Thursday 26 June 2014

Grumpy Mole - Ipswich

(Now closed)

21-23 Queens Street
IP1 1SW 

Opening hours
Monday to Saturday
8am till 3pm reopens 5.30pm till 10pm

10am till 5pm

All day breakfast available

I was keen to visit an independent cafe in Ipswich, The Grumpy Mole caught my eye as I passed it on Queens Street.

I was an hour early so decided to return a bit later.

This was what I was going to try, a bargain at £5!

When I returned later there was outside seating too.

There were plenty of places to sit inside.

Below the TV was a children's play area.

The counter and kitchen was in the far right corner.

I considered the Hungry breakfast but it didn't include a coffee so I went for the all day breakfast which seemed like much better value for money.

I am usually careful to hide any clues about my identity!

Not the greatest ketchup inside but I liked the bottle!

The coffee came with the breakfast and was ok.

The all day breakfast looked bigger than I was expecting when it arrived.

I wasn't sure about herb potatoes for breakfast and the tomatoes were really bitter tasting, everything else was quite nice though.

A bit too much bean juice and an interesting cut effect on the mushrooms, the highlight was the bacon.

My wife had a stall at an Ipswich arts and crafts market and I was going along to help her. As soon as I knew I would be spending the day in Ipswich I realised it would be a golden opportunity to do my first ever inspection there. I had asked for recommendations and searched online for possible places to visit. Initially I was going to visit Saints but they were closed on Sundays (I actually later discovered they were open in the end so.. time to update your website Saints!) another option was Isaacs on the quay, but with an 11.30am opening time I ruled them out too. I ended up walking until I spotted somewhere and it was Grumpy Mole on Queens Street that caught my eye...

Upon entering - This large cafe has many tables inside and a few tables outside too. It's very child friendly with a children's play area in a separate room so the kids will be kept amused whilst you tuck into your breakfast. I arrived when they had just opened so it was empty but a few people arrived by the time I had left. The decor is fairly modern and the walls very bright and colourful. There is a counter at the back where the till is, the kitchen is behind here too. It seemed quite dark inside but sitting by the window was ok with plenty of natural light, perfect for taking photos! Each table has cutlery in a pouch with a serviette on top of a side plate, a menu, plastic flower and salt & pepper. Sauces are available on request and sugar arrives with the hot drink if you order one. It was a fairly nice and relaxing environment to sit and eat breakfast in on this sunny Sunday morning! 7/10

Service - The name Grumpy Mole filled my mind with thoughts of a grumpy waiter coming over to take my order but thankfully the complete opposite happened when I walked through the door! The staff here are really helpful and friendly making you feel immediately welcome and serving you very efficiently. I was greeted with a smile and told to take a seat anywhere I wanted, a menu was brought over and I was given time to look through it (and take a sneaky photo of it!) I placed my order and was offered tea or coffee. The coffee arrived first and a little while later the food, I was offered sauces and later asked if everything was ok. I payed at the counter on my way out and was bid goodbye as I left, great service! 8/10

Contents - 1 sausage, 2 bacon (usually 1 but I got an extra slice!) 1 slice of black pudding, 1 fried egg, herb potatoes, 2 tomatoes, mushrooms, beans, 2 slices of toast and a hot drink. 7/10

Presentation - I could tell the egg was overcooked but it was a good distance from the beans ensuring bean juice/egg touching phobics would sigh in relief! There was more food on the plate than I was expecting and it was looking fairly good to me. The mushrooms had an unusual pattern of cuts I had not seen before, most likely to help them cook evenly but creating an almost flower like effect, maybe a local technique? 7/10

