Monday 25 April 2016

The Maltsters - Ranworth

The Hill
NR13 6AB

Breakfast served daily from 8.30am till 10.30am

Parking available opposite

The Maltsters can be found in the picturesque village of Ranworth.

Just across the road from The Maltsters is Malthouse Broad, a short walk away from here is a boardwalk which leads to the Broads Wildlife centre.

Ranworth has an impressive village hall and the church in the background is definitely worth visiting, you can climb to the top of the tower where you're rewarded with stunning views.

The breakfast at The Maltsters was the reason for our visit.

The interior is modern and spacious, we considered sitting here by the window but the bright sunlight was a bit too blinding.

We decided instead to sit in this area at the back of the pub.

The offer has most likely expired now but we were lucky enough to use this Groupon offer and got two breakfasts for just £8!

Tea cost £1.80 for a cup, in breakfast situations I do prefer a pot though.

Quality sauces arrive in a basket with the cutlery, a selection of preserves and butter are served on a side plate.

It's a big breakfast and everything was piping hot.

They'd run out of mushrooms which was a great shame, an extra hash brown was added to make up for this.

Quality meat is served on this breakfast, black pudding is welcome on my plate anytime.

Great sausages!

Not the tidiest looking eggs but the yolks were intact.

The yolk flowed beautifully when I cut through them.

A big tomato with very little flavour.

A trio of very crispy hash browns, nice and fluffy inside though.

No bread dilemmas here, you get brown and white toast.

My wife's vegetarian breakfast, an extra sausage replaced the missing mushrooms.

My wife forgot to ask for no eggs on her vegetarian breakfast so I helped her out and ended up with four!

My wife spotted a Groupon deal online, 2 breakfasts for £8 at The Maltsters in Ranworth. It was less than 10 miles from Norwich so we decided to drive out there and combine it with a walk around Ranworth. There's a good sized car park directly opposite the pub, once parked up we headed inside...

Upon entering - Outside there was an impressive seating area, it looked very tempting but with it being April we decided to sit inside. It's a really big pub with plenty of tables and a good sized bar. Place your order at the bar and everything is brought over to your table, I was delighted that here the cutlery, sauces etc are all brought over before the food meaning you can eat as soon as the food arrives. I didn't see a breakfast menu anywhere but we didn't really need one as we already knew what were going to be having anyway. The pub has a nice relaxed atmosphere and the modern and clean interior make it a very pleasent place to dine in. 8/10

Service - We were greeted with a smile and made to feel welcome, the lady behind the bar was the bearer of some bad news though, they had run out of mushrooms. The mushroom crisis was quite a bitter blow (my wife loves them!) but we were offered extras to make up for this. With our order placed we took a seat and before long our drinks arrived with the cutlery, condiments and a selection of things to spread over toast, the breakfasts arrived not too long after this. We settled the bill at the bar on our way out and went for a walk around Ranworth, we were told it was ok to stay parked up in the car park whilst we did this. 8/10

Contents - 2 sausages, 2 bacon, black pudding, 2 eggs, 3 hash browns (an extra 1 replaced the mushrooms), beans, tomato, 2 slices of toast served with butter and preserves. 7/10

Presentation - The breakfast was served on a nice big plate with the toast laying across one side. The eggs looked a little untidy but had intact runny yolks, it seemed strange to have them served directly on top of the beans though. I eat eggs and beans together but there are plenty of people out there who can't bear to see them making contact, this could have been an issue for them. The butter was served with a selection of neatly stacked preserves on a side plate. 6/10

The food - I really enjoyed the sausages served here, a decent pork sausage with firm texture and delectable flavour. The bacon was really good too, delicious covered in ketchup between some buttered toast. The black pudding was a decent slice and a nice surprise, I didn't spotted it straight away, it was hiding under the hash browns. The fried eggs although not perfect to look at did have runny yolks and were thoroughly enjoyable over some buttered toast. The hash browns were deep fried with very crispy edges, I feared they may be quite dry but the centres were nice and fluffy though. The tomato had very little flavour and the beans were fairly standard. 7/10

Value for money - An absolute steal at £4 with the Groupon deal! I'm sure anyone reading this now though will end up paying the full price of £8.50 so that's what I will base the score on in this section. The breakfast has a good selection of items and quality meats are used, it certainly filled me up so even at full price I would have been happy enough to pay £8.50. 7/10

Veggie option - 2 vegetarian sausages, 2 eggs, 2 hash browns, mushrooms, beans, tomato, 2 slices of toast served with butter and preserves. £8.25.

Overall -  A great pub on the Norfolk Broads, perfect if you're moored up at Ranworth and want to treat the family to a nice cooked breakfast. If you manage to find a Groupon deal (The Maltsters are regularly featured on Groupon) then you can grab a bargain, even at full price though its a breakfast that's still worthy of your attention. Why not do as I did and make a morning of it in Ranworth, there's plenty to look at and the climb to the top of Ranworth Church is well worth it for the stunning view across Norfolk. 7/10


Wednesday 20 April 2016

UEA Sportspark Cafe - Norwich

University of East Anglia

Breakfast served all day, every day from 8am

The Sportspark is easy to spot within the UEA complex, just look for this sign.

