Sunday, 27 August 2017

Food Adventures

As well as checking out fry ups I love to travel and sample what's out there in the rest of the world. Here's a list of my food adventures ranging from jellied eels in Margate to okonomiyaki in Osaka.


France
 2015 French food adventure, click here.


Greece
2015 Greek food adventure, click here

Japan
Japanese food adventure - Chapter 1, click here.
Japanese food adventure - Chapter 2, click here.
Japanese food adventure - Chapter 3, click here.

Spain
2013 Spanish food adventure, click here.
2014 Spanish food adventure, click here. 
2015 Spanish food adventure, click here. 
2017 Spanish food adventure, click here.

 
United Kingdom
Boomtown Fair 2013, click here.
Bearded Theory 2015, click here.
2015 Margate food adventure, click here.

United States
2013 New York food adventure, click here.


Thursday, 24 August 2017

The Black Horse - Norwich

50 Earlham Road
Norwich
 NR2 3DE

Breakfast served
Saturday and Sunday
9.30am till 11.30am 

Dog Friendly

 

The Black Horse is about a ten minute walk away from the City Centre on Earlham Road.



 
It's spacious inside with a choice of areas to dine in.



 
We chose to sit in this room at the front to make the most of the natural light. 




There's also a good sized beer garden at the rear.



 
The breakfast menu is only available at weekends and offers vegetarian and vegan options.




Once you've chosen what you'd like from the menu, place your order at the bar. Don't worry about paying yet as you settle your bill at the end.



 
Remember your table number when placing your order.



 
The coffee here was excellent and came with warmed milk, an Americano cost £2.20.



 
No breakfast is complete without a squirt of Heinz and HP.



 
An quick aerial shot of the food before I went in for a closer look. 




The Black Horse Breakfast usually costs £9.50, the black pudding had been forgotten though so I was given a discount and paid £8.



 
The mushroom ketchup listed on the menu has now been replaced by a mushroom, it was a nice enough mushroom but I was a bit disappointed as I love mushroom ketchup. The chipolatas and bacon are from Toombs Butchers in Hellesdon, both were really nice.



 
Boston beans made a nice change.



 
I enjoyed them over the thick cut toast.



 
Many would argue that greenery on a breakfast shouldn't be seen. I love spinach though and thoroughly enjoyed it.



 
A nicely seasoned tomato and a fried egg with a deep yellow yolk.



 
The yolk could have been runnier but better to be slightly overcooked rather than undercooked. 



 
The egg and slice of toast were exactly the same shape as each other, a perfect fit!



 
The vegan option on the menu didn't really appeal to my wife as she doesn't like avocado. Instead she ordered the vegetarian breakfast minus the eggs and halloumi, this cost her £6.



Ever since The Black Horse launched their breakfast menu at the beginning of 2017 it's been on my list of places to visit. It took me far longer than I was expecting to finally visit and I'd been reminded by the pub to do so on a couple of occasions. On a warm Saturday morning my wife and I were finally passing by at the right time so we decided to call in for breakfast...

Upon entering - The Black Horse looks great inside and has an equally impressive beer garden out the back.  We were very tempted to sit outside but the sun wasn't shining and it was feeling a tad chilly so we headed indoors. Inside feels spacious with two main rooms offering a selection of table sizes to accommodate small or large groups. We sat by the window in the front room so as to make use of the natural light for the photos. My wife enjoyed looking at some of the old photographs of Norwich displayed on the walls whilst waiting for the food to arrive. The breakfast menu covered all bases with something for meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans. My only slight concern was that the items on the menu didn't match what arrived on the plate, more on that later though. We were given a menu at the bar where we later returned to place our order, be sure to remember your table number though. Once you've placed your order it's full table service so simply settle your bill at the bar before leaving. Cutlery is brought over first and sauces are offered once the food has arrived. The environment was lovely and the ordering process seemed to flow quite nicely.  8/10

