Wednesday 31 October 2012

Tesco - Breakfast sandwich

Tesco Breakfast sandwich - £1.30

On a recent trip to Tesco I spotted the new "breakfast" sandwich for £1.30, I decided to buy one to see if it tasted better than it looked. I had tried the "all day breakfast" sandwich which was fairly nice and the even better "Finest all day breakfast" sandwich so I wondered how this economy version would compare.

It was reasonably priced at just £1.30 but the ingredients were certainly well blended together.

 Egg, sausage, bacon and tomato were the flavours I was looking out for and when I focused on each flavour I could taste them all.

Probably quite a good sandwich if you wear false teeth or don't want an embarrassing tomato hanging from your mouth having bitten in to it! I rather enjoyed it and would happily buy one again, the price was great but it didn't look that nice with its minced up interior. An easy way to get that breakfast hit anytime of the day for £1.30 though! I will be taking a look at other breakfast sandwiches in the future to see how they compare. 

Sunday 28 October 2012

Bella Italia - Norwich

3 Red Lion Street

Breakfast served
Monday to Saturday 9am - 12pm
Sunday 10am - 12pm

Nearest parking is St Stephens multi-storey

There are three to choose from in Norwich, I chose the one on Red Lion Street.

There is a large open dining area with plenty of tables.

I could have sat anywhere as the place was almost empty.

Salt and sugar were on each table but pepper was put on by the waitress, this niggles me slightly though, I want to put my own pepper on my food!

Not the most varied breakfast menu I have seen and the vegetarian option is not very imaginative!

The Cappuccino cost  £2.25 and was really nice. Be sure to save some for after you have eaten your breakfast, you will be needing it!

The Inglese breakfast cost £5.25 and was not so nice and the driest breakfast I have eaten so far.

Nice bacon but cheap sausages and undercooked potatoes.

The fried eggs were well cooked underneath but the tomato was screaming out for more heat.

I had recently noticed Bella Italia were now serving breakfasts and having tried pretty much every other place in the city decided to pop along and see what it was like. I often find restaurant chains very hit or miss so wasn't sure what to expect, quality and service can vary hugely between different branches depending on the staff working there. Oh well one way to find out...

Upon entering - The dining area is huge although when I arrived there was just one other couple in there so I was able to chose to sit anywhere I wanted. There was a breakfast menu on each table along with salt, sugar and a card asking for your feedback with a chance to win £250, I wondered if I was in with a chance! Drinks, cutlery, sauces and pepper are brought to your table later before the food arrives. So a full waitress service and you pay your bill at the end. I didn't find it particularly inviting and it felt a bit like we were eating in a restaurant that was actually closed as it was so empty. 5/10

Service - The person serving us was perfectly friendly and polite but a couple of things did niggle us slightly. The toasted ciabatta arrived looking really dry and looked in desperate need of some butter, we asked if we could have some butter but was told there was none on the premises (in a restaurant, really??) We were however offered some garlic butter but declined knowing this was not a flavour we fancied with our breakfast.  The other thing I noticed was that our food was sat under the hot lamps and spotted by 2 members of staff but still left until somebody finally decided to bring it over to us, certainly frustrating to watch. The waitress didn't ask how the food was at the end, I'm guessing she could tell we were not too impressed with it! Also although it is very kind of the waitress to put pepper on my breakfast I would much rather do it myself. 5/10

Contents - 1 sausage, 2 bacon, sauteed potatoes, 2 fried eggs, 1 mushroom, half a tomato and 2 slices of toasted ciabatta. 5/10

Presentation - My first thought was that some butter was desperately needed for the very dry looking toasted ciabatta. Then I spotted how undercooked the tomato looked and overcooked the bottom of the fried eggs were. Everything was placed on the plate in a reasonable fashion but it was not about to win any awards for great presentation. 6/10

The food - Starting on a positive note the bacon looked and tasted great and it wasn't alone, the mushroom was really good too. The eggs tasted ok but were very crispy underneath, the yolks were runny at least giving some much needed moisture to the bone dry toasted ciabatta. The potato wedges had no crispiness outside and were pretty solid inside, they certainly needed cooking for longer as did the barely cooked tomato. The sausage was a bit of a surprise, looking ok (if a little overcooked) outside but lacking any quality inside. By far the driest breakfast I have ever eaten and quite disappointing that some things were not cooked for long enough. 5/10

Value for money - £5.25 seemed quite cheap but the breakfast wasn't great and add £2.25 for a coffee (you will need a drink with this breakfast!) making it £7.50 and suddenly you're wondering why you didn't go elsewhere and spend your money more wisely. 5/10

Veggie option - Yes, but it is basically the same breakfast without the meat for 30p less.

