was totally unprepared.

So, I will share now what I should have said last night; instead of mumbling and bumbling my way through it.

I joined Slimming World in November 2015 after putting it off for months. My weight had slowly been creeping up and up throughout the year (pretty much since Tom and I moved in together) and I was getting more and more self-conscious.

Confidence is never something I have really had an issue with, but it was well and truly rocked by my ever-expanding waistline. I didn't feel comfortable in any clothes, the ones that still fit me made me feel frumpy and unattractive, and I just didn't really like myself too much.

I tried all the quick fixes out there - cleansing teas, diet pills, wraps, shakes, lotions, potions - and the reviews are all still on this blog. While the results were great in the short-term, and gave me that instant 'loss' I so craved, they weren't sustainable. Give it a few weeks, or a couple of months, and I was right back to square one, plus a few more pounds and inches. I was utterly miserable.

I had been putting off joining Slimming World for ages but, one day, I'd finally had enough and bit the bullet. I'd written a story about Beth at work and had kept her contact details for when I plucked up the courage to join.

I emailed her and the wheels were in motion for me to go to my first group.

I remember the feeling of dread all week leading up to that first Wednesday. My stomach felt like elephants were doing somersaults throughout the day and walking into that room for the first time was one of the most daunting things I have ever done. I was like a fish out of water.

I soon realised, though, that I had picked a wonderful group to go to. Each week, I came out of my shell that little bit more and started engaging with the other members and being more like myself.

Of course, that was helped by the fact the weight was dropping off me so quickly.

I joined on November 9 and, by Christmas, was already almost a stone and a half lighter. I got to target the following March and, apart from a blip around my birthday/Christmas last year, have maintained that weight ever since.

Here are the standard 'before and after' pictures...

Slimming World has well and truly changed my life. I know it's a cliche, but it's true.

I am back to being my confident, outgoing self. I feel happy in my own skin, and happy in my clothes, once again.

It has also made me fall in love with cooking. I always liked cooking before, but now I have tried my hand at so many different recipes and cuisines, I absolutely love it. Some of the meals I make I would never have had the confidence to make before, and wouldn't have had a clue where to start.

I would have also never believed you could eat so much, and such a variety of things, and still lose weight. It's honestly one of the best things I ever did, walking through that door and taking the plunge.

So, there we have it. It's probably a good job I didn't say all that last night - we'd still be there now!

I was alongside some absolutely amazing women, I felt so humbled. Helen and Janet have each lost a staggering five and a half stone - I couldn't believe it. I remember when they both joined, I was about halfway through my weight loss. When I went back to group earlier this year, they had both lost so much weight I barely recognised them!

I hadn't seen them in about 8 months and they just looked totally different. I was blown away!

The fourth nominee, another lady called Helen, wasn't at group last night as she was really poorly. But she had sent some words in for Beth to read out (she wasn't even there and she was still more prepared than me!)

I felt so emotional listening to each of their reasons for joining Slimming World, their struggles and battles, and their weight loss journeys. It was just incredible to see the physical change and the personal change. I went home feeling so inspired and lucky to know such wonderfully, inspiring ladies.

It was also lovely to, once again, read the things that people wrote about me when nominating me. When I was nominated for Diamond Target Member of the Year, reading the nomination slips back really lifted me when I was feeling particularly down. So to read these was just lovely.

As I've said before, I don't often like to think too much about how other people see me, or what others think of me, but this is just lovely.

So, there we have it. I wasn't totally unprepared last night - believe it or not.

I did dig out the pair of trousers I wore to my first ever group back in November 2015.

I remember them being far too tight for me back then. I could only just get them fastened and they were, quite literally, almost bursting at the seams.

Last night, I put them on over the top of my gym clothes at group. The change from my before clothes was nowhere near as great as the other ladies, but gosh I can't believe I ever was the size to have filled them.

When I got home, I put them back on over my gym clothes so I could post the photos here, here you go...

Two and a half stone down and absolutely loving life! If anyone is considering joining Slimming World but is too scared, nervous or worried I would say to just take the leap of faith.

I promise you it works absolute wonders, as you can see. I still enjoy eating out, I still drink prosecco and eat cake, and still managed to lose the weight and keep it off. It isn't a diet, it's a sustainable lifestyle change. So don't be scared. Don't think a tea that makes you shit through the eye of a needle will be a better option - because I promise you, it won't!