Service - As soon as we arrived were greeted with a big smile, the welcome here is certainly warm and sincere. My wife enquired about vegan options and was told she could choose whatever items she wanted from the breakfast menu. Once we'd chosen where to sit we returned to the bar and placed our order. The coffees arrived first served with warm milk, my wife requested oat milk which wasn't a problem. When the food arrived my wife pointed out to me that my breakfast didn't have mushroom ketchup so I enquired when the waitress returned. She told me that it was no longer being served but extra sausage and bacon had been given to compensate. I then noticed that there was a mushroom on the plate which wasn't mentioned on the menu so this seemed to make up for the lack of mushroom ketchup. As we went to settle our bill at the bar my wife pointed out that my breakfast should have included black pudding. The staff apologised for it being forgotten and gave me a £1.50 discount. So very friendly and helpful staff but a menu which on this occasion didn't match up to what arrived on the plate. It was all dealt with in the best possible way though and it perfectly demonstrated why paying at the end of a meal is always the best way in case there are any issues. 9/10

Contents - 3 chipolata sausages, 3 slices of bacon, 1 fried egg, 1 large mushroom, half a tomato, Boston beans, spinach and toast served with butter. 6/10

Presentation - The breakfast was nicely presented with beans contained in a ramekin and toast on the main plate too. The meats could have been a touch browner and the egg yolk a bit runnier but that's just my personal preference and on the whole it was looking very good. 8/10

The food - The chipolata sausages and bacon used on this breakfast are from from Toombs Butchers in Hellesdon. Sausages didn't feature on the previous breakfast menu at The Black Horse so I was delighted to see they'd been added to the current breakfast menu. The sausages had a coarse but firm texture and tasted delicious, the bacon was clearly a quality rasher with great flavour, I thoroughly enjoyed the meats on this breakfast. I also really enjoyed the thick cut toasted bread, once spread with butter it made the perfect base for the beans and the fried egg. The Boston beans made a nice change from standard beans, they were served in a thick sauce with a subtle bbq flavour. The fried egg was in pretty good shape with an intact but fairly firm yolk, it tasted amazing though and was exactly the same size as one of the slices of toast which was quite pleasing on the eye. The large mushroom was rather nice and the seasoned tomato had plenty of flavour. Spinach isn't something I see very often on a breakfast, I love it though so no complaints from me. 8/10 

Value for money - The Black Horse breakfast usually costs £9.50, on this occasion though I was charged £8 as the black pudding had been forgotten. It was a thoroughly enjoyable breakfast made using quality ingredients but take the toast off the plate and you soon realise there's bigger breakfasts out there for the same price. It filled me up at the time but within an hour I found myself thinking about food again and scoffing churros on Norwich Market. 7/10

Veggie option - Fried egg, spinach, halloumi, beans, mushroom and toast. £9.

Overall - The Black Horse is a lovely pub to dine in, it's beautifully decorated and feels really spacious with the added bonus of a large beer garden. The staff are friendly, helpful and really listen to their customers ensuring they are happy. I enjoyed The Black Horse Breakfast but was slightly disappointed that what I received wasn't the same as what was listed on the menu. Having tried mushroom ketchup a few years back I was really looking forward to trying it again and the forgotten black pudding meant I was reviewing an incomplete breakfast. The way the staff dealt with the situation was commendable though, they really do aim to please. It's definitely somewhere that's worth visiting for breakfast, I hope to return at some point to try the breakfast in its entirety. 7.5/10  

 

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Mike's Cafe - London

12 Blenheim Cresent
London
W11 1NN
 
Opening hours
 Monday to Saturday - 7.30am till 6.30pm
Sunday - 9am till 4.30pm

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Mike's Cafe can be found on Blenheim Cresent just off Portobello Road.




It's certainly a popular place, it was completely full when we arrived.




There was an empty table outside though and as the sun was shining it seemed like an excellent place to sit and eat some breakfast.




The breakfast menu features set breakfasts or the option to build your own. I decided to order the big boy, at £10.95 it also included orange juice and a hot drink.




Sauces arrive in a bucket.




The coffee here was really nice, it comes with the set breakfasts and you have the choice of an americano or a latte.




There's no shortage of beans!




The orange juice is freshly squeezed and the toast comes with spread instead of butter.




The sausages didn't look particularly appealing.




A nice enough looking fried egg.




Just look at that yolk.




The best part was definitely the bubble and squeak and there was plenty of it.




I didn't order tomatoes but a fresh slice was served as garnish alongside a sprig of parsley.




My wife ordered the veggie breakfast and swapped the eggs for bubble and squeak.




The mushrooms were excellent.




And so were the tomatoes, a deep shade of red and really flavoursome.