Overall - An English breakfast being served in an Italian themed restaurant chain but getting confused along the way and ending up way too dry. Bella Italia's effort to cash in on the breakfast trade didn't really do it for me, especially when there are so many really good independent cafe's serving excellent breakfasts in the city centre. 5/10

Saturday 20 October 2012

Mrs Potts Cafe and Bistro - Aylsham, Norfolk

- Now Closed -

50 Red Lion Street
NR11 6ER

Opening hours
Monday to Friday - 9.30am till 2.30am
Saturdays - 9.30am till 3.00pm

Breakfast served all day

Mrs Potts Cafe and Bistro can be found on Red Lion Street in Aylsham.

The counter is located in the front of the cafe.

Additional seating can be found in the back room.

Breakfasts are served all day and include a hot drink.

Quirky little teapot shaped dishes for your used teabags.  

Great filter coffee and sugar lumps, nice!

A fantastic plateful of treats was placed before me, lets take a closer look.

Chunky and tasty mushrooms, crisp hash brown and good fried eggs.

 Mrs Potts wins the crown for best fried bread ever!

Crusts removed and fried till golden with a perfect crunch.

Juicy tomatoes and locally sourced butchers sausages.

A trip to Aylsham to see if there was anything decent in the auctions was the perfect excuse for a fry up inspection. I did my research and discovered Mrs Potts was the place I would be visiting, as it was nearly midday I was hoping an all day breakfast would be available...

Upon entering - There is a counter ahead as you walk in and a selection of nicely spaced out tables to choose from, some in the window. Another dining room towards the rear has further seating and just off that is the kitchen. The cafe has a traditional feel to it and looks out onto the stunning Red Lion Street. Each table has a menu nestled between salt and pepper pots and a teapot shaped dish to pop your used teabag onto. Your order is taken at your table though I think you can also place your order at the counter if you prefer. Everything is brought to your table when it is ready including sauces in pots and you simply pay at the counter as you leave. I found it quite tricky to take photos whilst there but for a good reason, the other customers inside the cafe where all really friendly striking up conversation with us straight away! Between conversations I popped to the bathroom taking some sneaky photos of the cafe on the way. The friendliness experienced here made a nice change and made you feel really welcome.  8/10

Service - The lady serving was really friendly and came over to take our order shortly after arriving. Our drinks arrived first followed by the food, she asked if we would like any sauces and they were bought over in pots, we requested more (as my wife always puts loads on everything!) and it was not a problem at all. 8/10

Contents - 2 butchers sausages, 2 rashers of bacon, 2 fried eggs, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, fried bread and a hot drink. (I ordered black pudding and hash brown as extra's) 9/10

Presentation - I was grinning like a cheshire cat when it arrived, vibrant colours and laid out nicely on the oval plate with the most amazing looking fried bread sat proudly on top.  8/10

The food - The bacon and sausages used are good quality and come from a local butchers, both were cooked nicely and tasted great. A pair of very circular fried eggs with a deep yellow yolk complemented the best fried bread I have ever had the pleasure of eating. The crusts had been removed and the bread fried till golden crisp but not saturated in oil creating the perfect crunch as you cut into it. The black pudding was good as was the crispy hash brown, both tasted great. A tomato full of flavour, a generous serving of delicious mushrooms and the sea of beans completed this highly enjoyable breakfast. 9/10

Value for money - The full english breakfast cost £6.50 and included a hot drink and a choice of toast, bread & butter or fried bread. I paid an extra £1 for black pudding and a hash brown. A good price and well worth the money! 8/10

Veggie option - Yes, the full vegetarian for £6.50 or the light vegetarian for £5. The meat is substituted with vegetarian sausages and hash browns.

Overall - A great little cafe serving fantastic breakfasts using high quality meats and a great selection of items. Having eaten at three places in Aylsham this is the best so far. The staff are friendly, prices are reasonable and the fried bread is the best ever! 8.5/10

Wednesday 3 October 2012

No 33 - Norwich

33 Exchange Street

Breakfast served all day
Monday to Friday - 8am till 5pm
Saturday - 9am till 5pm
Sunday - 10.30 till 4.30pm

Tel - 01603 626097

Head down Exchange Street towards St Andrews Street and you will spot No 33 on the right hand side.

The counter displayed a fine selection of homemade cakes.

I must return again soon to try a slice of the fantastic looking cakes, the chocolate brownie sample was excellent!

