Tuesday 31 January 2012

New Madeira Hotel - Brighton

19-23 Marine Parade

Breakfast served
Monday - Friday
7am - 9am

Weekends & Bank Holidays
8.30am - 10.30am

The New Madeira Hotel is located close to Brighton Pier.

When I saw this in the welcome pack I was looking forward to breakfast the next day!

Everything was clean and tidy.

The bar area is transformed into the breakfast room each morning.

Decent sauces, ok coffee and not so good orange juice.

Help yourself from the items on the bar.

Real butter was a welcome sight and if your a fan there is Marmite too.

I don't usually eat yoghurt but what the heck, it was free and I was waiting for my cooked breakfast to arrive.

This is the full Madeira which was looking good when it arrived.

This is the full veggie Madeira.

This is the smallest portion of mushrooms I have ever seen on a breakfast!

The moment we discovered that The Rocker Covers were playing at Brighton Tattoo Convention we decided to go along. We immediately book train tickets and a hotel, hotels in Brighton usually cost around £70 a night so we couldn't believe our luck when we found a double room at The New Madeira with breakfast included for just £41. The convention was great and The Rocker Covers played a great set for around 90 minutes, we resisted the temptation to go along to an after party fearing a hangover the next day. We were back at the hotel by about midnight with kebab in hand, the room was really good value for money and a great size, just a shame about the group of lads that stayed up most of the night talking loudly in the room opposite. The next morning breakfast was on our mind so we got up and headed downstairs...

Upon entering - The bar downstairs had become the breakfast room, there was a good amount of tables to choose from, each one set for breakfast with a menu showing cooked options. The bar area had a selection of hot drinks, fruit juices, cereals, yogurts and condiments. You could help yourself to anything on the bar and the waitress took your cooked breakfast order. Everything seemed clear enough and there was no "what am I supposed to be doing" moments which can be quite common in hotels at breakfast time. 8/10

Service - The waitresses were polite and efficient but perhaps a tad over efficient, once we had finished our plates were taken from in front of us literally seconds after we had put the cutlery down. This always makes me feel like they want to clear the table for the next customer, the room was nearly empty though so that can't have been the case. The menu stated you could have scrambled, poached or fried eggs, this was not the case though as when we inquired we were told fried was the only option. 4/10

Contents - 1 sausage, 1 bacon, 1 fried egg, tinned tomatoes, mushrooms, beans, toast & butter (as much cereal, tea, coffee, fruit juice and yogurt as you wanted) 8/10

Presentation - The plate was kind of square which I'm not a fan of but as the corners were a bit rounded I was not too distressed. Everything was placed ok on the plate and looked delicious, the tiny portion of mushrooms was a bit of a joke though! 7/10

The food - The Sussex farm sausage was really nice, juicy and porky. The bacon was well nice too and I liked the way the rind had started to crisp up a bit. The fried egg was perfect, the beans were fairly standard and I was well chuffed when I saw the tomatoes were tinned. I still to this day can not get over how tiny the portion of mushrooms were, it may well have been one mushroom cut into really small pieces! Due to the "small mushroom portion shocker" I forgot to remember how they tasted. The toast was great and the butter went nicely with it as it always does. 8/10

Value for money - The breakfast came with the price of the room which for 2 people cost just £41 for the night, bargain! The cost of the breakfast to non residents was £7.50, this may seem quite a lot but with the items on the bar included too it is a great price. 9/10

Veggie option - Vegetarian sausage, hash brown, fried egg, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms and toast. I tried a piece of the vegetarian sausage and it was very nice with a slight hot dog taste and texture. The hash brown was crispy with a few onions inside too.

Overall - As hotel breakfasts go this one was fantastic, it arrived nice and hot and was cooked to perfection. The fact we paid just £41 for the double room which included breakfast for 2 people made it incredible value for money. I am unsure why they bother offering poached and scrambled eggs on the menu when fried is the only option and why the mushroom portion was so damn tiny! I will be staying here again though as it is one of the best hotel breakfasts I have eaten so far and at the best price too! 7/10

Saturday 21 January 2012

Earlham Park Cafe - Norwich

Earlham Park
Earlham Road

Open 9.30am till 4.30pm
Closed on Monday and Thursdays

You can park free for up to 2 hours a short walk away from this sign.

