Sunday 24 November 2013

Assembly House - Norwich

Theatre Street

Breakfast served 
Monday to Saturday
10am till 12pm

 Back in August I attended the launch of the Norfolk food and drink festival at the Assembly House, it was time to return to try their Full English breakfast.

We were given a choice of three rooms to eat in, we chose the Ivory Room.

 The Ivory Room was fairly posh and a pleasent setting to eat breakfast in.

 The breakfast was quite expensive but sounded great.

This large cappuccino cost £2.95.

Sugar lumps are already on the table along with salt and pepper. You will need to ask for ketchup though.

The cutlery was huge!

The breakfast was beautifully presented.

An overhead shot of this incredible arrangement.

An overcooked quality sausage is a sad sight when you are spending nearly £10.

Thankfully everything else was cooked nicely and tasted excellent.

An unforgettable mushroom experience and delicious thick cut fried bread.

Easy to finish when it tastes this good!

This is the veggie option served with Norfolk rarebit for £8.95

I had been at home feeling unwell for three days and decided it was time to venture outside again lured by the thought of a fry up inspection. I had already decided my next place to visit would be the Assembly House having spotted their breakfast menu recently..

Upon entering - As we entered we were greeted by staff who asked us where we would like to eat, there was a choice of three different dining rooms. We chose the Ivory Room which we could see next to us, it looked well lit with some tables available so seemed a good choice. It displayed lovely art work for sale on the walls and was a very traditional looking room complete with grandfather clock and large fireplace. There was a choice of arm chairs next to coffee tables, sofas and traditional tables and chairs. Each table had a menu, salt, pepper and sugar lumps. Ketchup was available on request and came in a small pot containing a decent amount. There is a full table service so just sit back and everything will be taken care of. 8/10

Service - It was a tale of two halves here and things started really well. The staff greeting us were friendly enough and the young staff taking our orders were professional, efficient and friendly. So far so good we thought until the food arrived at the table brought by a very stern mannered man, my wife requested some toast and ketchup which he went off to get but didn't once smile and almost seemed put out by this. This seemed a bit odd, surely toast and ketchup is not such an odd request when ordering a cooked breakfast and a smile goes a long way. Because of this a 9/10 for service has been reduced to 6/10.

Contents - 1 sausage, 2 bacon, 1 slice of black pudding, 1 fried egg, 1 large flat mushroom, saute potatoes, grilled tomato and half a slice of fried bread. 7/10

Presentaion - The presentation was stunning and everything sat really nicely on the plate, perfection! 10/10

The food - The "Best Norfolk sausage" was sadly overcooked and a bit dry resulting in it's true flavour and texture getting lost. The dry cured bacon on the other hand was cooked beautifully and tasted sensational. The black pudding was quite nice and the saute potatoes piping hot and golden crisp. The tomatoes tasted fantastic and the flavour in that flat mushroom was about as good as it gets, so delicious! The great fried egg went nicely on top of the chunky cut and golden slice of fried bread which was perfectly crisp but not holding too much oil. A really enjoyable breakfast served piping hot but let down slightly by the overcooked sausage. Also with no beans served on this breakfast I found a lot of ketchup is needed to prevent it all being a bit on the dry side. 8/10

Value for money - The Assembly House Full English costs £9.95, if you add toast at £2.25 and a cappuccino at £2.95 then you have spent just over £15. Yes, you are in nice surroundings and the food is great but for a breakfast containing one sausage and no beans I felt I had spent my money much wiser in the past. 4/10

Veggie option - Norfolk rarebit, 2 flat mushrooms, 2 fried eggs, saute potatoes, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms for £8.95. (I don't understand why the fried slice isn't included with the veggie option)

Overall - A stunning looking breakfast that tasted great but add on all the essential extras and you have spent over £15. To me this was too much to spend considering service varied from excellent to surprisingly obtuse, I would expect consistent excellence at that price.  Maybe worth a look if you have the money to spare but my recommended section will give you much better options for your money. 7/10

Sunday 17 November 2013

Flaming Galah's The Aussie Pie Stop - Norwich

123 Ber Street

Tel: 07837 915375

Follow on Facebook

Follow on Twitter

Flaming Galahs is on Ber Street in Norwich, a short walk from the city centre. A few people had recently mentioned it to me saying the pies were amazing so I was keen to go and try one for myself.

