Wednesday 19 October 2016

The Galway Roast - Norwich

(Now closed)

33 London Street

Breakfast served all day

 The Galway Roast opened on London Street in Norwich back in May 2016, they have three stores in Ireland but this is their first one to open in the UK.

They have good facilities to make coffee and the cakes looked really nice. The tiny kitchen area isn't equipped for producing a decent breakfast though as I was about to find out.

There are couple of tables close to the window and some slightly wobbly tables outside.

At the back there are more tables but there's no natural light in this area.

Initially I thought the price of the full breakfast seemed fairly reasonable considering it came with toast and a hot drink. My wife thought the veggie breakfast seemed overpriced compared though and she had a good point.

The coffee here was nice enough.

The toast was pretty good too, I'd ordered white but brown arrived. So far everything seemed to be going fairly well.

Then this arrived...

Here it is from another angle... and it was served with a smile!

The sausages may look perfectly acceptable but they were really chewy and didn't taste too good. The object north of the sausages was my biggest concern though!

On the menu it was simply listed as "egg" but how on earth had it been cooked? My wife enquired and was told it was microwaved as they had limited kitchen facilities. She was offered scrambled eggs instead which she accepted, I decided to persevere with the egg I'd been given as I was reviewing the breakfast they usually serve.

My wife's scrambled eggs arrived pale and tasteless with a dry texture.

I decided to try both types of eggs, an experience I'll never forget!

The microwaved bacon was chewy and the black pudding tasted awful, the only sane item on the plate was the beans.

This is the vegetarian breakfast, not a pretty sight!

I hadn't planned on eating a breakfast out on this particular weekend, we were in the centre of Norwich though and my wife and I were feeling quite peckish. Whilst walking along London Street my wife suggested going home for beans on toast, the look on my face made it clear I wasn't too excited about this prospect though. Then my wife pointed to The Galway Roast breakfast sign, there were empty tables outside so we decided to stop there for some breakfast...

Upon entering - The tables outside on London Street looked like a nice place to sit, both tables that were empty wobbled though (very annoying when you're trying to eat) so we headed inside. We found a table close to the window, there were plenty more further back but there was no natural light in that area. The decor was modern and clean, on the back wall was lots of information on the type of coffee beans used here. There's full table service, the tables already have sugar and menus on them. Sauces are available on request and arrive in a ramekins with a tiny amount at the bottom. The counter has a nice looking selection of cakes and is also home to the tiny kitchen area that sadly isn't equipped to cook a decent breakfast. 6/10

Service - The staff here are very friendly, we were greeted with a smile and made to feel really welcome throughout our visit. The chap serving us wasted no time in coming over to take our order, he asked if we would like brown or white toast and tea or coffee with our breakfasts. First our drinks arrived, with these came some cutlery wrapped in serviettes. Next the toast arrived, I'd ordered white toast but brown arrived, I wasn't overly concerned though as I'll happily eat either. Whilst buttering our toast my wife's vegetarian breakfast was placed before her, I'll never forget the look on her face as she looked down at what she'd been served! Spread out over the plate were shrivelled up mushrooms, luke warm tomatoes, a pot of beans and a very sorry looking egg. My wife was quick to enquire about the egg asking if it had been microwaved, she was told it had been as the kitchen isn't equipped to serve them any other way. She was offered scrambled eggs instead which she accepted. Next to arrive was my breakfast, I was suddenly regretting not going home for beans on toast as my wife had earlier suggested doing. We were offered sauces but when they arrived there was very little in the bottom of the ramekins they were served in. The scrambled eggs arrived next on a side plate looking pale and bland, my wife didn't like it so I popped some on my plate for review purposes. We paid on the way out but wasn't asked how everything was, they must have already seen the answer on our faces. Despite all this though the staff were really friendly so I'll score this section to reflect that. 7/10

Contents - 2 sausages, 2 bacon, black pudding, 1 egg, mushrooms, beans, 1 slice of toast served with butter and a tea or coffee. 6/10

