Sunday 27 February 2011

24 hour Transport Cafe - Red Lodge

Turnpike Road (old A11)
IP28 8LB

Opening hours
24 hours

Take the "Red Lodge" turning off the A11 and follow 'Transport Cafe" signs, you can't miss it.

This is where you place your order, there seemed to be just one breakfast option.

The place has remained unchanged for decades.

Through the doorway leads to another long seating area and the outside toilets.

What a stunning view!

80p bought me a stewed mug of tea.

If you like beans and tomatoes you are in for a real treat.

Tomato juice swamped the plate.

Red Lodge 24 hour transport cafe has remain unchanged for decades, it even had a documentary made about it. I remember stopping there about 20 years ago but couldn't remember what my thoughts were on their fry up. I had been to another amazing "Last Gang In Town" gig in Cambridge and on my way home the next day was getting really excited about stopping at Red Lodge. I had been thinking about visiting a long time ago but realised it would make much more sense to pop in when I was actually passing it on my way somewhere, the day had arrived so in I went..

Upon entering - When I first walked in the place it was fairly empty, there is a counter straight ahead with a large menu on the wall. There only seemed to be one fried breakfast option on the menu, the 'Red Lodge special breakfast". There is nothing on the tables except the odd bottle of ketchup and brown sauce so grab what you need from the counter and find a table. There are two inside areas to sit and you can also sit outside at the front or out the back. There is lots of signed band photos on the wall, some looking very faded now, possible famous visitors over the years? I liked the way the place has been left unchanged for years with a vast selection of things on the wall to keep you occupied while you wait for your food. 7/10

Service - I ordered and payed at the counter and when it was ready I collected it from the counter. 5/10

Contents - 1 sausage, 2 bacon, 1 egg, fried bread, beans and tinned tomatoes. 6/10

Presentation - It looked ok but the tomato and beans overload was apparent the second I looked at it. 6/10

The food - As you may well have noticed by now I am not a fan of economy sausages, but there it was nestled between 2 deep fried pieces of bacon and mount tomato. The fried egg was perfect as was the fried bread but this was short lived as it absorbed the sea of tomato juice and turned soggy. Fairly standard beans and loads of them. 6/10

Value for money - £4.40 for the fried breakfast and 80p for a mug of tea seemed a fair price. 6/10

Veggie option - No

Overall - I have been looking forward to revisiting this place for ages now and I did leave feeling disappointed. I was expecting a varied breakfast menu but was surprised to find one choice with just 6 different items on it and not a mushroom in sight. The tea was stewed and the food was swamped in tomato juice, great fried bread and fried egg though! By the time I left, the place was filling up with people and I know many people love the place. I love the look and feel of the place and the fact it hasn't changed in 40 odd years but very much doubt I will return. 6/10

Sunday 20 February 2011

Rendezvous, Anglia Square - Norwich

(Now closed)

15 Anglia Square

Lots of tables outside if you fancy smoking or just watching the people of Anglia Square.

If you enter from the side entrance near St Augustines Street it is one of the first places you see, after eating there it is one of the last places I want to see again!

Order and pay here...

Then grab a seat and pray here.

It's white sugar and it's awful coffee.

At a glance it looked ok.

But having eaten it I can safely say it is the worst fry ups I have eaten in Norwich so far.

Rendezvous in the square has been a place I have been meaning to try for a long time now and if im honest my feeling that it would not be a great experience was delaying me actually going in. But how can you possibly know unless you try, I had been to another nearby cafe but that was closed so the day to pop into Rendezvous had arrived...

Upon entering - The place is fairly big with the counter situated on the far right, place your order there and pick a table. There are a good number of places to sit inside as well as a few tables outside where you can smoke. Be sure to decide what you want at the counter as there are no menus on the tables, cutlery and condiments are kept on the counter too. 5/10

Service - The lady taking my order was not friendly and I felt I was inconveniencing her by being there, not good at all. 2/10

Contents - 1 sausage, 1 bacon, 1 hash brown, 1 fried egg, beans, mushrooms, half a tomato and fried bread. 6/10

Presentation - It actually looked ok at first glance but the longer I looked the more things I noticed like the solid uncooked tomato and the soggy drenched in oil fried bread. The plates looked like they had seen better days too. 5/10

The food - A fairly good standard sausage that was unfortunately served luke warm rested against a mass of horrible tasting rubbery tinned mushrooms. The bacon tasted ok but had a boiled like texture to it that left me feeling like I was chewing on bacon flavoured gum. The fried bread was dripping in oil and soggy rather than crisp, the fried egg also was dripping in oil but the yolk was at least intact and runny. A standard hash brown and serving of beans though both were luke warm. The tomato was ice cold apart from the flat edge that had been cooked very briefly. Oh dear! 1/10

Value for money - £3.95 for the dire food and £1.20 for a nasty mug of coffee left me feeling like I had been robbed. A number of places nearby will serve much better food for less money. 1/10

Veggie option - I didn't notice one.

