Saturday 23 March 2013

Pandora's Kitchen - Norwich

(Now closed)

67 London Street

Breakfast served 
Monday to Friday - 8.00am till 2.30pm
Saturday - 9am till 2.30pm

Nearest car park - St Andrews

As soon as I realised Pandora's kitchen served a cooked breakfast I was keen to visit.

The upstairs dining room was beautifully decorated and a nice calm place to enjoy breakfast.

The breakfast menu is served until 11am.

The drinks menu concealed inside a book was a nice touch.

Salt & pepper is on each table and sauces are available upon request.

A fantastic filter coffee and sugar lumps.

 The tea was served in a pot with this quaint cup and saucer.

I usually eat my toast with the cooked breakfast but I couldn't resist a couple of slices with some of the quality jam on before it arrived.

 Everything on the plate was piping hot and tasted amazing but where was the black pudding.

 Delicious chunks of mushroom and an excellent fried egg.

 The beans stayed nice and hot in the bowl and the slow roasted tomatoes were packed full of flavour.

Quality lightly smoked bacon and Norfolk recipe sausages with a great texture and delicious flavour.

The delicious chocolate brownie was kindly given to us as the black pudding had been forgotten.

For a few months I noticed a refurbishment taking place at 67 London Street as I passed it on my way into the city, finally it was completed and it had been transformed into Pandora's Kitchen. Somebody contacted me saying they were serving a cooked breakfast so I went along with my wife to investigate..

Upon entering - There is a counter as you enter offering a delicious selection of home made cakes. Head upstairs where there are dining areas on the first and second floors, both are decorated in a quirky and traditional way that blends together beautifully. We sat in the first floor dining area which was a perfect environment feeling peaceful and relaxing making it really easy to sit and have a conversation. Spotted table cloths, freshly cut flowers on each table and drinks menus concealed inside books all contributed to this well designed city centre haven. This is somewhere that feels very special and you will want to return to again and again. Once you have chosen where to sit a menu is brought to your table and your order is taken. Salt and pepper is already on each table, quality branded ketchup and brown sauces are available upon request. Food and drinks are brought to your table along with cutlery, at the end simply pay at the till downstairs on your way out. 10/10

Service - The service here is excellent although when the food arrived a couple of errors had been made. Firstly my wife had ordered a vegetarian breakfast (she is not vegetarian but liked the sound of the mushroom rarebit) however a traditional breakfast arrived instead. The lady bringing the food over was very apologetic though offering to change it for her but as we wanted to eat our food together my wife decided to eat it anyway and thoroughly enjoyed it. As a result of this our drinks were taken off the bill which was a nice gesture. The second thing we noticed was that the black pudding was missing despite being mentioned on the menu. When we enquired about this we were told it was cooked but they had forgotten to put it on the plate, as a result of this we were given a free cake as we left which again was a nice gesture. I was thinking at the time how I would have happily eaten the black pudding after the breakfast or even taken it away in a bag as I was really keen to try it. The chef also apologized as we were leaving assuring me it was a great black pudding. So although not the most straight forward of breakfast experiences the staff here were very happy to ensure we left happy and made up for any inconvenience which is always a good thing. 9/10

Contents - 2 sausages, 2 bacon, 1 slice of black pudding*, 1 fried egg, mushrooms, tomatoes, beans, 2 slices of toast served with butter and jam.  8/10
(*usually served)

Presentation - As you can see from the photos everything is beautifully presented. The neatly stacked toast arrived first accompanied by a serving of real butter and quality jam. The cooked breakfast arrived with everything looking great and placed nicely around the pot of beans in the centre of the plate. 8/10

The food - The plate arrived warmed and everything was piping hot. The Norfolk recipe sausages were incredibly nice with a subtle hint of garlic, very high meat content and great texture. The lightly smoked bacon was also excellent and tasted delicious. The fried egg was looking a tad runny on top but once I cut into it I discovered it was cooked nicely. The chunky cut mushrooms were perfect in that they were not too greasy but also not too dry. The slow roasted tomatoes were packed full of flavour and cooked to perfection, the beans were piping hot with a lovely thick sauce. I can't comment on the black pudding other than I am told it was from Hazels of Sprowston so it must be good. The toasted granary bread served with real butter was delicious with the jam and also accompanied the egg nicely. A hugely enjoyable breakfast and the quality of the ingredients shone through, nothing that can be improved on here (except remembering the black pudding!) so.. 10/10

Value for money - The traditional breakfast which includes toast costs £7.95 and a filter coffee costs £1.95. Eating a breakfast this good in such a lovely environment seems like a great way to spend just under £10. 8/10

Veggie option - Yes, 2 Welsh rarebit topped flat mushrooms, 1 fried egg, slow roasted tomatoes, baked beans and toast. £5.95

Overall - A great combination of lovely environment, friendly service and excellent food make this place one of my favourites so far. I will definitely be returning again as I need to try that black pudding! 9/10

- Update, May 2013 -
With a trip to New York a few weeks away I decided to get in to the New York spirit by visiting Pandora's Kitchen for a pastrami sandwich. I had never tried pastrami before and really enjoyed it, the texture and taste was incredibly nice. The gherkins, emmental cheese and mustard mayonnaise went perfectly with the pastrami.