Presentation - Where do I start with this one!? My heart sunk when my breakfast arrived but I was here to review it so there was no turning back now. The egg looked desperately sad, neither fried nor poached, simply microwaved for far too long with an unshapely white and dried out pale yolk. The mushrooms were looking terrible too, really dry and shrivelled up. I was still feeling hopeful about the meats on the plate although the black pudding looked desperately dry. The beans looked ok and the toast looked fine. 3/10

The food - I was dreading eating that egg but I had a job to do so cut through it hoping it may at least taste ok, there seemed to be no flavour at all though. I guess the microwave had blasted away any trace of flavour that ever existed inside this poor egg. I tried some of my wife's scrambled, again no flavour and quite a dry texture. The beans were really needed on this breakfast to provide some much needed moisture, they were fairly nice. The sausages (which im guessing were microwaved too) had a sticky texture and fairly grim flavour. The bacon didn't taste of much and was quite dry and chewy despite its shiny exterior. The black pudding had a strange flavour, possibly caused by over microwaving. The mushrooms were incredibly dry and the tomatoes tasted quite nice but were served barely warm. I like to end on a positive note though and can confirm that the toast was quite enjoyable served with real butter. On the whole though it was clear that there were not the correct facilities in the kitchen to cook this type of breakfast, as a result of this a pretty dire breakfast was being served. 3/10

Value for money - I'm still gutted that I spent £7.50 on this. 1/10

Veggie option - Tomatoes, mushrooms, beans, egg, toast and a tea or coffee for £6.95.

Overall - It's a nice enough looking place and the staff are really friendly which is always a bonus. Sadly they're not geared up to cook a decent breakfast though so unless you want a microwaved breakfast I'd consider just stopping here for a coffee and cake, the cakes did look really nice. Something else that dawned on me as I was eating breakfast here was just how many independent places there are serving stunning breakfasts in Norwich. We're all spoilt for choice for excellent breakfasts in Norwich so something that's been microwaved just doesn't cut the mustard. 4/10

Friday 7 October 2016

Roots - Norwich

6 Pottergate

Breakfast served until 11.30am

I've eaten eggs benedict at Roots before and it was superb, now it was time to return to try the Roots Full English Breakfast.

I sat by the window in the back room, the perfect spot for taking photos. I was the first customer of the day but the tables soon filled up, clearly a popular place.

The large blackboard on the wall lists the local suppliers.

It seemed like an easy task taking photos without being spotted when I first arrived, perhaps the person in the mirror was onto me though!

Drinks menu, sugar, salt and pepper are already on each table.

The reasonably priced breakfast menu features the Roots Full English breakfast but there's no vegetarian version, this is the reason my wife wasn't joining me for breakfast here. 

A good selection of coffee is available at reasonable prices.

I decided to have tea today though, £1.65 for a small pot.

The plate was filled with food but much of the space was taken up by the toast.

Sadly the Heinz bottle wasn't filled with ketchup.

My first thought was how dry everything looked, a portion of beans is definitely needed on this breakfast.

A single sausage was peering out from behind the mushroom.

The meats tasted great but the bacon could have been cooked for a bit longer.

I loved the black pudding, very crumbly but superb flavour.

I've seen better looking fried eggs, they did taste really nice though.

A shame the yolks were semi solid.

Nice big portobello mushrooms and tomatoes that needed more cooking time.

The toast was cut from a quality loaf and served with real butter.

Can't decide between granary or white toast? They serve a slice of each here so dilemma averted!

I've been to Roots for breakfast in the past and thoroughly enjoyed their eggs benedict, I've also on many occasions caught a glimpse of their impressive sausage rolls in their window that I've yet to try. The purpose of this visit though was to try the Roots full English breakfast which has been on their menu for sometime now. My wife didn't fancy joining me on this visit as there's no vegetarian full English available on the menu so I headed inside on my own...

