Sunday 29 April 2012

Cafe Zest @ UEA - Norwich

University of East Anglia

Breakfast served
Monday to Friday  
7.30am - 11.00am

Saturday & Sunday  
10.30am - 4.30pm

Paid parking available in UEA

Cafe Zest can be found close to the shops within the UEA campus.

Regular customers can take advantage of the loyalty card scheme.

The seating area is really big so plenty of places to sit.

This looked like the best place to sit, I wish I had spotted it on the way in.

Get your hot drink before queuing up for food as you need to be eating that food as soon after it has been served as possible and you will encounter many obstacles preventing you from doing this.

This A4 sign is the only breakfast offer menu inside this huge cafe, it says..
5 items £3.50
9 items £4.50
12 items £5.50
All with free toast and a tea or coffee

Help yourself to as many items as you want.

Take your pick from economy catering sausages and veggie sausages or have both if you want!

Slowly move along the queue watching the temperature of your food slowly decrease.

Wait a further 5 minutes as you wait to use the toaster wondering if your food could still possibly be at least luke warm.

Everything on the tray cost me just £4.50.

Presentation was pretty good but that was down to my serving skills .

It was nice having scrambled and fried eggs and I love tinned tomatoes, a shame about the tinned mushrooms though..

A few months back I had spotted Cafe Zest whilst walking through the UEA grounds, shortly after that people were suggesting I visit. I had heard some positive but mainly negative comments about it so was keen to go along and see exactly what was going on there. Wet weather had prevented us from going to the VW Big Bang @ Santa Pod so I had a free weekend and decided to go along on Sunday morning and visit...

Upon entering - The seating area is vast, modern and clean. Everything is spaced out nicely giving you plenty of room to move around but as a first time visitor there was a serious lack of direction, I will explain why. When I enter a place for the first time it is always nice to clearly see what I am supposed to do next  or at least have a sign telling me, inside Cafe Zest I felt quite lost so just made it up as I went along and hoped for the best. There is a poster in the window advertising the "breakfast loyalty card scheme" but when I searched for a simple menu informing me how much the breakfast was going to cost me I couldn't find one anywhere. After I had eaten I searched again high and low for a breakfast price list as it was bugging so me much, eventually I found the one A4 sized copy on the counter. As soon as I noticed it was the "serve yourself, pay and find a table" system I realised I was most likely going to be eating a breakfast that had gone cold. I slowly moved along the counter placing items on my plate then the queue would stop moving as there was delays at the till, by the time I had got to the toaster I knew the hot food was going to be barely warm still if I was lucky. Next there was a student at the till having a dilemma with her credit card, I gazed down at my once hot food in frustration... 4/10

Service - The staff seemed friendly enough but as you do everything yourself the only person you will speak to is the person on the till. 6/10

Contents - Available items are - Sausages, bacon, veggie sausages, fried eggs, scrambled eggs, hash browns, tinned tomatoes, tinned mushrooms, beans and toast. 7/10

Presentation - I did a fantastic job of placing the items on a plate, a bit gutted I dripped bean juice on the edge though.. N/A

The food - The sausages were the squidgy economy type that were ok but nothing to write home about, the bacon was ok but not outstanding either. The fried egg was nice enough and I quite enjoyed the scrambled egg too. The hash browns were ok but not so nice once they had gone cold. The beans and tinned tomatos were nice enough and stayed hot the longest. I am not a fan of tinned mushrooms and these slimy little fellas left me wondering why do places serve tinned when they are as expensive as the real thing that tastes so much better. The toast and butter was ok but suffered as everything else had with the fact it had gone almost cold before I had the chance to eat it. 4/10

Value for money - £4.50 for a 9 item (I actually had 12 items but didn't get charged more) breakfast, toast and a hot drink seems like fantastic value for money. You may change your mind as you sit down and tuck into your luke warm bargain though. 4/10 

Veggie option - Yes, veggie sausages and plenty of other items to choose from.

