Sunday 30 April 2017

Diane's Pantry - Reepham

8 Market Place
NR10 4JJ

Breakfast served
8am till 11am - Tuesday to Friday
9am till 12pm - Saturday & Sunday

Diane's Pantry can be found inside a beautiful building on Reepham Marketplace.

It was my first visit to Reepham so I enjoyed looking around the small market town after breakfast.

Diane's Pantry is part shop and part cafe, it sells no end of local products ranging from jams and chutneys to free range eggs.

Walk through the shop and you'll find the cafe area around the corner.

It's fairly compact but there is some refurbishment taking place in a room next door, another dining area maybe?

The breakfast menu offers meat and veggie breakfasts, a selection of sandwiches. It's all reasonably priced and there are also extras if you prefer to create your own breakfast.

The drinks are reasonably priced here too.

Suggestions are welcomed, ingredients are locally sourced and the ordering process won't confuse you here.

Salt, pepper and sugar is already on each table. I must admit I was expecting sauces to arrive in small bowls here.

I was proved wrong though when this excellent selection of quality sauces arrived, always the best way!

I fancied tea today, just £1.50 for a pot of PG Tips (£1 extra per person)

Some small biscuits were served with the tea, always a nice touch!

I thought this breakfast looked superb when it arrived. Cooked from scratch, nicely laid out on a pre-heated plate and a good size too. We'd cycled 15 miles to get here so didn't want to eat anything too big as we still had to cycle home again, not much fun when you're really stuffed!

 The sausages were from the nearby Robertson's Butchers just across the road. 

A delicious pork sausage, perfectly suited to a Full English breakfast.

The smoked back bacon was also from Robertson's Butchers.

I couldn't work out if the bread was from Clarks or Pye bakery. One thing's for sure though, it tasted great toasted with real butter.

The eggs used here are from Vale Farm in Reepham and you can really taste the difference. It was beautifully fried and released a nice deep yellow yolk as I cut into it.

The Works breakfast doesn't include beans, I ordered them as an extra for just 50p.

A nice big juicy flat mushroom from Meloncaulie Rose Greengrocers (love the name!) which is located next door on Reepham Marketplace. 

Meloncaulie Rose also supply the flavoursome tomatoes used here.

My wife chose beans on toast with tomatoes and mushroom, it set her up nicely for the cycle home and cost £4.50.

My wife woke up early and noticed the sun was shining, "lets go out cycling" she said. It was only 8.30am on a Sunday morning but having recently bought myself a bike I thought it was a great idea! We decided to head out of Norwich towards Reepham on Marriot's Way which follows the path of a disused railway line. The first place we stopped at was Whitwell Station where I noticed there was a cafe called Sidings offering a Full English breakfast. My wife was able to order a vegetarian breakfast here but it seemed impossible for me to order a Full English. I was told I could order bacon, egg and toast but that was all. This seemed really strange as my wife's breakfast included hash browns, mushrooms, beans and tomatoes. We decided to go in search of somewhere less confusing to eat some breakfast and eventually ended up in Reepham. We'd considered V's Cafe but they were closed, I kept my fingers crossed as we cycled into Reepham Market Place. We spotted Diane's Pantry which was open and had a breakfast menu in the window, we locked our bikes up and headed inside...

Upon entering - There's a shop and deli selling a selection of locally sourced and organic products, towards the rear is the counter and kitchen. Around the corner is a fairly compact but cosy cafe area with about six tables, each one with salt, pepper, sugar and a menu already on it. Sometimes the ordering process can be a mystery but here it's clearly mentioned on the menu, place your order and pay at the counter. The food and drinks are brought over to the table as is an impressive selection of quality sauces. It's a great place to enjoy a bite to eat with good views across the Market Place. 7/10