A bit of a blurry shot but it is quite tricky to discreetly take photos without being seen. This is how the dining area looks anyway.

The kitchen at the rear looks over the dining area, the frying pans were raring to go.

The "No 33 big breakfast" can be found on the brunch menu.

The coffee here is really good.

When the "No 33 big breakfast" arrived everything looked amazing and the presentation was excellent.

It made a nice change to have poached eggs and I could tell straight away that the tomato was going to be full of flavour.

 The poached eggs were delicious, they accompanied the beans and toast really well.

Everything was cooked perfectly and tasted amazing. 2 baked beans had made a hasty exit from the pot but they would be joined by the others very soon.

I am quite liking the idea of beans in a pot now as it makes placing them where you want on the plate much easier.

A couple of years ago when I started the blog a friend of mine recommended No 33 for breakfast but it didn't appear to offer a full english breakfast back then so I gave it a miss. A month or so ago I was contacted again by somebody telling me "they now serve a full english and it was perfect", I had to find out for myself to see if this was true...

Upon entering - As soon as I walked through the door I immediately liked the feel of No 33 with its excellent mix of traditional and modern decor and great vibe, It was very busy but didn't feel at all hectic. There is a counter near the door with a fantastic selection of homemade cakes on display and some tables in this area too. Towards the back is another dining area and the kitchen, there may have been more seating upstairs but I couldn't be certain as upstairs was closed when I was there. You simply decide where to sit and a menu is bought to your table, tell the staff what you would like and everything is bought to the table when it is ready. 9/10

Service - The staff here seemed really friendly, lively, enthusiastic and appeared to love their work. We were immediately greeted and invited to choose where we would like to sit, a menu appeared almost straight away, drinks were ordered and we were left to decide what we wanted to eat. The drinks arrived and our food order was taken, once the food arrived we were offered sauces which were then bought to the table. At the end we paid at the counter  sampling a piece of the excellent chocolate brownie offered to us by the waitress. The chocolate brownie was very much like the service... excellent! 9/10

Contents - 1 sausage, 2 bacon, 2 poached eggs, oven roasted tomato, mushrooms, beans and 2 chunky slices of toast and butter. 8/10

Presentation - The centre of this delightful circle of treats was the pot of beans, 2 stray beans had jumped ship, 1 started a new life on the mushrooms beside it but the other sadly didn't make it landing at the base of the pot. A heap of hot buttered toast occupied the top of the plate and towards the bottom the beautifully cooked quality meats. The tomato complete with stem and a pair of perfect looking poached eggs completed this visually stunning breakfast that had been placed in front of me. It seemed a shame to cut into anything as it looked so amazing but as it looked so good I went straight to work at ensuring the plate would return empty. 9/10

The food - The butchers pork sausage tasted amazing, had a high meat content, a great texture and was cooked perfectly. The chunky slices of Norfolk dry cured bacon were the best I had eaten in a long time with excellent flavour and browned really nicely, I wrapped a slice between some of the delicious hot buttered toast. The rest of the toast I lay flat on the plate and poured the pot of hot, juicy beans on top of. I then popped the perfectly formed poached eggs on top of the beans on toast, the combination was spot on. The 2 large pan fried mushrooms were so tasty and about as good a mushroom situation as you could ever wish for, pure mushroom heaven! I have tried many a tomato in my time but none as good as this oven roasted beauty, the taste was something else. 10/10

Value for money - At £8.50 quite expensive but it tastes amazing and the quality of the ingredients shine through. Combine this with the great service and environment and it suddenly feels like £8.50 very wisely spent! 8/10

Veggie option - Yes, veggie options available.

Overall - I had walked passed No 33 on many occasions and considered trying it at some point, I just wish I had done it sooner! It has a great interior with a nice atmosphere and the staff are friendly and efficient. The breakfast was well worth the money and was a complete pleasure to eat, in-fact every plate of food that came out of the kitchen looked amazing. Well worth a look and I can't wait to return again! 9/10

*** Update, June 2015 ***

My wife was treating me to a birthday breakfast, I'd only ever been to No 33 once before so decided to give it a second look. The menu had changed slightly but still contained No 33 big breakfast which I had really enjoyed on my first visit.

The food was really delicious as before, a hugely enjoyable breakfast!

My wife tried the sweet chilli scrambled eggs and was very impressed.

The slice of cake that arrived at the end was so tasty and a really nice touch, thanks No 33!

*** Update, July 2017 ***

I was really craving a breakfast today but nearly everyone had stopped serving by the time I'd got into Norwich City Centre. Luckily No 33 cafe were still serving though!