Sunday 27 January 2013

Patisserie Valerie - Norwich

12-14 Davey Place

Breakfast served all day
Everyday from 8am till 6pm

The "all day breakfast" displayed on the sign outside was enough to lure me in.

I had been once before to try some of their delicious cakes.

It gets very busy but I arrived early so it was quite peaceful.

The breakfast menu is a huge disappointment.

The coffee is excellent.

I waited patiently wondering why their breakfast menu was so poor.

The butter arrived first, ketchup is available on request.

Bog standard toast and 2 lifeless poached eggs.

The beans and mushrooms arrived in separate bowls, I wasn't filled with excitement.

Boring, bland and I could made had this at home and saved £7.75! 

"All day breakfasts" is displayed on the board outside Patisserie Valerie conjuring up thoughts of sausages, bacon, eggs and all the other key breakfast items. I had visited a couple of weeks back with my wife and enjoyed a fantastic cappuccino and some delicious cakes and having studied the menu then didn't spot a decent breakfast on it. We decided that perhaps it was on a separate menu as many other Patisserie Valerie's in the chain were offering a full english breakfast for £7.95. Once seated inside we discovered the poor breakfast menu on offer so decided to order the standard breakfast items that were on the menu, the choice was very limited...

Upon entering - It was quite early when we arrived so plenty of empty tables were available, we chose one and sat down but at busier times you may have to wait to be shown to a table. It is quite nice inside with plenty of cakes on display and a good view out of the window enabling you to people watch over a coffee. Your order is taken at the table and everything will arrive when it is ready, either wait for your bill to arrive at the end or pay at the till on your way out. Salt, pepper and cutlery is on the tables and ketchup is available on request. 7/10

Service - On our first visit the waitress showing us to our table was blunt and unfriendly, I will base the score on this visit though to be fair. This time round the waiter was very professional and friendly. He explained that even he was disappointed that this was the only Patisserie Valerie in the chain not serving a full english breakfast.  Everything arrived at the table in good time and was neatly placed before us, the service was good throughout this visit. 7/10

Contents - 2 poached eggs, beans, mushrooms and buttered toast. 2/10

Presentation - The poached eggs and toast arrived with a sprig of parsley in an attempt to make it look slightly interesting and the beans and mushrooms arrived in separate dishes. I created the final arrangement but looked upon it feeling quite gutted that I hadn't gone elsewhere or just made the same thing at home. 5/10

The food - Ok, this won't take long.. Standard poached eggs, slightly underdone toast, standard beans and tiny mushrooms that tasted quite nice but left me wondering were they tinned? Not hugely enjoyable but fairly filling. 5/10

Value for money - £7.75 for a bland breakfast left me wishing I had made it at home myself. 3/10

Veggie option - You are reading about it! Uninspiring and bland..

Overall - The coffee and cakes here are fantastic but the breakfasts are bland and boring. I could have ordered the eggs florentine or royale which were probably much more exciting, but at nearly £8 each by the time I added beans, mushrooms and tomatoes that would have cost over £12! Meat lovers and veggies beware, there really is nothing exciting on offer here for breakfast unless you want to spend a small fortune and even then there is not a sausage or slice of bacon to be found anywhere. With so many places nearby serving excellent breakfasts at half the price this place is not worth a visit unless you fancy a coffee and some cake. 5/10

Sunday 20 January 2013

The Unthank Arms - Norwich

149 Newmarket Street

Breakfast served
Saturday & Sunday only
10.00am till 11.30am

The Unthank Arms has a spacious, traditional victorian interior with plenty of space and a large garden to the rear.

 The breakfast menu is only available at weekends.

The heat from the wood burner was lovely as it was freezing cold outside.

 I was looking forward to trying the sausages!

 I had a coffee whilst waiting for the food to arrive.

 The full works breakfast was huge and looked amazing.

 This is the veggie works breakfast which costs £6.50.

Excellent fried eggs and delicious golden fried bread .

 Unfortunately the mushrooms were cold and undercooked.

The potatoes were served instead of hash browns and were a bit on the hard side.

The sausages were excellent and supplied from a local butcher.

I had been meaning to visit The Unthank Arms for a very long time as I had heard good things about their breakfast. I was reminded again a couple of weeks ago about it and decided to set a date to finally visit. Outside there was still lots of snow on the ground and it was freezing cold, we parked up in the car park behind the pub and headed inside.. 