The food - The sausage was a fairly soft textured herby catering variety, not a really cheap one though and reasonably nice. The highlight was the bacon, full of flavour and nicely cooked, I prefer it softer than really crispy. The black pudding was a standard soft slice and the plentiful sea of beans sat in a lot juice. I enjoyed the herb potatoes with a nice crispy edge but didn't particularly feel the hint of garlic in them went with a breakfast. The mushrooms were delicious and the egg tasted good but was overcooked with a solid yolk. Nice bread had been used for the toast, thick margarine spread over it that hadn't melted was a bit disappointing though. 6/10

Value for money - Not the greatest breakfast in the world but a bargain for £5, especially considering it included an extra slice of bacon and a hot drink too! 7/10

Veggie option - Veggie sausage, fried egg, beans, herb potatoes, mushrooms, grilled tomato, toast and a hot drink for £5
Overall - I usually go for the bigger breakfast on the menu but here it seemed much better value to go for the smaller one. A pleasant environment and friendly service certainly make it a place to consider for this reasonably price breakfast. I look forward to visiting Ipswich some other time to see how other cafes compare! 7/10

Tuesday 17 June 2014

Golden Star - Norwich

57 Colegate

Breakfast served
Monday to Saturday
9.00am till 11.00am

Metered parking available on Colegate

 The banner outside had caught my eye a few weeks ago.

 Golden Star has a very traditional and welcoming feel to it.

 The Victoria sponge was very tempting but the breakfast menu sat behind it was the reason I was here.

 The breakfast looked good in the photo, did the cappuccino really come with a star on top though?

 It certainly did and it also came free with the breakfast!

HP and Heinz sauces but I didn't encounter any salt or pepper, these are possibly available on request though.

 A good breakfast selection on the menu including a veggie breakfast, not a veggie sausage to be seen anywhere but it does at least include beans.

 A nice looking breakfast arrived served piping hot.

The hash browns were an unexpected bonus!

 A decent fried egg, plenty of mushrooms and tasty tomatoes.

A tasty pair of Harvey's sausages could be found underneath the fried egg.

The only way I was going to visit the Golden Star was to go before work as they were doing breakfasts on weekdays only. It meant getting up an hour earlier but I was up for it, to give me more time I parked on Colegate knowing I could get to work within ten minutes of leaving the pub. It was a lovely sunny day and even at 7.30am the temperature was rapidly rising, I thought briefly about sitting outside but decided to head inside for a better look..

Upon entering - I had been in the Golden Star on the odd occasion in the past but usually during the evening enjoying a cider or vodka. I walked in and stood at the bar, nobody was there at first so it was a perfect opportunity to get some photos. It has a homely and traditional pub interior with plenty of character and although fairly small there are plenty of places to sit and eat. There was a breakfast menu on the bar beside some homemade chocolate brownies and Victoria sponge, both looked delicious! Simply place your order and pay at the bar, choose where to sit and wait for everything to arrive. Sauces and cutlery will be brought over to the table before the food arrives, not sure about salt and pepper but probably available if you ask for it. Read a newspaper with your coffee whilst waiting for the food to arrive, it is certainly a nice relaxing environment at this time of the morning. 8/10

Service - I was greeted with a smile as somebody appeared from behind the bar which was a nice welcome. I asked for the the Star breakfast and was told a hot drink is also included in the price, this was an unexpected bonus and not mentioned on the breakfast menu, nice! The cappuccino arrived at the table first and I was offered a selection of newspapers to read. Next the sauces and cutlery arrived along with a serviette, shortly after that the food arrived. Throughout my visit the service was really friendly and I was made to feel very welcome which always makes a massive difference and is crucial to an enjoyable breakfast experience. 9/10

Contents - 2 sausages, 2 bacon, 1 fried egg, 3 hash browns, mushrooms, tomato, 1 slice of buttered toast and a hot drink. 7/10

Presentation - As soon as I spotted the dusted star on top of the cappuccino I suspected the breakfast was going to look the part when it arrived and it didn't disappoint.  The sausages were hiding under the egg and the lack of beans was a rare sight but everything looked nicely cooked and sat together well on the plate. 7/10