We arrived in London on the coach from Norwich just before 9am so decided to start our day with breakfast. By the time we'd reached Mike's Cafe at around 10.30am it was full to capacity, luckily there was an empty table outside though so we grabbed it...

Upon entering - I only briefly saw the interior of the cafe due to sitting outside, it looked beautifully decorated with a large counter on the far wall. A menu could be found on each table and there's full table service so just sit back and wait for somebody to come over and take your order. Sauces and cutlery arrive with the food and you can wait for the bill to be brought over or settle it at the counter before leaving. 7/10

Service - The lady serving us was friendly and happy to be flexible with my wife's veggie breakfast, swapping the egg for bubble and squeak wasn't a problem at all. Everything we ordered arrived in good time considering it was so busy and we settled the bill on the way out. 7/10

Contents - You can build your own breakfast here from the following items: Poached or fried eggs, sausages, bacon, black pudding, mushrooms, tomatoes, bubble and squeak, hash browns, beans, chips and fried slice. The more items you order the cheaper each item becomes. I ordered the Big Boy breakfast which I'll base the score for this section on, it consisted of: 2 sausages, 2 bacon, black pudding, 1 fried egg, bubble and squeak, beans, 2 slices of toast, orange juice and a coffee. 7/10

Presentation - The breakfast was served on a large white plate with a sea of beans covering one side of it. The bubble and squeak looked great but it was going to take more than a sprig of parsley and a slice of fresh tomato to distract me from the fact the sausages looked pretty dreadful. 5/10

The food - The sausages looked really wrinkled so I doubt they'd been cooked to order. An economy sausage for sure but the type with a slightly firmer texture so mildly enjoyable at least despite their appearence. The bacon tasted great and the black pudding was sliced incredibly thin, it tasted ok though. The bubble and squeak was tremendous with great flavour and a nice course texture, there was plenty of it too. Something else there was no shortage of was beans, a big lake of them in slightly more sauce than required. A standard  pair of white slices of bread were toasted and covered in spread, a slight shame as I much prefer real butter. The toast did make a nice base for my fried egg though, it was cooked quite nicely with a deep orange and runny yolk. I should also mention the tomatoes and mushrooms on my wife's breakfast as I tried both and they were excellent. 6/10

Value for money - The big boy allows you to choose six items from the breakfast list and also includes toast, orange juice and a hot drink for £10.95. This might seem a tad expensive but remember you're in London where prices are higher and you're getting an excellent coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice as part of the deal. If you choose your items wisely you could do quite well with this deal. 7/10

Veggie option - Fried egg, mushrooms, tomatoes, mushrooms, beans, hash browns, 2 slices of toast and a hot drink for £8.95.

Overall - A nice little cafe with friendly staff and a good selection of breakfast items on offer. The big boy seemed like a pretty good option to me but as I started working out which six items to choose I realised I'd be missing out on some crucial items. I would have liked tomatoes, mushrooms and a fried slice too but this would have cost an additional £5. I wasn't willing to spend a total of £15.95 so stuck to the six items. My advice would be to forget about ordering sausages and order either mushrooms or tomatoes instead as both were a far better option.  6.5/10


Saturday, 5 August 2017

Wapentake - Leeds

92 Kirkgate 
Leeds
LS2 7DJ

Brunch menu served
Weekdays - 7.30am till 6pm
Weekends - 10am till 6pm



Wapentake can be found on Kirkgate in the centre of Leeds. Their website explains that they wanted to "create a little piece of Yorkshire by combining a bakery, cafe and bar to serve and support the local community."



 
 The bar offers a vast selection of drinks including Yorkshire spirits. Place your order here and settle your bill on the way out.




This is the downstairs seating area, we decided to sit upsatirs though as it was more spacious.



 
The upstairs was really busy when we first arrived, I managed to get a photo once it became much quieter though.



 
If you want to get really comfortable there's sofas and a coffee table upstairs too.



 
The breakfast menu covered all bases and seemed reasonably priced.



 
The coffee served here is excellent and soya milk is available should you need it.



 
I can't believe I forgot to try the Henderson's Relish!



 
Sauces are offered with the food and arrive in small pots. Getting a pot per customer was a first for me but an excellent idea as one pot between two is never enough. 




At first glance the full Yorkshire breakfast looked fairly impressive, as I looked closer though my heart sunk slightly.



