Sunday 19 November 2017

The Tipsy Vegan

Guest reviewed by Mrs Fry Up Inspector

68-70 St Benedicts St

Breakfast served 

  Saturday & Sundays
11am till 3pm
(Brunch 11 - 3 every other day but not including the Irish Breakfast) 


 So finally I got to try The Tipsy Vegan in Norwich after plenty of beans on dry toast whilst watching the Inspector guzzle up a plate of juicy fry up opposite apart from the exceptions of amazing brekkie's from Olives, River Green Cafe, Street Cafe and House (in our Fine City). I know you all probably want to hear more about that previously mentioned grub the inspector usually eats but a vegan brekkie doesn't have to be just for vegans, it's often a lush slice of home cooked food well worth giving a go! I'm not a fan of the label vegan anyway as it seems to incite so much contention so lets just focus on the food! 

There it is!

 The cocktail bar as you enter. The Tipsy Vegan is open in the evenings too for dining and cocktails so it's not just a place for morning munchies! 
Comfy seats by the window and plenty of space. Always interesting people up and down St Benedict Street to contemplate, admire and wonder at.

 Plenty of other choices for breakfast too!

 But some kind of hybrid of a hot cooked savoury breakfast is always my preference.

 Water is complimentary. 

 So you don't necessarily need to buy these! But the Coffee is lovely, The Inspector didn't want one if it wasn't made with cows' milk but ate his words when he tried it and they tasted good! 

 Home made beans, tofu bacon and leeky sausages all really flavoursome so try before you pour salt all over everything not that anyone would do that, ahem. 

Colcannon Fritters and White pudding, so good. Just the right amount not to be too rich, so many flavours going here all complimenting each other. 

Yes it's green! And on a breakfast! Meaning you can feel fully virtuous you've had your intake of goodness. And it's blimmin tasty too. 

Scrambled tofu, the flavour reminded me of devilled eggs, and this was a good thing.

Ketchup in a pot ... but a generous amount so that's okay.

Upon entering - We'd been to the Tipsy Vegan before and had the Tempeh Ribs that were scrumptious. They were also super filling which always pleases the husband so thankfully the suggestion of a trip back didn't result in a sad 'but what about sausages' face. The staff are really friendly when you walk into the restaurant which is opposite Norwich Arts Centre at the end of St. Benedicts. It's simple inside and tables are well spaced so you aren't squeezed into a corner or falling off a ledge (*cough Franks Bar). The music is just the right volume so you can still hear yourself speak (getting old!) and the soundtracks are just up my street. Not sure it was The Inspectors street since when I proclaimed 'Ooh Pixies!' he said 'Where?' expecting to see small pointy people approaching. Anyway - 9/10

Service - The staff are lovely, take you to your seats and explain what's on offer in a relaxed fashion. The food arrived quickly, much quicker than expected, always a nice surprise! 10/10  

Contents - Leek and Herb Sausage, Tofu Bacon, Colcannon Fritters, Scrambled Tofu, House Smoked Beans, Sauté Spinach, White Pudding, Sourdough Toast. 9/10
Presentation - I'd seen pictures online of the breakfast and thought it looked good but those pictures just don't do it justice at all. Maybe I just don't like plates with corners. Everything was spaced out for you lot who have issues with things touching other things so you will have no problems here, these items are not close friends, merely acquaintances with a clear awareness of personal space. 
9/10 - (a round, heart shaped or preferably cat shaped plate will bring that up to a 10)

The food - It was sooo good and piping hot! No one wants a luke warm breakfast especially when they're waiting 5 minutes to tuck in because some oddball opposite keeps taking photos of it! I would certainly declare it one of my all time favourites and can't wait to go back. (Ahem... Inspector!) All of it is made in house, no bought in frozen shapes here! Often even the fanciest places still don't go to that effort so I was really impressed. The leeky, herby and slightly mustardy sausages were firm and chunky, the tofu bacon was so much better than the usual shoe insole 'facon' and the fritters and white pudding were lightly fried to perfection. The scrambled tofu was well seasoned and firm, not sloppy or dry. Eggs are the one thing that I used to love love LOVE but done this well it's so much better. The home made beans are faultless with subtle smoky flavours and enough squidge to make sure the brekkie isn't dry. The fresh bread made a great base and the Inspector remarked that he liked the spread. This is the person who will eat butter with a spoon if any is left in the bowl. 