The food - The plate was piping hot when it arrived ensuring the food was too. The meat supplied by Harvey's was excellent, thick and delicious rashers of bacon and a pair of really meaty sausages with a really good firm texture and devine flavour. The fried egg was cooked beautifully with no runny egg white but a perfect runny yolk, I layed this over the hot buttered toast and let the yolk absorb in to it. The hash browns were fairly standard along with the mushrooms, both were nicely cooked though and the tomatoes nicely rippened and full of flavour. 8/10

Value for money - £6.95 for the Star breakfast seemed a fair price but the fact it includes a hot drink and hash browns (neither mentioned on the menu) make it quite a bargain! 8/10

Veggie option - 2 hash browns, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, fried egg, toast and a hot drink for £5.95 


Overall - An impressive breakfast is being served at the Golden Star that represents great value for money, especially as the price includes a hot drink too! Friendly service and a warm welcome makes the Golden Star a pub that is well worth visiting. They only serve breakfast on weekdays but with them open from 7.30am why not do as I did and stop by there on the way to work. I like beans with my breakfast and they would have made a great addition but even without them still a great breakfast! 8/10

- Update, December 2014 -

Breakfast is now served on Saturday too.

Beans are now included on both breakfasts, a hot drink is no longer included in the price now though.

 Salt and pepper was on each table.

The Star breakfast.

 The veggie breakfast now includes vegetarian sausages.

Saturday 7 June 2014

Tatties - Cambridge

11 Sussex Street

Tatties said "breakfast" on the window, we were hungry so we headed inside.

We considered sitting outside but changed our minds, the tables were a bit too small.

"A bit of a tourist cafe" was my first thought, but certainly a pleasent environment inside.

The essentials were found on each table along with a menu.

The menu offered a reasonable breakfast selection.

The full monty came with a glass of orange juice, not freshly squeezed but good for the hangover.

The breakfast that arrived was pretty much what I was expecting, a few things stood out though.

The ring cooked fried eggs sat on the plate looking quite sorry for themselves..

Over cooked sausages and mushrooms..

A fairly tasteless tomato..

The bacon was excellent though!

The veggie breakfast with really nice hash browns cost £5.95

So having walked away in disgust from Don Pasquale the search for a place to eat breakfast continued. As we turned a corner onto Sussex Street the word "breakfast" displayed on a window caught our eye at Tatties. We were very hungry and incredibly thirsty so we decided to head inside..

Upon entering - What looked like a reasonably small cafe on the outside turned out to be much bigger inside with the seating areas divided by a wall. One side was where the counter was located, we sat the other side though as it would be much easier to get photos. The typically British enamel signs (Brooke Bond, Rowntrees etc) suggested this cafe was aiming at attracting Cambridge's many tourists. The tables were spread out nicely and everything was clean so a nice enough place to sit and eat a breakfast. The tables contained a basic selection of sauces in squeezy bottles, salt, pepper, sugar and a menu. The menu offered a fairly varied selection of breakfasts including vegetarian options. So it was a case of ordering at the counter, paying and waiting until the food arrived. 7/10

Service - The staff here were certainly efficient and fairly polite but nobody seemed particularly happy. We placed our order, collected our drinks and payed at the counter before choosing where to sit. After a reasonable amount of time the food arrived along with some cutlery. As far as the service goes thats all I can tell you, nobody came to ask if the food was ok and nobody said goodbye as we left. I can best describe the service here as very flat. 5/10

Contents - 2 sausages, 2 slices of bacon, 2 fried eggs, mushrooms, beans, half a tomato, 1 slice of toast and a glass of orange juice. 7/10

Presentation - The sausages looked well over cooked but the bacon looked juicy and delicious. The fried eggs looked like a pair of strange cakes, the mushrooms looked overcooked and the tomato looked like it would have no flavour. The beans and toast looked ok and the orange juice looked fairly cheap. Everything was placed on the large white plate quite reasonably but those eggs... Why!? 5/10

