Monday 12 January 2015

Cactus Cafe Bar - Norwich

102 Magdalen Street

Cactus Cafe Bar is fairly close to the Street Cafe on Magdalen Street.

I was very impressed with the interior and relaxing atmosphere inside.

Local art is displayed on the walls.

Place your order and pay at the bar.

An English and vegetarian breakfast are available here and both costing less than £5.

The really nice flat white coffee cost £1.90 and included a tiny shortbread.

Sauces are offered when the food arrives.

The breakfast costing less than a fiver initially looked quite promising!

 The breakfast includes ciabatta or toast if you prefer.

 Fairly standard bacon but not the greatest sausages.

 Quite a squidgy texture and bland flavour.

Undercooked mushrooms and tomatoes.

 Beans in a separate pot and fairly decent looking eggs.

The texture of the egg white was like rubber though..

 I always finish my food but on this occasion decided it just wasn't worth putting myself through it.

The vegetarian breakfast, my wife wasn't impressed with the those rubbery eggs and undercooked items, her highlight was the beans.

It was at the Frank Turner gig at Norwich UEA late last year that somebody first told me about Cactus Cafe Bar and the fact they would be serving a cooked breakfast. My initial thought was how close it was to one of my favourite breakfast spots The Street Cafe. The breakfast at Cactus Cafe Bar cost less than £5 so after Christmas and feeling quite skint I decided to make it my first inspection of 2015..

Upon entering - Cactus Cafe Bar has been nicely decorated and is very spacious with plenty of tables to chose from. There is a menu on each table so choose what you want and place your order at the bar, the food is brought over when it is ready. Salt, pepper and sauces are offered once the food arrives. There is a selection of local artists work displayed on the walls and the environment feels nice and relaxing, certainly a nice enough place to spend time in. 8/10

Service - The service here seemed really good, once we had placed our order everything we needed arrived at the table in an acceptable amount of time. The chap behind the bar greeted us when we arrived and thanked us when we left. 8/10

Contents - 2 sausages, 2 bacon, 2 fried eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes, beans and ciabatta with real butter. 7/10

Presentation - The items on the plate had been quite nicely placed but I could tell straight away that the mushrooms and tomatoes were undercooked. The ciabatta was cut into tiny slices, this wasn't ideal though as I usually like to pop my egg on top but slices this small made it far too tricky so I ended up dipping them into the bean juice. The small shortbread served with the coffee was a nice little touch and the coffee did look excellent. 6/10

The food - I wasn't particularly keen on the sausages, they had a very squidgy texture and tasted quite bland. The bacon was nice enough though and was cooked fairly nicely with browned edges. The fried eggs were a complete mystery to me I have no idea what had happened to them to give the egg white such an awful rubbery texture. They looked pretty promising when they arrived and although the yolks were runny that rubbery egg white was not good at all and an unpleasant texture to bite through. The tomatoes had a great flavour but were undercooked and the mushrooms were so undercooked I didn't really enjoy them at all. The beans were served nice and hot in a separate pot and the ciabatta with butter was quite nice. I never usually leave any food on the plate but with this breakfast it reached a point where it seemed insane to continue eating it so I decided to down cutlery and call it a day. 3/10

Value for money - The breakfast cost £4.90 and a flat white coffee cost £1.90. I didn't enjoy the breakfast though so even at this price it felt like a waste of money really, great coffee though. 4/10

Veggie option - 2 veggie sausages, 2 fried eggs, mushrooms, beans, tomatoes and ciabatta with butter costs £4.90

Overall - I really thought I had discovered something special when I first arrived, a lovely environment, good service and very reasonable prices. Even when the food arrived I was filled with hope but this soon turned into disappointment as I tasted each item. Definitely the strangest fried eggs I have ever eaten, not sure how they got such a dry rubbery texture. I would imagine with nicely fried eggs and the tomatoes and mushrooms cooked for more time it could well have been a great value breakfast though. 6/10


  1. I work opposite to the Cactus Cafe Bar and order food frequent, I have never ever had no problems with the food, the breakfast that you were so eager to demolish is my highlight of the day and so many other customers have said this also, also why not try the bacon, avocado & mozzarella its an all time favourite with staff. So in my opinion Cactus Cafe Bar is a well presented, cosy, welcoming place to eat at reasonable prices and would recommend it to anyone!!!

    1. I did like the environment, presentation and service. The food just wasn't for me Barry, possibly the strangest egg white texture I have ever encountered. Have you tried the Street Cafe, more expensive but stunning breakfasts!

  2. Yeah top-notch grub

  3. I've found your website very useful, and appreciate your thorough and fair reviews. It's a shame the breakfast you had here wasn't up to scratch. I live locally to Cactus and The Street, and have eaten several breakfasts at both - as have friends of mine. Like the other commenter, I haven't had this issue of rubbery egg white either (or undercooked mushrooms and tomatoes - though perhaps I'm more tolerant of this), and personally I preferred the Cactus fry-up (AND coffee) for taste, cost and also flexibility, since Cactus are more accommodating about modifications. Several friends I've introduced to the place also really like it, and the breakfast. Maybe worth a revisit some time soon??

    1. Thanks for your feedback Isla, I will stop by Cactus and try it again. I may have just visited on a bad day.

    2. Thanks. Now I really hope you have a better experience next time!! :)

  4. Without doubt our favourite cafe in Norwich. The food had always been of a very high standard and ridiculously good value. The children's toys and atmosphere are perfect for families but also the cafe is classy and chilled out unlike many other 'family friendly' places. The breakfast is excellent and I would urge the reviewer to go back and reassess.

  5. Looking back at this review (yes I'm bored, its 1am and the X Files are on, but seen this one already!) I would imagine that the eggs have somehow reached too high an internal temperature, they don't look burnt so perhaps a lid was put over the pan and they were held too long. Over 65 degrees an egg will start to lose its moisture quite quickly and the whites will coagulate causing the rubbery texture.

    1. That sounds like it must have been the case, thanks for solving the mystery Vinnie!

  6. I also have experience of both Cactus and The Street Cafe and I have to say that I find both their fry ups, though a bit different to each other, are equally satisfying. I made a point of alternating between the two whenever I'm in the mood for a cooked breakfast. The staff are very friendly in both places.