Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Mike's Cafe - London

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


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 

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

Friday, 4 August 2017

2017 Spanish Food Adventure - Day 10

Farewell Seville

With our cases packed and stored safely back at the hotel there was enough time to enjoy Seville for one last time before making our way to the airport. I was looking for something specific for my breakfast this morning and I found it at this small cafe in Santa Cruz.

I wanted to try some churros, I'd tried them at Boomtown Fair back in the UK but wanted to try them in Spain. My wife ordered some pan con tomate and a coffee.

I'd been told that some places don't cook churros fresh in Spain so was delighted when I saw the lady squeezing the dough pastry into the fryer.

In case you don't know, churros are a fried dough pastry served with chocolate. These churros were excellent, they came with a hot chocolate drink to dip them into. It's also possible to have them served with a thick chocolate sauce which is much nicer.

El Divino Salvador is a beautiful Roman Catholic church with an elaborate altar. With time to spare still we paid €3 to go inside.

The altar was so incredibly detailed!

With just an hour left before making our way to the airport we took in some street entertainment.

We watched this chap make great use of the sun and a magnified glass to create his artwork.

There was still time for one last ice cream, strawberry cheesecake flavour.

We took one last look at the stunning Metropol Parasol.

We were going to really miss Seville, it's a beautiful City with it's own unique charm.

Our time here had finally come to an end so we collected our cases and made our way to the airport. The airport bus costs just €4 and takes 35 minutes to get you there from the central bus station.

Airports can often have quite disappointing food on offer but Seville airport looked quite promising so we sat down to our final meal.

This gazpacho was really good and was served with ham and eggs as it often is in Seville. I washed it down with a can of Cruzcampo and lime.

The homemade pizza slices were huge and cost just €4.50.

With some euros left over we spent them on coffee and pastries.

This was really disappointing, hardly any chocolate inside mainly just air.

This was delicious though, the heart shaped pastry I'd eaten on day 8. I wondered if these were a Seville speciality as I'd seen them many times now.

With the luxury of priority boarding on our return flight my wife and I were able to sit together and take off from what had been an excellent adventure in Spain.

Coming soon...
The Japanese Food Adventure - Chapter 3