Monday 30 May 2011

National Hotel - Muswell Hill, London

7-19 Queens Avenue
Muswell Hill
N10 3PE

Our stay in Finsbury Park ended up in Muswell Hill through no choice of our own.

I considered putting it on my head but thought better of it.

A massive wine glass of orange juice, hangover heaven!

A massive plate with hardly anything on it.. Fry up inspector hell!!

It was quite a few months ago now that I booked a double room at the Central Park Hotel in Finsbury Park for £39 and at the time it seemed too good to be true, upon arriving at the hotel I soon discovered it was too good to be true and we along with a packed reception area of disappointed guests had fallen for the overbooking scam... The hotel basically has about 60 rooms but they accept bookings from lets say 110 guests, some people always end up not turning up or cancelling so the hotel makes £25 per cancellation. All the other overbooked guests are put in taxi's and taken miles away from where they need to be (in our case Muswell Hill) and booked into hotels that are often well out of the way and often nowhere near a tube station. We needed to be as near to Highbury as possible but when we arrived at Muswell Hill we realised we were far from where we needed to be and it was going to be trickier getting home after the gig. Actually it didn't turn out as bad as we thought for two reasons, there was a night bus that went from outside the pub we were in right to the hotel and also the hotel we were now at in Muswell Hill served a full english breakfast unlike the continental offering served at the Central park Hotel. Feeling a bit worse for wear in the morning we made it out of bed and walked into the breakfast room...

Upon entering - There were plenty of spare tables though most had been sat at and not tidied ready for the next guest. There was no menu or indication as to what was available but orange juice and milk were on a table at the edge of the room. The breakfast room was nice and light but the chairs were a bit too tall for the tables so a tad uncomfortable. 5/10

Service - The young girl who served us seemed like she would rather have been anywhere else, when we asked a question a blunt one word answer was what we got in return. There was a really friendly man who was working there who came over and talked to us after we had eaten, he explained that the people serving breakfast were standing in for the regular staff. 5/10

Contents - Well this won't take long! 1 sausage, 1 small rasher of bacon, 1 fried egg, 2 slices of toast & butter and some beans. 2/10

Presentation - Where do I start!! When it arrived on the plate it looked bloody ridiculous and I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. The plate was way too big for the small amount on offer, I have been served a similar amount on a much smaller plate at the George Hotel and it looked a bit better. I must also mention that the coffee arrived in a tea pot and the tea arrived in a coffee pot. Oh dear!! 2/10

The food - The economy sausage was deep fried and although cheap was quite moist and tasty. The bacon was also deep fried, quite salty and rather tasty. The fried egg was cooked nicely and helped the hangover no end. The beans were ok and the toast with real butter on was delicious. 6/10

Value for money - It came with the cost of the stay so... N\A

Veggie option - Fried egg and beans on toast maybe?

Overall - To be honest most London hotels that I stay in offer the dreaded continental breakfast so although quite a laughable sized offering it did taste nice and was at least part of a fry up. I shouldn't have even been at this hotel really and most people that book into the Central Park Hotel (which serves a continental breakfast) may well end up here too but despite being miles from Finsbury Park you will at least be eating a bit better in the morning! A special mention must go to the chap we spoke to after breakfast that worked at the hotel, he was friendly and knew how to speak to people which was so nice after having to deal with the rude and arrogant man from the Central Park Hotel. 4/10

Rumbling Tum - Norwich

- Now Closed -

46 St Benedicts Street

This place has been here for years, finally I decided to pop inside.

There are not many tables inside but I managed to get one ok.

Yep, salt and pepper.

Heinz ketchup is always a nice surprise! A nicely presented pot of tea comes with the fry up.

A decent cup of tea at that!

Toast is also included and arrived nice and hot.

Presentation was impressive and there was plenty of food but was it any good?

Rumbling Tum had slipped through the fry up inspection net until recently when a friend had visited there and reminded me about it. As soon as Friday arrived I rushed down there to see what was on offer...