Overall - It is clear that the cafe needs to serve vast amounts of people and self service works better for them but as soon as a queue forms everything goes pear shaped and hot food goes cold. I think if you went in when there was no queue at all and run very quickly between serving the food, condiments, paying and getting to your seat then you may be able to eat the food whilst it was still fairly hot. You can certainly fill yourself up here for a reasonable price and if you don't mind eating food that has is luke warm then you may well like this place, I would rather eat a hot breakfast myself though. 5/10

Sunday 15 April 2012

E. Pellicci - Bethnal Green, London

332 Bethnal Green Road
Bethnal Green
E2 0AG

Opening Hours
Monday - Saturday

A great article on this classic cafe and interior photos can be found here.

I'd read about E. Pellicci in various books and was keen to visit for myself.

The counter is on the left as you walk in, it's a hive of activity.

The grade II listed interior is stunning!

The Pellicci name can be found throughout the cafe on windows, walls and even the floor.

There are plenty of items available to create your perfect breakfast.

Plenty of sauces to squirt on too!

I started off with a great cup of coffee.

The huge glass of delicious freshly squeezed orange juice cost just £2.

The cutlery was looking well up for the job!

A good job we were hungry, the portions here are very generous!!

I went for the set breakfast with black pudding, bubble & squeak and beans.

Under that great fried egg was a slice of delicious fried bread, the sea of beans were struggling to stay on the plate.

More black pudding was discovered underneath the fantastic homemade bubble & squeak and the mass of golden mushrooms were delicious.

By the end I was really full up and what a huge pleasure everything was to eat!!

I'd seen Frank Turner on a number of occasions but since last seeing him I'd got much more into his music so was really looking forward to seeing him play at Wembley Arena. I'd bought the tickets back in October so after months of waiting, Friday 13th April finally arrived. I'd never been to a venue as huge as Wembley Arena before and despite initial concerns over crowd size and how well I would be able to see the stage I was relieved to discover this was not a problem! Despite being really full it was possible to get close to the stage and watch Frank's amazing show, it was an incredible night! Knowing our economy hotel in Wembley was offering a continental breakfast the next morning I planned to skip that and visit somewhere I had read about, E. Pellici in Bethnal Green. The next morning we handed our keys in at the hotel and headed to Bethnal Green feeling rather hungry, finally the cafe appeared so I got a quick shot of the great exterior and headed inside...

Upon entering - As I opened the door I was immediately greeted by the friendly waitress and the stunning art deco panelled interior. Although the cafe is quite small the tables were laid out well and if you fancied it there were more outside too. There was so much to see from the original kitchen serving hatch where the food kept appearing from to the original hot water urn. The "Pellicci" name that could be found on windows, panels and even the floor. Condiments sat nicely on each table and a menu is bought straight over to you. The atmosphere inside was just perfect, you immediately feel at home and there is so much going on it is a joy to watch whilst you wait for your food to arrive. Pure perfection!!! 10/10

Service - The friendly waitress greeted us straight away and told us to sit anywhere we wanted. She then came straight over to take drink orders and handed us menus. She recommended the orange juice a couple of times telling us how good it was so eventually we ordered some as we were quite dehydrated from the night before, it was quite possibly the most amazing freshly squeezed orange juice I had ever tasted before and in a huge glass too, I am so glad she recommended it!! The chap taking our food order was a really nice bloke, genuinely friendly and had the most incredible memory I had witnessed in along time. I reeled off both the orders adding some extra items and changing fried bread on one breakfast to toast and he memorised everything which initially left me feeling a tad concerned. There was no need to worry though as everything arrived exactly as we had ordered it. My girlfriend couldn't finish all of her breakfast but the waitress kindly put what was left in a polystyrene box for her to eat later. Pure perfection! 10/10

Contents - 1 Sausage, 2 bacon, 2 slices of black pudding, 1 fried egg, bubble & squeak, 2 grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, fried bread and beans. 9/10

Presentation - Generous servings and it all looked fantastic, I couldn't wait to tuck in! 9/10