A little update from me

I have M.I.A from my blog recently. Life has been a tad chaotic, in every possible way, and I have just felt a bit jaded.

I've not really had any routine and everything has been a bit all over the place, and that is never good for me.

I haven't even been writing about Slimming World, even though I have wanted to. Primarily because I just didn't know what to say!

So, a little update on that first.

Last week, I was back to being royally pissed off again. You'll remember a few weeks ago I put on 1.5lbs, which took me out of my target range. I was annoyed, to say the least. The following week, it was rectified when I lost the 1.5lbs I had gained the previous week.

Then, last week, I went to be weighed - only to discover I'd put 1lb on. Taking me right to the cusp of my target range - meaning any gain at all would, once again, take me out.

I had no idea what was going wrong - I felt like I was doing ok and didn't necessarily feel like I'd had a bad week.

This week, I'd felt it was inevitable I would have a gain. We had a Friday night treat of pizza for tea, then had a takeaway on Sunday (and I drank a fair bit of wine) - so it didn't look good. However, to my absolute shock, I actually lost 2.5lbs.

Tom shared my shock. Here's his reply to my message telling him of my loss:

Gotta love the support from my darling husband, there!

So, while I have been thinking about writing you all a Slimming World-related update, I'm not too sure what to say. My body is playing serious games with me!

I was only saying to my mum's friend yesterday that I didn't feel like I had gained any weight. In fact, some of my clothes are actually a little on the big side now. Yet the scales didn't seem to be agreeing with my wardrobe.

I need to remember the last post I wrote, where I said we need to be kinder to ourselves. I need to be nicer to myself, that's for sure. I'm so incredibly hard on myself in every aspect of my life.

It's definitely something I need to work towards.

Anyway, glossing over the weird recent scale results, I'll share a beaut new recipe I tried this week.

It was a mango and chilli salsa, which we had with pork meatballs and boiled rice.

The ingredients are:
One pot of prepared/ready to eat mango
One red pepper
One red onion
Two tomatoes
A chicken stock pot
A tsp of sweetener
A tsp of salt
A tsp of basil
A tsp of chilli flakes
A big squeeze of tomato puree

Chop everything really small and mix it all together in a bowl
Leave it to simmer over a low heat for 15 to 25 minutes and then serve.

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!

Here was the finished article:

Anyway, this is a new week.

I am now right in the middle of my target range, which gives me a little bit of freedom once again. I'll definitely need it given that this weekend we are at a beer festival and a house warming in the same day!

I've kicked it off as I mean to go on, though (food wise)

40g of the 5% sugar Cheerios (HEB) for breakfast topped with fat free quark, passionfruit and strawberries - b-e-a-utiful!

I'm still plodding on with the Couch to 5k. I have gone very quiet on that front, though. I am only just about to finish week three after having to take two weeks off running due to unbearable knee pain.

However, when I picked up where I left off I didn't find it a struggle, and actually found it to be far easier than before. So hopefully I can keep at it now and finish what I started! I will keep you all updated on my progress - whether you want to hear about it or not(!) - on my blog's Facebook page.

Incidentally, if you've not yet 'liked' my page, I would massively appreciate it if you could. Some days when I can't be bothered stringing long sentences together and writing an actual post, I do post some bits and bobs on there.

Like, for example, the below...

For anyone who is interested, Simon did actually give Tom's pic a cheeky 'like' on Instagram so he was absolutely buzzing his little bum off!

Anyway, if you would like to give my page a like, I would like that very much, like. You can find it here: www.facebook.com/wordsbynat

Moving on quite nicely from the above photo, there's a huge hole in my life now Love Island has finished. I think that's maybe why I feel like I'm lacking routine because my life was structured around that each day.

I am, of course, joking. Maybe. A little bit.

We've instead picked back up watching How to Get Away With Murder. It's on the complete opposite end of the spectrum to Love Island. We are very hooked, though. So it is filling the void nicely. The only problem is it is so intense that I can't watch it too close to bedtime or I can't sleep.

In other news, if you haven't yet seen Dunkirk then stop reading this right now and go and watch it. It. Is. Incredible.

We saw it last week and I already want to go and see it again. The whole thing is just incredible - the way it's shot, the acting, the storyline, the way it is told - just spectacular.

I think that's about it, I promise I will start planning some proper posts in the coming weeks and actually have something for you all that is mildly interesting to read!

Until then, you may also like: You're never a failure if you keep trying