Upon entering - The seating area although really clean, well lit and tidy is quite small and is made up of about 5-6 tables, but I managed to get a table ok. I looked everywhere but despite rolls and sandwiches being advertised there was no mention of a fry up so I ended up having to ask the lady behind the counter. You order what you would like and pay at the counter, everything is then bought to you at your table. 7/10

Service - All the staff here were really friendly and I found them to be very efficient too. The lady taking my order bought everything I needed over to me, tea, toast, sauces and cutlery. The chap that had cooked it bought it to my table and was nice and friendly too. The other lady working there popped by the table after the food had arrived to check everything was ok. 9/10

Contents - 1 sausage, 2 bacon, fried potato slices, fried egg, mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, beans and 2 slices of toast. 8/10

Presentation - Some thought had gone into placing the food onto the plate and it did look great. The pot of tea and plate of toast was also presented nicely as was the spotless cutlery wrapped in a serviette. 8/10

The food - At first glance I thought an economy sausage was on the plate but to my delight it was a really nice meaty sausage, the bacon was fairly standard as were the mushrooms. The fried egg for me was a bit overdone and the yolk was way too firm. The fried potato slices were delicious, crisp and golden, the tomatoes were cooked just long enough so that the skins fell off when you cut into them and tasted quite nice. There was a decent sea of stodgy beans and hot toast with margarine, though butter would have been nicer. 7/10

Value for money - The breakfast came with a plate of toast and a pot of tea or coffee for £6.35 which I felt was a fair price. 7/10

Veggie option - Nothing advertised but I'm sure they would sort you something out.

Overall - The location is nice and central, the staff are really friendly, everything is nicely presented and clean. the food is nice enough. I have not found many places in Norwich city to be particularly great but this place I liked and I will most likely return again. 8/10

Sunday 22 May 2011

Bridge Cafe - West Acton

Westfields Road
West Acton

Read about the cafe here

Get the central line tube to West Acton, it takes about half an hour from central London.

It won't be winning any prizes for looks and inside it feels a bit like a police prison cell but I didn't care, this is the cafe where the losers from The Apprentice end up to discuss where it all went wrong!

The small counter is where you place your order, while you wait for your food to arrive you can ponder over a mug of tea.

No watered down ketchup to be found here.

The tea was hot and strong.

The toast arrived nice and hot with plenty of butter on.

I knew straight away something was missing.

The missing sausage soon arrived to join everything else.

As soon as I realised I would be visiting London I was making enquires about which Cafe to visit, friends had recommended a number of places, it was just a case of deciding which one to choose. Then whilst I watching my weekly fix of The Apprentice it suddenly dawned on me that I just had to visit Bridge Cafe where the losing team are sent to ponder over a mug of tea. I was not going to get there till 1.30pm so as I entered the cafe I was hoping they served an all day breakfast...

Upon entering - The first thing you notice as you enter is how the cafe resembles a police prison cell with its white walls, bright lighting and bars at the windows.To your left is a small counter where you can choose what you want from the menu on the wall. There are a few long tables, each ones seating about 8 people so at busy times be prepared to share, the best table is by the window and 1 more table is outside. Despite the grim and depressing interior I did feel comfortable enough being in there and thankfully didn't have to share a table with strangers. This place looks like it hasn't changed in years which is a good thing really as cafe's like this are becoming harder to find. 7/10

Service - The chap serving me was very friendly and even rounded up the total cost below what it should have been which meant my mug of tea cost just 10p! The waitress bought the food over and seemed very friendly too, upon realising my sausage had been forgotten she rushed over with it on a saucer and was very apologetic. 8/10

Contents - 1 sausage, 3 bacon, 1 fried egg, bubble & squeak, beans and 2 slices of toast and butter. 6/10

Presentation - At first glance something seemed missing, it was that missing sausage which soon got added to the plate which was no work of art but looked ok. 6/10

The food - Although cooked nicely and piping hot the sausage was nothing special at all, cheap and economy. The bacon was fairly standard but tasted nice enough. The fried egg was great as were the beans. What really stood out though was the delicious bubble and squeak, perfect texture, great taste and by far the best I have ever tasted. 7/10

Value for money - The breakfast should have cost £5.40 but with a mug of tea I was charged just £5.50. The price seemed just about right to me. 7/10

Veggie option - Egg, bubble & squeak and beans maybe?