Keep walking, you will find it eventually.

Formerly part of a wartime hospital, the one remaining hut is now a cafe.

The best thing about the place is you can take your dog in!

Sorry, not the best pic but squint hard enough and you should get a rough idea on what is available.

Order and pay at the counter then pay a visit to the table on the left before sitting down.

There are plenty of places to sit.

The dogs wait patiently for their full english to arrive.

The flowers are on each table but the condiments are found on the table by the counter.

Nice fluffy white bread and butter.

The not so nice UEA mega english breakfast...

Having agreed to work Friday's for 6 weeks it meant that fry up inspection Friday would have to take place at weekends for a while. Last weekend a friend of mine had asked me if I had tried Earlham Park Cafe, I didn't realise it was still open but he assured me it was and they were serving cooked breakfast. Saturday arrived, it was cold and wet outside but I was on a mission to see what was being cooked up in the cafe in the park...

Upon entering - There are plenty of tables and chairs inside as well as some outside, if you have your dog with you you bring it in as it is dog friendly. There are menu's in the doorway and also at the counter where you place your order. Once you have placed your order grab cutlery and condiments from the table to the left and sit down, the food will be bought over when it is ready. The atmosphere inside was great and you feel welcome as soon as you enter, as a dog lover it was great to see so many dogs inside too! 8/10

Service - The lady serving was really friendly and seemed to enjoy her job. I was told I could have toast or bread, I requested 1 slice of bread and the other slice fried and it was not a problem. Whenever customers left the lady said goodbye to them. 8/10

Contents - 2 sausages, 2 bacon, 2 fried eggs, 2 hash browns, beans, 1 slice of fried bread, 1 slice of bread & butter and a coffee. 7/10

Presentation - It looked ok when it arrived but the fried bread seemed to be placed a bit willy nilly. The more I studied it though the more I realised there could be troubles ahead..5/10

The food - The sausages were cheap, nasty and deep fried. The bacon was ok but also deep fried as were the hash browns. The fried eggs had fairly snotty yolks and could have done with being flipped. The fried bread was holding a lot of oil and weighed a ton, the beans were ok. Sat on my plate was a 1st for me though, what appeared to be a deep fried tomato! It was a bit grim I can tell you. The bread and butter was nice and the coffee was ok. 4/10

Value for money - I paid £5.25 for the UEA mega breakfast with extra tomatoes, the price included a drink. Great value for money if was enjoyable, sadly it wasn't.. 4/10

Veggie option - Yes - Egg, hash brown, mushrooms, tomato, beans, toast or bread and tea or coffee for £3.50.

Overall - On the wall was a blackboard that said "We do not serve fast food, only good food" sadly this didn't add up when I ate the food which had mostly been cooked in a deep fat fryer. The staff here are really friendly and the fact you can bring your dog in is excellent. You do get a lot of food for your money but I can't say I really enjoyed it. 6/10

Saturday 14 January 2012

Taste - Norwich

(Now closed)

62 St Benedicts Street

Breakfast served till 12.30pm

Taste is located about halfway down St Benedicts Steet.

This is where you place your order.

This area is small with just a few tables to sit at.

Breakfast options are quite limited.

Fresh flowers and the place is kept really clean.

The small biscuit served with the coffee was a nice little touch.

Not a sausage to be seen anywhere but...

Great presentation!!

I was heading towards Chapelfield Mall on a fry up mission when the heavens opened, on top of that it was freezing cold. Suddenly I remembered Taste on St Benedicts Street, it was only a few minutes away so I decided to have breakfast there instead...

Upon entering - The first thing you notice is how small this place is, there is a small counter straight ahead as you walk through the door. Through an open doorway is the seating area with just a few tables. Although small it is a nice place to sit for a while whilst reading a paper over a coffee or chatting to friends. Everything is spotlessly clean and a menu can be found on each table, there is also a menu in the window so you can decide before you enter if you prefer. Place your order at the counter and the chap brings everything over when it is ready. 7/10