I was here to watch some roller derby, first of all though time for some breakfast.

It was really busy when I arrived and all the tables were taken, I joined the queue and hoped for the best. 

A climbing wall is located beside the cafe, because of this it can get quite noisy.

The website says breakfast is served between 8am and 11am, the menu tells a different story though.

I went searching for sauces and cutlery.

I returned to my table feeling slightly depressed.

I sat with my number 8 waiting for my food to arrive.

I think number 45 was somehow linked to my tea. I don't recall having 6 sugars in it, my head was spinning from the noise and confusion though so I'm not ruling out the possibility. 

The breakfast arrived on a long plate that was placed vertically in front of me, I wasn't appreciating the presentation at all.

On the plus side some real cutlery had arrived wrapped in a serviette, the serviette came in very useful later when I opened the butter packets.

I rotated the plate around horizontally and attempted to restore some sanity to the table.

The eggs were looking good, I popped them onto some toast.

These great eggs were most definitely the highlightof the breakfast.

There was a lot going on in the centre of the plate, butter packets lay across the toast.

The butter had started to turn to liquid, this is where that serviette came in handy.

A nice firm locally sourced sausage.

A few weeks ago somebody on twitter showed me a photo of their breakfast they'd eaten at UEA Sportspark Cafe in Norwich. It looked impressive and made me keen to try it for myself next time I was at the UEA. This moment came sooner than I was expecting, there was a roller derby event at the Sportspark I was attending with my wife, the perfect opportunity to try this breakfast. This is the photo of the breakfast I was shown on Twitter, it looks really impressive, nicely presented and much better than the breakfast I was served on my visit.

Upon entering - The Sportspark cafe is located beside of the climbing wall area so it can get very noisy. There's a large menu either end of the counter, place your order at the counter and pay. You'll be handed a drinks number and a food order number. Be aware that you could well start queueing up only to find that by the time you've paid all the tables are taken, bringing a friend along will make life easier here. The tables have nothing on them but there is an area where you can find plastic cutlery, vinegar, salt, pepper, milk and sugar. I searched high and low for sauces but gave up in the end, thankfully the plastic cutlery wasn't needed though as proper cutlery arrived with the food. So in a nutshell I struggled to find things, risked losing my table every time I went to look for anything and found the entire experience quite frustrating and stressful. I later discovered that sauces are available behind the counter if you ask the staff for them, just making them readily available seems like a much better plan to me! 3/10

Service - The cafe was at full capacity when I arrived and the staff were certainly doing their best to get everyone served, orders were coming out of the kitchen at a steady rate. I placed my order and was given a pair of numbers relating to my food and drink order, by the time I'd sat down I'd forgotten which one they were linked too so listened out for either to be called. My hot drink was ready first, I went over to the counter to collect it and went in search of some milk and sugar. Before long I spotted my breakfast being brought over on a very long plate, it was placed in front of me and the chap dashed off with an order for another table before I had time to ask about sauces. 5/10

Contents - 2 sausages, 2 bacon, 2 eggs, mushrooms, beans, tomatoes and 2 slices of toast & butter. 7/10

Presentation - I didn't like the plate at all, it looked ideal to serve a plate of sandwiches on at a buffet but for a breakfast it was way too long and slim. The choice of plate resulted in a the items being placed very awkwardly and it was quite difficult to eat off. The eggs looked great but the butter packets placed on top of the toast resulted in a rapid and messy butter meltdown. 3/10

The food - The pair of sausages were locally sourced and grilled, they tasted great and had a good texture. The unsmoked bacon was nicely cooked, I popped it between some toast wishing I had some ketchup to coat it with. The mushrooms and tomatoes were fairly average and the beans had reduced quite nicely which is always a bonus. The highlight for me was without a doubt the stunning pair of fried eggs, cooked exactly as I like them with no uncooked egg white to be seen anywhere but nice runny yolks. I enjoyed them on top of the toast with the well melted butter. 7/10

Value for money - £6.25 seemed like a reasonable price for this breakfast, it includes locally sourced sausages and the eggs were really impressive. 7/10

Veggie option - No veggie full English but other options are available on the menu.

Overall - Compared to the smooth flowing systems found at other cafe's I found here it was confusing and frustrating. I struggled to find things and it was far too noisy to enjoy my food in peace. The breakfast here was nice but the presentation on that oblong plate was quite strange, certainly the oddest looking breakfast I've been served in a long time. Perhaps at a less busy time I may have enjoyed the Sportspark Cafe, but even without the crowds a sensible plate and easily accesible sauces are a must for any breakfast experience. 5.5/10


Thursday 7 April 2016

River Green Cafe - Norwich Ⓥ

The St
Trowse Newton
NR14 8AH

Brunch available
Tuesday to Friday - 11am till 2.30pm
Saturday - 11am till 5pm
Sunday - 11am till 3pm

River Green Cafe is about twenty minutes walk from Norwich city centre in the village of Trowse. 

