Monday 20 January 2014

Coast to coast - Norwich

Unit 5B
Riverside Leisure Park

Breakfast available daily from 9am till midday


Coast to coast is located in the riverside complex of Norwich.

 It's a huge restaurant with plenty of tables.

A cosy table for two.

The "two for £10" offer makes breakfast much more affordable so bring a friend along.
The full breakfast menu can be viewed here

 I really liked the Budweiser BBQ sauce, it went nicely with the bacon.

 By the time the drinks arrived complete with mini oreos we were feeling we had stumbled across somewhere really special!

But then the food arrived.. 
The meat looked overcooked and the eggs and beans were cold.

 I had never seen fried eggs served this undercooked before.

The cold beans and overcooked meats were most likely the result of a breakfast that had been left on the pass too long. We had waited over 30 minutes for the food to arrive and I suspect it hadn't been brought to the table soon enough after it had been cooked.

The toast had also gone cold and was really dry too.

 My wife's veggie breakfast also arrived cold.

 The butter served with my wife's toast had almost melted. We sent everything back, the manager however was very apologetic offering us free drinks whilst we waited for hot breakfasts to arrive.

10 minutes later..

The second breakfast was piping hot but the sight of the eggs was still causing concern.

Surely nobody likes their eggs this undercooked?

The potato cake was quite bland but went well with the beans.

The bacon was much better this time and the sausage a better shape.

A nice hot sea of beans, shame about those eggs though..

This is the veggie breakfast, no substitute for the meat items but at least it comes with mushrooms.

We had originally planned to try the breakfast at All Bar One near Tombland but upon discovering they were waiting for a sausage delivery we decided to leave it till another day. Suddenly I remembered Coast to coast at riverside, they were serving breakfast till midday so we headed there instead...

Upon entering - First impressions were good although fairly dark, inside the dining area was huge consisting of a selection of different sized tables to choose from. Most of the tables are booth style with a lamp overhead to give you just enough light. Towards the rear is a large open plan kitchen that looks out onto the dining area. Each table had an impressive sauce selection and beside them a stack of menus. It was a fairly nice environment to dine in with full table service. 7/10

Service - We were greeted as soon as we entered and shown to a table, the waitress told us her name and said she would be serving us today. First we were offered water and then our drinks order was taken followed by our food order, a very polished and professional service indeed! Our hot drinks arrived looking spectacular with mini oreos placed on the saucer, shortly after that the cutlery arrived wrapped in a serviette held tight with a coast to coast sticker. I was busy thinking how impressed I was with this restaurant chain when suddenly it occurred to us that we had finished our drinks a long time ago and a good 30 minutes had passed since ordering our food. This seemed a bit strange considering the restaurant was almost empty and there was plenty of chefs in the kitchen. Eventually I spotted the waitress coming over with our food, she then went back to fetch the toast saying "sorry for the delay, we were having a meeting". Whilst I was busy getting the food shot on my phone my wife announced "its all cold!" I then tried mine and realised it was also cold. We called the waitress over and explained the cold food situation, the manager then came straight over and was very apologetic saying he could offer us breakfasts cooked from scratch which we accepted, this arrived 10 minutes later. We were also offered fresh toast and another drink on the house. We felt well looked after in the situation and even more so at the end when we went to pay, we were just charged a total of £10 for nearly £25 worth of food and drink. The manager insisted that they usually do a very good breakfast and he hoped we would return. It was a real fiasco but thankfully we were not in a hurry, once the mistake had been made they seemed to do all they could to put things right. 9/10

Contents - 2 cumberland sausages, bacon, black pudding, 2 fried eggs, potato cake, tomato and beans. 7/10

Presentation - I found it difficult too see past the undercooked egg situation, this was a real shame as I could spot some nice happenings further back on the plate. The sausages and bacon seemed to be getting on very well almost cuddling each other, nice! The black pudding and tomato were clearly proud of their circular origins, one sat neatly on top of the other. There was a sea of beans to the left and a potato cake lay on the the right hand side of the plate. A nicely thought out display which nicely fried eggs would have fitted into very nicely, sadly the sorry looking eggs let the rest of the team down though.. 5/10