And the spinach was a lovely contrast to all the heavier elements especially as the only downside for me could have been that there weren't any tomatoes or mushrooms. These two food groups along with chocolate, biscuits and red hot chillies pretty make up my five a day, they're my total faves. However the breakfast was so good I didn't actually notice until the Inspector mentioned it. 
We asked for tomato sauce which came in a small pot between us. Better than fiddling with messy sachets whilst your breakfast goes cold and you squirt it across the table (just me?) but I always prefer a bottle as I like a generous splurge of tomatoey goodness.
They also do other breakfast options including Mexican Hash, Brunch Tacos and Pancakes.  Judging from the whoops from a nearby table when those arrived they're worth a try too. 9/10 

Value for money - The Irish breakfast costs £9, I had a Cappuccino (£3) and the husband had a Fentimans Ginger Beer (£2) and a bottle of water and glasses is brought to the table too. I think this was a really fair price for such good food all hand made from scratch. (Apart from the base Tofu which they don't make themselves). You won't need anything else, it's super filling but not so much you have to roll yourself home. 8/10
Overall - I loved it, it's a really peaceful atmosphere even when busy, the staff were lovely and St Benedicts is a great street for people watching out of the window. At some point I'd like to go back and try the cocktails and the Beer Battered Fish and Chips as I hear great things about those too. Vegans, veggies, omnivores or just living on the joys of life I highly recommend The Tipsy Vegan! 9/10


Monday 13 November 2017

Mitre - Norwich

131 Earlham Road

Breakfast served 
Monday to Saturday 
8.30am till 11.00am

Back in August 2017 The Mitre on Earlham Road opened it's doors once again following a £600,000 investment by the congregation of a neighbouring church, St Thomas'.

Place your order and pay at the counter.

There are two main areas where you can dine, both spacious.

The former pub has been transformed into a stylish community cafe, bar and bistro.

As well as tables there's also a sofa area to relax in and socialise over a coffee or a beer.

The breakfast menu is served until 11am and offers meat, vegetarian and vegan options. There's also "The Five" which allows you to build your own breakfast choosing five items. If you want to add additional items to any breakfast you can do so at a cost of £1 per item.

Cutlery and condiments are on a table beside the counter, help yourself to what you need.

The sauces selection here is impressive, I love Stokes ketchup and it was nice to see a jar of Colmans. 

A cappuccino cost £2.50 and was served with a Lotus Biscoff biscuit. 

A few sips into the cappuccino revealed some nice touches on the inside of the cup.

The breakfast was looking good when it arrived, I ordered the full English with beans and fried bread as extras.

Something had caught my eye though.

I know everyone likes their eggs cooked in different ways but I personally can't bear runny egg white.

The meats used here were excellent quality but slightly undercooked.

I was impressed with the mushroom and tomato, both tasted great. There was no shortage of bread on my breakfast, it included a muffin, toasted sourdough and fried sourdough.

The highlight for me was this chunky slice of black pudding, a beautiful colour and great flavour.

My wife ordered the vegan breakfast, a potato item would have made it look more complete though and some vegan spread would have livened up the dry toast.

Back in August I noticed photos of the breakfast at The Mitre in Norwich being posted onto my facebook page. The former Mitre pub had been purchased by St Thomas' Church in 2016 and transformed into a cafe, bar and bistro. With my Japan blog posts complete I decided to go out for breakfast once again with my wife and with so many people talking about the breakfast at Mitre it seemed like the obvious choice...