- Update, June 2013 -

 My wife took me to Pandora's Kitchen for a birthday breakfast and I finally got to taste the black pudding. Excellent quality with nice texture and lovely flavour, as before everything on the plate was cooked to perfection and piping hot.

 My wife chose the vegetarian breakfast, I tried some of the Welsh rarebit topped flat mushrooms, really flavoursome and delicious!

- Update July 2014 -

A new summer menu has been launched containing 'The Fry Up Inspector' breakfast!

Find out more about this amazing breakfast here.

- Update October 2015 -

I was spending much of October revisiting places in the recommended section and couldn't wait to return to Pandora's Kitchen! The Coffee here is incredibly good, this was one of the nicest cappuccino's I'd had in a long time.

No trip to Pandora's Kitchen is complete without trying the "Fry Up Inspector" breakfast. This one was an easy 10/10, it looked and tasted amazing! As always the service was excellent, really friendly and welcoming, a top job Pandora's Kitchen!!

Wednesday 20 March 2013

Hamilton Hall (Wetherspoons) London

 Street level concourse
Liverpool Street Station

Breakfast served
Mon - Sat
7am - 12pm

9am - 12pm

The building itself is quite stunning.

Inside it is equally stunning with ornate high ceilings.

You are soon reminded by the sight of those satchets though that you are sitting in a Wetherspoons!

 There is a good choice of sauces and you can take as many as you need.

The coffee is quite nice and costs just over £1

The breakfast menu is quite varied and prices are reasonable.

At first glance it looked quite good!

Oh dear.. The hash browns, black pudding and mushroom were all overcooked and chewy.

The fried eggs looked perfect but were slightly undercooked.

The bacon was really chewy, toast too dry and the tomato tasted of water.

We were arriving in London earlier than usual but felt sure plenty of cafe's would be open at 8.30am. Each one we passed was closed so we ended up asking a window cleaner if he knew of anywhere open, "Wetherspoons will be open" he replied pointing in the direction we had just come from. The thought of eating in a Wetherspoons didn't really fill me with joy but I had been meaning to revisit another Wetherspoons again so we headed straight there..

Upon entering - The building itself is incredible and inside you are quite blown away by the stunning and ornate high ceilings. It is very large with plenty of places to sit, most tables are on the ground floor with more on the upper floor, further seating can be found outside. At 8.30 in the morning it wasn't too busy and was a fairly pleasant environment to spend time in, I can imagine it getting quite noisy in the evenings though. I had eaten in a Wetherspoons enough times over the years to know the ordering process but incase you haven't eaten in one here's how it works.  Choose a table and decide what you would like from the menu, remember your table number and place your order at the bar, tell them the table number, collect your drinks and pay. On the way back to the table grab any sauces, salt, pepper etc that you want and the food and cutlery is bought over to you when it is ready. 7/10

Service - The chap at the bar taking our order was friendly and helpful letting us order extra items and asking how we wanted our eggs, he bought our food over not long after we had ordered it. Shortly after we had finished eating an efficient member of staff cleared our plates and empty satchets from the table. 7/10

Contents - 2 sausages, 2 bacon, 1 slice of black pudding, 2 fried eggs, 3 hash browns, 1 large mushroom, half a grilled tomato, beans and 2 slices of toast & butter. 8/10

Presentation - Everything was placed quite nicely on the large oval plate but everything apart from the fried eggs looked like they had been cooked sometime ago and lacked any charisma. 5/10

The food - The sausages were semi economy and not very special with a slightly herby taste. The bacon was chewy and over cooked as was the black pudding. The hash browns were like potato flavoured chewing gum with no crispiness at all. The mushroom had almost dried up, the tomato tasted of water and the beans were reasonable. The eggs looked great but as soon as I cut into them uncooked egg white spilt out onto the quite dry toast. I did finish everything as I was really hungry but it was far from good, it seemed like many of the items had been sitting cooked for too long causing them to go dry and chewy. 4/10

Value for money - The large breakfast cost £5.69 with extra black pudding. For central London the price was excellent, unfortunately the food was not so it didn't seem such a bargain. 5/10

Veggie option - Yes, 2 sizes of veggie breakfast available.

