Dinner at D.a.s.t.a.a.n

 

Last summer Mr M mentioned he’d seen a small restaurant a short distance from us amongst the parade of small shops in Ewell. The restaurant being Dastaan which opened it’s doors towards the end of 2016 and after a bit of research we realised this relatively new establishment was a local gem that we had somehow missed on our restaurant radar.


I made a booking to celebrate our 7 year wedding anniversary (advisable to book early to avoid disappointment) and I am so glad we did. Ever since moving to Surrey in 2009 I have been a little disappointed with the indian restaurants in our locality that is until now of course. Dastaan is the joint venture for Sanjay Gour and Nand Kishor two internationally acclaimed Chefs who have in my opinion placed Epsom firmly on the map for fantastic cuisine.

Both have glittering CV’s in the culinary trade. Sanjay combines his expertise in desserts with a lighter version of indian sweets and all things spice working at events such as the BAFTA’s and GQ Awards. He worked with Angela Hartnett, as pastry chef at her restaurant, Michelin-starred Murano. Success continued as he worked as Head Chef at one of the most talked about Michelin star Indian restaurant of London Gymkhana. Chef Nand from Mumbai has extensive training in the mixing of spices working in different restaurants, going onto to open Trishna restaurant which received a Michelin star in 2012 and in 2014, and then onto the Gymkhana restaurant as Head Chef.

The moment we walked into the restaurant we could see and feel the ambience, the tables were busy with families, friends couples, a real mix of guests. I liked the warm welcome and we didn’t have to wait long before our drinks arrived. I went for wine. He went for beer. Fortunately my parents came to stay so that we were able to head out sans child. Also managed to get the Taxi of Dad booked for later that evening.

The tables are pretty closely arranged together which I don’t mind as the restaurant isn’t huge, the staff were friendly and were great in advising us about the dishes. I like the fact that the menu wasn’t overwhelmed with dishes. I think sometimes in life we are presented with too much choice and it complicates things!

We went for the following with rice and naan breads.

STARTERS

PaniPuri 

Beetroot Tikki with Tadka Yogurt

Samosa Chaat

MAINS

Methi Chicken Fresh Fenugreek

Pork Vindaloo with Goan Spices


We were sadly too full to order desserts and it was a shame as we were both looking forward to the Pistachio Kulfi.  Something to correct the next time we visit! The standard of food here is exceptionally tasty, non greasy and filling.  I generally can’t  believe our luck having the restaurant on our doorstep. It does get busy and it’s clear to see why as the food really is outstanding. I’ve read reviews comparing this restaurant to Michelin star Jamavar in Mayfair London so you know you won’t be disappointed.

I really hope to return soon for another magnificent feast. There is also a Take away service available which makes this even more of a win win for me. But I’m not the only one winning as Michelin has also included Dastaan in their Bib Gourmands guide to Great Britain and Ireland 2018. It’s one of 27 restaurants to win the accolade which recognises simple yet skillful cooking at a reasonable price.  Congratulations to the team!

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Dastaan, 447 Kingston Rd, Epsom, KT19 0DB

e: info@dastaan.co.uk  

 

Thanks for reading

Bella

~X~

 

Hot Wheels Track Builder Stunt Bridge Review



The new Hot Wheels Track Builder Stunt Bridge kit has been released just in time for Christmas and as usual the Hot Wheels fans at Along Came Jay HQ were eager to review.  Although the actual track and bridge sections are straightforward, this set has a number of bricks that look like lego pieces that does require a bit of concentration to put together. Luckily Jay had mummy to help and we went through the contents of the box and were soon set up and ready.

Unlike the Hot Wheels Roto Revolution which we recently reviewed this set does take up a lot of floor space when fully assembled with over 70 pieces it can be customised to be built in three different ways and we were able to change the configuration easily. It’s fully compatible with other Hot Wheels play sets so it has been great to add to the existing track and add another level of excitement.


Two ‘D’ size batteries and a cross-hair screwdriver is required for the motorised bridge to come alive.  To launch the cars you have to hit the lever at the start of the track.  I noticed that you do have to hit this lever quite hard for the cars to gain enough speed to crosse the bridge but this also brings in an element of competitive fun. I think this toy definitely gets you to focus on timing skills.  Jay’s favourite part of the toy is the motorised bridge arm which forms part of the half bridge that rises up.

