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I have been following the very funny and talented local Irish chef Martin Anderson on SnapChat for quite a few months now, so I was intrigued and very eager to try out his new restaurant Sonder as it is only a short twenty five minute drive from my home.

I had after all spent countless weeks watching on as he overseen the building being gutted,  completely transforming the previous premises, from a hair salon to a chic, modern restaurant. I sort of felt like I was part of the whole experience already!

Follow chef Martin anderson on snapchat

Follow chef Martin Anderson on snapchat for a daily dose of fun foodie related snaps

So a few weeks after Sonder opened on a beautiful sunny day I decided to take Cora my eldest child as a treat, after her school exams were over. We made the short journey over the border from Derry~Londonderry (Northern Ireland) to Letterkenny in Donegal (Ireland) and easily found the restaurant without having to go into the city centre – such a relief as I had baby Max with me too who had just woken up and the pressure was on to get him fed before he went into an almighty meltdown!

Outside view of the cafe

Outside view of the cafe

I could tell instantly from the outside and the high quality finish that Chef Martin is a bit of a perfectionist (I won’t lie I was beginning to get nervous at how much this ‘treat’ was going to cost me!)  In we went…

I was immediately impressed with the fact that the doors were wide as my Quinny Buzz pram is quite cumbersome and the wheels are forever getting caught in doorways! But not here, it boded well.

We got a big, warm welcome from the main man himself as soon as we walked through the door, he was chatting to some customers and ushered us in, showing us to our seat personally, which was lovely.

chef Martin anderson

chef Martin Anderson

It was almost like meeting a celebrity after watching his Snaps everyday! With a book already under his belt, Fat Chef Slim, the fun loving, inspirational chef has detailed his impressive five stone weight loss journey, giving tips and advice for others along the way. He is also a columnist for local newspaper The Donegal Daily, writing weekly healthy food recipes, and talks on local radio station, Highland Radio one day a week too.

Fat Chef Slim cookbook

Fat Chef Slim cookbook

He was every bit as friendly in person and was touched when I told him that we had travelled especially  just to sample his cooking!

 

more dining area sonder

As it was early in the morning we ordered off the breakfast menu. There was so much variety to choose from and there was something to suit all palettes or lifestyle choices – with Luca’s cow’s milk protein allergy, I am always on the look out for things that would suit him too. In the end (after a lot of eenie meany miney mo) we both settled on the vegetable omelette.

My breakfast ommlette

My breakfast omelette

From our vantage point, being near the counter we could watch as the food was being freshly prepared –   right infront of your eyes, from the prep stage to the plate!

Counter where food is prepared

Counter where food is prepared

Cora and I were both amazed at how good our food looked when it was served, the sheer amount of fresh vegetables on the plate was fantastic. The generous portion size was perfect – we love our food and Sonder didn’t disappoint! It was divine – by far the nicest, biggest, fluffiest, yummiest omelette I have ever tasted!

Sitting back we ate at our leisure, with some of the friendly staff coming over to check if everything was to our liking and taking time to play with baby Max which was so nice. It was a lovely, cosy atmosphere, light, bright and airy with the sound of happy, cheerful voices of the other customers and staff around us, adding to the ambience.

 

Full up from the yummy food

Full up from the yummy food

We each really enjoyed the food very much, I finished every last bite! (Cora nearly did too, give or take a few vegetables)  We stayed full up for hours after and it didn’t feel heavy in our tummies.

Just as I finished eating, right on cue Max woke up needing a nappy change so off to the toilets we went. I loved the bright quirky arty work on the toilet doors – not your typical toilet signs – which added a nice personal touch.

Ladies toilet

Ladies toilet door

 

men's toilet door

men’s toilet door

The baby changing/disabled toilet door had a picture of a man, woman and baby – I liked how it embraced the whole family -other shops take note, sometimes dads change nappies too!

Family/disabled toilet door

Family/disabled toilet door

We couldn’t leave without trying the tray-bakes, they were much too tempting! Displayed at the counter, that freshly baked smell was just way too good to resist, so we didn’t deny ourselves.

Chocolate treats

Chocolate treats

Tempting selection of treats

Tempting selection of treats

We chose the gluten and dairy free chocolate brownies to take home one each for everyone, so that little Luca wouldn’t be left out. The smell coming from the box was just so good we gobbled ours up in the car and had to hide the rest in the boot so we wouldn’t give in and eat them all too!

dairy and gluten free chocolate brownies

dairy and gluten free chocolate brownies

We were more than happy with the price – it wasn’t at all expensive like I expected, (especially when we tasted the high quality of the food) infact it was very reasonably priced!

Our verdict…..

5 star rating

Rated 5 star seal of approval!

 

We will definitely be back for more!

 

Pleas note: this is not an ad, just our honest opinion.

