Wednesday 28 August 2013

Maggies - Gorleston

14-17 Lower Esplanade
Gorleston on sea
NR31 6BT

Opening hours
Daily 9am - 5pm

Breakfast served all day

Parking available outside

Maggies is located on Lower Esplanade in Gorleston and has good parking and a great seaview.

This is how it looks inside.

Hmm.. Not a very impressive condiment stack.

The coffee came with the breakfast and was quite nice.

For £4 I wasn't expecting much but the feeling of disappointment soon set in.. 

On the left side of the plate a pair of jumbo economy sausages starred at me from across a sea of beans.

On the other side of the plate I was greeted by undercooked bacon, overcooked toast and a great fried nice egg.

I was in Gorleston for the day so decided to get there early for breakfast. A few places had been recommended to me but lack of time and parking spaces led me to Lower Esplanade where I finally found somewhere to park. With just 30 minutes to spare I headed to the first place I came across selling a cooked breakfast which was Maggies, there were some empty tables so I headed inside..

Upon entering - It was clean, bright and spacious inside with a selection of old seaside photos hanging on the wall. To the left was a small counter where you placed your order, I spent quite a long time wondering what was available as I couldn't see a menu anywhere. Eventually I spotted a few A4 menu's stuck to the wall with very small print on, a menu on each table would have been nice. Each table had sugar, vinegar and salt and pepper but only one bottle of ketchup could be seen going from table to table. Once your order is placed at the counter and you have paid your drink, cutlery and food are bought to your table when they are ready. The environment was quite nice but the menu and ketchup situation was confusing and frustrating. 5/10

Service - I placed my order at the counter but the person taking the order didn't seem that friendly. She wrote my order on her notepad asking if I wanted tomatoes or beans and tea or coffee. I handed my money over and waited for some time for her to take it from me as she was having problems flipping over the next page of her notepad, eventually she managed it and my money was taken. The drink arrived first shortly followed the food and cutlery. 5/10

Contents - 2 sausages, 2 bacon, 1 fried egg, beans (tomatoes are an option instead of beans) 2 slices of toast and a hot drink. 4/10

Presentation - The placement of the items seemed fine but the undercooked/overcooked appearance of some of the items was immediately apparent. 4/10

The food - A jumbo pair of quite chewy economy sausages (Cumberland maybe?) that were looking a tad pink in the middle. The bacon was cooked but only just and the toast was the opposite, just seconds away from being burnt. The beans were not quite hot enough and the egg was great with a nice runny yolk. Not a particularly enjoyable breakfast but I finished it for review purposes. 4/10

Value for money - £4 seemed a bargain considering it came with toast and a drink. I didn't particularly enjoy it though so would sooner have gone elsewhere and spent more money on a better quality breakfast. 5/10   

Veggie option - No

Overall - If you are easily pleased and looking for a budget breakfast served all day with toast and drink included then this place is for you. For me though I felt let down by the cheap ingredients, bland food, lack of proper menus, poor breakfast choice and single bottle of ketchup. 4.5/10 

Monday 26 August 2013

Sergeant Sausage gets posh

Posh Pigs
Ellough Industrial Estate
NR34 7TD

Opening Times (as per websearch)
 Mon - Fri 8am - 2.15pm

Sat - Sun 8am - 1pm

Posh Pigs is a well known and often discussed establishment a few miles outside Beccles. The Inspector needed a review for the blog so despatched me on a damp Saturday morning to get the inside line on the joint.

Follow the signs then follow your snout!

Unit 17 is well worth noting

Big car park, outdoor seating and bright window boxes, great!

Just 8 of the many varieties of breakfast available

A good space inside with a bright d├ęcor

Sauces reporting for duty

 Standard mug of tea, check.

 A good old plateful

 Let’s look a little closer….

Sooooooo meaty!!

 A tale of two eggs

 Egg one

 Egg Two

Makes a good fork full 


Now you see it….

