Saturday 16 June 2012

Auntie's Tea Shop - Cambridge

1 St Mary's Passage

Breakfast served all day
Monday to Friday  -  9.30 am - 6.00 pm 
Saturday  -     9.30 am - 6.30 pm
Sunday    -   10.30 am - 5.30 pm 

Auntie's Tea Shop if close to the Marketplace on St Mary's Passage.

Kings College is very close by too.

Inside feels very traditional with its lace tables cloths and homemade cakes.

The waitresses are dressed in traditional black uniform with white pinnies.

If you order a cooked breakfast before 11.30am a free hot drink is included.

The coffee is ok but nothing to write home about.

Ketchup arrives in a small pot and the bill arrives in a shot glass.

I enjoyed the breakfast with its vibrant colours and tidy presentation.

The yolk may have sprung a leak but it tasted great.

4 weeks after my last visit I was back in Cambridge again to see some live music at The Man On The Moon. I always have a good night out in Cambridge and this time was no exception and I had the hangover the following morning to prove it! The previous day we had spotted Auntie's Tea Shop whilst shopping and decided it would be where we go for breakfast the following morning...

Upon entering - Inside it is light and very traditional with a counter in the corner, there are plenty of tables outside too. There is a full waitress service so once you are seated everything is bought to the table including the menu. 7/10

Service - The waitresses were all quite young and dressed in traditional black uniform with a white pinnie. Initially it felt like going back in time but overhearing the waitresses discuss where they had been out the night before and how hungover they were feeling soon bought me back to 2012 again! I was hungover myself though so could fully understand how they were feeling but it did take the edge off the traditional feel the tea shop is probably trying to portray. The service was friendly and fairly efficient, I did however have to remind the waitress that they had forgotten to bring us our orange juice we had ordered earlier. When the food arrived there was not really enough butter for the toast but they were more than happy to bring more straight over to us. 10% is added onto the bill at the end for service and to be honest I would have left a tip anyway but I am less keen on this method as I prefer to have the option depending on how good the service actually is. 6/10

Contents - 1 sausage, 1 bacon, 2 hash browns, fried egg, beans, grilled tomatoes and 1 slice of toast & butter. 7/10

Presentation - I liked how the items were neatly placed on the plate and how the hash browns were containing the puddle of beans. There was a slight leak from the egg yolk but not enough to cause a problem and the sprig of parsley was a nice touch. It was a great mix of bright colours and I couldn't wait to tuck in. 8/10

The food - The sausage had quite a rich flavour and good texture, the bacon was cooked nicely and tasted great. The fried egg had a rich yellow yolk and went nicely on top of the buttered toast. The hash browns were cooked nicely with a soft textured centre and crispy on the outside. Rich and stodgy baked beans and flavoursome tomatoes finished off this breakfast that was a pleasure to eat. 8/10

Value for money - Considering its prime and central location £6.90 (£7.59 with service charge) seemed like a reasonable price for what was an enjoyable breakfast. Because we were there before 11.30am the hot drinks were free making it a better deal. 7/10

Veggie option - Yes, but quite a lazy one. 2 eggs, hash browns, baked beans and grilled tomatoes served with a round of toast for £6.65. This seems a bit over priced considering the meat breakfast costs just 25p extra and includes much more. Veggie sausages would surely make a welcome addition to the veggie breakfast and make it seem better value for money.

Overall - Not quite as polished and slick as I was first expecting but enjoyable all the same. The breakfast was a pleasure to eat and did wonders for my hangover so quite a result really. If you are looking for somewhere in the centre of Cambridge to eat breakfast then it is well worth a look and a far better option than "Agora at the Copper Kettle" a few minutes away. 7/10

Wednesday 13 June 2012

By Appointment - Norwich

(Now closed)
25-29 St Georges Street

By Appointment has been on St Georges Street for 25 years. It will sadly be closing at the end of July 2012, click here for a recent article in the Eastern Daily Press.

The entrance is located around the back, through an archway off Colegate.

You are made very welcome as soon as you arrive and the dining room is presented beautifully.