Overall - A lovely spacious building with friendly staff but the food was a disappointment, this seemed down to the fact it had sat too long before being served. I have eaten many Wetherspoon breakfasts over the years but this was not one of the better ones. 6/10

Friday 15 March 2013

Sunday 3 March 2013

The Waffle House - Norwich

39 St Giles Street

Breakfast available daily between 10am - 12pm

Limited parking is available on St Giles Street. One hour maximum stay before 6.30pm. Unlimited stay after 6.30pm.

The Waffle House has been on St Giles Street in Norwich for over 30 years.

Some of the tables look onto St Giles Street with further seating towards the rear.

Everything is prepared and cooked in the kitchen overlooking the dining area.

So it's not a full English on offer but some of the key items are served with a waffle so I decided to give it a try.

Maple syrup, sugar salt and pepper are found on each table in earthenware vessels, ketchup is available upon request.

The Waffle House brunch includes a hot drink.

It also included a freshly squeezed orange juice.

Convinced I was not really a fan of waffles I was keen to tuck in.

The bacon was very well done in places but had a great smokey flavour.

I am now a converted waffle fan, they were really good and went nicely with the scrambled eggs.

The tomatoes were cooked nicely and full of flavour.

When I first moved to Norwich in 1987 I lived at the YMCA on St Giles Street for about 3 years. I really enjoyed my time there, it felt a bit like staying in a hotel with cleaners tidying your room whilst you were eating breakfast in the restaurant downstairs. You were given meal tickets each week which could be handed in at the restaurant in exchange for a meal. Most memorable was the breakfast which was always a full English breakfast served 7 days a week, you could choose 5 cooked items and also have fried bread, toast, cereal, tea, coffee and fruit juice. Yep, good times and happy memories but before long I felt the need to be independent and moved into my own bedsit leaving the YMCA behind. During that time though I walked along St Giles Street many times, always passing The Waffle House that seemed very popular and always busy. I only ever ate there once over 20 years ago and can't remember too much about it but very rarely eat a waffle so have never considered myself a fan of them. Quite recently somebody contacted me telling me about The Waffle House brunch that although not a full English was something they had enjoyed and wondered what my thoughts were. The time had arrived to rediscover the waffle..

Upon entering - The Waffle house has some tables by the window at the front with further seating at the back. It has a fresh contemporary feel to it with a slightly rustic twist due to the earthenware crockery. Wait to be seated and you will be shown to a table and looked after by the waitress. A menu is bought over, salt and pepper is on the table and ketchup is available on request. 7/10

Service - Almost as soon as we walked in the waitress showed us to a table giving us the choice of front or rear seating area. She was friendly and helpful offering to enquire in the kitchen about the fresh herb option my wife was considering. It did seem to take quite a long time for the food to arrive but not long enough for it to be a problem. At the end the chef took our payment at the till asking if everything was ok. 7/10

Contents - 1 waffle, 2 slices of smoked bacon, scrambled eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes, a hot drink and freshly squeezed orange juice. 6/10

Presentation - The large waffle was cut in half with the scrambled egg placed on top. On top of the scrambled eggs lay 2 slices of bacon looking a bit black along the edges with a slight garnish. Tomatoes and mushrooms sat either side of the waffle. 7/10 

The food - I really enjoyed the waffle with it's great crunch and delicious, slightly cheesy tasting soft centre, it accompanied the nicely cooked scrambled egg beautifully. The bacon although well done in places was good quality with a nice smokey flavour. The mushrooms were excellent and the tomatoes juicy and full of flavour. 7/10

Value for money - Considering the Waffle House brunch includes 2 drinks £8.25 made it a reasonably priced option. 7/10

Veggie option - Yes, but fresh herbs didn't sound too exciting.

Overall - I knew The Waffle House was going to be much different to other places I had visited mainly because they were not offering a full English breakfast but their own waffle based breakfast option. I was keen to discover whether waffles were for me or not and I must say that I can't wait to eat another waffle again now! I would have liked a sausage (at weekends I have discovered this is possible with the "Weekend breakfast" option) and I also think that beans would have made a nice addition and gone well with the waffle. I did really enjoy my meal here and would definitely return again. 7/10

*Update* - March 2013

I couldn't resist returning to try some more waffles and really enjoyed a Chicken and vegetables in mustard and tarragon sauce waffle followed by this amazing Banoffee waffle. Really delicious and I will definitely return to try some more of the menu soon!