Upon entering - The transformation from The Mitre pub into Mitre cafe/bar is quite remarkable. Inside it feels really spacious and no expense has been spared in making it look modern and inviting. There's original parquet floors, exposed brickwork behind the counter and nice large tables to dine at. If you want to chat over a coffee in comfort there's also an area with a sofa, soft chairs and a coffee table. The Victorian building still has many of it's original features and the way the interior has been designed ties in beautifully with it. The breakfast menu is served until 11am and offers something for meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans. Place your order and pay at the counter, don't forget to help yourself to cutlery and condiments before returning to your table. There's a decent selection of sauces on offer here from Stokes, HP and Colmans. Drinks are bought over to your table, as is the food once it's ready. Most definitely a lovely environment to spend time in and beautifully renovated. 9/10

Service - A friendly staff team welcomed us when we arrived and took our order. The location of the cutlery and sauces was pointed out to us and we were informed that there may be a slight wait on the food to arrive due to lots of breakfast orders being prepared. The wait for the food to arrive was perfectly acceptable and we were offered water with the food. I believe some of the staff here are volunteers who all seemed to be doing an excellent job. 8/10

Contents - The full English breakfast consists of 2 sausages, 2 bacon, 1 slice of black pudding, 1 fried egg, portobello mushroom, half a tomato and a buttered muffin. I also added fried bread and beans for an extra £2. 7/10

Presentation - When the food arrived I was initially quite impressed, a neatly laid out selection of items filled the plate. The meats were clearly good quality but I thought they needed a bit longer in the frying pan. The egg was holding a pool of uncooked egg white around the yolk which I'm not a fan of at all. 6/10

The food - I'm not sure where the meats used on this breakfast are from but it was all decent quality which is crucial in making a breakfast special. The pork sausages were firm and plump with a very pleasant flavour, slightly pale in the centre though so a bit longer in the pan would have been nice. The bacon tasted great and the rashers were nice and thick, personally I'd have preferred them more browned though. The highlight of this breakfast for me was without a doubt the thick slice of black pudding, deep red inside and a superb flavour. The fried bread was lightly fried and could have easily been mistaken for toast. I tried to put it to good use though by turning my egg over onto it, I was hoping the heat of the fried bread would cook some of the uncooked egg white. It didn't really work though and I was left with quite a slimy egg/fried bread combination which I didn't particularly enjoy. The tomato was flavoursome and the portobello mushroom tasted devine. The rather small portion of beans were fairly standard and the lightly toasted muffin was delicious wrapped around some bacon and dipped in Stokes ketchup. Had the meats and egg been cooked for longer this breakfast would have been far more impressive, this is something that can easily be sorted out though. 6/10

Value for money - The full English breakfast costs £7.50 and extras of beans and fried bread cost £1 each, so with a cappuccino I spent a total of £12. Fairly expensive I thought considering there's no potato item and only a single egg. 6/10

Veggie option - 2 vegan sausages, portobello mushroom, tomato, beans, 1 fried egg and sourdough toast. £6.50.

Overall - Certainly a lovely environment to enjoy a spot of breakfast and the staff were friendly and helpful. The breakfast here has a lot of potential as some quality ingredients are used on it, I just felt the cooking times need tweaking to make it a great breakfast. Also I couldn't understand why the toast on the vegan breakfast was served dry when vegan spread is so readily available. It's only been open a few months though so I'm confident the breakfast will only get better over time and I wish them all the best with this new venture. 7/10 

Wednesday 8 November 2017

The Japanese Food Adventure Chapter 3 - Day 21. The big rumble

This morning we returned to Little Mermaid underneath Koenji station for a spot of breakfast. A hot dog sausage drizzled with cheese and onion encased in a golden pastry certainly hot the spot. To satisfy my sweet tooth a chocolate filled horn pastry. 

We needed to check out of the Koenji Guesthouse by 10am so we packed our cases, left a thank you note for the hosts and stored our cases in luggage lockers at the station.

On our final day in Tokyo we wanted to take it easy so we slowly explored the shops around Koenji.

Nah, it was too small!

We'd read about a vegan restaurant in Koenji called Meu Nota. It was full when we first arrived but the owner kindly reserved us a table for later in the afternoon. When we returned we enjoyed this 30 ingredient taco rice for ¥980 (£6.60). A stack of rice was topped with spiced bean mince and surrounded by salad and corn chips. 

