Monday 22 May 2017

Barn Cafe - Norwich

Whitlingham Lane

Barn Cafe can be found inside the huge flint barn next to Whitlingham Broad.

It's also home to the Broads Authority visitor information centre. 

Place your order and pay here.

There's plenty of tables inside and sofas if you want to get really comfy.

It was a beautiful day though so we decided to sit outside.

The tables outside offered views down to the broad below.

The breakfasts didn't indicate what you'd actually get, I decided to order one to find out.

The cakes displayed on the counter all looked really nice, I do love a slab of bread pudding.

There's wifi available although I couldn't pick it up outside. Help yourself to cutlery, nearby you can find sauce sachets too so grab some if you want them.

I really don't like sauce sachets, fiddly to open, never enough sauce inside and a waste of packaging. 

A 600ml bottle of Pepsi cost £1.85.

The large breakfast cost £6 and wasn't particularly big.

The highlight was the toast served with real butter.

I've no idea where the local sausages came from.

They reminded me of the sausages served in Wetherspoons.

The bacon was dry and overcooked.

The eggs were in pretty good shape.

Both eggs had runny yolks.

A sea of beans.

The only breakfast option for my wife was beans on toast costing £3.30.

I'd gone out cycling with my wife along Whitlingham Lane, we'd gone to take a look at the Vegan Fun Day which was taking place on the campsite. It didn't look much fun though so we decided instead to stop at Barn Cafe opposite for a drink and bite to eat. I wasn't expecting to see a breakfast on the menu though so suddenly it turned into an unexpected fry up inspection...

Upon entering - The flint barn is a stunning building both inside and out, a wonderful home for a cafe. The exposed walls and high ceilings inside certainly give it heaps of character, large roof beams are illuminated and images of the broads hang from the walls. The seating area inside looked really nice, but as the sun was shining we decided to sit outside where there were plenty of tables looking out towards Whitlingham Broad. There's a large menu outside and more by the counter so you can decide what you want before you've sat down. Place your order and pay at the counter, you'll be given an order number. Remember to collect cutlery and condiments before sitting down, sauces are served in sachets here which I'm not really a fan of. Once the food is ready it's brought to your table, just remember to display your order number though so they know where you are. The Barn Cafe is without a doubt a beautiful spot to spend time in whether you choose to sit inside or outside. 8/10

Service - The staff seemed helpful and efficient and everything arrived far quicker than we were expecting it to. I was given the option of white or brown toast when ordering, I usually choose white but on this rare occasion I went for brown. 7/10

Contents - 2 sausages, 2 bacon, 2 eggs, beans and 2 slices of toast served with butter. 4/10

Presentation - Lots of beans, over cooked bacon and nice enough looking sausages and eggs were on the main plate. The toast was served on a side plate looking evenly browned  with real butter in sachets.  5/10

The food - Local sausages were mentioned on the menu, they were far from special though reminding me of the ones served in Wetherspoons. Slightly herby with a fairly firm texture and pleasant enough taste but nothing to write home about really. The bacon was really dried out from overcooking, tough as old boots. The fried eggs were nicely cooked with runny yolks, they tasted great over the hot buttered toast. There were plenty of beans covering the plate, these required plenty of brown sauce, a winning combination! As a breakfast goes it was let down by the meats but the eggs on toast resulted in some enjoyment. I did wonder what method was used for cooking the meats here,  already pre-cooked  sprung to mind although I couldn't be certain. 5/10

Value for money - For £6 it wasn't much of a breakfast really and could have been cooked much better than this. 4/10

Veggie option - No, there's always beans on toast though.

Overall - A beautiful location and fairly disappointing breakfast were my findings at Barn Cafe. The cakes looked really nice though so perhaps an ideal place to stop for coffee and a chocolate brownie before taking a brisk walk around Whitlingham Broad. 5.5/10 

Sunday 14 May 2017

67 London Street - Norwich

(Now closed)

67 London Street

Opening hours
Monday to Friday - 8.00am till 3.00pm
Saturday - 9.00am till 4.00pm

All day breakfasts available

Since Pandora's Kitchen closed back in March a new cafe has reopened, 67 London Street.

There's still an outside eating area which is always popular over the warmer months.

On the ground floor I hardly recognised the place, I loved these tables and chairs.

Up on the first floor it felt much more familiar.

Mismatched chairs and chunky pine tables to enjoy breakfast at.

The breakfast menu will delight both meat eaters and vegetarians and with breakfast available all day, late risers should be equally impressed. 

The drinks menu offers a varied choice at reasonable prices.

The cappuccino was excellent.

Everything you need is already on the table except for sauces which are offered once the food arrives. 

Toast is served with the all day breakfasts and comes with butter and jam. I'm quite partial to a slice of jam on toast but decided on this occasion to top the toast with beans and an egg.

The Whole Shebang costs £10 and it's quite a size!

An aerial shot was required to capture the stunning presentation.