Upon entering – The experience started when I pulled up in the large car park, probably one of the reasons why this place is popular with bikers.  As I stepped out of the car I was hit with the smell of cooking breakfast hanging in the air.  As a long time camper there is nothing more appetising than this good morning smell, so with my mouth watering I headed for the door. Inside the big wooden building the decor is nice and fresh and there is loads of space. With the white beamed ceiling and neat rows of wooden tables it put me in mind that I was in a place of worship.  A great setting to pay homage to the almighty Full English. The counter and kitchen are on your left as you enter, the kitchen open to display and wafting out those delicious smells from the range that was heaving with great looking sausages. A nicely adorned dresser to the right where you will find knives forks, napkins and other items of interest.  I couldn’t see any menus on the tables so it was a case of ordering from the extensive menu suspended above the counter to which I proceeded.  9/10

Service – Ah. Maybe because it was early the waitress who took my order seemed incapable of a smile. I wanted to be there, but I got the impression she didn’t, which was a shame because friendliness costs nothing and making people feel welcome isn't difficult.  I made a determined effort to engage but it wasn’t really reciprocated.  So feeling a little perturbed I went for the number two, but completely missed the black pudding as an extra (I got the picture of the menu when I was leaving, they had no take away menus on the day).  The Full Breakfasts come with a choice of saute potatoes or hash browns, and I know some purists think the hash brown belongs on an American plate, but its always welcome on mine, so I ordered the hash browns.  Unfortunately the waitress didn’t get that right either, so saute it was when my plate arrived.  Another waitress bought that out, and she did smile, which was good. 6/10

Contents – 2 sausage, 2 bacon, 2 eggs, tomato, mushroom, beans, fried slice, toast, and saute potatoes or hash browns (didn’t I order hash browns?) 9/10

Presentation – It looked good on the plate, a big old portion swimming with beans, there was a fried slice tucked away under the eggs, although one of the eggs looked a little more overdone than the other.  The sausages looked fantastic though.  8/10

The food – Beans, beans. 30 seconds in the microwave just doesn’t do it for me, and there were too many. I would have been happier with less but hotter beans. However. The large field mushroom was lovely and juicy.  The eggs were nice, good quality, the yolks done to different degrees, but still rich and tasty. The fried slice was okay. Crispy and not too oily, although I did wonder if it had been done in a batch earlier as it wasn’t quite as hot as the eggs that rested on it. The tomato was really good, packed with flavour,  no doubt locally sourced like all the ingredients. The hot toast, lathered with marge was great and cant be faulted. The hash br saute potatoes were a bit bland, they always are.  Well cooked and all, but they just don’t do it for me which is probably why I didn’t ask for them.  The bacon was great quality and had an awesome flavour, cooked so it was tender with a lovely melting quality, I could have eaten more of it very very easily. It was really good as were the sausages, I’m guessing local butchers and they were very fine. They had a really strong herby flavour coming through and this accompanied the porky texture perfectly, definitely up there in the sausage stakes.    9/10

Value for money – Decent ingredients at a decent price and 80p extra for the mug of tea. I thought £6.60 was well worth it.  9/10

Veggie option –  Yes. Number four on the menu with veggie sausages and lots of choice across the menu.

Overall –  I had been looking forward to this assignment as I have heard loads of great things about this place.  The food certainly is very good, you just cant go wrong with local produce and cafes are great places to eat them, especially this one. Lots of great flavours on the Posh Pigs plate. It could have been a religious experience, but the service let it down. That and the beans. I know they are basics, but these should be a given, especially at Posh Pigs.  Chatting to a biker friend that evening he did indicate the service is usually much better, so I must have caught them on an off day. But those sausages, and that bacon, mmmmm. It deserves more, but I have to go on the evidence I’m given.  8/10

Saturday 24 August 2013

Hall Road Diner - Norwich

(Now closed)

118 Hall Road

Limited parking spaces outside

Breakfast served daily from 7am - 2pm

Birchy's Diner is under new management and has become Hall Road Diner.
Read my review of Birchy's Diner here

It still has plenty of outside seating.