 

Construction is something he is really enjoying at the moment and the bricks  that come with the set has been a welcome addition as he enjoys adding them to the bridge creating mini blockades and seeing whether he can successfully get the car across without crashing into them. There are additional cardboard cut out mini trolls for imaginative play which can be placed around the track. As I write this post Jay is lining up a number of cars to launch and I’m certain this set will keep him entertained for quite a while.

My only negative is that I feel this set should possible have two cars instead of the one.  It wasn’t that much of a problem as we were able to use existing hot wheels cars from his growing collection!  The Hot Wheels Track Builder Stunt Bridge Kit is newly launched and would make a great gift this Christmas. It’s suitable for ages 5 and over and priced at £49.99.  It is available from all good toy shops. Another great play set for hot wheels fans young and old!

Thanks for reading

Bella

~X~

Hot Wheels Roto Revolution Track Set

This week we have been lucky enough to review the latest toys from Hot Wheels which as a brand has had staggering success since 1968. The franchise is hotter than ever and now encompasses high-end collectibles, NASCAR, and Formula One models for adults, as well as high-performance cars, track and play sets for kids of all ages. To give you a little background, last Christmas my husband went slightly OTT with Hot Wheels purchases for Jay and since then both have been hooked and have collected a number of cars which Jay frequently plays with. Fortunately for us Mattel got in contact to see if we would like to review The Hot Wheels Roto Revolution Track Set and The Hot Wheels Track Stunt Bridge. The Stunt Bridge post will be up on the blog next week if you’d like to see that too.


Toy cars have been a favourite with Jay since he was a baby. He has his favourites of course but he usually asks if I can help him set up the Hot Wheels tracks we have previously purchased as he loves watching the cars launch.  I could tell he was eager to try this set the moment he saw the loop pictured on the box.  The aim of the game is to strategically launch a car at the right time into the rotating circle. There is a launcher on either side of the track and once both cars are released, they will then loop at speed around the track until one crashes out, the last car racing is the winner. This toy does require adult assembly and is suitable for ages 5+ as it requires hand and eye coordination. I was stunned by how incredibly fast the cars go once they are in the loop. There is an on/off switch should the cars stop and get stuck inside. The first time I operated the loop I hadn’t secured one of the track pieces and a car flew out which startled me but I realised my error.

Although I set up the toy relatively quickly which I was really  happy about I completely forgot that it takes 4xD size batteries and you’ll need a small cross head screw driver. Luckily I had both but they are needed to operate this toy and one other point I should mention is that I personally thought it was a little noisy once switched on.  Jay didn’t seem to mind the noise and once we started playing with the toy it’s easy to forget as the focus shifts to timing the launch of the cars.  He is able to place the cars ready for launch and does a far better job than me at getting them to whizz inside the loop! The two cars that come with the set are bright and well made.

The RRP for the Hot Wheels Roto Revolution is £49.99 and is available at all good toy stores. Jay enjoys playing with this track set and even Grandad and Grandma joined in as it has that competitive element to it. With only a few weeks left until Christmas this would make a great gift for any Hot Wheels fan.

Thanks for reading

Bella

~X~

 

*Disclosure: We were sent the above toy for the purpose of this review, however, all opinions are my own.

5 Outfit Hacks To Get Your Kids Out The Door On Time (Guest Post)

 

School is well underway for the school year but there is always room for improvement! Mornings can be stressful— getting ready for work, packing lunches, making breakfast, and don’t forget about signing those last-minute permission slips! The last thing we need to think about is how to get our kids dressed in a timely manner, am I right?

We’ve compiled a list of our top 5 outfit hacks that will help you get your kids dressed and out the door in a more timely fashion. No more missed school buses, tardy slips, or dirty looks for the teacher.

1. Stock up on the basics

This is something our mother has been telling us for years, “stick with the basics” but to tell you the truth, it actually works! By stocking up on basis solid colors like white, black, navy, and tan you can be sure to have something that goes with just about anything. Adding some solid colored t-shirts, long sleeve shirts, and even some basic dresses in these colors can minimize frustration over what to wear. We are loving these basics from La Bella Flora.

 

2. Mix and match with pops of colour

Have the basics? Check. Now it’s time to add some color, it’s easy to fall into a clothing rut, but it can be avoided by adding little pops of color. Your little darling would sparkle with a neutral colored shirt matched with some brightly colored leggings. This is a mom win any day of the week. Think outside the box, it doesn’t just have to be clothing items that add color, but accessories too! From the shoes to scarves you can help your little one insert some extra style into her wardrobe. Take this headband, for example, a super fast hack for adding some sparkle and taking care of the bed head that’s impossible to manage.