Service - There was just one person working there when I visited and maybe that is always the case, fear not though he can multitask flawlessly! He managed to cook my breakfast, clean tables, chat to customers, take orders and make drinks at the same time dashing from one task to another like a busy bumble bee. He told me when ordering what the breakfast would include giving me the option of white, wholemeal or granary toast and bought my coffee over when it was ready complete with small chocolate biscuit. Shortly after that the cutlery arrived and he took my empty sugar wrappers away. Finally he placed the fantastically presented breakfast in front of me. Before leaving he asked if everything was ok, this guy is friendly, does his job amazingly well and keeps the place spotlessly clean at the same time. If I owned a cafe I would like someone like him working for me! 9/10

Contents - 2 bacon, 1 fried egg, mushrooms, tomato and 2 slices of buttered toast. 4/10

Presentation - As you can see in the photo above, amazing! 9/10

The food - The bacon was tasty and nicely cooked, the fried egg was perfect, the mushrooms were perfect, the tomato was full of flavour and the toast was great. 8/10

Value for money - I paid £5.95 for the English breakfast (hot drink is not included in the price) and although everything tasted great it was quite small and a few key items were missing such as sausage and beans. 6/10

Veggie option - No veggie fry up mentioned on menu but other options (scrambled eggs on toast or fried egg muffin) were available.

Overall - Nice little cafe with very efficient and friendly service, the food served seemed really fresh and tasted delicious. The breakfast was in desperate need of a sausage or two and maybe a few beans though.. 7/10

Sunday 8 January 2012

Tea and little cakes - Norwich

(Now closed)

17 Timber Hill

Breakfast served till 6pm Monday - Saturday

Tea and little cakes can be found on Timber Hill in Norwich city centre, not far from The Murderers pub.

At the rear is the open plan kitchen.

Inside there is a modern mix of kitsch and contemporary.

There is a full waitress service.

Breakfast is served till 6pm!

The salt/pepper dispenser worked amazingly well.

Yep, sugar lumps!

The tea is served in a tea pot, nice.

This is the big talc brekkie.

This is the veggie brekkie and it was screaming out for a veggie banger or two.

Poached egg perfection.

Having visited a couple of new cafe's in Norwich recently I was delighted to hear that another new place selling cooked breakfast had opened in Norwich, this time on Timber Hill. As they served breakfast throughout the day I was able to meet my fiance for lunch, she is not a vegetarian but told me she would try the veggie option. Great I thought, meat and veggie breakfasts both tested in one visit.

Upon entering - You are visually in for a treat as you enter and are surrounded by a perfect mix of contemporary and traditional, the contemporary seats and lampshades combine nicely with the traditional tables, dresser and beams on the ceiling. There is an open plan kitchen at the rear and and a selection of different size tables to choose from, each with menu's, sugar, salt & pepper and flower in a vase. The background music is at a perfect volume and combined with the sound of people chatting over their meal gives the place a really nice feel. There is a waitress service here so grab a seat and the waitress will soon be over to take your order. 9/10

Service - The waitress was efficient and when a request for mushrooms to be grilled not fried was made she sorted it out without a problem. My only slight concern was that she didn't seem particularly friendly but as the place had only opened recently she may well have been new to waitressing and a tad nervous still maybe? As we were in a bit of a hurry we went to pay at the counter rather than wait for the bill to arrive, the lady on the till was very friendly asking us if everything had been ok. 7/10

Contents - 2 sausages, 2 bacon, 2 poached eggs with hollandaise sauce, homemade baked beans, half a grilled tomato, mushrooms and toasted sourdough bread & butter. 8/10

Presentation - When the plates arrived on the table I was in two minds about whether I could bring myself to destroy the masterpiece that had been placed before me, presentation heaven! 10/10

The food - The sausages and bacon were good quality and tasted really good. The poached eggs were as perfect as you can get and went beautifully on top of the toasted sourdough covered in the delicious hollandaise sauce. The tomato was full of flavor and the mushrooms were about as good as they get. The baked beans were made on the premises and although I must confess to slightly preferring tinned ones they were incredibly nice. 9/10

Value for money - When the food is this good £6.95 is an absolute bargain. 9/10

Veggie option - Yes, as pictured above for £6. I really do think that a veggie sausage or something similar needs to be added though as just serving something without the meat does I'm told frustrate and irritate vegetarians.
*Update* The owners have said they will soon be adding something to the veggie breakfast which is great news!