The food - The bacon was nicely cooked and tasted great with the Budweiser BBQ sauce. The lincolnshire sausages were nice enough but really not that special, they reminded me of the ones served in Wetherspoons. The black pudding was very soft and dry but tasted ok, the tomato didn't have much flavour but again was ok. The beans were piping hot but in quite a thin sauce, I ate them with the potato cake as it was far too bland on it's own. The fried eggs were a disaster, cooked underneath but way too undercooked on top, the slimy egg white got everywhere causing the enjoyment factor to descend rapidly. The second batch of toast which arrived was hot, evenly toasted and served with a generous amount of butter. 4/10

Value for money - The coast to coast breakfast costs £7.45, toast costs £1.95 and a cappuccino £2.95, a total of £12.35. This would work out expensive for breakfast in a restaurant chain so far better to bring a friend along and go for the "two for £10" deal bringing the price down to £9.90. As we were charged just £10 for a £25 bill due to the food being returned I will base my score on the "two for £10" deal" 6/10

Veggie option - Yes, 2 fried eggs, grilled whole tomato, button mushrooms, beans and a potato cake for £6.45 (Available as part of the "two for £10" deal)

Overall - The first 20 minutes spent here left me impressed and feeling I had stumbled across the best restaurant chain so far. I was loving the great service, mini oreos served with a very tidy cappuccino and impressive sauce selection. It was beyond those 20 minutes when everything spiralled downhill, that said though I was really impressed with the way the manager responded and replaced everything that had arrived cold with hot food within 10 minutes. The bill being hugely reduced also showed how he wanted us to leave as happy customers and did help soften the blow for us. Based on the breakfast I eventually ate though I felt it had potential but was quite bland in places with a pair of eggs that were determined to spoil the party. Perhaps I just caught them on a bad day and a few people have said they have enjoyed breakfast at coast to coast. For me though it left very little impact other than to add a new feature to the blog where from now on I will time the space between the food being ordered and arriving at the table. 6/10

Tuesday 14 January 2014

Busby's Tea Hive - Bungay, Suffolk

(Now closed)

3 Upper Olland Street
NR35 1BD

Breakfast served all day

Tuesday - Thursday
10.00am till 3.30pm

10.00am till 4.30pm

10am till 4pm

 Busby's Tea Hive has just recently opened in Bungay.

 It's located on the picturesque Upper Olland Street.

 A delightful interior with bunting, fairy lights and homemade cakes.

 You can sit back and relax with coffee and cake on the sofa.

A classic black and white checkered floor and good solid traditional tables and chairs.

 Table number 2 had a warming glow from a jar of fairy lights.

Full English and a veggie breakfast can be found on the main menu, these are available all day.

Quality sauces and salt and pepper in grinders arrive just before the food.

The cappuccino cost just under £2 and was excellent.

 My wife chose Earl Grey tea which arrived in a tea pot with a quaint cup and saucer.

The full English was nicely presented and looked delicious!

The root vegetable hash tasted excellent and complimented the other items nicely.

 The chunky cut mushrooms were sensational.

Quality meats from Baird's Butchers and a perfect fried egg

The veggie breakfast comes with haloumi, delicious!

I discovered Busby's Tea Hive's facebook page whilst killing time online last week and noticed they had recently opened in Bungay. Me and my wife had been talking about visiting Bungay for the day for some time now. This seemed like the perfect reason to so we jumped in the van and headed across the border to Suffolk.
Upon entering - The dining area is fairly small but nicely laid out with plenty of natural light flooding in through the windows. There are a number of tables to choose from to eat breakfast at or a sofa and vintage school desks better suited to relaxing with tea and cake. A selection of homemade cakes are displayed on a table by the door, beside this is a dresser storing a selection of tea pots. The style is a nice blend of kitsch/traditional with gingham curtains, polka dot table cloths, fairy lights and bunting. A vintage sewing machine sits on the window ledge and a selection of old photographs hang on the far wall. It's a lovely environment to dine in and there is full table service. Choose a table and a menu will be brought over to you, your order is taken and everything you need will arrive at the table in good time. 8/10

Service - The service here was really friendly and couldn't have been any better, we were greeted as we entered and offered a choice of tables to sit at. A menu was brought over and our order was taken, we were given the option of fried/scrambled eggs and white/wholemeal toast. First the drinks arrived and then the cutlery and serviettes, we were offered sauces and a quality brown and red was brought over for us. The food arrived in good time and we were later asked if everything was ok. At no point did we feel like we were waiting longer than we should been and everything we needed arrived without having to ask, perfect! 10/10