3. Plan ahead

Putting a little bit of time aside on Sunday night to pick out some outfits with your kids can be a huge help when it comes to morning time routines! If you have a few outfits picked out ahead of time it can be a cinch to allow your kids to choose one of them and move on to the next step in the morning, like eating breakfast or brushing teeth. Plus this can be an extra bonding time! Make it fun, try on different outfits, shoes, and accessories and make it part of your weekend routine. Not only will you feel good about getting the extra laughs in with your littles, but you can ease the morning stress of hearing them complain about having nothing to wear.

4. Add the accessories beforehand

Ok, you’ve got the basics, you’ve mixed and matched, planned ahead, but what about adding the accessories too? Don’t just focus on the clothing items, think about what shoes and clothing would look best with that particular outfit. Have you checked the weather for the week? Placing the entire outfit together on a hanger or even in a drawer can help kids on the younger end of the scale get dressed by themselves. This is a home run for mom and kid, boosting self-confidence and individuality while freeing mom up to attend to other items on the must-do list.

5. Labels are our friends

This last one might seem over the top, but labels can really help keep moms and kids organized. Label drawers and areas of the closet to help speed up picking out an outfit. Don’t have your little one waste time digging through drawer after drawer, by labeling them with pictures or words (depending on the age of your child) you can have them navigate their way through getting dressed in the morning. If you keep clothes for all seasons in your kids closet, label them or keep only.  Then sit back, enjoy your coffee, and pack those lunches all with a little time to spare. Once you add these 5 outfit hacks into your morning routine, outfit choices for the current season up front in plain view.  Have you planned some outfits ahead of time? Tie a little label around each hanger with the days of the week and finally free up some time in that morning routine.

Thanks for reading!

 

*This guest post is in collaboration with United States based LaBella Flora Childrens Boutique an exquisite boutique designed to provide beautiful clothing just for girls.

 

Thomas & Friends™ Super Station Review

As a blogger I have been lucky enough to work with lots of great brands and Mattel is no exception. I was recently asked if I would like to review the Thomas Super Station with my train obsessive son and of course the answer had to be a YES PLEASE!
Thomas has been a firm favourite at Along Came Jay HQ for quite some time and when we opened the box we were all taken back by the scale of this train set it really is epic! I went on to hear lots of “wows” and “look at this mummy” it’s fair to say Autumn is already beginning to feel very Chrismassy.

Taking all the items out of the box took about ten minutes.  I opened the instructions booklet and initially thought it looked a bit too complex for my eyes “How on earth am I going to put all of this together” came to mind. But to my relief it was incredibly easy as all the parts are marked by letters and numbers and then it’s simply a case of choosing your track of choice to construct. There are four outlined in the booklet but the playing options are of course endless as there are 10 metres of track!

This is one incredibly fun play set that really will keep toddlers and adults occupied. It comes with three trains Percy, Thomas, James and Harold the helicopter but it also compatible with Thomas & Friends engines, TrackMaster, Adventures, MINIS or wooden railway toys with room for storing over 100 engines.
Building it was a lot of fun plus Jay loved it as he was able to recognise the letters and numbers on the parts and pass them to me with ease. It is the sort of set that he would perhaps struggle to assemble all by himself but he was able to put some of it together with guidance and we built the dual race track pictured on the box first. Every day we build a different track and it’s definitely a toy he rushes to first thing. At 3 he is definitely very much into constructing things and this really suits him. Jay enjoyed operating Cranky’s crane lifting and moving engines I think that’s his favourite part. The set features locations such as Tidmouth sheds, Brendam docks, Knapford Station, the Sodor Steamworks, the Dieselworks, and Blue Mountain Quarr.

My only negative is that due to the many pieces of this set you need a large space to set up and then storage to keep the pieces together. I’ve bought a storage box for this purpose.  I would highly recommend the Super Station as it offers multiple configurations and can work with various Thomas toys.  We also used wooden train toys from other sets we own. This super station retails at £129.99 and is suitable from age 3 and upwards. If you have little train fans living with you then this is a nicely put together set. It’s been a perfect addition for the half term holiday and a real pleasure to review.

 Thank you for reading
Bella
~X~
 *I was sent the product in exchange for an honest review.