The blackboard reads "Good morning, I hope that you have slept well"

Freshly squeezed orange juice awaits us at the crisp white linen covered tables.

Fresh flowers, Norfolk honey, a selection of jams and sugars sit neatly on the table.

The tea is served in a silver teapot and there is no need to hold onto the tea strainer.

Freshly ground Columbian coffee is served in a cafetiere.

A selection of warm croissants and toast arrive at the table.

The light level inside the dinning room is quite low so it was difficult to photograph the food, this was one special breakfast though!

The excellent fried egg lay on top of a deliciously crispy slice of fried bread, next to that sat the best scrambled egg I have ever had the pleasure of eating!

It was nice to see black pudding on the plate and the mushrooms were sensational.

A pair of high quality and delicious tasting sausages lay neatly next to the flavoursome tomatoes.

A friend of mine recently posted a photo onto my facebook page of a breakfast he had recently eaten at By Appointment. It looked delicious and I showed the photo to my girlfriend as we had both eaten there a few years back at a friends wedding. My birthday was coming up and little did I realise my girlfriend upon seeing the photo was contacting them to book a table straight away. The night before we had a few birthday drinks in the city and ended up feeling a tad hungover in the morning. We found ourselves rushing to get ready in time for our 9.30am booking and due to that didn't really get dressed up for the occasion like we had planned. We headed to the back door where you enter By Appointment wondering what our breakfast experience would be like...

Upon entering - The dining room was incredible and like nothing else I had experienced so far on my breakfast journey. Each table was beautifully laid out with white linen table cloth and napkins, fresh flowers, silver wear and a fine array of jams and homemade Norfolk honey. The sunlight through the windows and a number of lamps gently light the dining room giving it a calming atmosphere, in the background music is played which really adds to the ambience. We arrived at the latest booking time of 9.30am and there was just one other couple eating breakfast, once they had left we had the whole dining room to ourselves. 9/10 

Service - We were greeted by owner Robert who looked after us and I must say the service was flawless from beginning to the end of our visit, he is a true professional and really nice chap. He greeted us when we arrived, showing us to our table and taking our coats. Once seated he asked us if we would like tea or coffee and returned with a silver teapot of tea and a large cafetiere of Columbian coffee. Soon after that he bought us a selection of toast and warm croissants to the table and then the cooked breakfast arrived. At the end we asked for the bill, he bought it over asking if we would like any more tea, coffee or toast. He chatted with us before we left and helped us on with our coats which he had kindly ensured were dry after a downpour on route. We were made to feel special and were not judged on our appearance which is a very rare occurrence these days. The best service I have ever encountered, professional, friendly and genuine. 10/10

Contents - 2 sausages, 2 bacon, black pudding, fried egg, scrambled egg, mushrooms, tomatoes, toast & butter, warm croissants, jam, marmalade, Norfolk honey, freshly squeezed orange juice, tea and coffee. 9/10

Presentation - Everything arrived beautifully presented on the plate and the layout of the food was amazing with a superb mix of colours. The silver wear and fresh flowers on the table made it feel really special. 9/10

The food - Beautifully cooked high quality local sausages and crispy back bacon. The fried egg tasted amazing with a lovely coloured yolk and slightly crispy around the edges, it lay on top of a crisp and golden slice of fried bread. I didn't realise scrambled egg could taste this good, by far the best I have ever had the pleasure of eating! A nice chunky slice of black pudding sat next to a trio of fantastic tasting mushrooms and the tomatoes were excellent and full of flavour. I was too full up to try any toast but did enjoy a delicious warm croissant with butter and jam. 10/10

Value for money - The Full English breakfast at By Appointment costs £15 and includes  tea, coffee, freshly squeezed orange juice, croissants and toast. The service is second to none and the food is just amazing, you will not leave feeling hungry. A great experience that is worth every penny! 9/10

Veggie option - Not a specific veggie Full English listed on the menu found here but it looks like they have other alternatives and do seem very keen to please so worth asking.