Upon entering - Roots has a fairly small dining area on the ground floor and more seating upstairs. There's also the option of a small courtyard if you prefer sitting outside, I've enjoyed sitting out there in the sunshine myself on a previous visit. There's full table service here so once seated the staff will take care of you. Salt, pepper and sugar are already on the table, cutlery and sauces are brought over after you've ordered. The breakfast menu is served until 11.30am, it features the Roots full English breakfast but there's no vegetarian equivalent, there is however a selection of egg dishes, pancakes and toast. Roots is a pleasant and relaxing environment, there are magazines to read and a large blackboard listing all their local supplies to keep you occupied whilst you wait for your food to arrive. 7/10

Service - I was the first customer through the door making it the perfect opportunity to get some interior photos without arousing suspicion. I took a seat and a breakfast menu was brought over to me, soon after that somebody came along to take my order. I don't recall there being any decision to make regarding breakfast item choices, I later noticed they serve a slice each of granary and white toast here. I waited a good 35 minutes for the food to arrive but I wasn't in a hurry and I did have a pot of tea to keep my company whilst I waited. I requested ketchup and was given an almost empty bottle, nobody returned whilst I was eating to ask if everything was ok but I was served with a smile when I settled the bill at the end. The staff here seemed slightly shy but friendly enough. 6/10

Contents - 1 sausage, 2 bacon, black pudding, 2 eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes and 2 slices of toast served with butter. 7/10

Presentation - My first thought was that the breakfast was bigger than I was expecting, I then realised that toast and butter was occupying much of the plate. Visually there were a few things that could have been done much better. The eggs looked a tad messy, the bacon and tomatoes needed more intense heat and the black pudding was really crumbly. On the plus side the toast was a nice colour and the mushrooms looked delicious. 5/10

The Food - Despite a few visual concerns this breakfast did taste really nice and some quality ingredients had clearly been used. The meats (from Cleveleys Butchers according to the blackboard) consisted of a nice firm pork sausage, thick rashers of bacon and a coarse textured black pudding. I would have personally preferred the bacon more browned and a more crispy edge on the black pudding, all the meats tasted really good though. The eggs also had great flavour and a nice deep yellow yolk, however they were semi solid which was a shame as I really needed something moist on this breakfast to make up for the lack of beans. The toast was cut from a pair of quality loaves, a slice each of granary and white that had been toasted for the perfect amount of time. I spread the toast with butter and once more missed there being no beans, I would usually pour them over the toast. Instead I cut up the warm but not really cooked tomatoes and ate them with the toast, the tomatoes were fairly flavoursome. Finally the mushrooms, a pair of delicious portobellos with a rich earthy flavour. 7/10

Value for money - The Roots full English breakfast includes toast and costs £7.95, even with a pot of tea at £1.65 I still had change from £10. 7/10

Veggie option - No veggie full English available but there is eggs Florentine on the menu.

Overall - As full English breakfasts go I did enjoy the flavours on this one and the items were all locally sourced which is always nice to see. Without beans it was far too dry for me though and the presentation could have been a bit better. Still a nice enough breakfast though and a great place to enjoy a spot of breakfast in the city centre. What really interests me about this place is their homemade sausage rolls, I definitely plan to return to try one soon, they look amazing. 6.5/10

Tuesday 4 October 2016

Cafe Britannia at Guildhall - Norwich

Norwich Guildhall
Guildhall Hill

Breakfast served
8am till 11.30am daily

Cafe Britannia can be found inside Norwich's stunning Guildhall, a listed medieval building which was built in the 1400's.

The beautiful setting of the Guildhall makes for a pretty impressive dining area.

The counter displays a selection of delicious looking homemade cakes, behind the counter is the kitchen.

If you head up the stairs you'll find even more tables overlooking the main area.

I was surprised to find a limited breakfast menu here, the Kings breakfast  was nowhere to be seen. You have to visit Cafe Britannia on Britannia Road for their bigger range of breakfasts. 

The tables are already laid out with most the things you'll need, sauces are offered once the food arrives.

A small Americano cost £1.75 

Nicely browned toast and plenty of real butter comes with the breakfast.

The Queens breakfast was slightly disappointing and didn't fill me up for very long.