Service - The lady serving us was really friendly and helpful, she greeted us and told us to place our order at the counter once we'd decided what we wanted. Before placing our order my wife was looking for some things in the shop which the lady serving us was happy to help her find. We were given the option of white or brown toast and soya milk was available for my wife. With our order placed we took a seat and a much needed rest after our 15 miles of cycling. The drinks arrived first, a large pot of tea for two served with some biscuits and 2 different types of milk. The food was being cooked from scratch so was going to take a while, whilst waiting we requested more hot water for the tea pot and this was not a problem at all. The food arrived and sauces were offered, it was nice to see some Colman's mustard amongst the sauces, I really enjoyed this on the sausages. We were certainly made to feel welcome here and well looked after. 9/10

Contents - 2 sausages, 2 bacon, 1 fried egg, flat mushrooms, grilled tomato, beans and a slice of buttered toast. 7/10

Presentation - The plate was pre-heated ensuring everything stayed hotter for longer and the food was laid out beautifully, I loved the plate it was served on too. 8/10

The food - The meats from Robertson's Butchers were superb, delicious pork sausages and smoked back bacon. There's no hot holding items here, everything is cooked to order so the meats remained moist and with the texture you'd expect. The fried egg from nearby Vale Farm was beautifully cooked and boasted a runny deep yellow yolk, you could really taste the difference. I enjoyed the egg over the quality white sliced bread that had been toasted and spread with plenty of real butter. The large flat mushroom and tomato from the greengrocers next door were both packed full of flavour, it's not often I get served a flat mushroom so this was a real treat. As it stands the Works breakfast is a very traditional Full English breakfast but I've got so used to having beans with my breakfast I couldn't resist ordering some as an extra. 9/10

Value for money - The Works breakfast with beans added as an extra and a pot of tea cost £7.95. It tasted excellent and the ingredients used came from local businesses, many less than 50 meters away. 8/10

Veggie option - 2 fried eggs, 2 flat mushrooms, grilled tomato, beans and a slice of buttered toast.

Overall - I'm so glad we ended up stopping for breakfast at Diane's Pantry, the friendly welcome and delicious breakfast we were served was just what we needed after cycling here from Norwich. The locally sourced ingredients used on the breakfast is really impressive considering how many of them came from Reepham. The breakfast was clearly cooked with great care and I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you like a traditional Full English breakfast then this place is definitely worth visiting if you're ever in Reepham. 8/10 

Wednesday 26 April 2017

Barbarella's Cafe - London

141 Lower Marsh

Opening Hours
Monday to Friday - 7.00am till 3.00pm
Saturday and Sunday - 9.00am till 1.00pm 

Barbarella's Cafe can be found just behind Waterloo station on Lower Marsh.

Inside is clean and spacious.

There's a counter which runs along the side of the cafe, further seating and toilets can be found beyond this.

The breakfast menu offers a selection of breakfasts which include a tea or coffee.

I must admit I was very tempted by the Four 'B' but settled for the Big 'B' in the end.

Traditional sugar pourers and squeezy sauce bottles could be found here, expect almost luminous cheap ketchup though!

A frothy white coffee came with my breakfast. You may have to ask for the free top up though as nobody offered me one.

Chips with a breakfast! It was gone midday and I was hungry so I was quite up for chips today.

A side plate arrived with 2 slices of toast per person.

Butchers sausages are served here.

Deep fried but thick and juicy with a nice flavour.

The griddled bacon was average at best.

Deep fried frozen chips, they were nice enough.

Deep fried and very oily mushrooms.

Not the tastiest of tomatoes so I dipped it in ketchup.

It was difficult to spot the egg yolk.

It was in there though, nice and runny too!

My wife ordered the vegetarian breakfast minus the egg.

We were visiting London for the day to visit the Moomins exhibition at the Southbank Centre. Our train arrived at Liverpool Street Station giving us just enough time to get to the Southbank Centre for 10am. This made a breakfast inspection in London quite tricky unless we could find somewhere serving past midday. To be honest it was such a nightmare trying to find somewhere online that was close to Southbank and offered a vegan option for my wife too. We'd pretty much given up on the idea, instead we were considering having lunch at Borough Market. Just as we were approaching London though my wife showed me Barbarella's facebook page. It looked quite promising so we decided to give it a look and from the Southbank Centre it was just a short walk away...