 Inside looks pretty much the same.

A loyalty card is a great idea, buy five breakfasts and the next one is free. 

The sauce selection with quality brands is impressive.

Each breakfast comes with a free tea or coffee, nice touch and great tea!

The menu offers a good choice but it can be difficult deciding what one to go for. The bumper option offering mushrooms and tomatoes would have been nice.

 The bumper breakfast comes with toast and bread & butter, just toast arrived though.

The bumper breakfast arrived nicely presented on a large oval plate.

The bacon looked good but the sausages didn't look as quality as I had remembered them being.

The eggs were fantastic but the fried bread was no longer golden and crispy like it used to be.

 I quite enjoyed the bumper breakfast but had concerns about the quality of the sausages and crispiness of the fried bread. I also wondered about the veggie options available and wanted to try the mushrooms and tomatoes. I decided a second visit was needed to have a closer look.

- Visit No 2 -

 On my second visit I discovered that the veggie options were nicely covered on the menu.

This time I chose the medium breakfast so I could try the mushrooms and tomatoes, I ordered extra black pudding too.

 The fried bread was still not crispy enough though.

The black pudding and bacon were nice but the sausage lacked quality.

 The tomatoes were excellent and mushrooms deep fried.

The perfect fried egg.

The economy sausage.

Birchy's Diner had been a favourite of mine for a long time, it featured on my recommended section of the blog and served a consistently good breakfast at a great price. Recently I discovered it was under new management and had changed name to Hall Road Diner, the recommended sticker I had given to Birchy's Diner was still on the window and had now appeared on their loyalty card too. I was keen to find out whether the change of management and name had any impact on this once great breakfast that I had enjoyed many times in the past...

Upon entering -  The layout inside was pretty much the same as it had been before. There is seating either side of the cafe and plenty of outside seating too, the counter and kitchen is at the rear. Each table has a menu, a good choice of sauces, salt pepper and sugar. The menu offers a good selection of different size breakfasts but the larger options don't offer tomatoes and mushrooms, you can order a medium breakfast which comes with mushrooms and tomatoes but you only get one each of sausage and bacon. An option containing double sausage and bacon with all the other key items would make a great addition to the menu. Place your order at the counter, pay, collect some cutlery and the food will be bought over when it is ready. I liked the traditional feel of Hall Road Diner and it is clearly poplular with the locals and is always busy. 7/10

Service - The staff here (I think some remain from Birchy's) are friendly and efficient. You are given the option of tea or coffee when ordering and not long after that the breakfast arrives. On my second visit I ordered extra black pudding, I noticed whilst drinking my tea that somebody popped out to the shop to buy some black pudding, now that's good service! I also asked if I could swap a slice of my toast for fried bread, this was no problem. 9/10

Contents - I tried the bumper and medium breakfasts on my two visits, I will focus on the medium breakfast which offered a more vast selection of items. 
1 sausage, 1 bacon, 1 fried egg, 1 hash brown, tomatoes, mushrooms, beans, fried bread, black pudding (ordered as an extra for 80p) buttered toast and a mug of tea. 8/10

Presentation - On both occasions the breakfast placed in front of me were presented beautifully, the undercooked fried bread and economy sausage did stand out though and kind of ruined the view slightly. 8/10

The food - The quality sausage I had eaten many times at Birchy's had been replaced with a deep fried economy type, a real disappointment. The bacon and black pudding were nice though and the fried egg was perfect. The tomatoes were cooked beautifully and tasted delicious, the hash brown was deep fried and crispy, the mushrooms tasted ok and were also deep fried. The buttered toast was great and the beans had a good consistency. That amazing golden and crunchy fried bread I had experienced at Birchys was sadly now undercooked and drenched in oil. 7/10

Value for money - The medium breakfast with extra black pudding cost £5.75 and came with buttered toast and a hot drink. 8.10

Veggie option - Yes, 3 different veggie options.