Upon entering - It is a large and very traditional Victorian pub with plenty of tables to sit at and a large bar in the centre. Lots of natural light floods in through the many windows and it was nice and warm with the wood burner lit, a very nice environment to spend some time in. Order drinks at the bar, mention breakfast and a menu will be bought to your table. After your food order is placed cutlery, sauces and the food will be bought over to your table. 8/10

Service - The staff seemed friendly taking our order and returning to explain that there was no hash browns but fried potatoes could be offered instead. Everything arrived in good time, although we were the only people in the pub. We were asked if everything was ok at the end and the undercooked mushrooms and potaoes were mentioned resulting in the drinks being given free which was nice of them. 8/10

Contents - The Full Works Breakfast consisted of: 2 sausages, 2 bacon, black pudding, 2 fried eggs, fried potato slices, mushrooms, grilled tomato, beans, 1 slice of fried bread and 1 slice of buttered toast. 9/10

Presentation - The large oval plate arrived and everything on the plate looked excellent and nicely laid out. 9/10

The food - The sausages were the best part of the breakfast, thick and meaty with a delicious texture and flavour, the bacon was also very tasty and cooked very nicely. 2 perfect fried eggs with a crisp frilly edge sat on top of a golden slice of excellent fried bread. The tomatoes, beans and slice of buttered toast were nice enough but the mushrooms, black pudding and potatoes were a disappointment.. The first thing I tasted was a mushroom which was cold and barely cooked. The potatoes were cooked but still quite solid in the middle with hardly any crispiness on the outside. The black pudding looked to be good quality and one half tasted great but the other half tasted a bit odd with an earthy taste which i did not enjoy. 5/10

Value for money - The Full Works breakfast cost £8.50 and according to the website comes with free coffee refills. However there is no mention of the refills in the pub and had our drinks not been deducted from the bill I think we may well have been charged for them. The breakfast was very big but wasn't hugely enjoyable so not the best £8.50 I have ever spent. 5/10  

Veggie option -  Yes, the veggie works costs £6.50 and shown in the photo above.

Overall - The pub itself is beautiful and the staff seem friendly enough. I must admit that I felt sure the breakfast here was going to be amazing but sadly this was not the case. It did have some great moments, especially the sausages, bacon, fried eggs and fried bread. But the undercooked mushrooms and potatoes were quite a disappointment, especially when you are spending £8.50 and Norwich has so many other places serving stunning breakfasts for much less money. 7/10  

Sunday 13 January 2013

Knife, fork & spoon cafe - Norwich

(Now closed)

76E Catton Grove Road

Opening hours
Monday - Saturday
630am - 3pm

Breakfast served all day

Knife, Fork & Spoon Cafe has recently opened on Catton Grove Road.

There is a large breakfast menu on the wall by the counter offering a good selection of breakfasts.

I went for the large breakfast but the grill was very tempting.

Quality sauces in bottles and a classic sugar dispenser are always a welcome sight.

I forget exactly how much hot drinks cost but I remember them being reasonably priced.

This is the large breakfast, every item you could wish for is found on the plate and it was a real joy to eat. The seasoning on the tomato was delicious as was everything on the plate. One of the best breakfasts I have ever eaten and it cost less than £5!!

Excellent mushrooms and fried eggs, crisp hash browns and golden fried bread, top stuff!

Quality sausages and underneath the fried eggs I found 2 slices of delicious bacon.

This is the vegetarian breakfast, the vegetarian sausage is homemade and fried potato slices are included too.

Just over a year ago I had visited 76e Catton Grove Road when it was Posh Nosh Internet Cafe, sadly it has since closed. Late last year I drove along Catton Grove Road and noticed a new cafe was due to be opening soon in the same premises. As soon as I realised Knife Fork & Spoon had opened I decided to go along and give it a look...

Upon entering - There is a fairly large and well lit dining area with a counter at the rear. Beside the counter on the right is a large breakfast menu, once you have decided what you want simply place your order at the counter and everything will be bought over when it is ready. Each table has a neat cluster of quality sauces, salt, pepper and sugar, the cutlery is brought over with the food. The walls are still looking quite bare but it has only recently opened, everything is really clean and it is a great environment to sit and chat in. The vibrant signage, menu and logo with clever ampersand design is excellent. 7/10

Service - The chef and lady taking our order were really welcoming and friendly taking time to explain the vegetarian breakfast to my wife. Everything arrived in good time served piping hot and we were asked if we would like anymore drinks and if everything was ok. When we left they said goodbye which is always nice to hear and makes you feel appreciated as a customer. 9/10

Contents - 2 sausages, 2 bacon, 2 slices of black pudding, 2 fried eggs, 2 hash browns, half a grilled tomato, mushrooms, beans, fried bread and buttered toast. To get all these items as standard on a breakfast is amazing and a rare find! 10/10