Overall - A truly incredible breakfast experience that is not to be missed! Excellent service, food, presentation and environment. A real treat and an absolute gem of a place that I can't recommend enough. Be quick though as it is closing soon at the end of July 2012 and remember, don't just turn up because you will need to book in advance. I am so happy to have had the pleasure to eat here before it closes its doors for the last time! 9.5/10

Thursday 7 June 2012

Marks & Spencer - Great British Breakfast Pizza

Available from Marks & Spencer for a limited time

A breakfast pizza with an inspector on the box. I was looking forward to trying this!

This is how it looked once out of the box and ready for the oven.

The brown sauce was more like BBQ sauce and complimented it nicely.

After 12 minutes at 200c it was ready.

Here it is cooked, lets take a closer look.

The onion had quite a heavy garlic taste that was nice but a bit strange on a breakfast pizza.

The bacon was smoked and tasted great.

There was a generous amount of cumberland sausages on the pizza (about 6) and they tasted great too and went well on a pizza. A nice addition may have been some eggs and beans (both I have had on a pizza before) but I guess it wasn't called the Full English Breakfast Pizza so fair enough! 

Monday 4 June 2012

The Iron House - Norwich

1 St John Maddermarket

Breakfast served Monday to Saturday 8.30am - 11.30am

The Iron House can be found a short walk away from Norwich Market on St John Maddermarket.

£9.95 is more than I usually spend on a breakfast but it was worth every penny as the food here is incredible and tasted amazing. You can view the menu in more detail here

Inside it is stunning and the natural light floods into the clean and well designed dining area.

More tables can be found upstairs.

This is the nicest cappuccino I have ever tasted!

Quality sauces presented beautifully.

The food looked great when it arrived and everything on the plate was cooked beautifully and tasted amazing.

Chunky slices of fried bread were stacked beside the most delicious tomatoes I have ever tasted before.

The mushroom tasted incredible and the sausage was packed full of flavour.

I had eaten breakfast everywhere in Norwich City Centre now except for at The Iron House. I had a feeling the food there was going to be quite special and was saving it for a rainy day. We headed into the city under the umbrella feeling quite hungry and decided the time had come to pop in and try the Iron House Breakfast...

Upon entering - The Iron House is in what used to be the Ironmongers Arms where I used to drink from time to time many years ago. Once inside though you feel like it is the first time you have ever been inside the building as it is completely different now and the transformation is stunning. There is a bar at the front, some tables by the window and a selection of delicious looking homemade cakes on display. Towards the back the contemporary dining area is well lit with natural light that floods in through the glass roof, a staircase takes you upstairs to another dining area and toilets. The layout and design has been really well thought out with good signage so you can easily find your way around. It is a really relaxing environment to spend time in. Chose where you would like to sit and the waitress brings a menu over and when you are ready will take your order. 9/10

Service - You are well looked after by the friendly and efficient staff here who ensure you have everything you need. Our drink order was taken first and once the drinks arrived the food order was taken. We was asked how we would like our eggs cooked, if we would like any sauces and they were more than happy to change the fried bread to toast on one of the breakfasts. We had left our umbrella behind at the end but the waitress soon spotted it and rushed out to give it to us. 9/10

Contents - 1 sausage, 2 bacon, corn beef hash, grilled tomato, field mushroom, 1 egg and fried bread. 7/10

Presentation - The food is presented beautifully on the plate and even the sauces looked impressive when they arrived. 9/10

The food - The quality of the ingredients and the flavours from each item were just amazing. The sausage was excellent quality with a delicious herby flavour and fantastic meaty texture. The chunky bacon had a wonderful smoked taste and was cooked perfectly. The corn beef hash was crispy on the outside, soft in the middle and tasted really good. The fried bread was chunky and lightly fried with a golden glow, the perfect fried egg complimented it nicely. The large field mushroom and tomato were the best I have ever tasted, seasoned in a way that made them almost melt in the mouth. Such an enjoyable and incredibly tasty breakfast that it could not have been improved in any way at all, pure class! 10/10

Value for money - £9.95 for the Iron House breakfast did initially seem quite expensive and was more than I would generally ever spend on breakfast. It was worth every penny though and the quality and flavours you experience are out of this world. 9/10

Veggie option - No, a veggie breakfast would make a great addition to the menu though.