Overall - A great cafe with friendly staff serving a vast selection of breakfasts. For me the quality of the sausages and fried bread let it down a bit though. I can no longer say it is a place I recommend visiting but it is certainly worth a look though. 8/10

Friday 16 August 2013

Boomtown Fair - 2013

 I went searching for the various food on offer at Boomtown Fair 2013 but couldn't resist also showing you around this incredible festival!

Day 1 click here

Day 2 click here

Day 3 click here 

Day 4 click here

Sergeant Sausage: Premier Inn – West Thurrock

Work had taken me on a jolly to London, which meant a night in a Premier Inn. Great, I thought, free breakfast!


This poster on the wall in the lift promised much

The view from the door as you enter


Is this a buffet I see before me?

 Ooh machine coffee, my favourite…

A selection of popular juices

Unlimited fruit salad

 Dried fruit with your fry up?

 My nemesis, the roll-around toaster, If only it could talk.

On to the hot counter…

Or two


Strangely the eggs didn’t quite look like the poster…

 We want hash browns! 

 We got hash browns?

My all you can eat breakfast

 Not a quality sausage

 Yes, I tried the hash brown, purely for research purposes

 Mmmm, pink bacon

At least the poached egg yolks were runny

Upon entering – Okay, you’re in a chain, so expect a similar theme whichever Premier Inn you are in.  It’s all been designed to provide a safe, clean and pleasant middle class dining experience in what usually doubles as the bar.  Having preciously stayed in other Premier Inns I was expecting table service, but this one is hot counters. Oh joy. Stumbling through the low light into the buffet area I spied that choice was high, but stocks were low.  I found my table, then made my way to the hot counters….   7/10

Service –  A nice lady greeted me when I waited to be seated and explained that porridge and poached eggs were available to order as well as the selection from buffet, and I was welcome to eat as much as I wished. A couple of waitresses were buzzing about, filling up the juice and clearing tables and having seen the eggs I ordered their poached counterpart from one of them. The bacon had run out so I had to wait for it to be replenished and whilst I was waiting one of the waitresses cleared my quarter drunk coffee from my table, but she soon realised her mistake when she bought me my freshly poached eggs. The replacement coffee tasted no better. 5/10

Contents – 2 bacon, 2 poached eggs, 1 sausage, mushrooms, tinned tomato, beans, hash brown, toast, coffee. I didn’t feel like stuffing myself.  6/10

Presentation –  Well I would normally give myself 10/10 for my own presentation! But the bowls and dishes all looked a bit faded under the hot light.  5/10

The food –  The mushrooms were pretty good, not oily and mostly pleasant at a reasonable temperature.  The bacon, cooked en masse was chewy and salty. The two bits I had picked up were cooked on one side and very pink where they had stuck together on the other. At least the beans were hot and well stewed and the grilled tomato was exceptional, really tangy and tasty. Unfortunately the much vaunted hash brown was awful. Completely overdone and to be honest, a bit offensive.  A good attempt had been made with the sausage to hide the breadcrumb texture with spices and ‘meat flavourings’.  I think I had been wise to choose the poached eggs and they were okay, but not free range.  The bread went round twice in the toaster to get to a reasonable level of toasted.  5/10

Value for money – This is a tricky one as yes it was all you could eat, and there was a wide selection of hot and cold breakfast items, but I just didn’t have an appetite for it.  Had I paid £8.25 for the less than impressive cooked breakfast I’m not sure I would have got value for money  5/10

Veggie option –  Yes, but no veggie specials.

Overall –  Slightly below average really.  The surroundings were pleasant enough, but I’m not sure about the piped music “love me me, fool me fool me” seemed appropriate though.  The food was very hit and miss with the more basic items outshining the supposed stars.  I’m not really sure who the arrangement suits best, the hotel chain or the customer with the budget spent on style and not content.  It’s just all a bit automatic and lacking in character really. You won’t find breakfast perfection here.  5/10