Presentation - There was a lot on the plate and it all looked excellent! Hidden in the depths was the bacon underneath the nice looking pair of fried eggs. The quality of the sausages was immediately noticeable and the seasoned tomato I could tell straight away was going to taste special. The mix of colours was incredible and my only dilemma was what to taste first, it all looked so good! 9/10

The food - 2 good quality pork sausages with a great texture and good chunky bacon accompanied the delicious sliced black pudding. 2 fried eggs with deep yellow yolks that were a tad runny on top but not enough to cause concern were delicious eaten on top of the hot buttered toast dipped into the juicy beans. The hash browns were spot on with a perfect crunch and a soft textured centre, the mushrooms were excellent too. The chunky slice of fried bread was just how it should be, golden in colour and a great crunch when you bite into it. The seasoning used on top of the tomato was stunning and accompanied it perfectly.  9/10

Value for money - I am always looking for a good selection of items, quality ingredients and a good amount of food for your money. The breakfast here provided all 3 of those things for less than £5!! Worth every penny and I would have very happily paid more money for it. 10/10

Veggie option - The homemade sausage is made on the premises (I tried it and it was really good) and comes with 2 hash browns, 2 fried eggs, fried potato slices, mushrooms, seasoned tomato, beans and buttered toast for just £3.95!

Overall - Quite a few new cafes in Norwich have opened in the past year offering excellent breakfasts and the Knife Fork & Spoon Cafe is no exception. The food served in this great cafe by the friendly staff is incredibly nice and the prices are unbelievable value for money. It is quite far from the city centre but well worth visiting and anyone living North of the city should consider themselves very lucky as this place is excellent. Norwich's ever growing number of places serving great breakfast has just increased again, I wish Knife fork & spoon all the best with their new Cafe. 9/10

Thursday 10 January 2013

The Compleat Angler - Norwich

120 Prince Of Wales Road

Breakfast menu served daily from 10am till midday
(An all day breakfast is available on menu too)

Nearest parking - Riverside

The Compleat Angler is very close to Norwich train station on Prince of Wales Road.

 If you prefer you can eat breakfast by the river, not a great plan in January though!

 Yep, £3.29 is a very reasonable price so I couldn't resist trying it out.

The whole menu was reasonably priced and included an all day breakfast and veggie options.

 There are plenty of places to sit and the tables are well spaced out.

 Cutlery and serviettes are already on the table.

 Hmm.. Satchets, at least there were plenty of them though.

The Costa coffee was really good and cost just under £2

The food arrived piping hot and was well worth £3.29.

Slightly undercooked but tasty tomato and nice egg yolks.

 Good bacon and ok Lincolnshire sausages.

The veggie breakfast is served with an extra fried egg and Linda McCartney sausages.

With Christmas and New Year behind me and very little money I decided it was time for another inspection. I didn't want to be spending a fortune on a fry up so was delighted when I spotted the "Full English from £3.29" offer outside the Compleat Angler Pub in Norwich. Me and my wife decided at that price it was well worth popping in to see if it was any good...

Upon entering - There are a number of tables outside looking onto the river but with it being January it made more sense to head inside. Inside is quite big with different seating areas to choose from, we decided to sit in the conservatory that looked out onto the river. It was very quiet throughout the pub at this time (around 11.30am) and easy to sit and chat. Each of the tables had menus, cutlery and sauces. Place your order at the bar, pay and take a seat, everything including hot drinks will be bought over to you by the bar staff. A nice straight forward process that will not cause any confusion except maybe which breakfast to select from the menu. 7/10

Service - The lady at the bar was friendly and took our order telling us she would bring everything over when it was ready. First the drinks arrived and shortly after that the food, after we had eaten she asked if everything was ok and thanked us as we were leaving. 7/10

Contents - 2 sausages, 2 slices of bacon, 1 fried egg, half a grilled tomato, mushrooms, beans and 1 slice of toast & butter. 7/10

Presentation - As you can see in the photos everything sat nicely enough on the plate except perhaps the toast which was threatening to pop those great looking egg yolks, no damaged was caused though. 6/10

The food - The Lincolnshire sausages were ok and had a quite pleasant herby taste, the bacon was nice enough too with a slightly crispy rind. The fried egg was cooked nicely with a great runny yolk and the mushrooms tasted delicious. The tomato was slightly undercooked but still tasted good and the beans went nicely on top of the buttered toast. Everything was cooked nicely enough, piping hot and enjoyable to eat. 7/10

Value for money - A complete bargain at £3.29 and a pleasure to eat too. If you add a hot drink it will cost you just over £5 but still well worth the money. 9/10

Veggie option - 2 vegetarian sausages, 2 fried eggs, beans, tomato, mushrooms and toast & butter for £3.29

Overall - Nothing on the plate stands out as being exceptional quality but everything is cooked nicely and enjoyable to eat. Costing less than the price of a pint of beer makes it an irresistible offer as does the fact the staff are friendly and the environment is pleasant with its riverside view. If you are feeling a bit skint then you should give the Compleat Angler a look, you would struggle to buy the ingredients and make it at home at this price! 7/10

Saturday 5 January 2013

Glenlyn Hotel - North London

2-4 Woodside Park Road
N12 8RP

 Woodside Park tube station on the Northern Line.