The sausages and bacon are both from Cleveleys in Suffolk.

A superb sausage with great flavour, a good choice on this breakfast.

Award winning Bury black pudding is served here.

Just look at that deep red centre, superb!

The fried eggs were looking in great shape.

The yolks were runny and the white was in places too, not enough to stop me eating them though.

The portabello mushrooms were sublime and the vine ripened tomato was quite possibly the nicest I've ever tasted on a breakfast.

The beans are served in a ramekin and the fried potatoes were to die for.

A fried slice is welcome on my plate anytime, here it's lightly fried so it's not swimming in oil.

When a breakfast is this good I couldn't possibly leave anything on the plate.

Back in early March it came as quite a shock when Pandora's kitchen suddenly closed. It had a huge following and regulars headed there frequently for their fix of breakfasts, milkshakes, roast in a bun and afternoon tea. As the weeks passed by though it didn't go unnoticed that something new was being created behind the white-washed windows at 67 London Street. I peeped through the windows desperately trying to see what was happening inside as I'm sure many others did, wondering what was going to open here next. It was only a matter of weeks until it all became clear, a new cafe was born and 67 London Street opened it's doors for the first time. I'd seen quite a few photos online of the breakfasts being served here so on a Saturday morning decided to go along to see for myself if they tasted as good as they looked... 

Upon entering - The counter is located on the ground floor, there's also a seating area here too so ideal if you can't get upstairs. The ground floor has quite an industrial feel to it which works incredibly well with the exposed brickwork, I loved the new tables and chairs. If you head upstairs to the first floor everything feels more traditional and incredibly familiar, anyone pining for Pandoras may want to sit here! Chunky pine tables, mis-matched chairs, a nice selection of plants and great views of London Street can be found up here. If you prefer to eat outside there's a seating area on London Street, popular I'm sure during the warmer months. There are menus already on the tables as well as cutlery, sugar, salt and pepper. Somebody will take your order at the table and with full table service you can just sit back and relax. Sauces are offered when the food arrives and you settle your bill at the end, either at the table or downstairs at the counter. I got here just after they'd opened as it's much easier to get photos when it's less busy. It was a great spot to enjoy breakfast, light music was played in the background and plenty of natural light filled the room which is a must when photographing food! 9/10

Service - I was greeted with a smile and offered to sit anywhere I wanted, I chose a table by the window on the first floor. My order was taken and within 5 minutes a really nice cappuccino arrived. The lady serving me noticed that the music on the radio was getting a bit depressing so changed it to something more upbeat. I hadn't really noticed myself but it showed how the staff were mindful of the environment their customers were dining in. The food arrived in a very reasonable amount of time and I was offered sauces. During the meal I was asked if everything was ok and once I'd finished eating I headed downstairs to settle my bill. A very efficient and friendly front of house team, I was made to feel really welcome and couldn't have asked for more. 10/10

Contents - The Whole Shebang consisted of: 2 sausages,  2 bacon, 1 slice of black pudding, 2 fried eggs, fried potato slices, portabello mushrooms, vine ripened tomato, beans, fried slice and 2 slices of toast served with butter and jam. 9/10

Presentation - The Whole Shebang was a beautiful sight when it arrived, everything pointed to the centre of the plate very neatly with the black pudding taking centre stage. The beans were contained nicely in a ramekin and the chunky slice of toast was served on a side plate with a pot of butter and a jar of jam. One of the eggs was placed over a slice of the fried bread, exactly where I would have put it! 9/10

The food - The meats used on this breakfast by Clevleys of Suffolk were an excellent choice, firm pork sausages and delicious bacon rashers, both nicely cooked and incredibly enjoyable to eat. The Bury black pudding tasted excellent, a generous slice which boasted a nice rich red centre. The fried eggs looked superb and had beautiful runny yolks, the white was a bit loose in places though but not enough to stop me enjoying them still. Fried potato slices are quite a rarity on breakfasts these days, I'm so glad they featured on this breakfast though. The potato was fluffy inside and the outside was golden crisp, perfect with a dollop of ketchup. When it comes to fresh tomatoes I find more often than not they disappoint, not the case here though! I don't ever recall being served a fresh tomato on a breakfast that was so packed full of flavour as this one was, I enjoyed it so much I didn't even need to add ketchup to it as I often do with most tomatoes I eat these days. The fried slice was thick and crunchy and having been lightly fried it wasn't swimming in oil. My wife's favourite breakfast item is the humble mushroom, if she'd have been with me today (she was in Italy) she'd have been in mushroom heaven. These Portabellos had such a nice texture and flavour to them, I was expecting them served sliced but was delighted to find them served whole. There were plenty of piping hot beans in the ramekin and the toast was evenly browned and cut from a quality loaf. A hugely enjoyable breakfast which despite me being on a diet I just had to finish, my diet went out of the window for the day but my tastebuds thanked me! 9/10

Value for money - The Whole Shebang costs £10 which to some may seem quite expensive. I thought it was an acceptable price for such a complete and delicious breakfast though and you certainly won't be needing lunch after eating this one! 8/10

Veggie option - Yes, 2 different sizes available. The veggie equivalent to the Whole Shebang is The Full Veggie costing £9, it consists of: 3 vegetarian sausages, spinach and halloumi, tomato, mushrooms, beans, fried potatoes, double egg and a fried slice.

