Thursday 29 June 2017

Brewdog - Norwich

1 Queen Street

Brunch menu served
Saturday and Sunday
11am till 4pm

Brewdog has nearly 30 branches across the UK including one in Norwich on Queen Street. Usually I pass here in the evening when it's really busy, today I was here for the brunch though and it was far more peaceful at 10.45am.

There's a shop inside selling a vast selection of Brewdog merchandise and beer.

The interior is quite stunning, it offers tables in various sizes including this one which will easily accommodate a group of ten.

This seemed like a nice spot to sit, all of a sudden I really fancied a beer.

The brunch menu offers The Haystack, it doesn't claim to be a Full English but features many of the main ingredients. There's an excellent Vegan option too which really impressed my wife.

Sauces by Heinz, HP and Dalston Chillies are available here.

It was a tough choice deciding what beer to choose so I played it safe with one I've enjoyed before, Punk IPA. My wife ordered a glass of wine but after tasting the tropical flavours in my Punk IPA (£5.10 a pint) she was regretting not ordering a pint too. 

The Haystack was served on a white enamel plate which spun quite a lot whilst cutting into the food. My first impression was that it looked quite nice but for £8.50 it seemed fairly small, especially when compared to breakfasts served at nearby places at the same price.

The bacon was delicious, underneath lay the BBQ pit beans.

The egg was slightly undercooked over the yolk and the sausage didn't excite me at all.

The forest mushroom was excellent, so much flavour!

"Greenery has no place on a breakfast" people said on my facebook page when I posted the photo of this breakfast, I rather enjoyed the cress though.

The vine tomatoes were barely cooked but tasted great. 

The slice of Stornaway black pudding was my highlight of this breakfast. 

The veggie/vegan haystack is well thought out and certainly impressed my wife. The BBQ Seitan steak was generous and delicious, the padron peppers were a really nice addition too.

I couldn't resist an aerial shot.

My wife and I were all set to visit Cromer for the day but with grey cloudy weather forecast we changed our mind and decided to go for breakfast in Norwich instead. I referred to my list of new places to visit in Norwich and looked the menus up online. Brewdog were offering an excellent Vegan option which I knew would please my wife so we headed into the city...

Upon entering - I'd passed Brewdog's crowded outside seating area at the weekends before, however at 10.45 on a Sunday morning things were much more peaceful. Inside there's a shop to your left selling a vast selection of Brewdog beers and merchandise, we were feeling hungry though so swiftly turned right into the bar area. The bar offers 25 taps of craft beer, I knew straight away that I wouldn't be choosing a coffee with my breakfast this morning. The seating area is spacious and impressive, exposed brickwork, wooden beams and neon signs make it quite a stunning area to dine in. You can choose soft seating in one of the spacious booths or standard seats, the tables on offer are all different sizes so large groups can easily be accommodated here. Menus and sauces are already on the tables so once seated just wait for somebody to come along to take your order, you can pay at the bar on the way out. We were fortunate enough to have the whole place to ourselves, this made for a relaxing environment which was enhanced by music in the background being played at just the right volume. 9/10

Service - As soon as we entered the bar area we were greeted with a smile, we enquired about the brunch menu and was told it was now available. Somebody came over almost straight away to take our order, I didn't experience any up selling here which is often common place in chains. We simply ordered exactly what we wanted and it all arrived in a reasonable amount of time. Somebody came over to check if everything was ok and we paid on the way out. The staff all seemed relaxed, friendly, happy and efficient which left us impressed. 9/10

Contents - The Haystack consisted of 1 sausage, 2 slices of bacon, 1 slice of black pudding, 1 fried egg, 1 large mushroom, BBQ pit beans, tomatoes, cress and toasted sourdough. 7/10

Presentation - The food looked rather nice nestled together on the enamel plate, many would gasp at the sight of cress in the centre but I thought it finished it off quite nicely. The plate itself was a slight issue though, everytime I cut into something the plate spun around making the haystack a bit tricky to eat. 7/10

