Monday 29 August 2016

Green Pastures - Bergh Apton, Norfolk

Mill Road
Bergh Apton
NR15 1BQ

Breakfast served daily
9.30am till 11.30am 
(10am till 11am on Sunday)


I'd heard so many good things about the breakfast here, I couldn't wait to try it for myself.

Walk through the garden centre and you'll come to Gardener's Kitchen. They won "Best Restaurant" at the 2015 EDP Norfolk Food & Drink Awards so my hopes were high for a decent breakfast here.

The restaurant is modern and bright with a nicely spaced out seating area, there's also a patio area outside.

 The Gardener's breakfasts all include tea or coffee making them good value for money.

I gazed at the cakes lovingly as we queued at the counter.

The cake selection is impressive, I was tempted by an Eccles cake but tried to stay focused on the breakfast situation at hand.

Once you've ordered and paid remember to collect cutlery and sauces from here. 

The hot drinks that are included with the breakfast are a choice of filter coffee or a pot of breakfast tea. 

The condiment rack was well stocked, I decided to take a closer look.

An excellent selection of Stokes sauces are available here.

The milk came in a tiny milk churn and the sugar was stored in a flower pot.

The food arrived beautifully presented and we didn't have to wait very long for it at all.

The toast is cut from a Pye Baker artisan loaf and is served with real butter.

The Head Gardener's Big Boots Bumper Breakfast cost £8.95, first impressions were good.

The Lane Farm air dried bacon was a quality rasher with a slightly sweet and lightly smoked flavour.

The Brundish sausages were from Lane Farm too, good quality pork content and a very firm texture.

The eggs were Norfolk free range, you could really taste the difference.

I enjoyed the eggs over the Pye Baker bread, a winning combination.

I'm not a huge tomato fan but these really won me over, packed full of flavour and so sweet.

I love chestnut mushrooms, they were perfectly cooked here.

A standard hash brown but nice and crispy.

Beans in a pot, I poured them over some toast.

My wife enjoyed her "Allotment Vegetarian Breakfast" at £5.95, she adores mushrooms and tomatoes and these didn't disappoint. She thought the breakfast felt a bit incomplete without a vegetarian sausage though. 

Ever since Green Pastures opened their new restaurant last year I'd heard so many good things about it, it had even won "Best Restaurant" at the 2015 EDP Norfolk Food & Drink Awards. I've been keen to visit for months now but usually found I'd got up too late and missed the breakfast slot. With it being a bank holiday weekend I suggested getting up early on Sunday to my wife and driving out to Bergh Apton, she thought it was a great idea. We headed out of Norwich on the A146 and soon arrived in Bergh Apton...

Upon entering - The Gardener's Kitchen can be accessed from the main garden centre building, it has a good sized dining area with additional seating outside on the patio. I usually find garden centre restaurants quite hectic and a bit too noisy, this wasn't the case here though. The tables are well positioned giving you plenty of space to manoeuvre and despite it being busy we found we could chat quite easily. The green and white colour scheme combined with wooden beams, tables and chairs works really well. There are also nice little touches like the milk served in mini milk churns and sugar sachets stored in flower pots. There's a breakfast menu behind the counter on a large blackboard, the Gardener's breakfasts also include a hot drink. Place your order at the counter and once you've paid you'll be given an order number on a disc. Collect your drinks whilst ordering and pick up some cutlery and condiments from the table beside the counter. Once seated display your order number on the table and the food is brought over when it's ready. Certainly a nice environment to enjoy a spot of breakfast with a well thought out ordering process and layout that didn't leave you wondering where anything was. 9/10

Service - There seemed to be plenty of staff here, all very busy and very on top of what they were doing. We placed our order and were given options for our eggs (scrambled, poached or fried), toast (brown or white) and hot drinks (breakfast tea or filter coffee). I was only halfway through my coffee when the food arrived, very impressive! We were asked if we needed anything else and left to enjoy our breakfast. With it being such a large restaurant serving so many customers it lacked that personal touch, the staff were lovely though and very efficient. 8/10

Contents - 2 sausages, 2 bacon, 2 fried eggs, 1 hash brown, mushrooms, tomatoes, beans, 2 slices of toast served with butter and a hot drink. 8/10

Presentation - The breakfast looked impressive when it arrived, the quality meats really stood out and the tomatoes are served on the vine. One of the sausages lay over one of the eggs but the yolk remained intact so no harm done! The toast for both breakfasts arrived together in a large dish, good idea as it kept it hotter for longer. 8/10

The food - If you demand quality meat on your breakfast then you'll love this place! The Lane Farm Brundish sausages used here have a quality pork content, a subtle hint of herbs and spices and a really firm texture, a stunning banger! The bacon is air dried from Lane Farm and has a deep colour and slightly sweet and smokey flavour, a thoroughly enjoyable rasher. The Norfolk free range eggs had a nice rich flavour and deep coloured yolk, I popped the yolks and let them seep into the buttered toast cut from a Pye Baker loaf. Pye baker are a favourite of mine who feature on my recommended list, it was good to see their products being used here. When it comes to tomatoes I very rarely get excited about them as more often than not they lack flavour, not the case here though. The small deep red vine ripened tomatoes were packed full of flavour, really sweet and the best I'd eaten in a long time. The hash brown was fairly standard as were the beans, both nicely cooked though. Finally the beautifully cooked whole chestnut mushrooms with a nice strong flavour finished off this impressive line up of items found on the Head Gardener's breakfast. 9/10

Value for money - The Head Gardener's breakfast was made up with quality items, some incredible flavours going on here! It cost £8.95 and included toast and a hot drink, worth every penny! 9/10

Veggie option - 2 free range eggs, chestnut mushrooms, hash browns, vine ripened tomatoes, beans, 2 slices of toast and a hot drink for £5.95.