The food - The plump butchers sausage was good quality, tasted great and cooked perfectly, as was the bacon. The black pudding was fairly standard but delicious and piping hot. The fried egg was as good as it gets with a nice runny yolk but no uncooked egg white, it went perfectly with the golden crisp fried bread. The homemade bubble & squeak was out of this world and there was so much of it too! A mass of golden chunky mushrooms, juicy flavoursome tomatoes and a sea of steaming beans finished off this truly incredible breakfast! 9/10

Value for money - The set breakfast costs £5.50 and consists of - egg, bacon, sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes and fried slice. We ordered 2 set breakfasts with extra beans and bubble & squeak on both and extra black pudding on one. We also had 2 teas, 2 fresh orange juices and a coffee, we were charged £20 for everything and it was £20 very well spent! 9/10

Veggie option - Yes. Egg, veggie sausage, Bubble & squeak, beans and tomatoes for £5 and extras if you want to add them too.

Overall - This place has stood the test of time for 112 years, the family run cafe is like nowhere else I have visited so far. It is really down to earth with genuinely friendly staff that ensure you are well looked after and the place just oozes character and looks stunning too. I know many great places like this have closed over the years but E. Pellicci still stands strong and visiting it reminded me just how weak the likes of Starbucks and other such chains are compared. I feel so glad to have had the pleasure of visiting, it ticks all the right boxes in relation to what matters on my search for the perfect fry up experience and is without a doubt the best so far. My only concern is that I need to review other London Cafe's over time but will I ever have the willpower to resist returning here instead... It is going to be difficult! Well done E. Pellicci, what an amazing place you are!! 9.5/10

* Update - October 2018 *

Over 6 years had passed since writing this review and the urge to return to E. Pellicci for breakfast again was too strong to resist! This time though I introduced myself and enjoyed chatting with the staff, as always the banter here was fantastic! Every customer who walks through the door is given the friendliest of welcomes which is what really makes this place so special.

Everything inside looked much the same as it was on my first visit which is exactly what you want to see in a place like E. Pellicci. Even though I'd seen the stunning art deco interior before it still took my breath away seeing it once again. The menu still offers a set full English breakfast which currently costs just £7.80, you can add additional items for £1 each. The full menu can be viewed here.

The Pellicci's Full English with black pudding, beans and homemade bubble added as extras. This is the same combination I had on my first visit and it was delicious. I highly recommend you try the homemade bubble, it's amazing!

I also recommend you try Mamma's bread pudding. We tried it hot straight from the oven and later in the day we enjoyed more on our train journey home. It tastes incredible, definitely the best bread pudding out there!!

Sunday 8 April 2012

Guest Review by Bill Albers

The Lion and Rose British Pub
5148 Broadway (Alamo Heights)
San Antonio, Texas USA 78209

Open 11am to Midnight, Bar 11am to 2am

Breakfast served all day, Traditional Fry Up served until 4pm

The Lion and Rose British Pub has 4 locations in San Antonio, and 1 in Austin, Texas. This is the original, offering a Fry Up on weekends until 4 pm.

A welcoming sign just inside the main entrance, with an invite to try their fry up! Up the short steps, and through another door, you'll see:

Have a seat, and the lovely waitresses will be at your beck and call.

It's not just a place to eat, it's an American version of a British Sports Pub. It's well stocked with all the libations one could care to enjoy, both well and premium brands, and a large selection of ales and beers on draft. There's plenty of comfortable seating available. Premier League Football, Rugby, Formula 1 and other sports are on display on the large number of viewing screens both behind the bar and adjacent to all the booths. I apologize that this picture doesn't do it justice.

Sachets of sweeteners, coasters, and salt and pepper grinders on each table. I'm trying mighty hard to resist reading the drink menu.

This is what I came for. It's only offered at this location currently, however, plans are that they will have it on the menu at their other locations soon.

You can see their menu here

I know the Fry Up Inspector always has coffee or tea with his Fry Ups, but since this was on special ($4.25, 1 dollar off the regular price), I'll have a pint of Newcastle Brown Ale instead!