Overall - A stunning building that has been beautifully renovated and well designed with a great choice of areas to dine in. Great service and food that is cooked to perfection and tastes incredible make this a place not to be missed. The breakfast here was different to any other I have experienced so far, top quality ingredients are used, the flavours were amazing and it was hugely enjoyable to eat. 9/10

Saturday 2 June 2012

Debenhams - Norwich

Orford Place

Debenhams is easy to spot but it is one of the last places in the City centre I got round to visiting for breakfast.

It was this sign that reminded me about the Debenhams breakfast. Perfect??? Not quite but one of the best of the department store/supermarket breakfasts so far.

Make your way up to the 3rd floor and you will find the restaurant where the breakfast is served.

The modern, clean and spacious restaurant was empty when I arrived as I was the first person through the door when they opened.

There were 10 different items to choose from, you can choose from a 6, 8 or 10 item breakfast, for research purposes I choose the 10 item option.

The cloche was a great idea and ensured the food was still hot when I sat down to eat it.

A large mug of coffee cost £2.30

A slice of either white or brown toast and butter comes with the breakfast.

These are the 10 items I picked, I think I chose wisely.

Not that many places serve fried bread and in Debenhams it was really nice!

I was off to London for the day and had to meet everyone else at 10am as we were getting the 10.45am coach. I usually go on fry up inspections at weekends but knowing on this particular morning I had time to fit one in I decided to give Debenhams a try. I felt sure they opened at 9am but as I soon as I approached the entrance I realised they were still closed and on Tuesday's they didn't open till 9.30. I killed time for 30 minutes knowing I was going to have to be fairly quick, as soon as the doors where unlocked I headed straight for the escalator...

Upon entering - As you reach the 3rd floor on the escalator turn right and you will see the entrance to the restaurant. Inside it is modern, clean and spacious with the counter to your left and the seating area to your right. The breakfast options are clearly listed behind the counter with a choice of 6,8 or 10 item breakfasts to chose from. Order your food and drink at the counter, the food is given to you with a cloche over the plate to keep the food hot. Then pay at the till, collect your drink, take some cutlery, sauces etc and find a table. The layout seems good and flows nicely, I was first in the queue so the food was still hot when I sat down to eat it. 7/10

Service - The same lady served my breakfast asking what items I would like, took my money at the till and made my coffee. She was friendly, efficient and very polite. 8/10

Contents - The 10 different items I noticed were: Sausages, bacon, hash browns, fried bread, mushrooms, real tomatoes, tinned tomatoes, fried eggs, scrambled eggs and beans. Brown and white toast and butter was available too. 9/10

Presentation - Everything sat quite nicely on the plate and the mix of colours looked great together, one of the sausages had split though. 6/10

The food - The sausages were fairly nice, not quite economy but nothing too fancy and the bacon was pretty good. The fried egg was cooked nicely, a tad too runny on top of the yolk but not enough to create a raw egg white tsunami when I cut into it. The best part of this breakfast was the amazing fried bread, a golden crispy triangular delight that crunched nicely when you cut into it. The hash brown was nice and crispy on the outside and fluffy inside, the portobello mushroom was cooked nicely and tasted great. A nice stodgy mound of beans sat in harmony beside 3 fantastic tinned tomatoes. The slice of toast and butter was great wrapped around a slice of bacon and mopped up the tomato juice nicely. 7/10

Value for money - The 10 item breakfast cost £5.75 and included a slice of toast & butter. A mug of coffee cost £2.30. There was a good selection of items on offer and it was quite a pleasure to eat so seemed like a fair enough price to me. 7/10

Veggie option - I didn't spot any veggie alternatives to the meat but perhaps it is cooked to order, don't know for sure though?

Overall - This is the first time I have eaten a "served at the counter" breakfast and sat down to eat it hot still, the use of the cloche is clearly a good idea and seems to work quite nicely. The experience at Debenhams was far better than most other department store restaurants and supermarket cafes that I have visited in the past. Being the first person in there on the morning probably helped a lot and i'm not sure how it would be when really busy. A good restaurant, friendly staff and decent enough food set me up nicely for the rest of the morning, well worth a look. 7/10