Overall - I'm so glad I finally made the trip to Green Pastures, the breakfast being served in Gardener's Kitchen is quite something! The locally sourced quality ingredients make up a delicious breakfast which is great value for money considering it includes toast and a hot drink as well. The restaurant layout has been well thought out giving customers plenty of space and the service is incredibly efficient. I can see why this place is so popular, I hope to return again at somepoint to try the Sunday roast which I hear is really good too. 8.5/10

Sunday 21 August 2016

The Canteen - Norwich

(Now Closed)

Mile Cross Business Centre

Opening hours
Tuesday to Friday - 8am till 1pm
Satuday and Sunday - 8.30am till 1pm

The Canteen can be found in a corner of Mile cross Business Centre, it's located inside the old City Works Canteen. 

The cafe area offered a choice of tables but was also surrounded by quite a lot of unused furniture.

I sat by the window facing some office chairs. 

Most of the breakfast items are already cooked and hot held at the counter, the hash browns and eggs were cooked to order though.

This menu above the counter displays the reasonably priced breakfasts.

The coffee was included in the price of the breakfast, I was pleasantly surprised to see it was Nescafe Gold.

Condiments are already on each table making life easier.

If you're feeling the pinch before payday then this breakfast isn't going to break the bank, just £5.50 and that includes the toast and a hot drink!

Properly toasted bread, always a nice sight!

Although much of the food was hot held at the counter everything was hot enough when I ate it.

The bacon was thick cut and rather delicious.

The eggs were freshly cooked and served with intact runny yolks.

The sausages were acceptable considering the price and the hash browns are the same ones used at House Cafe with a slight hint of onion.

You have the option of tinned or fresh tomatoes here, I'll always choose tinned given the option.

I woke up this morning realising I hadn't reviewed anywhere in Norwich for over 2 months, this thought made me jump out of bed and do something about it. By the time I'd researched where to go for breakfast online most places had already stopped serving but The Canteen in Mile cross were still open though. The Canteen had contacted me months ago now asking for me to visit so I decided to visit today. My wife was in London so it was going to be a solo inspection, I jumped in her car and made my way to Mile cross. I turned into the Business centre and was quite surprised at how derelict and unloved the area looked. I briefly considered turning round and aborting my mission but spotted The Canteen in the corner, the door was open so I parked up and headed inside...

Upon entering - The outside of The Canteen had been painted red and white giving it a fresh look, inside the green and red interior gave a hint to it's previous ownership by the Council's City Care Department. The main dining area had a selection of tables to choose from, each with condiments on. The counter and kitchen were located at the side of the dining room, above the counter was the menu. I was the only customer so it was difficult to gauge any atmosphere, it did at least make it much easier to take photos though. I was surprised at how many office cupboards and chairs were stored in the dining area, there was even an empty vending machine with a chair stored on top of it. The stored furniture around the edge of The Canteen seemed like a great shame to me as it all looked really out of place and would benefit so much from being stored elsewhere. I felt more work was needed inside to give The Canteen its own identity. 3/10

Service - The best thing about the canteen has to be the lady that served me (I think her name was Amanda). I was made to feel so welcome and she chatted away about what was going on in Norwich this weekend and my wife's car. Sometimes people ask you things in shops and restaurants and you get the sense they really couldn't care a less, this certainly isn't the case here though! I ordered the large breakfast and was given the option of tea/coffee and fresh/tinned tomatoes. First the coffee arrived, with it I was offered a newspaper, I very rarely read newspapers but on this occasion I accepted as it can be a good place to hide behind when getting crucial photos. Next the food arrived with a side plate containing the toast. Amanda told me to call her if I needed anything else, I didn't as everything I needed was already on the table. I chatted briefly on the way out and left thinking what an incredible host she'd been, genuine and so welcoming! 10/10

Contents - 2 sausages, 2 bacon, 2 eggs, 1 hash brown, mushrooms, tomato, beans, 2 slices of toast and a tea or coffee. 8/10

Presentation - The breakfast was presented nice enough on the plate, egg yolks were intact and the toast was a good colour so I was happy enough. 7/10

The food - I'll start with the bacon as it was my favourite part of the breakfast, really thick cut and incredibly tasty. The sausages were ok but I've had so much better in the past so I'm quite fussy about them now, lets just say they were better than economy sausages and were quite acceptable on a breakfast at this price. The hash brown was really familiar, the same type used at House Cafe in Norwich, really big with a hint of onion. The eggs were freshly cooked and had intact runny yolks, I enjoyed them over the nicely browned toast. The mushrooms were nice enough, the beans were a bit watery and the tinned tomato was a nice surprise. Considering a number of items are hot held at the counter I was pleasantly surprised at how hot everything was when it arrived. This had been a concern of mine when I first read about The Canteen but it clearly wasn't an issue. 7/10

Value for money - The large breakfast which includes toast and a hot drink cost just £5.50, well worth the money and the welcome you receive is priceless! 8/10

Veggie option - No.

Overall - I struggled to get my head around the dining area surrounded by so much unused furniture, it felt like a storage space with a cafe desperately trying to break through. This could easily be sorted out in a few hours though and I really hope it is as this place definitely has some potential and is a much needed cafe in the Mile Cross area. What really shines through though is the service, I drove home from here thinking how more businesses need people like Amanda. She was such a genuine, lovely and welcoming person who clearly had a lot of time for her customers. The food here is very good considering the price so definitely worth a look if you are passing through Mile Cross. 7/10