As you can see, the Newcastle was going down pretty good. There's several other beverage choices available as well! Here's yet another reminder that this is a British Sports Pub! Very few sports bars here in the States will actually show rugby or 'real' football on this side of the pond.

It's served on a round plate! Bonus!

The fry up pictures you've been waiting for. It looks great! Although I will admit, the waitresses employed here are very photogenic as well.

Top brand condiments are available upon request. I guarantee that you won't find HP Sauce at other places in Texas, especially your typical 'Breakfast In America' diner.

Hiding under the toast was the bacon, mushrooms, and grilled tomatoes. Behold, both Red and White (that's a first for me?) blood sausage.

As you can see by the results, I thought it was an excellent fry up.

Oh, wait. What's this? Please, PLEASE do not be troubled by the large amount I had left over; I thought it was delicious! Unfortunately, I just don't have the room for so much food anymore. I had gastric bypass surgery about a year and a half (and 90 pounds) ago. So as a result, I can only eat so much, regardless of how good it is. I'm quite used to taking home what's left over, especially with the large amount of great food that I was served here. I'll gladly take this home to enjoy again later.

Having spent the last few months reading the Fry Up Inspector's reviews on this blog, and recently hearing that the Lion and Rose was now offering a 'fry up', I felt compelled to stop on in and do a review. I've been to their other locations before, with great results. But, the Alamo Heights location is the only location (so far) that offers the traditional Fry Up. Great food, and the opportunity to post a guest review on a great fry up blog? Oh, yeah! On the drive there and back, I listened to my copy of the punk compilation album, 'Let Them Eat Jellybeans' just for the occasion. The Inspector would approve. :)

Upon entering - The restaurant is located in a 'strip mall', so if you're not familiar with the location, it is easy to miss, but I had my GPS guide my way. Once inside, it had plenty of seating, as well as a separate room for parties and special gatherings. Lots of plush booths, and seats at the bar, with plenty of television screens to catch all the sports action being displayed. 9/10

Service - You're welcomed as soon as you walk in the door, and invited to sit anywhere you choose. I chose to sit at a booth alongside an outside wall, so I wouldn't attract too much attention when taking all the photos. Surprisingly, no one asked me why I was taking them. I guess we're too used to people taking pictures with their cell phones, and posting them on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Did I mention that the waitresses here were photogenic? As I'm a married man, I decided against such action, but you can always check their website, or simply visit here yourself to enjoy the scenery. I know I did! 10/10

Contents - Two eggs (any way you choose), two rashers of bacon, two slices each of both red and white blood pudding, two sausages, mushrooms, beans, two halves of a grilled tomato, and toast. 9/10

Presentation - I thought it was impressive, but I'll let you be the judge. 8/10

The food - Having visited another location closer to my home many times, I know that their quality is one reason they are so popular. The eggs were cooked just right, with runny yolks to dip your toast in. The sausages were not economy by any stretch of the imagination, they were flavorful and had just the right spice. The blood sausages were spot on. The beans, grilled tomato and fresh mushrooms were (to quote the fry up inspector himself) "well nice". 9/10

Value for money - The 'Traditional Breakfast' cost me $12.99 before tax and gratuity. Sure, you could spend less elsewhere, but would you get as much value? The scenery itself is worth the dollars spent. :) I could always stay home and watch Rugby, Formula 1 and Premier League football, but I don't even come close to making the great food and drinks that they serve here. 10/10

Veggie option - They're more than willing to accommodate if you want to order a la carte. They have an expansive menu, including salad choices (see their website). Don't forget to order the bubble and squeak, it's highly recommended!

Overall - It was more than worth the trip. The food was even better than even I had expected it to be, and the scenery was…ok, enough of that! I did stay for a couple hours after finishing my meal just to watch 'The Master's' Golf tourney and enjoy a few Gin and Tonics, and enjoy the view! I'll definitely be returning again soon, perhaps to catch the F1 Chinese Gran Prix next Sunday. 9/10