The food - As always I'll start with the sausage, usually being served just one is disappointing but the quite bland sausage didn't seem particularly special so no great loss on this occasion. The smoked streaky bacon on the other hand was excellent, it sat amongst the BBQ pit beans which had heaps of flavour, the two complimented each other beautifully. Equally impressive was the Stornoway black pudding, a nice deep red in the centre and my personal highlight of this breakfast. The vine tomatoes were flavoursome but only cooked slightly on one side, still enjoyable though. The sourdough could have been more toasted but it made a good base for my fried egg which sadly was undercooked over the yolk. The egg tasted great still but I tried not to look as I cut through it as uncooked egg white is always a bit of an off putting sight for me. Finally the mushroom, excellent texture and fantastic taste. Some really enjoyable elements to be found on this breakfast but also some slightly disappointing moments due to under cooking. 6/10

Value for money - It was quite a small plate of food for £8.50 and a pint of Punk IPA cost £5.10 which seemed quite steep too. I was soon thinking about food again not long after leaving here. This won't keep you going all day like the breakfasts at other nearby cafes do which cost a similar price. 4/10

Veggie option - The Veggie Haystack (Vegan) - BBQ seitan steak, crispy kale, smashed avocado, padron peppers, BBQ pit beans, forest mushroom, vine tomato and sourdough toast £8.50.

Overall - We were really impressed with the Brewdog environment and excellent service. It probably feels much different when it's really busy here but being the only customers was sheer bliss! The haystack featured a nice selection of items which tasted great, a slightly undercooked egg and tomatoes did let it down a bit though. For £8.50 I'd definitely expect a much better quality sausage for my money and preferably a pair. I must add though that my wife thoroughly enjoyed the vegan haystack, it was nice to see such a creative selection of items featured on it and the BBQ seitan steak was incredibly nice. As chains go this was one of the better ones and if you love craft beer with your breakfast then it's even more appealing, certainly worth a look. 7/10 

Thursday 22 June 2017

Rosy Lee's Tea Room - Loddon

37A Bridge Street
NR14 6NA

Opening hours
Monday to Saturday (closed Tuesday) - 8am till 5pm
Sunday - 9am til 5pm

Last food orders 4.15pm 

Rosy Lee's Tearoom had been on my list of places to visit for breakfast since starting my blog over seven years ago. Having been voted one of the top tearooms in the country in 2011 by The Times (read the article here) I was keen to experience it for myself.

Inside it's compact but has heaps of character, there's also an outside seating area just across the road.

Traditional gingham table cloths cover the tables and local artists work which is available to buy is displayed on the walls.

Cyclists welcome is displayed on the door. I know this is a popular stop for cyclists and my wife and I had just cycled 16 miles to get here from Norwich.

There's a breakfast sign in the window but more breakfast options can be found on the menu inside.

The prices seemed quite reasonable but working out whether the veggie breakfast included a drink confused us a bit. We gave in and asked the waitress but she didn't know either.

The drinks were reasonably priced here.

A can of coke cost £1 and a pot of coffee was included with my breakfast. I loved the strawberry sugar pot!

Sauces were offered once the food had arrived.

Bread and butter was mentioned on the menu, It arrived toasted though which seemed like a better option.

The large breakfast looked disappointing with the sausages split and an untidy egg.

I popped the toast on the plate but still wasn't really feeling it with this breakfast.

Splitting a decent quality sausage seemed a real shame as it would have been far moister cooked whole. That said though it was piping hot and tasted rather nice.

The bacon was served with a few burnt bits from the pan/griddle.

I guess the fact the egg wasn't snotty was a bonus but visually I was quite shocked.

The sight of a runny yolk was something at least.

The tomatoes were quite nice and the bean portion minimal.

The highlight of the breakfast was without a doubt the thick cut mushrooms, delicious!

The veggie breakfast was simply the English breakfast without the meats, it usually comes with an egg too but my wife doesn't eat eggs so ordered it without. This was the first breakfast I'd seen with beans on the plate and also served in a ramekin.

 A birdseye view of everything.

Having cycled along Marriots Way to Reepham earlier in the year my wife and I decided to jump on our bikes again and head along cycle route 1 to Loddon. We got up early so as to arrive in Loddon in time for a late breakfast, we'd decided before setting off from Norwich that we'd stop at Rosie Lee's Tearoom. The journey was very pleasant indeed with very little traffic and great views of the countryside. Once in Loddon we locked our bikes up to some cycle rails directly opposite Rosie Lees and headed inside...