The food - Although overcooked I was quite surprised to discover the sausage was half decent quality when I cut through it and tasted pretty good too. The bacon was excellent, very juicy and full of flavour. The toast was reasonable and was the base to eat my sorry looking eggs on top of, with solid yolks and rubbery texture they did little more than help cure my hangover. The mushrooms were slightly overcooked, the tomato had little flavour and the beans were hot but with little sauce reduction. I think the highlight for me was necking that glass of cheap orange juice at the beginning. 5/10

Value for money - The full monty came with a glass of juice and cost £7.85, it filled a gap but wasn't very special at all really. It was in the city centre though so.. 5/10

Veggie options - 2 vegetable sausages, 2 eggs, 2 hash browns, mushrooms, beans and tomato for £5.95

Overall - A nice enough environment to eat a breakfast in but with very flat service and an uneventful breakfast on offer here the search for fry up perfection in Cambridge continues.. 5.5/10


Thursday 5 June 2014

Don Pasquale - Cambridge

12A Market Hill 

Its a good job I got this exterior pic when I first sat down, we eventually walked away in disgust!

 We were well aware it would be a tourist breakfast but as we couldn't find anywhere else nearby we decided to chance it.

 It was a hot sunny day so sitting outside was a bonus.

I wasn't exactly spoilt for choice and beans cost an extra 90p.

 I looked into the ashtray wondering what we had let ourselves in for..

My wife and I had been out to see some bands in Cambridge and spent the night in the campervan on the side of the road. The following morning we were up fairly early and left the campervan and headed into the centre of Cambridge with our hangovers looking for somewhere to eat breakfast. Most of the places in the city centre seemed to be trying to attract tourists meaning economy sausages were almost a dead cert. After looking for quite sometime we saw a breakfast menu at Don Pasquale, it looked ok and had an outside seating terrace, perfect on this hot sunny day we thought!

Upon entering - I never actually ventured inside but the area outside looked fairly pleasent looking out onto the market place. The tables had an ashtray, salt, pepper and sugar, the table we sat at was really wonky and set at a bit of an angle which had we stayed could have been a bit tricky to eat at. Behind us sat some guy shouting "why would I be eating macaroni cheese at this time of the morning" we wondered if he was drunk maybe? Moments later his macaroni cheese arrived and he piped down to eat it. 

Service - As we entered the outside terrace my wife asked a member of staff if they did a vegetarian breakfast, "Not on the menu but I can sort something out for you, take a seat" he replied. Great we thought and took a seat, moments later the same chap came over to take our order. I ordered a coke to help the hangover and my wife asked if they served freshly squeezed orange juice, the waiter wrote this down and them in a very loud and unfriendly tone replied "not freshly squeezed today but you know fresh orange juice" rolling his eyes in the process. It was at this point I realised that customer service was not his strongest point and we were feeling like we were an inconvenience and he had better things to do. I then placed my order for the Full English with beans which he scribbled down on his note pad. My wife asked what the vegetarian breakfast would include, "I don't know what ever we can find, corgettes, asparagus, stuff like that" he replied very abruptly. My wife made it very clear she was happy with just the Full English without the meat but didn't want any courgettes, asparagus or veg on it. My wife then ventured inside to use the bathroom, on the way out she heard the rude chap that had taken our order telling the chef "Any veg you can find, courgettes, asparagus, anything, just chuck it in". This was the not going well so we walked away and as we got a few meters away heard an abrupt voice shouting "I take it you don't want your breakfast then?" 

Being made to feel unwelcome, an inconvenience, spoken to abruptly and not being listened to is not the key to scoring well in this catagory. This guy (I believe he is one of the owners) was the rudest person to ever serve me and the proud owner of my first ever 0/10

Around ten minutes walk away we then found another place to eat breakfast called Tatties, full review here.