ByChloe (NY, USA)

Hi my dear ones,

I am back with another hotspot review. I have so many long over due posts (very diverse in nature) to share with you. I have been making a greater effort to be more present in this platform but it’s been busy lately, so please bear with me. Writing and sharing content here is something I really enjoy doing and something I want to make more time for. It is certainly not easy with my full-time Finance job, which entails working long hours during some weeks but hey, I am not complaining at all. I love both my job and this creative outlet. I just need to find greater work-life balance that allows me to do both. I am sorry for not being able to share my experiences as they happen but I hope that is not a reason to put you off from reading my blog posts.

Now, let’s get into today’s hotspot review.

I went to NY with my boyfriend last September for my 26th birthday. This was for sure one of the most memorable trips I have had so far. I loved every moment of it and we got to explore so many different areas of the city, such as Manhattan, Brooklyn and Ellis island.

Naturally, we also got to try plenty coffee and food spots (something we both love to do together) and it was so much fun!

One of the food spots that was on my list was ByChloe, a plant-based restaurant with locations in NY, Rhode Island, LA, Boston, Toronto, and London. I have actually tried to visit one of their restaurants during my last trip in London but, sadly, I could not make it. However, since this is an American restaurant chain, I am actually glad I got to visit it during my stay in the US.

Location and atmosphere

We visited ByChloe, situated in Rockfeller Plazar, and this is the perfect location if you want to quickly get something to eat before or after going to the top of the Rockfeller centre (or before AND after like it was our case haha).

The inside of the restaurant is fairly spacious, with loads of room to sit and eat in, and it has a super chilled vibe. Luckily, there was no line in either of the two times we got there but the scenario might be very different if you go earlier in the day.

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Food

First, we went to ByChloe for a quick snack because we were feeling a bit peckish and our time slot for the Top of the Rock was not until 8 pm. Afterwards, we decided to go back for more, which just goes to show how much we enjoyed it haha!

We wanted to try a food that was quite popular in America but still small-ish as we were not ready to have dinner yet. For that reason, we ordered a small portion of their Mac n’ Cheese to share and it went down a treat! The pasta had a sweet potato-cashew cheese sauce and it was then topped with shiitake bacon and almond parm cheese. It was creamy and tasted oh-sooo cheesy. The shiitake bacon on top gave it that final perfect crunchiness. Yums! I still need to try to replicate this recipe because it was just scrumptious!

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After being left in awe by the amazing view that the Top of the Rock has over NY, we decided to go back to ByChloe for dinner.

I ordered the Kale Caesar sale with shredded, chopped romaine, shiitake bacon, avocado, almond parm cheese, maple-wheat croutons (SO GOOD!), sunflower seeds and caesar dressing. I usually order any dressings that my food might have on the side but this time I kept all the ingredients in my order so that I could try the true original version. I am glad I did because this was definitely a salad done right! I loved the combination of different textures and it was SO wholesome and packed with flavour!

My boyfriend ordered the BLT sandwich with shiitake bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado, chipotle aioli served in a 7-grain toast. He is not a huge fan of plain simple avocado but he totally approved the whole combo. His favourite part was the shiitake bacon, which I agreed that it was just to die for!

 

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Price

I found the food to be not too expensively priced for New York, especially given the great portion sizes. The small Mac n Cheese was $4.95, the Kale Ceasar salad was $11.45 and BLT sandwich was $10.95.

Service

 

The service was very efficient. We placed our orders at the counter, our names were noted down and called when our food was ready.

Good sense of humour and friendliness are the two things I appreciate the most whenever I go out to eat and ByChloe did not disappoint at all when it comes to this. The person who served us was super nice and funny. When I told her my Portuguese name, she looked at me very confused and with no idea on how to either pronounce or write it. My boyfriend jokkingly replied” actually her name is “James”. She laughed and immediately replied “Ok James, you both can sit down and I will call you when your food is ready!”. I really loved how she just played along (and for the record she did shout “James” when our orders were ready). 

All food comes served in recyclable and compostable packaging that is appropriate for take away. I understand that the food is marketed in a way that suits the New York lifestyle and that by using eco-friendly plastic free packaging, ByChloe is already doing better than half of the businesses in town. Nevertheless, I still find that to be a bit wasteful if you are actually eating in like it was our case.

