Tuesday 29 September 2015

The Maddermarket Kitchen - Norwich

20 St John Maddermarket

Breakfast served from 9am till midday
Tuesday to Saturday

The Maddermarket Kitchen can be found inside this historic merchant house on St John Maddermarket.

It's directly opposite Saint's Coffee Bar and offers an outside seating area.

It was a nice sunny day but we decided to eat inside, the restaurant interior is traditional and the environment is nice and relaxing to enjoy breakfast in.

 This room offers a large table, perfect for bigger groups dining out together. 

Local artists work is displayed on the walls throughout and is available to buy, we loved this work by local artist Ruth Knapp.

We were delighted to discover a special promotion on breakfasts during our visit, buy two breakfasts and get the cheapest one free, bargain!

The tables are all nicely laid.

 The ketchup arrives before the food in a small pot, my wife is very partial to ketchup though so we requested a second pot.

The cappuccino here was ok

A pot of brown and white sugar lumps arrived with the coffee.

The impressive looking breakfasts arrived on warmed plates ensuring the food stayed nice and hot.

I chose the Maddermarket full English, everything looked really nicely cooked and it smelt delicious.

I thoroughly enjoyed the bacon.

 The sausages were quite nice but certainly not the highlight of the breakfast.

A pleasant tasting sausage with a firm meaty texture but just not particularly special compared to others I'd tried in the past.

The beans here were spot on though, this is exactly the thick consistency I love my beans served at, just a shame there were so few.

The highlight for me was the grilled portobello mushroom, it tasted so good with a lovely meaty texture. The tomato tasted superb too, if only more tomatoes tasted as good as this.

 A nice pair of fried eggs.

My wife ordered the vegetarian breakfast. She enjoyed it but said she could taste bacon on the tomato and felt it lacked something, a veggie sausage or bubble and squeak maybe.

With a summer of food adventures in Margate, Spain and Corfu taking up much of my time I hadn't reviewed a Norwich breakfast since June. Since then a number of places had been added to my "places to visit soon" list and top of that list was The Maddermarket Kitchen. I had been hearing good things about it so headed along there with my wife for breakfast...

Upon entering - The Maddermarket Kitchen is located inside a stunning merchant's house in the historic heart of Norwich. There are some tables outside if you prefer, we headed inside though and chose a table by the window with good light for getting those crucial photos. The restaurant has two main dining rooms, both beautifully decorated and displaying work by local artists which is all available to buy. The mis-matched chairs and nice solid tables blend in beautifully with the natural floorboards and large fireplace. Choose where you want to sit, the tables are already laid with cutlery, serviette and glasses. There's full table service here so a menu is brought over and once you've placed your order anything else you might need is brought to the table. The bill can be settled at the counter on the way out or at your table if you prefer. Certainly a beautiful and relaxing place to dine with background music at just the right volume giving it nice atmosphere but making it possible to talk easily. 9/10

Service -  We were greeted by a friendly chap who told us we could choose any table we wanted, once seated he brought some menus over. We placed our order and our drinks arrived first along with a pot of sugar lumps. Before the food arrived we were asked if we wanted any sauces, we requested ketchup which arrived in a small pot. My wife is very partial to ketchup though and feared we didn't have enough so she requested a second pot. The food arrived in a reasonable amount of time on warmed plates, always a nice touch. When the plates were collected we were asked if everything was ok, my wife mentioned that her tomatoes tasted of bacon and asked if they were cooked on the same griddle as the bacon. We were told that the tomatoes were oven cooked, my wife then mentioned the griddle marks. The chap went to find out more from the chef but even after paying we were still none the wiser. 7/10

Contents - 2 sausages, 3 slices of bacon, 2 fried eggs, 1 grilled portobello mushroom, half a tomato, beans and a slice of toast. 8/10

Presentation - All beautifully presented with the nicely reduced beans served in a separate pot. 9/10

The food - The sausages were fairly small with a pleasant enough taste and firm texture, I wouldn't necessarily say they were disappointing but I have eaten much better ones. The bacon was superb though, excellent flavour and beautifully cooked. I'm quite fussy about uncooked egg white and there was a thin layer on top of the yolks, not enough to ruin my day though and the yolks were nicely intact. The toast (or was it lightly fried bread) I can't be certain but I really enjoyed it and not having the chore of buttering it myself was an added bonus. The beans were beautifully reduced and the tomato was so full of flavour I was in tomato heaven. The highlight of this breakfast was the stunning portobello mushroom, perfectly cooked with a nice meaty texture and amazing flavour. 8/10

Value for money - The usual price for The Maddermarket Kitchen Full English is £9, we were lucky enough to take advantage of their "buy two breakfasts get the cheapest one free" offer during our visit. This offer isn't permanent though so I will base the score on the full price that it's usually sold for. A delicious and beautifully presented breakfast but for the price I would expect a better pair of sausages and perhaps some black pudding too. 7/10

Veggie option - Sautee potatoes, 2 fried eggs, 1 grilled portobello mushroom, half a tomato, beans and a slice of toast. The usual price is £8

Overall - A lovely relaxing restaurant housed inside a stunning building in the heart of Norwich. Good friendly service and delicious food make The Maddermarket Kitchen well worth a look. It's quite an expensive breakfast but look out for promotions on their Facebook page and you could bag a bargain too. I think some veggie sausages on the veggie breakfast would make a great addition though as other places in the city offer a much more interesting veggie breakfast at this price. That amazing mushroom and those nicely reduced beans are what I will remember this place most for though, both stunning! 8/10

Tuesday 22 September 2015

Joyland American Family Diner - Great Yarmouth

Marine Parade
Great Yarmouth

Breakfast served everyday till noon

Joyland American Diner is right beside Joyland childrens amusement park on the seafront, home of the legendary snails ride.