Contents - 1 sausage, 2 slices of bacon, 1 fried egg, half a tomato, root vegetable hash, mushrooms and a slice of toast & butter. 7/10

Presentation - The colourful selection of items sat nicely together on the plate. The sight of a decent quality sausage and a nicely fried egg is generally a good early indication that the entire breakfast is going to be fantastic, which it was.  It was nice that the toast arrived hot at the same time as everything else but I did wonder if the toast might be better served on a separate plate with some butter in a small bowl or possibly ready buttered. 8/10

The food - The Suffolk pink sausage from Baird's butchers of Bungay had a good firm texture and delightful meaty taste. The bacon with nicely browned rind was cooked to perfection and tasted great. Once I had buttered the toast I popped the beautifully fried egg straight on top and was delighted to find the yolk nice and runny when I cut into it. The root vegetable hash was something a bit different and tasted great, it consisted of potatoes, carrots and possibly butternut squash. What really stood out on this breakfast though was the large sliced mushrooms, they tasted amazing! Everything arrived hot and nicely cooked, a really enjoyable breakfast with some excellent flavours. 10/10

Value for money - The full English breakfast included toast and cost £5.50, a very reasonable price for something this delicious. 8/10

Veggie option - Haloumi, 1 egg (scrambled or fried) tomato, mushrooms, root vegetable hash and a slice of toast & butter. £5.25

Overall - A great place serving a delicious breakfast at a reasonable price. With efficient and friendly service and a cosy environment it is certainly worth visiting Busby's Tea Hive. The root vegetable hash made a nice change, it tasted great and made me feel a bit healthier knowing I was getting some of my 5 a day! Some breakfasts do benefit from baked beans but this one I felt worked ok without as the juicy tomato, mushrooms and a good squirt of ketchup balanced the moisture levels quite well. It is nice to see a good veggie option on the menu and the breakfasts being available all day. 8.5/10

  Update - March 2015

Just over a year since my last visit I decided to return to Busby's Tea Hive again. Their instagram page is possibly the best ever and displays their vast selection of amazing homemade cakes. The selection offered here are really creative and often feature your favourite chocolate bars or sweets. I knew they already served an excellent breakfast here, I just had to try those cakes!! 

Many places are going with a traditional kitsch look but Busby's carry it off in a very unique way that feels effortless and genuine.

Cadbury's caramel slice

Pretzel, M&M's and Butterfinger cake

Reeses peanut butter cup chocolate slice

Terry's chocolate orange cake

The afternoon tea is beautifully presented with thick cut finger sandwiches, crisps, a salad garnish and homemade cake. I chose a brie, bacon and cranberry sandwich, it was delicious and cut from a really nice loaf. You can take your pick from a selection of sandwiches on the main menu and any of the cakes on display.

Lovely cups and saucers to enjoy the generous sized pot of tea that arrived.

It was a difficult decision as all the cakes on offer looked amazing. We were in cake heaven with the Pretzel, M&M's and Butterfinger cake, we finished off with the stunning Cadbury's caramel slice, both so good!! 

Here are the current afternoon tea options and prices

Sunday 5 January 2014

Mustard Coffee Bar - Norwich

3 Bridewell Alley

Although Mustard Coffee Shop do not sell a full English breakfast they do offer a selection of breakfast based ciabattas and muffins on their breakfast menu. Me and my wife decided to pop in for breakfast as we had heard good things about Mustard.

 I ordered the bacon, egg and tomato ciabatta with an extra sausage for £6.50.

 It was very big and looked quite tricky to bite into, things could have got quite messy with those two egg yolks looking eager to pop!

I decided to lay the contents on top of both sides of the ciabatta and tackle it with a knife and fork. It was very filling and tasty containing 2 rashers of bacon, 1 sausage, 3 tomatoes and 2 fried eggs.

My wife ordered the no meat muffin which looked amazing when it arrived! Haloumi, mushrooms, tomatoes and a poached egg beautifully displayed on top of a muffin cost £6.

A coffee or tea is included when buying a breakfast making it much better value for money. Mustard is definitly worth visiting, the food is excellent and the staff are friendly. It did occur to me whilst there that they already have all the key ingredients to offer a full English breakfast so maybe one day it will appear on the menu!