On a more positive note, ByChloe is a restaurant chain that is mindful about the quality of the food used and is committed to use ingredients that are organic, seasonal and locally sourced (whenever possible).

 

Whilst ByChloe isn’t necessary in the business of peddling “ultra-healthy” industry (and it does not have to be), you can certainly still opt for options that are more on the whole foods side. If you are in the mood for something sweet, ByChloe also got you covered with their cupcakes, cookies or even their banana bread. All in all, there’s a wide variety of food options to appeal to everyone’s taste! If I ever have the chance to visit one of their location, I will certainly do so. Whether you are vegan or not, I would totally recommend you to check this place out if you are anywhere near the Rockefeller precinct!

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

Deliciously Ella, deli. (London, The UK)

When I flew to London for my sister’s Phd graduation earlier this year, I had the chance of visiting one of Deliciously Ella’s delis. I enjoyed it so much that I felt an urge to write a post about it. However, before jumping straight to my review about it, a brief introduction to Deliciously Ella and the reasons behind my enthusiasm might help. So, here it goes!

I am a big fan of Ella Mills, the 28-years-old British food blogger better known as “Deliciously Ella”. What I really admire about Ella and her work is the genuine passion she puts into creating recipes and her balanced approach to eating. Through her recipes and the brand she has built around them, she encourages a diet that is mainly focused on whole plant-based foods. Something I also stand by.  More recently, I have also got into her podcast, in which she discusses some topics that I am really passionate about. She has guests over to talk about physical and mental heath, wellness, veganism, environmental sustainability and the process of building a brand.

Even though I had been to London many times before, I had actually never been to one her supper clubs, pop ups or delis. For that reason, this time I made sure that I would go to one of her famous delis.

I loved the ambiance the moment I set foot in the deli. This is how beautiful and inviting it looks inside:

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Overall atmosphere

I really liked the modern and light-filled space and its minimalistic decor. Even though it may get easily packed with people due to its limited seating, I’d say that the waiting time is worth. There were no seats available when we got there (at around 3pm on a weekday) but, gladly, it took us only about 5-10 mins to get a table. We would not mind waiting more if we had to since we were there on a mission anyway haha. Plus, we got a really nice table just by one of the big front windows. It was perfect for the food photography! Double win.

There were also some of Ella’s food products (e.g. granola, energy balls, oat bars..) available on and behind the counter, which is very convenient for those who are curious to try them.

Food

My sis, mum and I came to this deli feeling quite hungry and looking forward to some lush plant-based food. The food certainly did not disappoint in the slightest and everything we ordered was right up our alley.

Whilst my sis went for a dish from the set menu, mum and I decided to build our own bowl. My sis had the Pesto pevide massa with cherry tomatoes and arugula with a ginger kombucha. Mum chose the harissa chickpea & sweet potato stew, the lentils and her crisp-tender wild broccoli with lemon and almonds and the lentils and herby mint salad. I went for the spiced tahini roasted cauliflower, cabbage & beet coleslaw, sweet corn fritters (so YUMMY and not greasy at all) and a crazy-good creamy mint pea hummus.

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Everything – literally everything – tasted as delicious as it looks.

Service and staff

The service was efficient but the staff was not the most welcoming and friendliest, which was a shame really. I have no doubts of how much love and care goes into the recipes Ella creates and the successful business she runs. However, the staff working at her deli just did not seem to be very attentive or share that same passion.

Pricing

I found the food portion sizes to be decent and reasonably priced (ranging from 9£ to 12£) for London’s standards.

Location

The deli is centrally located in a quite road (Weighhouse street), just behind Oxford Street.

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So, just to wrap up my thoughts, coming here for a late lunch was undoubtedly one of the food highlights of my latest trip to London. It was great to experience Ella’s work up close, which I find to be very inspiring. She is definitely someone I look up to for the way she built her brand and for how passionately she promotes it. Plus, I got to spend a lovely time sharing some delicious vegan food with my mum and sis. ♥

It is no news that London has its fair share of absolutely gorgeous cafes serving great food but if I were you, I would put this one right on that list!  Thus, if you happen to be in London and you are a lover of more whole and plant-based foods, then you won’t to miss out this gem!

