Saturday 21 July 2012

The Reading Rooms - Norwich

(Now closed)
21 - 23 Nelson Street

Breakfast served everyday
 8.30am - 6.00pm

The Reading Rooms can be found on Nelson Street almost opposite the Fat Cat pub.

The kitsch and shabby chic interior looks great.

A selection of newspapers are available if you fancy a read and the art on the walls is for sale.

The breakfasts here are delicious and are available all day, you can see the online menu here.

The cappuccino was really good.

The tea bags were good quality and huge!

Salt, pepper and sugar can be found on each table. A decent sized bowl of ketchup was bought to the table with the food.

As you make you way through this amazingly tasty tower of a breakfast you will discover some delicious treats along the way.

The generous sized chunk of black pudding sat on top of an incredibly tasty field mushroom.

This was the first stacked breakfast I had eaten that included baked beans, they were a great addition and went nicely with the hot buttered toast.

This is the Vegetarian breakfast, the grilled sesame haloumi was delicious.

Readers of my blog recently told me about The Reading Rooms that had opened on Nelson Street in Norwich, I was about to get married though so had to put my visit on hold for a few weeks. Finally the time arrived to visit, I had heard good things about the Reading Rooms so my wife decided she would join me too..

Upon entering - There are 2 dining areas and also some small tables outside, we chose to sit in the area at the front that had large windows allowing the daylight to flood in. The other slightly darker area can be found further back where the counter is also located and delicious looking cakes are on display too. The mismatched tables and chairs, art for sale on the walls and use of colours work together really well. A menu, sugar and salt & pepper can be found on each table and there is a full waitress service. When we first arrived it was an amazingly relaxing environment to sit and chat in, by the time our food arrived though the place was much busier and had became very noisy making it difficult to have a conversation. It is a great cafe for families as children are made very welcome with regular kids book clubs taking place however if you are looking for a quite time then this may not be for you. The sound of screaming children that carried through from the other dining area did make for a slightly uncomfortable experience. This is a really tricky one to score as I visually loved the place but the noise was a bit much. 7/10

Service - The waitress was very friendly, she came through to take our drinks order and when the drinks arrived took our food order. I ordered the full Norfolk breakfast with white toast and fried eggs and my wife ordered the full vegetarian breakfast with brown toast and poached eggs. We asked for tomato ketchup and a generous sized bowl of it was bought over to us which was great as often places never bring enough ketchup to the table. When the food arrived the toast and eggs were on the wrong plates so the food was returned. It came back within 5 minutes with the food swapped over and on the correct plates. This was a slight inconvenience but the waitress was very apologetic and we were not charged for our tea and coffee as a result of this which was a nice gesture. 8/10

Contents - 2 chipolatas, 2 slices of bacon, 1 chunky slice of black pudding, 2 fried eggs, 1 grilled tomato, 1 large field mushroom, beans and buttered toast. 8/10

Presentation - When the food was placed before me I was visually blown away, it was like somebody had placed an amazing new toy in front of me. But upon realising the wrong things were on the wrong plate it was like the toy had suddenly been broken and taken away from me only to be returned glued together. It still looked great when it returned second time round but not quite as stunning and I did feel a tad disappointed. Everything is stacked in layers on top of the toast with the beans cascading off and around the edge of the plate. Some items are more hidden but you will eventually find them as you make your way through the delicious looking stack. 8/10

The food - The chipolatas tasted fantastic with a great texture and the bacon was equally delicious. The free range fried eggs were cooked superbly with a nice runny yolk and had a great taste. I love black pudding and the chunky slice was really good with a nice texture. The nicely cooked tomato was full of flavour and the field mushroom was just perfect. The chunky slices of buttered toast were cut from a decent loaf of bread and went perfectly with the juicy baked beans. 9/10

Value for money - The full Norfolk breakfast came in 2 sizes, hers at £6.50 and his at £7.95. I went for the his size and felt it was a reasonable price considering the quality of ingredients used and how nicely it was cooked. 8/10

Veggie option - Grilled sesame haloumi, field mushroom, saute herb potatoes, grilled tomato, beans and toast with a choice of fried poached or scrambled eggs for £6.50 (lighter version available for £5.25) The vegetarian option here looks great, I tried some of the haloumi and it tasted really good. My wife chose the vegetarian option as online it mentions "homemade veggie black pudding" this seems to have now disappeared from the menus inside the cafe though. 

Overall - A nice looking place with a great layout, any noise inside does seem to amplify though and it did seem really noisy which I personally found a bit off putting. The food was incredible though and the stacked presentation works really well. I like the fact that the food used is sourced locally and the breakfasts are served till 6pm. It seems like a really popular place and I'm sure it will continue to grow from strength to strength. 8/10


  1. I don't think we've ever been there early enough to catch the noisy kids :)

    Sorry they've stopped doing the veggie black pudding, it was experimental but really good. However, I'm a a fan of potatoes with a veg brek so it's a good move.

    We were there yesterday afternoon, I had two fried duck eggs with mushrooms and chips. Superb.

  2. Yes, shame about the black pudding but still a great veggie breakfast. If you want to review it that would be great Harry!

  3. Thanks for the lovely comments. Veggy black pudding back on this week! Sorry it was so noisy when the BI came but it was our children's reading club morning. It is much quieter the rest of the week. Don't forget to come to our Grand Opening this Thursday between 6 and 7 pm.

  4. This is becoming a favourite for me. Their Eggs Any Way brekkie is simple and made delicious by their thick chunky buttered toast - which is from bread home-baked by a baker down the road apparently, and the chef told me he gets a lot of compliments about his fried eggs - they really are good and served with a light pepper sprinkle. Amazing Americano coffee, but warning- take the extra shot and you'll be climbing the walls. Very happily, but, still, climbing the walls.

  5. I like that substance I will some of those when I get there. Express thanks you for sharing these facts with us!

  6. I have had the veggie light breakfast and although it was tasty the content never seems to be very consistant.
    What is it with veggie breakfasts there is always something missing or substituted, would that be the same for you meat-eaters out there, I doubt it!

  7. Having been too late for a Sunday breakfast elsewhere we were delighted to come across The Reading Rooms. However, we sat and waited for almost an hour after ordering our food, eventually having to go and seek out staff to enquire as to its status, only to be told that it hadn't started cooking yet. Reluctantly we had to cancel it instantly as my partner had work commitments and I had to pick the kids up (which we were now running late for). What a shame as the place and food looked great, if only our sweet waitress had kindly given us a heads up to begin with. We won't be going back.

    1. Thanks for your feedback, I keep meaning to revisit again and will give it a second look soon.

  8. Went recently and waited 45 minutes for my Eggs Florentine.When it arrived it I discovered the toast underneath was completely burnt and inedible.The Manager seemed nonplussed when I explained what the problem was and didn't apologise.I won't be returning for more burnt offerings.

    1. Thanks for your feedback, I am going to put this higher up my list of places to revisit, look out for another updated article soon!

  9. I used to like this place but have been desapointed a couple of times recently. Long waiting time and food rather expensive for what you get (and lots of eggs shells in my poched egg, not very proffetional). I will not go back.

    1. Try the recommended section of the blog for the best brekkies ;-)