The premises is a former fish and chip shop so it is well equipped to keep the pies at the perfect temperature. The current menu can be seen here and weekly specials are also available too including sweet pies. The pies are subject to availability, I phoned ahead to ensure the one I wanted was available and reserved for when I arrived.

I tried the brekkie pie with a mash, mushy pea and gravy topping. You can take them away or eat them inside the shop as I did. There are a few seats and a table by the window, salt, pepper and sauces are available too.

 The brekkie pie contained a filling of sausage, bacon, egg and tomato. There was plenty of filling and it tasted delicious with its crisp golden pastry. The mash, mushy peas and gravy complimented it really nicely, I was told that a beans and mushroom topping will eventually be added to the menu, this sounds like a great idea.

With so many take away outlets serving similar things it was nice to see someone offering something different and doing it so well. I look forward to returning to try some of the other delicious fillings available and highly recommend you go and try one of these amazing pies out for yourself.

- Update -

I couldn't resist trying another pie so today chose the China Town BBQ roast pork pie. This time I added some mint sauce to the mushy peas.

The filling was delicious marinated pork in a chinese BBQ sauce, an excellent combination that worked beautifully in a pie.

Monday 11 November 2013

Cafe 1001 - London

91 Brick Lane 
E1 6QL

Opening hours
Daily 6am - 12am

Cafe 1001 is just off Brick Lane in East London, it is a cafe by daytime and a club in the evenings.

Place your order at the counter and find a table.

 There were a few tables on the ground floor, I decided to see what was upstairs.

Upstairs mainly consisted of large cushions, sofa's and a row of tables looking down onto the ground floor, it was quite dark though.

I headed back downstairs where there was one free table left suitable for eating at.

 A really nice filter coffee came with the cooked breakfast.

Two slices of buttered toast were also included in the price.

It was a fair amount of food for the money but I had some concerns..

The eggs were not looking at their best and why was the tomato served whole?

The sausage was no award winner but it held back the sea of beans effortlessly.

My wife and I had been out the previous night to The Toy Dolls gig at The Electric Ballroom in Camden. With a stall to set up at Renegade Craft Fair the next day we left the gig as soon as it ended resisting the urge to drink anymore alcohol. The next morning we were up early setting the stall up, just after the doors to Renegade opened at 11am I headed off on a 30 minute walk to Par Cafe near Farringdon. My plans were soon destroyed though as I stepped outside to find it raining really hard. I was not prepared to get soaked so walked around the corner to Cafe 1001 who appeared to be selling a cooked breakfast..

Upon entering - I noticed a number of outside tables as I rushed in sheltering from the rain. To the left was a counter, to the right were a few tables and in the middle some stairs, I went upstairs to take a look. Upstairs was very dark and mainly consisted of large cushions and sofas, perfect when this place is a club in the evenings but not ideal for eating breakfast in such a low light. I headed back downstairs which was much lighter, placed my order at the counter, paid and found a spare table suitable for eating breakfast at. The only menu I could see was on a large blackboard and I couldn't see salt, pepper or ketchup anywhere. I would have probably loved it here with a drink in the evening but as a daytime breakfast spot I was quite unimpressed. 4/10

Service - The staff here were friendly enough, my order was taken and I was given a table number and told to wait for my coffee. Shortly after sitting down with my coffee the breakfast arrived along with a separate plate of buttered toast and some cutlery. I wanted some salt, pepper and ketchup but didn't see anybody to ask after the food arrived. Nobody returned to ask if everything was ok which is quite rare these days but they were quite busy. 5/10

Contents - 1 large sausage, 2 bacon, 2 fried eggs, mushrooms, beans, tomato, 2 slices of buttered toast and a hot drink. 8/10

Presentation - Quite nicely presented and a bean barrier fan's dream come true. The shoddy looking eggs and uncut tomato let it down though leaving my thinking "why?" rather than "mmm!" 5/10

The food - I enjoyed the nicely browned bacon between the hot buttered toast, this is where the ketchup was desperately needed though! The sausage was no award winner but fairly nice and there was plenty of it. Despite the overcooked appearance of the eggs they did have nice runny yolks and suffered no undercooked white. The mushrooms were delicious and the beans nice and stodgy. The tomato tasted great but was piping hot one side and ice cold the other, it must had been plopped on the griddle without being turned. 5/10

Value for money - The cooked breakfast with buttered toast and a filter coffee cost just £6, this is incredibly cheap and I left feeling really full up. Unfortunately it was only mildly enjoyable and had a number of flaws leaving me wishing I had eaten elsewhere. 5/10

Veggie option - No
Overall - The coffee here was great and during the evenings I am sure it is a great club venue. As far as the breakfast goes though it was a bit disappointing really and although reasonably priced not somewhere I would recommend or consider revisiting. 5/10

Sunday 3 November 2013

Stepping Stones Cafe - Norwich

Opposite Norwich Bus station

Opening Hours
Mon - Sat 
10am - 4pm

Breakfast served all day

 Stepping Stones Cafe is located directly opposite Norwich Bus station.