 It certainly looks like a classic American Diner from the outside and is also a popular meeting point for classic car gatherings.

This is the first thing you see as you enter, the perfect place to sit if you need to wait for a table at busy times. Thankfully it was almost empty when we arrived and we were shown straight to a table.

 The counter and kitchen runs along the length of the diner.

Nicely upholstered seats and spacious tables await.

Smaller tables at the far end, perfect for couples.

A good selection of quality sauces can be found on each table.

Breakfast here is available till noon, there's no vegetarian option but if you ask they will happily create something for you. 

I was looking forward to trying a luxury strawberry thick shake, the machine wasn't working though...

I chose a medium coke instead costing £2.

The "all the way breakfast" was much bigger than I was expecting.

Here it is from a different angle.

The well griddled bacon tasted pretty good.

The sausages looked really cheap but tasted quite nice, the tomatoes tasted of very little.

Beans in a nicely reduced sauce, not something I come across very often but always a welcome sight.

Nice crunchy hash browns.

Nice crunchy fried bread too, possibly the highlight of this breakfast.

The fried eggs tasted ok but didn't look too impressive.

One had a bright yellow, semi runny yolk.

The other yolk was pale and solid.

My wife requested a veggie breakfast, it contained a veggie burger instead of the meat and was served with extra tomatoes. They were also happy to swap the fried bread for toast.

Pancakes are another option if you prefer.

Plenty of sweets arrived with the bill.

For every £15 spent you receive a Joyland ride pass, we received two.

Straight after breakfast we headed into Joyland.

We used our free ride passes on the snails!

With Great Yarmouth being so close to Norwich I'm surprised it's taken me this long to finally inspect a breakfast there. We'd decided to visit Out There Festival and my mind soon turned to breakfast, I had three places in mind but at the last moment spotted Joyland Diner. Once parked up we headed along the golden mile and eventually the diner appeared in the distance...

Upon entering - The interior of this diner is quite impressive with beautifully upholstered seating and classic tables. Everywhere you look shouts out America, from the Cadillac seat by the entrance to the Route 66 and taxi sign displayed on the walls. We were greeted inside and shown to a table, once seated there's full table service, sauces and cutlery are already on the table. We commented on how nice it was that the music wasn't booming out here, moments later it seemed to get louder though making it nearly impossible to hold a conversation. We asked if they could turn it down and they did, peace was restored once more! Simply chose from the menu, place your order and settle your bill at the end. For every £15 spent you receive a complimentary ride pass for Joyland next door, I recommend a ride on the snails after breakfast, it's a children's ride but a classic that has to be experienced. 8/10

Service - Once welcomed and shown to our table somebody returned to take our drinks order, slight disappointment set in after being told the thick shake was broken. I pulled myself together and ordered a medium diet coke instead trying to focus on the fact they served fried bread here, I love fried bread! We all placed our food order and my wife asked if a vegetarian breakfast could be created, the waitress went off to ask and returned with good news. They seemed quite accommodating and willing to offer a veggie burger instead of the meat, extra tomatoes and swap the fried bread for toast. After the food had arrived the waitress asked if everything was ok, nothing was causing a serious issue to me so I said yes. Somebody else at the table unhappy with their eggs was so busy chewing at this point that their cry of "no" wasn't heard by the waitress. A generous selection of sweets and a complimentary Joyland ride pass arrived with the bill, we should have received two ride passes but as soon as we mentioned this they happily gave us another one. 7/10

Contents - 2 sausages, 2 bacon, 2 fried eggs, 2 hash browns, 1 slice of fried bread, mushrooms, beans and tomatoes. 7/10

Presentation - It certainly filled the large oval plate and the nice stodgy beans and golden fried bread looked impressive. Everything else looked ok but the eggs were not looking too impressive. 5/10

The food - The sausages looked suspiciously cheap but I was delighted to discover a good firm texture and reasonably good flavour. The bacon was well griddled and tasty, the mushrooms were deep fried and quite greasy. The highlight of this breakfast was the golden crisp fried bread and the beans in a thick stodgy sauce, both delicious! The low point was the fairly tasteless tomatoes, certainly cooked enough but with so little taste they seemed a bit pointless. The hash browns were deep fried and crispy, the eggs tasted ok with one containing a semi solid yolk and the other completely solid, better than undercooked and snotty I suppose. Quite a few moments of disappointment but the excellent fried bread and beans helped to make up for this. 6/10

Value for money - "All the way" cost £6.50 and although far from perfect it was really filling and seemed like a fair enough price to pay. 6/10

Veggie option - Not listed on the menu but they are happy to create a veggie breakfast.

