The Inspector was on the case in Sunny Spain, and I’d had a tip off that there was a breakfast that needed some forensic work, so I hopped on my bike and headed west......
The hot counters of Colney. The light was so bright it intefered with my focus
A selection of blurry branded cereals
Puddings and drinks, Fiery
The dining hall
Breakfast is served
The bacon was thick and salty
The sausage was a bit dry
Perhaps I should have packed my trunks......
Its no yolk
The dry toast was the best bit
**************** THE AUTOPSY *************
Years ago I worked as a kitchen porter at the West Norwich Hospital, and as a perk of the job, staff would get a cheap fry up. I’d had word that the Norfolk and Norwich breakfast was ‘worth investigating’ and reminiscing about the good old days I set off for the Colney hot counter.....
Upon entering – Its all a bit scary and big as you enter the cavernous food hall. There's an awful lot of space and its very clean and very bright. There didn't seem to be anyone about. I wasn't really sure what to make of it so I grabbed a tray. They are like normal trays but with two of the corners cut off, it saves on tray space I guess. The hot counter seemed to be the right to place to stand and I could see a selection of bacon, sausages, mushrooms, beans, tinned tomato, hash browns, eggs and fried bread. It looked like it had been there all day. A giant vat of porridge coagulated nearby. I spotted a chalkboard sign that suggested I choose five items for £4.50, extra items available to be added for various prices. 4/10
Service – A surly dinner person appeared and asked me what breakfast items I wanted. Choose five the sign said, but they were at least eight on offer. Thrown by these complex mathematics I said what was in front of me and found two slices of bacon on my plate, it made me think, what is the plural of bacon? A sausage, beans, mushrooms later and I was told that ‘that was my five’. My informant had mentioned that the price did include tea and toast so I pushed the boat out and went for a hash brown and fried egg as extra. I headed back to the toast machine, one of those rolling rack affairs. As I waited for my toast I realised my re-re heated breakfast was getting cooler. Across the far side of the food hall I found the drinks dispensers and waited for the coffee. At the till I noticed sauces / butter were available for purchase. At least the till tender smiled as I paid. 4/10
Contents – 2 bacon, 1 sausage, mushrooms, 1 egg, hash brown, toast, coffee 4/10
Presentation – Yep, thrown on a plate in the order you asked for it in. 3/10
The food – Okay, back to basics, the first mouthful always sets the tone for a breakfast. The mushrooms were barely warm and just tasted of oil with a hint of mushroom, not a good start. With my joy rapidly fading I tackled the bacon, sawing through its thick hide I got a piece off and it tasted of salty dryness, the fat was plentiful too. Onto the sausage, well it had a bit of meaty flavour to it, but it was far from the nicest sausage i have tasted. The beans were actually quite warm and helped provide some heat to parts of the breakfast other hot counters cannot reach, but the hash brown was disappointing, bland tasting and deeply fried. The egg was terrible. The white tasted slimy and the yolk hardly ran at all, and it had been the best looking egg when I chose it! The toast was cold but strangely quite good, I used it to mop up some of the grease. I was quite glad that I didn’t go for the fried bread 1/10
Value for money – Okay maybe I'm being mean at £5.70 (including 2 extra items), but I've had bigger and much better breakfasts for less. Free sauce would have been nice, but it did include tea and toast, and I noticed that the five items cost a bit less for staff. I'm glad I went on my push-bike, because I would have had to pay to park to enjoy this breakfast 4/10
Veggie option – Well, I suppose you could choose five non meaty items. And there was the porridge.
Overall – I'm happy to hold my hand up and admit that had I got there a bit earlier in the day the food might have been a bit fresher, but I shudder to think that its cooked in one batch and then only replenished when it runs out. I get that everything is done on budgets and bought in wholesale, but at least locally source the ingredients and invest in some fry-lite? This was not a quality breakfast, it was all about quantity, with some badly worked out proportions. I had really wanted to enjoy this breakfast, but it did nothing for my morale and I do feel sorry for the staff that choose to eat it, because it's a heart attack on a plate. As a member of the public I don't think I will be returning any time soon, with luck. It would be really good if something was done to improve the breakfast for all the hard working staff at the hospital. 3/10