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

LUI (Groningen, The Netherlands)

Last Sunday I caught a train to Groningen, which, for those who do know, is a city pretty much in the very North of Holland. This was the Dutch city where I did my Master’s Degree and where I spent what was one of the best times of my life. *Fun fact about it: “61% of all trips into the city are made by bike” (thus, calling it a “bicycle-friendly city” is quite an understatement haha)

I went to Groningen to visit and catch up with a good friend of mine, who is still living there. It was great to spend some quality time with her. It was a lovely sunny day, which made it easier to notice how dazzling tulips and daffodils were starting to bloom everywhere.

Roaming the same streets that I used to bike on every day just over two years ago left me feeling a little bit nostalgic. It brought me so many memories back. Though I must say that experiencing the bittersweet feeling of nostalgia about this time of my life does not necessarily mean that I would want to bring it back if I was given the chance to. To feel a longing for times gone by is a natural human emotion. I am a firm believer that things happen at the right time. Life is constantly changing and it has its own seasons. So, all we can do is to recognise that there is a season for everything.. and with that in mind, we can choose to cherish and treasure those beautiful memories. That is how we keep them alive. ♥

Anyway, sorry for digressing. Back to the main point of this post: a review of the cafe I got to visit last Sunday!

Because nothing beats a great catch up over a great cup of coffee, my friend and I decided to go to a cafe in town that apparently has only opened November of last year. It is called “lui”, which in Dutch means “lazy” (hence why the sloth in the big front window).

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The cafe is not hard to find as it conveniently located in the city centre. It is fairly small but because it has a big window that lets the natural light come in, I’d say that it is the perfect definition of “coziness”. There are even a few pairs of fluflly slippers right at the entrance of the door in case you want to put them one and get that true warm fuzzy feeling. Another curiosity about things they have available for customers are board games! It is quite a typical thing at Dutch cafes because this is an activity the Dutchies love doing when the sun refuses to make an appearance.

The cafe is just gorgeous inside and emanates a feeling of spring due to being full of plants. Actually, since you seem to be able to buy some of the plants in pots, it is almost like a plant shop in simultaneous. Totally love the concept and I can see why this cafe is one of my friend’s favourite.

We got there at around 3pm and I think we were very lucky to get a table. The people sitting at it were just about to leave when we arrived. What a win guys, what a win.

We ordered two oat cappuccinos (almond milk is also available), which despite being very tasty, lacked some cute latte art. However, the fact that the ratio of espresso/milk/foam was absolutely nailed made up for it. My friend advised me to get one of their homemade sweet treats claiming that they were absolutely scrumptious. Guess what? She was darn right. I got myself a slice of their raw berry cake and, boy was it good.

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I was just so nutty, fresh, creamy and coconutey. It was perfectly sweetened with natural sugars and so darn YUMMY. If you are an avid reader of my blog, you would know by now how I love raw desserts. This one surely did not disappoint. My friend had a slice of their mocha cake, which she also loved. It had a white frosting with big chocolate chunks on top. Sorry for not having a picture of it but…I guess I was way to busy with eating mine? Oops.

I was so positively surprised to hear that all their four available homemade sweet treats were vegan *what an happy me jumping for joy*. The mocha cake is the only one I would most likely happily skip because its texture and look were more like cake. As I have said earlier, I am not a big sweet tooth and if I am craving something sweet, I would hardly go for fluffy, spongy cakes with cream or icing. Anyway, the other two cakes available (carrot cake and a more traditionally looking cheesecake) were more to my taste. The carrot cake looked super moist and nutty, just how I would like it to be. Though, I would also be very eager to try the more traditionally looking cheesecake. Now that I actually come to think of it, I haven’t had a cheesecake that is not the typically vegan raw one since I stopped consuming dairy… Well, I guess that I will have to change that soon. I am sure I will  be coming back here again given the fact that I have two very “sweet” good reasons for it haha.

Even though the price for the oat cappuccino was quite ok (2,75€), the sweet treat I ordered was not particularly cheap (4€). However, that is a price I am happily willing to pay given how pretty the cafe itself is and the quality of the food/drinks served. Plus, the staff was also very welcoming and friendly with us.