Overall - I have eaten fry ups in a lot of different places now in Norwich and this one was by far the worst. Nothing on the plate was nice, the place wasn't welcoming and the staff were not particularly friendly. It always has customers when I pass so they must be doing something right, what I don't know and frankly I don't care. Never again!! 3.5/10

Friday 11 February 2011

Cafe Selin Flaming BBQ Grill - Norwich

(Now Corner Cafe)

121 Magdalen street

Cafe Selin is situated close to Secondhand Land on Magdalen Street.

Affordable prices and a varied breakfast menu will leave you spoilt for choice.

A good view to people watch on Magdalen Street as you drink your tea, slurp.

The 2 chaps in the corner seemed very jealous of my builders breakfast, I know what they will be ordering next time!

The choice on the menu is vast and varied, I overheard the waitress say that it is a cafe in the daytime and a fast food take away in the evenings.

Err... The door, where you enter the cafe.

No runny vinegar ketchup here, it asda be nice thick stuff.

Just 80p for a good mug of tea with tea bag left in, lovely!

Why eat breakfast and lunch at 2 different times? Just eat them both together on the same plate!

Yes, that is a burger on a fry up, not everyones cup of tea but I liked it.

Under the hash brown and heap of bacon was some good fried bread.

Also included in the price was toast.

This one was so big I couldn't finish it, I could now though. Bugger, why did I leave those chips and beans..

Upon entering - Cafe Selin is big and has a lot of places to sit so take your pick and grab a seat. There is a menu in the window if you prefer making your mind up before you enter, every table also has a menu too. At the rear of the cafe is the open plan kitchen and counter where I ordered my food, I have a feeling though that if you take a seat the waitress will come along and take your order. There are lots of food photos on the walls and the radio in the background makes it feel quite cafe like if you know what I mean. 7/10

Service - The person taking my order was polite and cheerful enough and she bought everything along when it was ready. 8/10

Contents - 1 jumbo sausage, 2 bacon, 1 burger, chips, 1 hash brown, 2 fried eggs, half a grilled tomato, beans, mushrooms, 1 slice of fried bread and 1 slice of toast & butter. 8/10

Presentation - It was quite a sight when it arrived and it seemed a shame to have to rearrange this magnificent work of art by eating it! 8/10

The food - The sausage was economy but still quite nice and didn't have a spongy texture like mega economy bangers always do. The bacon was fairly standard and cooked nicely, the burger seemed fairly economy but went well between the toast dipped in bean juice, the chips were a frozen variety cooked till crispy with a slight seasoned coating. The hash brown was tasty and cooked to perfection, both eggs had been fried perfectly with a nice runny yolk using egg rings. The tomato was juicy and tasty as were the mushrooms, a fairly standard slice of toast and fried bread that was perfect around the edges but a bit less cooked and oily in the middle. 7/10

Value for money - Quite cheap ingredients used but a lot of food for under a fiver! 7/10

Veggie option - Yes, veggie option are available (see menu)

Overall - The prices are really reasonable, the cheapest fried breakfast with toast and a hot drink costs less than £3! The food is cooked and presented really well but fairly cheap ingredients are used so don't expect a prize winning banger to be served. I choose the builders breakfast as I wanted to try as many things as possible, this included a burger and chips which felt like eating breakfast and lunch together on the same plate. If I go again I will probably get the all day breakfast and add fried bread and black pudding as extras, however I only usually revisit places that serve a quality sausage. If quality ingredients are what your after on your fry ups then it may not appeal, but if thats not such an issue and you like perfectly round fried eggs and lots of well cooked food for your money then this place is well worth a visit. 7/10

Thursday 3 February 2011

Pumpkin cafe shop - Norwich

Norwich Railway Station

Great if you need a coffee or a packet of crisps.

I was expecting something half decent having been told it would take 20 minutes to cook from fresh.

Inside it is light and spacious but there are only 5 proper tables.

The coffee kept me company while I waited patiently for my breakfast.

It may look colourful but it was overcooked and very bland indeed!

I had spotted the poster advertising cooked breakfast in Pumpkin Cafe's window a week ago as I passed through the train station. Knowing I would be returning a week later I made a mental note to pop in and give it a try...