 
A single sausage and rasher of bacon comes with this breakfast.



 
 Neither looked very appetising at all and both were really dry.




The thin slice of black pudding was really dry and came with a hole.



 
I removed the greenery and studied the poached egg.



 
 It was really nice as was the toast, together they were the highlight of this breakfast.




Shrivelled mushrooms and undercooked tomato did little to excite me.



 
My wife's full vegan breakfast was much nicer than mine and she thoroughly enjoyed it.


We were visiting Leeds for the weekend to see some bands at The Brudenell. It was my first time in Leeds so this seemed like an ideal opportunity to review a breakfast somewhere. Having enquired on my Facebook page about where I should go for breakfast I decided to visit Wapentake. They're a local independent and offered a vegan breakfast which I knew would please my wife. Our train pulled into Leeds station just after 10am and we walked to nearby Kirkgate where Wapentake had just started serving their brunch menu...


Upon entering - Wapentake covers two floors with a bar and seating area on the ground floor, there's lots more seating available upstairs too. There's mismatched chairs and chunky wooden tables to dine at and even some sofas and a coffee table if you prefer to get more comfy. Each table has a number, a menu, salt, pepper and some Henderson's Relish. The ordering process is made very clear here which is nice to see. Once you've decided what you'd like from the menu place your order at the bar remembering to tell them your table number, don't worry about paying just yet, you can do that on your way out. Drinks, food and cutlery are all bought to the table and sauces are offered when the food arrives. I loved the look and feel of Wapentake, there's plenty to look at on the walls and it has a nice relaxing atmosphere. 8/10

Service - The service at Wapentake was really good, the staff are friendly and we were welcomed as soon as we arrived. We placed our order at the bar and our coffees arrived first, my wife requested soya milk which wasn't a problem. The food arrived next followed by cutlery, we were offered sauces and a pot of ketchup and brown arrived for each of us. All the front of house staff here seemed really relaxed but efficient making for a pleasant experience as a customer. 8/10

Contents - 1 sausage, 1 bacon, 1 slice of black pudding, 2 poached eggs, Mushrooms, beans, half a tomato and 2 slices of toasted homemade bread. 6/10

Presentation - At first glance I was quite impressed but as I looked closer my heart sunk slightly. The sausage and bacon looked really dry, the mushrooms looked shrivelled and the tomato was barely cooked. On a positive note the poached eggs and toast looked really nice although I couldn't help thinking how little food there would be on the plate if the toast wasn't there. The chip on the plate I didn't notice straight away, perhaps because I was so distracted by how much better my wife's vegan breakfast was looking compared to mine. 4/10

The food - With the meats being provided by a local butchers I was initially quite excited but what arrived on the plate was really disappointing. A really dry sausage which appeared to be skinless with an unfamiliar flavour, it tasted more like a vegetarian sausage to me. My wife however did allow me to try her vegetarian sausage (possibly Linda McCartneys) which I really enjoyed, easily a better sausage than mine. The bacon appeared to be a victim of being hot held, it was so dry! The same can be said of the black pudding, barely any moisture in it at all. The beans were ok and the tomato tasted quite nice, it was in need of more heat though. The mushrooms tasted ok but they were very dry and shrivelled. The part of the breakfast which I really enjoyed was the toasted homemade bread and poached eggs, both eggs were nicely cooked with runny yolks. On the whole though a pretty disappointing breakfast. 4/10

Value for money - After spending a weekend in Leeds I realised everything was cheaper up North. The full Yorkshire breakfast cost £6 which had it been entirely enjoyable would have been excellent value for money. It was quite disappointing though so even at £6 it barely seemed worth the money. 4/10

Veggie option - Yes, and a vegan option too. Both cost £6.

Overall - I loved the environment of Wapentake and the staff were lovely too. The Yorkshire breakfast could have so been much better though had the meats been cooked to order, which I strongly suspect they weren't. The homemade bread and poached eggs were really nice though which was something. I may have been quite disappointed but my wife thoroughly enjoyed her vegan breakfast and I could understand why. The vegan breakfast came with a really nice potato & onion rosti and nicely cooked vegetarian sausages, it was a far nicer breakfast! Usually the vegan and vegetarian breakfast play second fiddle to the meat version bit here it seemed to be the other way around, so I'd say Wapentake is well worth visiting if you're vegetarian or vegan. 5.5/10