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Overall, I would hand-on-heart say that Lui is worth a visit, whether you come with friends or on your own. In my opinion, it is just the perfect place to spend some quality time catching up with friends, reading a good book or even journaling whilst sipping a good cup of coffee. Plus, in you case you are in for something sweet or savoury, you can rest assured that you will have a good variety of vegetarian and vegan choices to choose from. I am going to certainly come back here when I happen to be in the city again! 🙂

I hope you have enjoyed this post and I appreciate you taking the time to read it. Wish you all a lovely week ahead xx

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

what if writing hotspot reviews is the answer I need to overcome what I am going through? What if I use to challenge myself more? Because I want to expand this section in my blog, I go try more places, I go try different foods, I challenge myself and I don’t even notice.. (what makes me tick the most, the posts where I feel like my writing just flows)

Veggie Raw Vegan Bistro (Budapest, Hungary)

I flew to Budapest at the end of last year to meet my best friend, who is currently living in Germany. When we were University students and flatmates living in Lisbon we used to say “once we start making money, we will travel together to all the places we have dreamed of and it will be just epic”. Now that the time has come, I am so happy to see that we are actually making happen what we our younger selves once promised. This was our first time in Hungary and our very first trip abroad together and it could not have been more amazing or memorable really. It exceeded both our expectations. ♥

Even though my bestie eats everything and does not have any special dietary requirements like I do, she is also a huge foodie who is always keen on trying new foods! I really admire her love for food in general. She is great cook who loves to experiment in the kitchen, which I find to be quite inspiring. I showed her the list of cafes and restaurants that I wanted to visited and that I compiled prior to our trip. Gathering a list of cafes and food spots that seem to be unique/characteristic in the way they look or in the vegetarian/vegan food they serve is something I always do before traveling! 🙂  It was a real joy to see that she was as excited as I was to go to all the spots I have looked up.. and as a result, we got to eat so much good food in amazing looking places!

After a long walk by the Danilo in the freezing cold, we were ready for a sweet treat and a hot beverage to warm us up. Hence, we decided to stop by the cafe “Veggie Raw Vegan Bistro” before heading to the thermal baths. This cafe was in my list due to its mouth-drooling raw sweet treats and that whole idea seemed just perfect since we were way too cold and in much need of a break from all the walking. As I have mentioned before here, raw vegan cheesecakes are my kind of dessert. They are usually very rich in flavour, creamy and not too sweet. They are also normally made mainly with real and simple ingredients, like nuts and fruits, which I absolutely love.

 

My friend ordered a cappuccino with coconut milk and I ordered a hibiscus tea that came in a big cuppa! It fell like a huge hug coming from a cup. We also ordered these two slices of vegan raw cheesecake (gluten free and only naturally sweetened) to share. And yes, they were as good as they look. * win win *

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If I remember well, these were flavours of the cheesecakes we ordered: Dried apricot and Chocolate & Pomegranate and Raspberry cheesecake.

There was a wide variety of them, which just made it harder to decide which ones to get. Anyhoo, we were both very happy and satisfied with our choices. They were not only aesthetic pleasing but also pretty sinful.

About the cafe and service offered

I found the cafe to be slightly overpriced (certainly more expensive than most places in Budapest) and perhaps a little bit overhyped too. It is a small cute cafe with tasty vegan sweet treats but it seems like it is just lacking in soul. It is not exactly the food spot that I would describe as cozy or inviting.  The entire atmosphere is a bit “meh” and the fact that there is not a real coffee espresso machine, makes it all seem a bit amateurish. Also, the staff did not come across as being very welcoming, friendly or even passionate about her work. This was, in all honesty, a bit disappointing to experience. I mean, do not get me wrong, we still enjoyed to come here due to the delicious sweet treats and hot beverages we had. They hit the spot and were just what we needed but I feel like this would not be a honest review if I did not mention the less positive sides of the service.

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All in all, I think that the place is just not being explored to its full potential. It is a real shame because the food concept is attractive (i.e. all 100% plant-based, raw and gluten free food ) and the menu offers a good variety of healthy and nourishing savoury dishes and sweet treats. Plus, it is in a fairly central and popular area (near the Parliament).

From what I have looked up online,Veggie Raw Vegan Bistro was actually the first 100% raw vegan restaurant opening in Hungary. I am glad I had the chance to visit it and I have now formed an opinion by having experienced it first-hand. I’d still recommend this place in to any person who happens to be in Budapest and is curious about raw vegan food and/or who is a cheesecake lover.

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful