Thursday 30 August 2012

Devizes Inn - Salisbury

53-55 Devizes Road

The cathederal in Salisbury is certainly impressive with its 404 ft spire.

Not the best shot of Devizes Inn but the main road made it difficult to get a better one. 

The room was spacious, clean, had a nice big bath and a comfy bed. Perfect after spending 4 days at a festival!

Most drink trays found in hotel rooms never have enough supplies, this was not the case at Devizes Inn though!

The breakfast tray arrived on time, everything you needed sat neatly together on the tray.

The food tasted good enough and was still hot when it arrived.

A nice selection of sauces and jams were available.

A good half pint of orange juice was on the tray too, nothing worst than when places bring you a thimble sized glass of the stuff!

I wrapped one slice of toast around some bacon and popped some egg and beans (I have never been scared of the 2 touching!) on top of the other slice.

As there is no dining room at Devizes Inn you eat at a table inside your room. The table was plenty big enough though and there was no worry about having to share a table with strangers.

Having spent 4 days at the excellent Boomtown Fair we were both in need of a proper bed and a long soak in a bath. We had decided to make Salisbury the next stop on our road trip as we had never been here before and it was a fairly short drive from Winchester. We chose Devizes Inn as the room had a bath, there was free wifi, parking and breakfast was included.
We found it fairly easily and from the outside it looked a bit worn so we were keen to see how it looked inside...

Upon entering - Devizes Inn is a pub downstairs with rooms upstairs, as there is no dining room the breakfast is brought to your room at an agreed time (9am being the latest). The room we were given was a good size with plenty of space, it was nice and clean with an ensuite bathroom. There was a table with placemats, coasters and 2 chairs in the room for you to sit and eat your breakfast at. The tea/coffee making facilities in the room were excellent with a very generous amount of supplies which was a pleasant surprise as there is usually never enough. The hotel served its purpose perfectly, the wifi worked nicely, the bath was great and there was plenty of hot water available. We were able to leave the hotel the next day cleaned up from the festival and having checked everything we needed to online due to the reliable wifi. 8/10

Service - A few days before arriving at Devizes Inn we noticed that the check in time was 5pm, this was not ideal as we would be arriving in Salisbury around 2pm. We contacted them asking if we could check in any earlier and they kindly agreed we could arrive at 3pm, on the day they let us check in even earlier at 2.45 which we really appreciated. I only ever saw one member of staff (possibly the owner) the whole time I was there, he checked us in and brought breakfast to the room in the morning. He was very efficient at checking us in and kindly carried my wife's bag upstairs to the room. The next morning he arrived at the door with the breakfast neatly set out on a large tray. 8/10

Contents - 2 sausages, 2 bacon, 2 hash browns, 1 fried egg, beans, toast & flora and orange juice. 6/10

Presentation - The tray was quite a sight when it arrived with everything neatly placed and looking great, even the sauces and jams were all facing the same way. The hash browns held back a sea of beans from washing over a nicely cooked egg, bacon and sausages. 8/10

The food - The sausages seemed reasonable quality and tasted nice as did the bacon which was quite crispy. The fried egg had runny yolk intact and was slightly crispy on the bottom. The hash browns were crispy outside, fluffy in the middle and tasted great. The beans were fairly standard and the toast was nice enough. 7/10

Value for money - The double room cost £60, included breakfast and was well equipped with everything we were expecting. The tea/coffee making facilities in the room were the best I have ever seen before. We left feeling like it was money well spent and the breakfast was nice, the fact it was bought to the room on a tray was quite a nice touch! 8/10

Veggie option - Yes, I am not sure what it consisted of but it was an option.

Overall - We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Devizes Inn and I am am glad we chose to stay there. The chap running the place was helpful and efficient and the facilities exceeded our expectations, as did the breakfast. I would happily stay here again and would recommend it to anybody visiting Salisbury needing a room for the night. 7.5

Sunday 26 August 2012

Special feature - Festival fry ups

A 12 day road trip to the West Country had been planned, we were visiting 2 music festivals and it seemed pointless returning home when they were both so close together. We decided to start in Winchester at Boomtown Fair and end a week later near Exeter at Beautiful Days Festival, the days inbetween would be spent visiting Salisbury, Stonehenge, Bath, Bristol, Weston Super Mare, Bridgwater and Glastonbury. I was planning on inspecting plenty of fry ups along the way at B&B's, Cafe's and at the festivals. I will start by taking a look at the different options available at both of the festivals.. 

Mobile catering 

Iechyd da catering (Boomtown Fair)
Bacon burgers (Beautiful Days)

Iechyd da catering (Boomtown Fair)

I chose Iechyd da catering as I had never tried a Welsh breakfast before.

Breakfast was available all day and seemed like a pretty fair price considering it came with bread and butter and a hot drink or orange juice too. I was looking forward to trying the laverbread (seaweed) as I had not tried it before and if it was a traditional part of the Welsh breakfast then I was up for it! 

There was an excellent sauce selection available.

Mushrooms didn't come with the full Welsh breakfast so I paid 50p extra for some.

There was a fair amount of food and at least half a pint of orange juice but isn't something missing??

No Laverbread!!

Upon entering - Large signs made it clear what was available and the breakfast was being served all day. There was a table with a vast selection of sauces on and bins to put your rubbish in at the end. There seemed to be an orderly queue heading towards the counter and I was fully aware I would be sitting on the grass to eat it as this is after all a festival! 5/10

Service - The chap serving me was really friendly asking me about the t-shirt I was wearing and happy to add a decent serving of mushrooms for just an extra 50p. He got everything on the plate in good time ensuring it was still hot when I sat down to eat it and ensured we had cutlery, bread & butter and our drinks. 7/10

Contents - 2 free range bacon, 1 free range pork and leek sausage, 1 free range fried egg, Heinz baked beans, mushrooms, 2 slices of bread & spread and a hot drink or orange juice.  (Laverbread couldn't be seen anywhere so a point lost) 6/10

Presentation - Not great but at least everything was placed onto the plate in separate piles. The egg was not looking too good though looking like it had jumped on the plate and landed upside down possibly to hide the fact it lacked an impressive yolk. The sausage must have been feeling a tad shy hiding under the pile of bacon, or was it just hiding from the fact it seemed to be a veggie sausage? The laverbread must have been feeling incredibly shy as it didn't make an appearance at all! 5/10

The food - The sausage was supposed to be free range pork and leek, Hmm.. I have eaten a few veggie sausages in my time and this is what it was, probably put onto the plate in error but a veggie sausage all the same. To be fair though it was quite chunky and tasted rather nice with a quite herby flavour. The slices of bacon were huge and tasted great but would have been nicer slightly more browned. The huge portion of herby mushrooms were great and despite the seasoning not too overpowering. The fried egg tasted ok but the yolk had burst and was not at all runny in the slightest. The beans were nice enough and the bread and spread was nice and fresh. 5/10

Value for money - With the extra mushrooms I paid £6 for the full Welsh breakfast which included bread and a drink. This was a fairly good price as festival food is notoriously expensive, it was quite enjoyable and left me feeling full up. Why advertise laverbread and not serve it though?? 6/10

Veggie option - 1 homemade Glamorgan sausage, 1 free range egg, mushrooms fried with herbs and olive oil, laverbread (Hmm. If your lucky..) Heinz baked beans, bread & spread and a drink for £5

Overall - So I chose Iechyd da catering as I had never tried a Welsh breakfast before and left having never tried a Welsh breakfast before as the promised laverbread didn't materialise, despite there being tins of it on the counter. This aside the breakfast was quite enjoyable, fairly well presented and very filling. As festival breakfasts go this is the best I had tried so far, though I knew I would be trying another one in a weeks time at Beautiful Days festival and wondered "could it be even nicer" 5.5


Bacon and burgers 
(Beautiful Days Festival)

Whenever entering the festival I passed Bacon and burgers.

 Then I spotted the breakfast menu and knew I was going to have to try the big breakfast.

 Everything looked a bit of a shambles upon closer inspection and the eggs looked awful!

Presentation was not their strong point!

 I hadn't seen a ridiculous fried egg situation this bad in a while.

 The cheapest sausage in the world, ever!

The mushrooms were kind of ok but cold and the bacon was undercooked, the black marks were from the filthy griddle.