Overall - Tea and little cakes are onto a winner with there fantastic environment and food. The poached eggs and homemade baked beans make a nice change and the breakfast being available till 6pm was a nice touch too, well worth a visit! 9/10


Here is the veggie breakfast with the potato rosti which i am told is delicious!

*October 2012 update*

 The veggie breakfast was looking great with perfect poached eggs.

I tried the potato rosti this time and it was so good, as was everything else!

Thursday 5 January 2012

The River Green Cafe - Trowse, Norwich

The Street
NR14 8AH

All day brunch served
Tuesday - Saturday 12-5pm
Sunday 12-4pm

Guest review by Chris Lee

Having had an excellent meal at the Veggie Red Lion Pub in Suffolk, we were keen to try newly opened River Green Café at Trowse near Norwich.

The All Day Veggie Brunch comprised tomatoes, 2 Quorn sausages, mushrooms, herby crispy fried potatoes and a perfectly fried egg (or beans if you are vegan). Also served up were some crispy chunks of French bread and butter.

Although not cheap at £6.90, and it would have been nice to have home-made sausages rather than Quorn ones, it was one of the best veggie fry-ups I've had. The potatoes were lush! The coffee was decent too ­which is always a plus point.

The café is in nice surroundings and the staff are very friendly. Highly recommended if you're a veggie, vegan or carnivore.

Monday 2 January 2012

Tavola Calda - Norwich

(Now closed)

2A Opie Street

Breakfast served all day

Tavola Calda can be found in Norwich city centre on Opie Street.

The all day breakfast was a bit different when it arrived to how it was described on the menu, what I actually got for £4.50 was - 1 egg, sausage, bacon, tomato, mushrooms, beans, fried bread and a coffee.

Take a seat and the waitress will take your order.

No sauces were on the tables but sachets were available.

The coffee was delicious and either comes with the all day breakfast or they forgot to charge me for it.

It looked ok but the economy sausage and oil drenched fried bread was a bit of a disappointment.

Christmas was a few days away so a trip into Norwich City centre for a last bit of Christmas shopping was needed. I wasn't particularly looking forward to this last shopping trip but the day before a friend at work had told me about a new cafe that had opened in the city on Opie Street. I decided to find this new cafe before braving the shops...

Upon entering - Inside it is fairly small with a number of tables to choose from, some by the window and a counter at one end. There is a large menu on the window outside and smaller ones on each table along with some condiments, sauces can be found on a separate table in sachets. 6/10

Service - I went straight to the counter when I entered to place my order and as soon as I finished eating I went to the counter to pay. I think if I had sat down the waitress would have come over to take my order and most likely bought the bill over at the end but there was no clear indication either way. The person taking my order and the waitress were both friendly and efficient, the waitress even asking if everything was ok after the food had arrived. 7/10

Contents - 1 sausage, 2 bacon, 1 fried egg, half a slice of fried bread, half a grilled tomato, mushrooms and beans. 7/10

Presentation - Everything looked ok and nicely cooked when it arrived but the economy sausage was instantly evident and it was jumbo! 7/10

The food - Regular readers of my blog will know my feelings on economy sausages and this one was jumbo and lacking quality big time, as I cut into it you could almost here the air as it seeped out of the sausage leaving a sorry looking sunken line of despair centre stage on the plate. Fortunately the bacon was nice enough and the fried egg and mushrooms were good. The fried bread looked good but was seriously holding a lot of oil which may well have shortened my life by a few months. The beans were nice and the tomato was average. 5/10

Value for money - £4.50 for a great breakfast is good value for money. This was not a particularly great breakfast though and even with the coffee included I didn't leave thinking I had bagged a bargain. 6/10

Veggie option - No

Overall - Tavola Calda has only recently opened so they are probably still finding their feet. The place is nice and the staff are friendly, it does have a lot going for it really with it's central location in the city. I however am on the search for the perfect fry up experience and sadly it could not be found here. The menu may frustrate some people as what arrives is different to what the menu states, eggs means more than one and toast does not mean fried bread. I love fried bread (not when it is soaked in oil though) but I know plenty of people who are not so keen and may well be disappointed when it arrives expecting toast. I say hike the price of the all day breakfast up to £5.50 and serve it with a good quality sausage or two and fry the bread when the oil is hot enough and they could be onto a winner. 6/10