PORTRUSH TO

With the Mayday bank holiday weekend falling on the hottest week of the year so far, we decided to treat the kids to a mini break, using the opportunity to meet up with a friend and her beautiful daughter.

Our destination of choice was the picturesque North Coast of Northern Ireland. The Area of Outstanding Beauty has lots to do outdoors including walks on the blue flag beaches and the Giant’s Causeway – and indoors, particularly the iconic Barry’s amusements and award winning Ramore Winebar and Harbour Bar for food, the seaside town of Portrush was the ideal location.

We hit the jackpot when it came to accommodation with our friend suggesting a five star hostel Portrush Townhouse Boutique Hostel, an option I hadn’t even considered. But with four children in tow we gave it a go – and  were very pleasantly surprised!

Portrush Boutique Hostel

Portrush Boutique Hostel

Used to booking family rooms in hotels, keeping a toddler amused within the confined space never mind the many  hidden dangers (sharp cupboard edges, drinks cabinets, low drawers, to name a few) always proves quite a challenge.

Arriving at the hostel with a very warm welcome we were delighted to discover that the very grand looking Victorian townhouse has throughout its lively past accommodated many travellers from around the globe.

We were more than impressed that our studio apartment room in fact encompassed a whole wing of the house! We even had our very own lockable entrance door.

The extra space was such an unexpected luxury, enabling Eve and Luca some extra room for when they go through their nightly energetic stage (aka jumping around like lunatics, shouting and letting off steam before bed).

There was a small yet ample kitchen equipped with pots, pans, oven, sink – absolutely everything you need to cook up a meal or just make a cup of tea. All we had to do was bring the food.

A small corridor lead to the spacious main room itself which contained; a double bed and a set of bunk beds, a sofa and wicker chairs, a large TV and a dining table with chairs.

Studio apartment suite

Studio apartment suite

We also had an en-suite bathroom with a shower just off our main  room. The entire house was dripping in period detail which added to its unique charm.

The kitchen was ideal for keeping wandering little hands away from the kettle – a battle we struggle with each time we stay in a hotel.  The fridge was ideal for storing  perishable items, including Luca’s dairy free butter and milk – something we found very difficult to do in a hotel resulting in the food going off.

We were also able to rustle up some late night rounds of toast for supper and porridge made with dairy free milk in the morning for Luca – something that wouldn’t have been possible had we been in a hotel.

Everyone loved being in such close proximity to one another yet having a bit more personal space than a hotel room would allow! We could all easily watch the tv screen from the comfort of our beds – and boy were they comfortable, so comfortable and luxurious infact that I really struggled to drag myself out of bed in the morning.

There was free wifi and the option of breakfast which was located in the basement of the house, after descending a beautiful authentic black wrought iron  spiral staircase in the lounge room was another quirky feature adding to the character of the house.

As the hostel was so central all the main attractions were easily within walking distance.  After a long walk on the beach and around the town we had walked up an appetite which only the sea air can induce. We dined in the Portrush Atlantic Hotel and wolfed down every last bite of the food.

Portrush Atlantic Hotel

Exhausted from our adventures we settled back into the hostel for the night, making supper and a very much appreciated cup of tea before a movie in bed – that we were all much too exhausted to watch to the end.

After a lovely breakfast spent along with the other guests in the homely kitchen, where we helped ourselves to a basic breakfast (my second of the morning!) with tea, we were feeling refreshed and ready for action again.

We were all in unanimous agreement that the hostel was unlike any hotel we had ever stayed in, in fact our experience at the Portrush Boutique Townhouse Hostel was every bit as good as (if not better than)  staying in a five star hotel (minus the swimming pool).

The absolute best bit about it was the price! At an amazing £75 for our one night stay it is unbeatable value for money, especially for a family of six! We will most definitely come back again.

Saying a fond farewell to our friends we headed off on a long trek, taking in the breathtaking views along the coastal walk to the Ramore Head.

Ramore Head photo credit: travel.aol.co.uk

Ramore Head photo credit: travel.aol.co.uk

We again  walked up a ferocious appetite, and as the end of the walk way naturally brought us within close proximity to the nicest eatery around, the Ramore Harbour Bistro, we stopped off for a very delicious, truly sumptuous lunch – it would have been rude not to!

Ramore-Wine-Bar

With our tummies full we made a final stop off at the indoor funfair that is a major tourist attraction in Portrush – Barry’s Amusements  – in the blistering heat! What Eve wants Eve gets! I can’t say I was sorry to be in the shade, as I was worried about the boys getting the full effects of the sun at the hottest time of day. After wiling away a few hours (and more than a few pounds!) we set off for granny and granda’s house on the way home to tell them all about our travels.

BIG DIPPER

 

Disclaimer: This is in no way an ad, just our own honest opinions.