Overall - Although I visited for the novelty factor what I discovered was a good old school cafe that served good honest grub. I got there quite late so it wasn't too busy but I imagine an hour or so earlier would have been a different story as It is near the entrance to a huge industrial estate. There are no fancy sausages being served here but the bubble & squeak is amazing and the feel of the place was great too. If your in the area it is well worth a visit but don't get there too late as they close at 2.30pm and don't forget to order the bubble & squeak too. 7/10

Sunday 15 May 2011

The Airways Diner - Norwich

1a Spitfire Road,
Norwich Airport industrial estate,

Parking available at rear of cafe

The Airways Diner can be found close to Norwich Airport on Spitfire Road.

It can seat a fair few people and was quite busy when I was there.

75p seemed a fair price for a mug of tea, not when it is barely warm though.

I had to hunt for the salt who had gone to visit another table.

When this uninspiring, flat and lifeless plateful was put in front of me I started to wish I had gone elsewhere.

The low point was those mega economy sausages.

The fried bread was really good though!

I have noticed The Airways Diner loads of times as it is opposite Bookers cash and carry that I shop at on a fairly regular basis. I had been meaning to pop into Airways for well over a year now and finally the day had arrived...

Upon entering - As you enter the counter is immediately to your left, above the counter is a large menu showing you what is on offer, there were 5 set breakfast options available which appeared to be available all day. You place your order at the counter and are given a number on a piece of paper, grab your cutlery and find a seat. There are quite a lot of tables in the well lit cafe, many by the windows so you can people watch while you wait for your food to arrive. 7/10

Service - The lady taking my order was friendly enough, eventually I heard "76" being shrieked out by another lady who bought the food to my table. Despite the cafe being fairly busy I didn't have to wait too long for the food. 7/10

Contents - 2 sausage, 2 bacon, 2 fried egg, mushrooms, beans and fried bread. 7/10

Presentation - Not too bad but not great. The sausages, eggs and beans were huddled closely together despite there being some space by those dire mushrooms, I guess nobody wanted to sit too close to the mushrooms and who can blame them! 6/10

The food - On my search to perfection I have come across many a sausage and the ones served at Airways although cooked ok were possibly the most economy I had ever tasted, imagine eating meat flavoured foam. The bacon was standard but nothing special, the fried eggs appeared a tad snotty on top but were infact ok. The mushrooms were a big let down as they tasted awful and must have been tinned, the beans were nice enough and the only real saving grace to this frankly disappointing fry up was the really nice fried bread. 5/10

Value for money - £4.95 is a fair price for a fry up but it wasn't very special and tea wasn't included so.. 5/10

Veggie option - I scanned the menu twice for veggie options but didn't see anything and the 5 set breakfasts all included meat.

Overall - If you work on the Airport Industrial estate then it is probably your only option but I would certainly not bother traveling out of your way to go there as it really isn't that special. It serves its purpose as a cafe on an industrial estate quite nicely though, they are making money and the customers seem quite happy. The fried bread is really good though! 6/10

Monday 9 May 2011

Breakfast cooked in a campervan by me! (with update)

Location - VW Big Bang @ Santa Pod Raceway
Date - 7th May 2011

Opening hours - Depends on how bad hangover is but anytime between 6am and noon is a possibility.

By far the best seat on offer but with nowhere to put the plate of food except your lap probably not your best option.

