Wednesday 23 November 2016

Wilko Cafe - Norwich

56 - 70 St Stephens Street

Breakfast available till 11.30am daily

Wilko is hard to miss at the top end of St Stephens Street in Norwich City Centre. 
Their Full English breakfast is very easy to miss though, it exists but is very well hidden.

Head inside the store and go up Norwich's smallest escalator, jump off and head up the bigger escalator to your right.

You should now be on the first floor where the cafe can be found in the far corner.

The seating area is huge and it can get really busy.

Queue up at the counter to place your order and pay. I stood in the queue for nearly 20 minutes, the staff were working as quickly as possible but the coffee machine does slow things down considerably.

This is a rare sight, I've only ever spotted it once. There's also another menu listing the available items, it's kept under the counter though. Very cloak and dagger!

Sauce is issued at the counter with an order number, now find yourself a table whilst collecting condiments and cutlery on the way.

 A small coffee costs £1.90 and comes in a decent sized mug, pretty nice coffee!

The 8 item breakfast cost £4.50, toast counts as one of the items.

The toast was evenly browned and served with real butter, certainly one of the highlights of this breakfast.

The meats were the low point though, I suspect they were microwaved judging by the texture. 

The hash brown was reasonable but the cheap economy sausage I declare the worst sausage I've eaten in 2016.  Awful flavour and half of it had gone almost solid in the microwave, as always I finished it to be sure of my true feelings.

The mushroom was ok and I quite enjoyed the fried eggs.

Nice runny yolks!

There were plenty of beans to be found on this breakfast.

If you study the Wilko Cafe menu there is no mention of a Full English breakfast to be found anywhere, I'd decided a long time ago they simply didn't offer one. On a couple of occasions though I'd spotted people eating one, this made me very curious. Suddenly one day I noticed a small menu beside the counter that I'd never seen before offering a 6 and 8 items breakfast. With this in mind I returned again to try this out for myself, once in the queue the menu was nowhere to be seen but I was determined to try out this closely guarded secret for myself...

 Upon entering - The cafe at Wilko is clearly very popular, I'm guessing since BHS closed its doors earlier in the year it has become a good alternative for those customers. There's a vast seating area, some tables look out over St Stephens Street below. Place your order and pay at the counter, collect your cutlery and condiments and the food is brought to the table when its ready. If you're looking for the Full English you may get lucky and spot it on the small menu beside the counter, if it's not there just ask. Sauces are offered when ordering your food and served in a small cup. Before leaving remember to clear your table by placing your tray on the rack beside the kitchen door. The cafe is clean, well lit and brightly coloured, it can be quite noisy though when it gets busy and the coffee machine is very loud too. I liked the fact the food is brought to the table here meaning you get to eat it whilst it's still hot, I couldn't understand why the breakfast seemed such a closely guarded secret though. Why not add it to the main menu in the breakfast section and have the item list up on the counter? 4/10

Service - The staff here seem fairly friendly and quite helpful, when the queue was long they worked very quickly to serve everyone. I assumed the 8 item breakfast was a set breakfast so was thrown a bit when asked what items I wanted, with no item list on display I had no idea what was on offer. The item list was in fact under the counter, once placed in front of me I tried to rapidly select what I wanted whilst fully aware I was holding up a long queue as I decided. Once my order was placed I was offered sauces and paid, the food arrived at the table about 10 minutes later. 6/10

Contents - I have no idea of all the items on offer as I looked at the list for less than 20 seconds and just can't remember! The items I chose were 1 sausage, 1 bacon, 2 fried eggs, mushroom, 1 hash brown, beans and 2 slices of toast served with real butter. 5/10

Presentation - Not too bad I suppose, the yolks were intact and there were lots of beans. I can spot an economy sausage straight away though, I suppose on a breakfast at this price it's to be expected though. 5/10

The food - The economy sausage was awful, it sunk at one end as I cut through it and had a very dry texture with the other half of it overcooked and almost solid, the flavour can only be described as quite grim. The bacon wasn't so bad but was also very dry where the microwaved had zapped it of any moisture, I covered it in ketchup and wrapped some toast around it. The toast was very good, standard slices of bread that had been evenly toasted to a nice colour and served with real butter. The fried eggs were quite good with runny yolks and a decent flavour. The hash brown was reasonable, the mushroom ok and the beans plentiful. As a whole though a fairly disappointing breakfast let down mainly by the meats. 4/10

Veggie option - No veggie sausages here but you could always choose the non meat items, I wish I'd gone for this option come to think of it!

Value for money - A reasonable amount of food for the money and if you choose the non meat items it could work I suppose. 4/10

Overall - Wilko Cafe is probably a good option for coffee and cake as the cakes here looked really nice. As far as the Full English goes though I'm not convinced they have the facilities to properly cook one. Nice enough in places but the meats really let it down as did the item menu not being on display. I like to plan what I'm having on my breakfast not make a snap decision at the counter. They could make a few changes though and turn things around, with BHS gone this is their ideal opportunity to win over BHS's breakfast customers. 4.5/10


  1. I've only recently discovered this website and just wanted to say I think it's fantastic. Nice to read a food blog that is genuinely about the love of the food and not just a platform for a personal brand. I'm of to Polo Bar in Liverpool Street in a few minutes upon one of your recommendations.

  2. Crap sausages should be made illegal.Harry.p+h

  3. Here on Saturday 22nd December 2019. Ordered 2 × chicken bacon cheddar and bbq panini's with chips 2 juices and a coffee. Food service was great and staff work well. A lovely meal. Keep up the good work everyone.