The best ketchup sachet I've come across yet, a generous 40g portion by Stokes.

I've been to Cafe Britannia on Britannia Road a few times for breakfast in the past, the breakfast has always been very good and the cafe is a clearly a popular choice as it's always really busy. When Cafe Britannia opened another cafe at Norwich's Guildhall in the City Centre earlier in the year it was only a matter of time before I went along to try their breakfast. I finally made it along there on a Saturday morning, my wife was busy working so I was on a rare solo breakfast inspection...

Upon entering - I love the Guildhall, a stunning building that catches my eye every time I pass it. In 29 years of living in Norwich though, this was the first time I'd ever been inside. The cafe is inside the former court room at the Guildhall and if you look around you'll see evidence of its former life. The ground floor dining area has plenty of nicely spaced out tables and even more tables can be found if you head upstairs. The decor compliments the Guildhall surroundings really well and the large windows ensure plenty of natural light floods in. Once you've taken a seat a menu is brought over and somebody will later return to take your order, everything you need is already on the table except for sauces which are offered when the food arrives. I was really impressed with the generous 40g Stokes ketchup sachets that are used here, a quality sauce! After you've eaten you can settle the bill at the counter or possibly wait and somebody will bring the bill over to you. I loved dining inside the Guildhall, there's never a dull moment with such a stunning building surrounding you and Cafe Britannia have made really good use of the space. 9/10

Service - All the staff here seemed really friendly and helpful. I was greeted when I entered, shown to a table and given the breakfast menu. I was a bit disappointed not to see the Kings breakfast (served at Britannia Road) on the menu, I briefly considered ordering the Queen's breakfast twice but didn't wasn't to appear greedy so thought better of it. Whilst ordering the Queen's breakfast I was given the option of fried or scrambled eggs and brown or white toast. The food took slightly longer than I was expecting to arrive considering there were only a few other customers, it may well have just felt longer though as I was on my own today. Whilst waiting for the food to arrive it gave me plenty of time to enjoy my coffee, admire the building and take some photos. I was offered sauces and asked if everything was ok during the meal. Certainly a friendly front of house team working here who looked after their customers. 9/10

Contents - 1 sausage, 1 bacon, 1 egg, 1 hash brown, mushrooms, beans, tomatoes and a thick slice of toast served with real butter. 6/10

Presentation - Everything was neatly laid out on the plate, the beans were served in a bowl and the toast came on a side plate with butter sachets. Despite the tidy appearance the breakfast had very little visual impact and didn't really excite me very much at all. The fried egg looked rather nice but everything else looked a bit lifeless. 5/10 

The food - The locally sourced sausage and slice of bacon seemed slightly overcooked and quite tough, I didn't particularly enjoy either. The fried egg was really nice though, in good shape and complete with an intact runny yolk. The portion of beans was really generous, I poured them over the thick slices of nicely browned buttered toast and they flowed over the base of the plate almost completely covering it. The tomato had good flavour but more cooking would have improved it and the same can be said of the hash brown, it was hot enough but not crispy. The mushrooms were cut into small pieces, they were reasonably nice and there were plenty of them. 5/10

Value for money - The Queens breakfast included toast and cost £5.95, with a coffee costing £1.75 my total spend was £7.70. Cheaper than the average breakfast but smaller too so you will most likely be needing lunch a few hours later. The stunning surroundings of the Guildhall and excellent service do make it seem slightly better value for money though. 6/10

Veggie option 2 Quorn sausages, 1 egg, 1 hash brown, mushrooms, beans, tomatoes and a slice of thick cut toast with real butter for £5.95.

Overall - Stunning surroundings, excellent service but a slightly disappointing breakfast. Perhaps the kitchen here isn't as well equipped as the one at Britannia Road, who knows. I much preferred the breakfast at Britannia Road and liked the choice of breakfast sizes on offer there too, double sausage, bacon and eggs is a must for me. That said though I really liked the Guildhall environment and the excellent service made the experience feel quite special. 6.5/10