Upon entering - Rosie Lee's Tearoom is fairly small but I liked this as it made it feel quite cosy and added to its character. The kitchen is out the back and the counter is along the rear wall, lots of homemade scones and cakes are displayed in the glass cabinet. The table cloths are gingham, crockery is mismatched and local artists work, which is available to buy is displayed on the walls. There's plenty to look at in here and you can't help but feel drawn in by the welcoming atmosphere and unique character of the place. There's also an outside seating area across the road beside the car park, I had a quick look after leaving and thought it looked like a great place to sit in the warmer months. There's full table service here so take a seat and wait for somebody to come and take your order. The menu seemed quite confusing to me, especially the breakfast section. The breakfast menu in the window further confused me with the mention of coffee costing extra with breakfasts, there was no mention of this on the main menu though. Once you've placed your order everything is brought over to the table when it's ready. Sauces are offered once the food arrives and come in squeezy bottles which is always a good thing. At the end we simply settled up at the counter. Certainly a wonderful environment and great place to spend some time relaxing, there's not many places left like this and it does feel really special. 8/10

Service - The welcome customers receive at Rosy Lees is quite incredible and probably the main reason why it's always so busy and is loved so much by the local community. Once inside we chose a table and somebody came over almost straight away to take our order. As there was no menu on the table we couldn't make a decision what to order, we requested a menu though and it was brought straight over. We ordered 2 diet cokes and then realised the English breakfast included a hot drink. We couldn't work out whether the veggie breakfast included a drink too as it didn't state it clearly on the menu. We asked the waitress but she didn't know either so my wife decided that perhaps it didn't. The food arrived in good time and sauces were offered and brought over to the table by a very friendly lady who I assumed was the owner. Before leaving she worked out our bill, chatted for a while  and confirmed that the veggie breakfast did indeed come with a hot drink. We left feeling really welcomed and looked after. The ordering process was slightly confusing but there's no doubt that service this friendly and sincere is a rare treat these days. 9/10

Contents - (Large breakfast) 2 sausages, 2 bacon, 1 fried egg, mushrooms, beans, tomatoes, 1 slice of buttered toast and a large pot of coffee. 7/10

Presentation - When the toast arrived I was feeling quite hopeful but when the breakfast arrived my heart sunk. An unsightly fried egg sat in the centre of the plate with split sausages to the west and bacon down south. Burnt bits from the griddle or pan covered many of the items which is something I never want to see on a breakfast. The beans, tomatoes and mushrooms looked ok but on the whole this breakfast was visually quite depressing to look at. 3/10

The food - The sausages appeared to be a decent enough pair, I enjoyed the taste and texture. Cooking them split in half seemed to dry them out way too much though which seemed like a great shame and waste of decent sausages to me. The bacon was slightly over cooked making it a bit chewy in places. The fried egg despite its appearance tasted ok and there was a trace of runny yolk hiding inside. The tiny portion of beans were average, the toast and tomatoes were quite nice. The item that stood out as being nicest was the thick cut mushroom slices, delicious. They say you eat with your eyes though and this is so true, I really struggled to enjoy this breakfast. 4/10

Value for money - The large breakfast included toast and a coffee, an entire coffee pot in fact. It cost £6.95 which on paper looked quite reasonable, having eaten it though it felt  overpriced for something that was presented so poorly. 4/10

Veggie option - Egg, mushrooms, beans, tomatoes, toast and a hot drink for £5.15.

Overall - This quaint tearoom is worth a visit just to experience the friendly welcome you'll receive here. It's a life line to many locals who eat here on a daily basis and the person running it is highly thought of in the local community, not just her work at Rosie Lees but her work throughout Loddon and the surrounding area. As far as the breakfast goes though it did seem really disappointing, particularly the way it was presented. The vegetarian option was dated and the menu slightly confusing. All of these things could be so easily changed for the better though with an edited menu, clean frying pan and serving sausages uncut. 6/10