The interior is modern, clean and spacious.

 Pick a table or relax on the sofa.

The all day breakfast is excellent value for money.

 Collect sauces and cutlery from here.

 Salt, pepper and sugar can be found on each table.

 The filter coffee was really good and is included with each breakfast, I was delighted to be offered a second cup at no extra cost!

The breakfast had all the key items and tasted great.

 The fried egg had a nice runny yolk.

 There were plenty of beans and thick cut white toast served with real butter.

The mushrooms and tomatoes tasted excellent.

This was the veggie breakfast, extra hash brown and tomato replaced the meat.  When it arrived extra toast had also been included.

In 1987 just 2 weeks after leaving school I moved from Chertsey in Surrey to Norwich, I was almost 16 and moved into Norwich YMCA on St Giles Street. I lived there for 3 years and have very happy memories of the time I spent there. It was like moving from home straight into a hotel, I had my own room which was cleaned every morning and the communal areas contained video game machines, a full sized snooker table and a sports hall. I met some great friends there and loved living so close to the city centre. My fondest memories were meal times, you were issued with meal tickets each week which could be used in the restaurant on the ground floor. Breakfast at the YMCA was quite an event each morning and the selection available was amazing. A breakfast ticket could be exchanged for 5 cooked breakfast items and also some fried bread and toast, you could also have a selection of cereals, fruit juice and tea or coffee. I certainly ate well during my stay there and in 1990 feeling I wanted to do more for myself I moved out into a small bedsit on Connaught Road. 

A few years ago a new YMCA hostel opened opposite Norwich Bus station offering accommodation to 16-25 year olds. Last year below the hostel Stepping Stones Cafe opened its doors to the public, it's a social enterprise providing skills to young people in YMCA supported housing. Upon discovering a full English breakfast was now being served there I just had to go along and take a look...

Upon entering - The cafe is a decent size with plenty of natural light flooding in through the large windows. It is modern, clean and spacious with a counter on your left as you enter, behind that is the kitchen which was a hive of activity. If you were looking to eat a cooked breakfast here you may well turn away and search elsewhere having looked at the menu in the window as a cooked breakfast is not mentioned anywhere on it. The only place I spotted the cooked breakfast was on the blackboard by the counter, I think they are missing a trick here and should mention it on the menu and website. Place your order and pay at the counter and everything will arrive at your table a bit later, just remember to collect some cutlery and sauces before sitting down. I liked the feel of this cafe and it was certainly a big hit with the bus drivers too! 7/10

Service - The staff team here were working together nicely to create a decent breakfast and the chap serving was great. We enquired about the veggie breakfast and he talked us through what it contained, when it arrived extra toast had been added and I was offered a second cup of coffee at no extra cost. 9/10

Contents - 1 sausage, 2 bacon, 1 fried egg, 1 hash brown, mushrooms, beans, tomatoes, toast & butter and a hot drink. 7/10

Presentation - The plate was filled with the colourful selection of breakfast items and everything looked cooked nicely. 7/10

The food - The sausage may have been small but it packed a meaty punch and tasted really good as did the nicely browned bacon . The fried egg was piping hot with a lovely runny yolk which soaked into the thick cut buttered toast beautifully. A crispy hash brown, tomatoes packed full of flavour and a sea of beans with a nice thick sauce all lead to a really enjoyable breakfast! Special mention must go to the delicious fried mushrooms, although quite oily they tasted amazing and there was plenty of them. 8/10

Value for money - A decent breakfast served with toast and butter and 2 filter coffees was well worth £4.50. Incredible value for money! 10/10

Veggie option - 2 eggs, 2 hash browns, mushrooms, beans, tomatoes, toast & butter and a hot drink for £4.50

Overall - I love what Stepping Stones Cafe is doing by teaching young people catering skills and it is clear that they are all doing a top job and creating a breakfast to be proud of! You won't find better value anywhere else in the city and the fact the price includes toast and a hot drink makes it an essential place to visit. 8/10