The hotel is just 7 minutes walk from the station.

There was a fairly good drinks tray in the room but sadly no biscuits..

For £2 you could have your breakfast delivered to your room. I was not tempted though as I was keen to investigate the breakfast room.

I am not a big fan of buffet style breakfasts but here it seemed to work really well and sitting down to hot food was easily done.

 Neatly stacked jams and plenty of butter could be found on each table.

 Everything in here was piping hot and the tomatoes were packed full of flavour.

Good quality bacon and sausages could be found here.

The waitress bought the toast to the table for you.

 Everything was great except for the coffee being warm. I asked for more but it arrived warm too.

 It looked good, was piping hot and I knew it was going to help the hangover.

Everything on the plate tasted great.

 The scrambled egg was a great consistency.

New years eve can often be a very disappointing night out, usually you spend the night going from pub to pub spending ages trying to get served and wake up the next day having spent a small fortune wondering why you bothered. Rather than spend it in Norwich this year we decided to go to London as there were some bands playing at The Boston Arms in Tufnell Park. We were going to be staying a few tube stops away at Glenlyn Hotel who to our delight offer a cooked breakfast. After a great night out at the Boston Arms we headed back to the hotel at around 4am on the free tube service that was running through the night. The next morning still feeling slightly drunk and very tired we headed downstairs for breakfast knowing food was the only way forward...

Upon entering - To be honest eating breakfast seemed more like a hazy dream than a reality due to the lack of sleep and still feeling a tad drunk but I tried my best to remember everything! The breakfast room was in a conservatory looking out onto the large garden at the rear of the hotel. We managed to find a free table to sit at without a problem and headed straight to the jugs of fruit juice. You could help yourself to cereal, fruit and pastries but for us it was all about the cooked breakfast. The cooked items were in heated trays with lids on to keep them hot so you just helped yourself to whatever you wanted. Cutlery, sauces, condiments and butter were on each table and hot drinks and toast were bought over to you by the waitresses. I think this was a nice touch as it is usually when you are busy sorting toast out at buffet breakfasts that your cooked breakfast ends up going cold but here you could eat everything whilst it was still nice and hot. 8/10

Service - As we were helping ourselves to the cooked breakfast a waitress asked us if we would like tea or coffee, by the time we had sat down hot toast was bought over to our table. We were really impressed by the service until we sipped our hot drinks which were barely luke warm. We called the waitress over explaining the drinks were not hot but she didn't seem to understand what we were saying so we politely rephrased it but still she told us "I do not understand". She then asked us "would you like some more", great we thought but sadly more luke warm tea and coffee arrived at the table so we just stuck to drinking the fruit juice. So good service in general but the language barrier made it impossible to rectify any problems that arose. 4/10

Contents - Buffet style eat all you can, the cooked breakfast included.. Sausages, bacon, scrambled eggs, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms and toast & butter. 7/10

Presentation - The tables were set up nicely with neatly stacked jams and the hot food is nicely arranged in the heated trays. How the food looks on your plate is down to you as you serve yourself, I think I placed everything on the plate rather nicely but a few beans went astray! 7/10

The food - Nicely cooked plump pork sausages with a good texture and taste, chunky and tasty bacon with a slightly crisped rind. The scrambled egg was great, not too wet but also not too dry, considering it had been sitting in the hot tray for a while. The tomatoes were really sweet, the mushrooms plump and juicy, the beans thick and rich. The toast was hot when it arrived and was served with real butter. 8/10

Value for money - The only way to eat this breakfast is to stay at the hotel for the night which cost us £85 for the night. The hotel was great, the breakfast delicious and this was London on New Years Eve so we were happy enough! 7/10

Veggie option - No

Overall - Great hotel with really friendly staff working there and serving a delicious cooked breakfast. The fact they bring you the toast and hot drinks over means you can serve yourself to the cooked breakfast and still eat it whilst it is hot, this works really well. What didn't work so well was the language barrier we encountered, it is difficult to rectify a problem when the person serving you doesn't speak English. This aside though a really nice breakfast at a decent hotel. 7/10