Upon entering - There is a vast floor space with 5 proper tables spread out in front of the counter, sofa's and coffee tables can be found along the sides though these are not suitable to eat a meal at. I felt a bit like I was being watched by everyone at the edge on the sofa's as I ate my food. Order at the counter and take your food to a table or if it is being cooked someone will bring it over when it is ready. 5/10

Service - The person taking my order was friendly enough as was the person who bought my food over. I was told it would take 20 mins as it was being cooked from fresh, my expectations were high. I had to ask for salt, pepper and ketchup at the counter though, ketchup was given to me but I couldn't believe it when I was told "sorry, we don't have salt & pepper." I have never come across a place till now that sells hot food but does not have any salt or pepper, strange! 5/10

Contents - 2 sausages, 2 bacon, black pudding, scrambled egg, 2 hash brows, baked beans and half a tomato. 7/10

Presentation - It looked ok when it arrived, nicely laid out and colourful. As I looked more closely though I could tell the scrambled egg was well overcooked and the tomato was almost slush. 6/10

The food - I used to eat bangers and mash ready meals quite often at work a couple of years ago and the sausages tasted to me like microwave sausages that lacked any real flavour, the bacon was no better too. The black pudding was also overcooked and I seriously suspect it had just visited the microwave oven as well. Spongy hash browns, rubbery and tasteless scrambled eggs, boiling hot baked beans and a slushy, tasteless tomato completed this dire offering. I strongly suspect that when everything was plated up it was popped back in the microwave for one last blast as I nearly lost the skin on the roof of my mouth with this piping hot but truly tasteless selection. 3/10

Value for money - I can think of much better ways to spend £5.99! 3/10

Veggie option - Yes, eggs on toast.

Overall - This place is great if you fancy a coffee or need to grab a sandwich and crisps before you board your train but the cooked breakfast situation was not good. I didn't mind waiting 20 minutes for something being cooked from fresh but this was just ridiculous as it tasted microwaved and how can anyone selling hot food not provide salt and pepper. Not a pleasant experience! 4/10

Tuesday 1 February 2011

S&M Cafe - London

(Now closed)

48 Brushfield Street
E1 6AG

Opening Hours
Monday - Friday 7.30am - 10.30pm
Saturday & Sunday 8.30am - 10.30pm

As you pass you may wonder what on earth goes on inside! Fear not, nothing sinister happens at Spitalfields S&M (sausage & mash) Cafe, just great british grub being served.

Plenty of tables, welcoming staff, a great atmosphere and great food await inside.

A bloody good mug of tea with the bag left in so you decide how strong you wanna go, posh sugar lumps too.

It may not look that amazing in the photo but it did taste incredibly nice!

Christmas was a month behind me and it was that long cold period that im not a huge fan of. The saving grace was another Klubfoot Reunion show at Islington Garage in London, bands playing this time were Mad Sin, Coffin Nails & Caravans. Despite 10pm early doors we decided to stay over the night in Liverpool Street as there was an after show happening at Phibbers on Holloway Road till late. We were fairly sensible leaving the after show at just 12.30pm as we wanted to look along Brick Lane the next morning before heading back to Norwich. This also gave us time to revisit S&M Cafe, a few years back when I last visited I hadn't been particularly impressed so it was time to see if things had changed...

Upon entering - There are lots of tables quite close together on the ground floor and some sofas upstairs. This place is always busy and very popular, people sit reading papers and working on their laptops. There is certainly a great atmosphere and it is a nice environment to be in. 9/10

Service - Grab your chosen table and the waitress will be over before you know it. The staff here are really friendly and efficient and look like they enjoy there jobs. My wonderful girlfriend who was with me wanted to change the black pudding on hers for extra mushrooms, not a problem. 9/10

Contents - 1 sausage, bacon, black pudding, fried egg, mushrooms, half a grilled tomato, beans and toast & butter. 8/10

Presentation - I need to mention that during this visit my iphone was being a nightmare, freezing and being slow so not many photos could be taken. Anyway, when the food arrived it looked good but the popped egg yolk stood out straight away and the sausage looked like its time in the frying pan had got cut short. 6/10

The food - Looks can be deceiving as despite my visual concerns about the egg yolk and sausage I can tell you that everything tasted out of this world! The sausage was a top quality meaty delight, the bacon was smokey and tasted great, good quality black pudding was served and cooked just perfect. Portabella mushrooms to die for resided by the fried egg that although truly delicious did suffer from that fatal popped yolk wound. The beans fitted in perfect ensuring many a moist moment alongside the grilled half tomato that actually tasted like a tomato, result! (my faith in tasty tomatoes is being restored!) I am a fried bread fan but the thick buttered toast served did work perfectly with this fry up, a real pleasure to eat! 9/10

Value for money - We paid £7.95 for the all day breakfast and £1.80 for a good mug of tea. We both thoroughly enjoyed everything and considering it was in the city of London and quality ingredients were used we felt it was a fair price. 7/10

Veggie option - Vegetarians will not be disappointed, see website link above and click on "our food and drink" and then "breakfast and brunch" to view the veggie options on the menu.

Overall - Well worth a visit as the food is delicious and quality ingredients are used. It really is a nice place to spend some time, even with a hangover. The popped egg yolk would be my only concern but the egg was still good so not the end of the world! 8/10