Upon entering - The blackboard clearly stated the frustrating "chose 6 out of the 7 items breakfast deal" so all there was left to do was ponder over which item you would not be having. Due to the thick mud at Beautiful Days sitting on the ground was not an option, thankfully there was some rickety benches close by but the way these were placed meant a stranger sitting opposite you would be watching you eat. There was a selection of sauces on a table but the bottles were almost empty and very sticky to pick up. 3/10

Service - The people working here had clearly had a great time the night before but this morning seemed knackered and hungover. I decided I wanted all 7 items and was told for an extra £1 this was possible, then I was told there were no longer any beans so the decision on which 6 items to choose had been made for me. The awful looking items were literally thrown onto the plate by the chap serving me without a care in the world. The bacon was not ready so the plate sat on the counter as I watched everything go cold. I overheard the guy on the griddle say the bacon was not ready yet but another chap put some on my plate anyway. The whole thing was a shambles and nobody seemed at all bothered in the slightest. 2/10

Contents - 1 sausage, 1 bacon, 1 fried egg, 1 hash brown, tinned tomatoes, mushrooms and  a hot drink or orange juice. 5/10

Presentation - Where do I start?? If somebody had thrown up on a plate it would have looked better. The hideously ugly and massacred fried egg took centre stage perched on top of the tomatoes that amazingly were still intact. A lone mushroom sat on top of that evil egg, the others sat to the side trying not to look on at the horror unfolding. The undercooked slice of bacon had morphed into a pigs ear shape and sat shamefully in a sea of cold tomato juice. To the west of the plate lived the soggy broken hash brown and this years entry for the worlds cheapest sausage with its foreskin starting to peel back. The worst presentation I have ever seen! 1/10

The food - The sausage was cheap, luke warm and like eating a washing up sponge injected with princes chicken paste. The bacon was also lukewarm, covered in black stuff from the griddle and quite chewy. The fried egg was so bad that I would have been less offended if the person serving me had slapped me round the face. The yolk had blended into the white, it was like chewing egg flavoured gum, was stone cold and covered in black stuff from the griddle too. The hash brown was barely warm and lacked any crispiness. The mushrooms and tomatoes were not very hot so didn't taste too good. 2/10

Value for money - I paid £6 for something that looked and tasted awful, a complete waste of money. 2/10

Veggie option - You could choose 6 items but there are no veggie alternatives to the meat items.

Overall - All the equipment and ingredients were in place to cook up a half decent fry up but nobody seemed the slightest bit bothered about quality or presentation. I ate some amazing food from other catering stalls at both festivals so why this place was so bad I have no idea but despite this it remained busy all weekend. Bacon and burgers hang your head in shame and have some pride in what you serve as it is your customers that keep you in business. One of the worst breakfasts I have ever seen, truly shameful.. 2.5

The winner is Iechyd da catering

You may well be better off making your own in your campervan.

 Even with no fridge you can always resort to using a Matterson's sausage.

 A friend of mine likes his breakfast wet so went for plenty of ketchup.

Another friend of mine  decided to cook me breakfast one morning. He even fried some bread and potatoes, the fried onions and mushrooms along with every thing else were delicious!

Created in the confined space of a campervan using a small gas cooker this was my favourite festival breakfast, nice work Dom!

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Nominate your favourite greasy spoon

Staveley Head is launching a nationwide search for Britain's greatest greasy spoon, and needs your help by nominating your favourite.
In a bid to support the old British icon, we want to hear about your favourite roadside café. Maybe they serve the best sausages with a smile, have been serving food since time began, or is just your favourite place to stop off on your travels. Whatever makes them great; nominate them using the form below, so they can be crowned Britain's Greatest Greasy Spoon.
From quirky hubs, to traditional transport eateries, the winning café will be awarded with the prestigious title and trophy 'Britain's Greatest Greasy Spoon 2012', presented by a top glamour model alongside our partner the Sunday Sport.
To enter your favourite proper British café, for a chance to win the national title, fill in the nomination form provided below. A top ten will then be chosen by our judges to take part in a head-to-head voting challenge, before a final winner is picked. On announcement of the top voted café, the winner will be presented with a trophy by a model.
As a thank you for supporting your chosen eatery, you will be entered into a prize draw for the chance to win an 8Gb iPod Touch.
So come on, share your favourite café and support the old transport café culture.
Competition nomination deadline ends 24th August 2012.

Click here to nominate your favourite greasy spoon.