Overall - 67 London Street makes a great addition to the already excellent choice of independent cafes Norwich has to offer. The service couldn't have been better and inside is looking great with its two completely different styled dining areas. The Whole Shebang is a seriously impressive breakfast made using quality ingredients and presented beautifully, it's most definitely one of my top five breakfasts available in Norwich. The vegetarian options sound equally delicious and with breakfast being served all day you can enjoy one in the afternoon if you prefer. Definitely worth checking out so be sure to do that and enjoy! 9/10     

Sunday 7 May 2017

The Cafe NR1 - Norwich

(Now closed)

65 Hall Road

Opening hours
Monday to Saturday
7am till 2pm

The Cafe NR1 had just opened on Hall Road in Norwich. 
I decided to call in for breakfast on the way to work.

The kitchen and counter can be found on the far wall.

The dining area is large and spacious.

The menu offers a selection of set breakfasts which include toast and a hot drink. The beans or tomatoes option seemed a little odd to me though as surely most people would prefer both.

Condiments can be found on the table.

A mug of instant coffee came with the breakfast.

As did 2 slices of toast.

First impressions were good.

The eggs looked in good shape but uncooked egg white over the yolk was clearly visable.

A generous sized slab of bubble and squeak.

The bacon and black pudding were ok but I didn't enjoy the sausage.

Nice enough mushrooms and plenty of beans.

I tried everything on the plate but couldn't face finishing the eggs or the sausage.

I'd noticed social media pages appear quite a few months ago for Cafe NR1, it was going to be opening in the premises on Hall Road that were formerly KO Diner and before that Pat's Cafe. With it being on my route to work it was an easy place to visit, all I needed to do was get up a bit earlier so I had enough time. Once parked up out the front I made my way inside...

Upon entering - The interior had been given a makeover since I was last here with an orange, grey and white colour scheme throughout. There's a large counter and kitchen on the far wall which is surrounded by a vast seating area. You can sit at a table or higher up on stools looking out of the window, there's also some tables outside if you prefer. Menu's and condiments are already on the table and cutlery arrives with the food. Once you've placed your order at the counter the food and drinks are brought over to you, you settle your bill before leaving. It was a bit smokey inside from all the cooking and with nothing on the walls yet it felt quite bare. This was their first week of opening though so I'm guessing that in time the smoke issue will be addressed and the decor will be added to giving it more character. 6/10

Service - The two chaps working here seemed friendly enough. I struggled to find a breakfast with all the items I wanted so asked if I could swap hash browns for bubble and squeak, this wasn't a problem at all. The coffee was brought over to me and after about 20 minutes the food arrived. I paid on my way out and was asked if everything was ok. 8/10

Contents - The "Big Set" consisted of: 1 jumbo sausage, 2 slices of bacon, 2 slices of black pudding, 2 fried eggs, bubble and squeak, mushrooms, beans, 2 slices of toast and a coffee. 8/10

Presentation - First impressions were good with all the items neatly laid out on a large white plate, the toast is served on a side plate. I soon spotted the yolks coated in uncooked egg white though which I really struggle with. 7/10

The food - The sausage was a coarse textured jumbo variety, from a local butcher apparently. It wasn't particularly hot though and I didn't enjoy the taste so one bite was enough for me. The bacon and black pudding were both reasonably nice and the bubble and squeak was quite impressive with a good lumpy texture. I didn't spend much time on the eggs as I didn't want the uncooked egg white spreading onto the other items. The mushrooms were nice enough, the beans were as you'd expect and the toast was evenly browned. The breakfast could have been hotter and although quite enjoyable in places it was let down by the sausage and undercooked eggs. 5/10

Value for money - The Big Set cost £7.20, it's a good sized breakfast which comes with toast and a hot drink so you're getting quite a lot for your money. On this occasion though I left quite a lot of food which I wasn't enjoying. 5/10

Veggie option - No veggie full English available but the menu does offer a cheese omelette served with hash browns and beans or tomatoes for £4.50.

Overall - The cafe is clean and spacious and the staff are friendly and very open to suggestions from their customers on any improvements they can make. Since visiting I've heard they have now replaced the sausage with a better quality one which is an excellent decision.  A veggie full English and the option to have both beans and tomatoes on the breakfasts would further improve the menu in my opinion. It's early days though and I know how determined they are to make a success of this place. Having visited on the first week of opening I'll definitely return later in the year once they're more settled in. 6.5/10