This is your best bet, if you sit to the left you can eat using the work surface by the cooker, not perfect but it will do until I fit a table.
Before the cooked breakfast I decided to have a coffee.

Yes everything matches nicely and yes the coffee was good!

This is what I was going to be cooking, I did have a gammon steak I was planning to use instead of bacon but I decided to save that for the bbq later as it would take up too much space in the frying pan. I didn't bother with tomatoes as I would have wanted tinned and with cooking beans too there would have not been enough rings on the cooker.

I started to cook the Heinz beans early on nice and slowly so they went really stodgy.

The mushrooms needed to have gone in 2 minutes earlier as they were a tad undercooked.

It may not have hash browns, bacon or tomatoes but it was the 1st thing I had ever cooked in my campervan and I enjoyed it!

Yolks just how I like them and not bad considering I forgot the egg slice and had to use a fork to turn and pick up the fried eggs.

Im not a fan of square plates but I ended up using a square frying pan as it fit on top of the cooker so well, I didn't find it too disturbing luckily and shall be using it again.

Last time I was at Santa Pod I ate at the Pitstop Restaurant which at the time seemed the only way to get a fry up unless you have a campervan or cooker. Now I do have a campervan with cooker I decided to see how I got on cooking my own, I had visions of fat spitting everywhere and smoke pouring out of the windows but cooking everything on a low to medium heat prevented this happening...

Upon entering - As you step through the opening by the sliding door you notice the kitchen is located straight ahead, there is a twin gas cooker and in a cupboard underneath the cooker is a 12v fridge. The theme throughout the van is black and white and care had been taken to ensure the mugs, kettle etc all matched, I couldn't help noticing how the plates didn't though. There is a very comfy captains seat towards the front but no table, the best seating option was the left seat on the rock n roll bed as this had some work surface to put your plate onto. A table will be added soon and is much needed as eating your food at a right angle was a tad tricky. 6/10

Service - I cooked the food when I was hungry and made sure it arrived nice and hot and presented well, I even did the washing up afterwards. 9/10

Contents - 4 chipolata sausages, 2 fried eggs, 2 slices of black pudding, 5 mushrooms, baked beans. Hmm.. I could have scored higher here by adding more items but didn't so... 6/10

Presentation - Everything sat nicely on the plate, I did consider trying to make a face out of it but didn't so.. 7/10

The food - The chipolata sausages were cooked to perfection (MD take note!!) and had a really nice texture and taste to them, I really enjoyed the black pudding which also was cooked really nicely. The fried eggs were spot on with yolks that were runny but not at all snotty though flipping and serving them with a fork was a bit tricky. The beans couldn't have been better, Heinz and slow cooked with stodgy consistency. The mushrooms were a tad undercooked so didn't go down as well.. 7/10

Value for money - It cost me £2.17 in ingredients and a little bit of gas, it took me about 15 minutes to cook so based on minimum wage that is about £1.50 so in total about £3.70. Not bad but a few items were missing though so.. 7/10

Veggie option - N/A

Overall - The whole experience turned out much better than I had expected. There was no facilities for making toast but I could have easily added fried tomatoes and even hash browns which I may well do next time. There is a definite need for a table which im hoping will be sorted by next time but overall a decent fry up can be cooked and eaten before even stepping outside the van in the morning! 7/10


Another VW festival, this time Alive and VDubbin in Stonham Barns near Stowmarket and I was quite eager to improve on my previous attempt at cooking a fry up in the campervan. This time I went for nice fat Black Farmers cumberland sausages and decided to cook bacon instead of black pudding as space was something I didn't have much of so some items had to be left out. I also included some sweet tasting vine tomatoes this time and dealing with fried eggs was much easier too as I remembered the egg slice. I was cooking for two with one frying pan and a small saucepan, it was a tight squeeze but it turned out well and tasted good, I'm looking forward to attempt number 3 though!

It was a tight squeeze in that frying pan.

It tasted bloody good and I was quite happy with it!