This is the bar area, River Green serve a good range of organic wine, local beers and cider.

The open plan kitchen looks out onto the spacious dining area.

There are lots of tables to choose from, these ones look out onto Trowse Common. There's also a nice outside seating area, perfect in the warmer weather.

All the tables are neatly laid out.

This was the reason for this visit, I'd been meaning to come and try this for sometime now.

After walking here we were quite thirsty so we decided to order some juice.

The sugar free pear and raspberry juice served with ice was really refreshing.

The fair trade coffee is specially blended for River Green, this was an excellent cappuccino. The mint chocolate that comes with it was a great touch, if only more places did this!

Salt and pepper are already on the table, sauces are available too.

The brunch looked great when it arrived!

I ordered fried eggs, you can have them anyway you want them though.

My wife swapped her eggs for potatoes and extra tomato on her brunch.

The free range eggs tasted really good with nice runny yolks.

I loved the juicy texture and great flavour of the Linda McCartney red onion and rosemary sausages. 

Nicely seasoned tomatoes and delicious bubble and squeak.

I spotted some mushrooms underneath the toast.

Without a doubt the tastiest mushrooms I can ever recall eating!

Back in February I went along with my wife to the River Green Cafe taster evening, we were both really impressed, you can read about it here. I remember spotting brunch on the menu back then and knew it was only a matter of time until I returned to try it. My wife offered to take me out for breakfast somewhere and suggested returning to River Green once again so I would finally get to try their brunch. The sun was shining so we decided to walk there, it was a good 40 minutes walk from home so we had a good appetite when we finally arrived...

Upon entering - You walk into the bar area and just beyond this is the open plan kitchen that looks out over the dining area. The dining area is really big and spacious with lots of nice solid tables in different sizes, each one laid out with cutlery, serviettes, menus, salt and pepper. It's beautifully decorated and has a really fresh, modern look with light colours and natural wood throughout. The large windows allow plenty of natural light to flood in, it's certainly a really relaxing and comfortable place to spend some time. The view of the common and Trowse village out of the window is easy on the eye and there's also a really nice outside area to enjoy in the warmer months. There's full table service here so once you are seated sit back and relax as you'll be well looked after. 9/10

Service - We were greeted as we entered and shown to our table, all the staff here were really friendly. I was delighted to see Chris Avey (he previously owned The Old Bakery Cafe in Norwich) who is now joint owner and head chef at River Green. We placed our order and were given the brunch options, I chose fried eggs and my wife chose the brunch with no eggs, instead she got potatoes and extra tomato. First the amazing pear and raspberry juice arrived, much needed after that long walk! Next the brunch's arrived, everything we needed was already on the table except ketchup which we were offered and was served in a small bowl. We were asked if everything was ok during the meal and our plates were cleared from the table at the end giving us more space for our coffees. 9/10

Contents - 2 vegetarian sausages, 2 eggs, bubble and squeak, tomato, mushrooms, beans and toast. 8/10

Presentation - The brunch looked great when it arrived, a sausage barrier was stopping the beans from touching the eggs and everything looked nicely cooked. The tomatoes were lightly seasoned and bubble and squeak is always a welcome sight. 8/10

The food - I really enjoyed the Linda McCartney red onion and rosemary sausages, they tasted great and had a really firm but moist texture. I've tried many vegetarian sausages before but these were certainly my favourite so far, the red onion and rosemary combination works beautifully. The bubble and squeak tasted amazing, seasoned with nutmeg and browned both sides with a nice coarse texture. The pair of free range fried eggs had excellent flavour and deep yellow yolks, I ate them on top of the buttered toast with some beans letting the yolk seep into the bread, delicious! Although quite pale the tomatoes were flavoursome and nicely seasoned. The highlight of this breakfast for me though were the mushrooms, thick cut, lightly browned and so incredibly tasty. A really nice combination of items made up this brunch, some great flavours and the best mushrooms I've ever tasted. 9/10

Value for money - This delicious brunch costs £8.90 and was certainly worth the money, especially considering the excellent service and lovely environment you get to enjoy it in. 8/10

Vegan and Gluten free options - Yes

Overall - The stunning environment and excellent service at River Green Cafe make it a place thats a pleasure to spend time in. The food here is amazing and the range of locally supplied drinks is impressive. If you're looking for somewhere to go for a vegetarian or vegan brunch then head out to Trowse and treat yourself, my wife and I loved it! 8.5/10

*Update - October 2016*

There was a vegan brunch on the specials board this week featuring vegan sausage and black pudding, homemade beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, scrambled tofu and toast. An incredibly delicious combination of items and something that will feature as a special now and again I was told.