Upon entering - The five-star food hygiene rating on the window is hard to miss and was an encouraging sight. Once inside you'll notice that everything looks really clean and the cafe is much bigger than it looks from the outside. Plenty of well spaced out tables with menus and a neat cluster of condiments fill the vast dining area. On one side of the cafe is the large counter, beyond this you can find the toilets. It's full table service here so choose where you'd like to sit and decide what you'd like from the menu. Somebody comes and takes your order, cutlery arrives with the food and you settle your bill at the end. 7/10

Service - As we entered somebody welcomed us and invited us to choose where we wanted to sit. Whilst looking through the menu we were offered drinks, once the drinks arrived we placed our order. I noticed that my breakfast included a coffee with free top up, nobody returned to offer one though so perhaps you have to ask for one. The food arrived in good time and we paid at the counter on our way out. Certainly a friendly enough staff team working here and pretty efficient too, a point lost for not offering a coffee top up though. 6/10

Contents - The Big 'B' breakfast consisted of 2 sausages, 2 bacon, 1 egg, chips, mushrooms, beans, half a tomato, 2 slices of toast and a hot drink. 7/10

Presentation - The Big 'B" breakfast certainly lived up to its name filling up a large plate quite nicely with the toast served on a side plate. Much of it looked deep fried and a few beans had gone astray, the egg yolk wasn't visible at first glance but it was intact, runny and just well hidden. 7/10

The food - The butchers sausages were deep fried with a pleasant taste and firm texture, the bacon was griddled and average at best. The chips and mushrooms were deep fried, it's not often I have chips on a breakfast but afternoon was upon me and I was feeling peckish so I soon wolfed them down. The fried egg had no visible yolk, it was in there though and released a nice runny flow which I dipped the toast into. The beans were plentiful and the tomato lacked much flavour. A pretty average breakfast really but the sausages certainly livened it up a bit. 6/10

Value for money - The Big "B' breakfast included toast and a hot drink and cost £9.90. It certainly filled me up and for London seemed like a reasonable enough price. I'd liked to have had black pudding but it wasn't available as an extra and the only way to get it appeared to be by ordering the £12 Four 'B' breakfast. The free coffee top up would have been nice but I wasn't willing to get up half way through eating to ask for it so another point deducted for not being offered it. 5/10

Veggie option - 1 veggie burger, 1 egg, 2 hash browns, beans, tomato, mushrooms, 2 slices of toast and a tea or coffee for £8.00.

Overall - If you're looking for an independent cafe in the Waterloo area of London and you don't mind things being deep fried then this place is probably worth a look. The breakfast was big, the service was friendly and the environment was pleasant. I'd like to have seen a large breakfast that included double eggs, hash browns and black pudding. The only way to get all of those things though was to order the £12 Four 'B' breakfast which I thought seemed way too big and also came with chips. If you do visit Barbarella's Cafe be sure to check out the other shops along Lower Marsh, there's some great vintage signage and interesting shops to be found along this street. 6/10

Wednesday 19 April 2017

Drayton Road Cafe - Norwich

85-87 Drayton Road

Breakfast served all day
Monday to Sunday
7am till 3pm

I was last here in November 2011, there were new owners now though so I decided to revisit once again for breakfast.

This seemed like a pretty good deal.

The only menu here is above the counter on a blackboard, it offers a good selection of reasonably priced breakfasts which include a hot drink. Extras are available too as well as a selection of breakfast baps, no vegetarian breakfast though.

Reasonably priced Yorkies and there's free wifi.

Although the cafe looks quite small from the outside there's plenty of space inside.

A London theme features throughout the cafe.

Decent sauces and salt & pepper can be found on a table beside the counter, just help yourself.

The coffee came with the breakfast, I loved the mugs!

A thick slice of toast also came with the breakfast.

The full monty cost £7 and arrived nicely presented on a large oval plate.

A quality sausage is a must for me, sadly economy sausages are served here.