Overall - I loved the nicely themed 1950's diner interior and the staff here seemed quite helpful and accommodating. If you like nice stodgy beans and crispy fried bread it's well worth heading here as both were excellent! The rest of the breakfast was at best average though with a few moments of slight disappointment. The complimentary ride passes were a nice touch so be sure to ride the snails straight after your breakfast if you do end up here. 6.5/10


Tuesday 15 September 2015

O'Neills - Northampton

45-47 The Drapery

Breakfast served everyday until noon
All day breakfast available


I always usually get an exterior shot of anywhere I visit for breakfast. On this occasion I completely forgot though, no big problem though as you probably won't be wanting to go here for breakfast.

Inside was fairly spacious and quite dark.

We missed the breakfast menu by 15 minutes but was told there was an all day breakfast, thankfully there was a vegetarian option too. On the menu it sounded quite nice, we weren't too fussed about having chips but they come with the all day breakfast anyway.

With fairly bad hangovers we ordered diet coke instead of a hot drink.

I searched on different tables looking for some ketchup, my wife was delighted to find some jalapeno sauce already on the table.

Why would anyone serve bread without butter was my first thought. I was told I'd been given an extra egg because they'd run out of veggie sausages on my wife's breakfast. Maybe they were really trying to make up for the fact they'd forgotten to give me any mushrooms and only given me half a tiny tomato.

I moved the dry unbuttered bread to the side of the plate but still remained unimpressed.

A trio of unsightly looking fried eggs with semi solid yolks.

The unbuttered bread lay across the meat.

 Dry, over salty bacon and fairly shriveled sausages.

The chips were supposed to be seasoned but tasted fairly standard to me. 

My wife was offered extra items as they'd run out of vegetarian sausages. We were thinking extra tomatoes and mushrooms would be given but that wasn't to be the case, they must have just run out of those too. Instead she was given an extra egg and some undercooked broccoli and carrots, what were they thinking!

My wife and I had been out the previous night till silly o'clock drinking and spent the night in the Central Travelodge. We left the Travelodge as close to checkout time as possible and headed to The Bear pub for breakfast, they were having problems with food supplies though so we needed a back up plan. We'd spotted an O'Neills nearby and having eaten fairly nice food in their London branches before decided to head there instead...

Upon entering - Inside it was fairly spacious with plenty of tables to choose from, we wanted to sit by the window as it was a much better light for taking photos. With most of the window seats taken we ended up sitting by the bar, not a very good light but nobody else was about so a much better option when you're suffering from a hangover. Menus were already on the table and the main menu contained an all day breakfast which was quite a relief as we'd missed the main breakfast menu by just 15 minutes. Order and pay at the bar and the food is brought over when it's ready along with some cutlery. Sauces are already on the table, that said though I ended up searching for quite some time for a bottle of ketchup. 5/10

Service - The chap serving us seemed fairly friendly, he made us aware of the all day breakfast and later returned to break the news to my wife that they'd run out of veggie sausages. He said extra items could be added to make up for the veggie sausages, a bit of a blow but we just wanted something to eat so my wife agreed expecting extra tomatoes and mushrooms to appear on the plate. Once the food had arrived nobody returned again to check if everything was ok, possibly a bit tricky to ask having just served broccoli and carrots on a breakfast! We were told an extra egg each was to make up for any inconvenience, sadly there was no mention of why there was no mushrooms, tomato (I was served a tiny half which I gave to my wife) or butter on the bread. 5/10

Contents - 2 sausages, 3 bacon, 3 fried eggs, chips, half a small tomato, beans and a slice of unbuttered bread. 4/10

Presentation - It all looked pretty shabby when it arrived, a number of things immediately stood out though. Why was the bread served unbuttered? The eggs were an eyesore, the meat looked dry, where were my mushrooms and was this the smallest tomato portion I'd ever been served? 3/10

The food - I left most of the bacon, very dry and much too salty. The sausages were ok but nothing special, I took one with me and later ate it on the journey home, it tasted better when it was cold. The eggs were alright but the yolks were semi solid, they tasted a bit better than they looked. I ate one of the eggs between the dry slices of unbuttered bread. The chips were supposed to be seasoned but were just standard and quite bland. Finally a small serving of beans and a tiny half of tasteless tomato made up this fairly disappointing breakfast. 4/10

Value for money - I resented paying £8 for this, a high price for something incomplete and disappointing. Even Wetherspoons could have done better than this for half the cost. 3/10

Vegetarian option - Yes but it may start to resemble a roast dinner! 
Overall - On so many occasions chains have been a disappointment and O'Neills didn't change my opinion. Had they just said to us that they didn't have enough items to make up an all day breakfast  we could have gone elsewhere. The unbuttered bread and undercooked veg added to the vegetarian breakfast can't be ignored and a point for each of those breakfast sins must be deducted from the overall score. 2/10