They did have a reasonably firm texture though and tasted ok.

3 slices of fairly nice bacon.

Tinned tomatoes were a welcome sight, the fried bread was excellent and something was hiding underneath it.

A quarter pound burger! Not often found on a breakfast but I rather enjoyed it.

A nice pair of fried eggs.

 The runny yolks were perfect to dip the toast into.

Many may gasp in disbelief, I think eggs and beans compliment each other beautifully though.

I wasn't too keen on the mushrooms but the bubble and squeak was a nice touch.

I prefer them much stodgier but the beans were nice and hot.

Over five years have passed since I first visited Drayton Road Cafe in Norwich, you can read my 2011 review here. The comments on the 2011 review divided opinions of the cafe and hearing it had been taken over by new owners made it clear I needed to revisit and write a fresh review. This was something I didn't get around to doing as soon as I'd planned, thankfully though Adam Pinnock's regular reminders to do so on my facebook page finally paid off. The Easter Bank Holiday was over but I still had one more day of work, I decided to make good use of it and made my way towards Drayton Road... 

Upon entering - The cafe may look quite small from the outside but looks can be deceiving as once inside you realise just how big this place is. There are lots of tables to choice from and a quite traditional feel to this cafe with a distinct London theme going on. In the corner is the counter with a large breakfast menu overhead, beyond this is the kitchen. Choose what you'd like from the menu, place your order and pay at the counter. There's a small table beside the counter where you collect cutlery and sauces, the food is brought over when it's ready. There's free wifi here which kept me entertained whilst drinking my coffee, the code is by the counter. The radio was on in the background at just the right volume, I found this place quite relaxing. 8/10

Service - The staff seemed friendly and made me feel welcome as soon as I walked in. I was given the choice of hash browns or bubble & squeak and tea or coffee when placing my order. I sat down and realised the wifi had a password, the chap in the kitchen was able to help though pointing out the code beside the counter. I didn't have to wait for very long at all until the food arrived at the table. 7/10

Contents - 2 sausages, 3 bacon, 1 burger, 2 fried eggs, fried bread, mushrooms, beans, tinned tomatoes, bubble & squeak, 1 slice of toast and a coffee. 9/10

Presentation - The full monty was served very neatly on a large oval plate with the toast served on a side plate. I'm quite happy if my eggs and beans touch but it's a well known fact that a huge majority of people can't bear it. Drayton Road Cafe are clearly aware of this issue and separate the two very effectively using the sausages. The burger hiding underneath the fried bread was a nice surprise and the eggs were looking really good. 9/10

The food - Last time I was here I was served butchers sausages, sadly the new owners are now serving economy sausages. They were nicely cooked, didn't taste too bad and had a firmer texture than I was expecting but for me an economy sausage is always a disappointment. The bacon seemed quite nice though, I popped it between the toast with a squirt of ketchup. I would have preferred to see a slice of black pudding instead of a burger, that said though I did quite enjoy it. The bubble and squeak was crispy with a very smooth texture inside, a nice flavour though and an excellent alternative to hash browns. I wasn't too keen on the mushrooms, they were really dark in colour and didn't look fried. I loved the fried bread, an entire slice served golden and crispy but not holding too much oil. The beans were served in quite a lot of juice, nice and hot though. I was delighted that they served tinned tomatoes here, intact without excess juice which was spot on as they contain just the right amount of juice inside. 7/10

Value for money - The Full Monty cost £7 and included toast and a hot drink, I enjoyed it and felt it was good value for money. I didn't feel hungry again until the evening so it kept me going all day. 7/10

Veggie option - No.

Overall - Five years on from my first visit and Drayton Road Cafe is still going strong, a steady flow of customers came in whilst I was there so it's clearly a popular choice. The food was nice but I felt the breakfast was slightly let down by the mushrooms and use of economy sausages. I also think black pudding would have been a far better choice than the burger. It was nice to be served fried bread, tinned tomatoes and bubble & squeak though. If you haven't eaten here yet it's definitely worth a visit. 8/10