If you ordered a main meal you could get a coffee at the same time for ¥50 (33p) and a desert for ¥100 (66p). We took advantage of both offers, the desert was a rather nice vegan creme brulee.

Having walked our lunch off around the streets of Koenji we collected our cases and headed to the station. We were staying in Narita tonight so we would be closer to the airport for our morning flight.

We picked up some food in Shinjuku to eat on the Narita Express. Born in Hokkaido these baked cheese tarts are crispy, rich and fluffy inside. They cost ¥300 (£2) each and are gorgeous.

I was surprised to find what looked like Scotch eggs in a supermarket so I bought some for the train journey. Rich and creamy eggs encased in pork katsu, I love scotch eggs but these were far nicer. 

Milky mochi balls that perfectly captured the Milky flavour. 

Our home for our final night in Japan was the top floor of U-city Hotel in Narita. A double room here cost us ¥5600 (£37.50) for one night. The hotel offered an airport transfer for guests and the airport was just 20 minutes drive away.

Close to the hotel was a 7 Eleven, ideal as we planned on eating back in the hotel room.

Fried chicken, rice and pickles costing ¥450 (£3) was my evening meal. Over a can of Sapporo we reflected on our time in Japan before getting some sleep as we had to be up early for our flight in the morning.

At precisely 12.01am my wife woke me up to inform me that there was an earthquake which had started a few minutes ago. The building was swaying quite intensely so we quickly got dressed. It lasted a couple of minutes and eventually stopped, no announcement was made over the speakers to evacuate so we went back to sleep again. I looked it up on Twitter and discovered a 6.3 magnitude earthquake had struck off the East coast close to Iwaki. 

The next morning...

At Narita Airport I spent the last of my yen on this chicken tempura ramen for breakfast. Costing ¥1050 (£7) it was definitely the best food I'd ever experienced at an airport! Chicken breast in a golden tempura batter served with soba noodles, egg and spring onions in a rich broth. A thoroughly delicious end to an incredible 3 week adventure in Japan!

Click here for Japanese Adventure, Chapter 4
Island Life

Tuesday 7 November 2017

The Japanese Food Adventure Chapter 3 - Day 20. Kawasaki Amusement Game Park and Shinjuku

Little Mermaid was our choice for breakfast this morning. It's a cafe chain serving a wide selection of savoury pastries and cakes. I had a thick slice of toast served with potato salad and a coffee, it was cheap and cheerful costing just ¥380 (£2.55).

After breakfast we headed West on the train to Kawasaki. We'd read about an amusement game park there and were keen to check it out. It was easy to spot in the distance with it's large rusted exterior.

As we walked through the main door at the front it was looking like something out of Half Life.

These are the lifts that take you upstairs to the six gaming floors.

If you use the back door you pass over this illuminated stepping stone pond and through a red octagonal corridor.

Inside has been themed to look like the walled city of Kowloon.

Each floor is vast and contains different types of games, this floor was dedicated to retro video games.

There was row after row of video games to choose from, many costing just ¥50 (33p) per go.

Up on the next floor were many gambling games.

You could even play billiards up on the top floor, there were over 50 tables!

There was nothing much else to look at in Kawasaki so we returned to Tokyo.

We wanted some lunch so went in search of somewhere to eat in Shinjuku.

If you stay at Hotel Gracery in Shinjuku, it's possible to book the Godzilla view room where you get an excellent view of Godzilla's head!

With so many restaurants in the Shinjuku area it was really difficult to decide which one to eat at. In the end it came down to somewhere that served something appealing to my wife as many places served just meat and fish. My wife ordered this mixed vegetable dish, she was tempted by the many mushrooms served with it.

I chose a shrimp and rice set meal costing ¥1100 (£7.40)

It included miso soup.

A slab of tofu topped with wasabi paste and chives.

And a tiny salad.

The main dish was what I was most excited about though and it tasted sublime. A trio of battered shrimps served with rice which had been cooked with egg and onions. 

With our time in Japan getting ever closer to the end I was keen to track down some favourites that I hadn't tried yet on this trip. First on my list was Mitsuya Cider, a soft drink that tastes like a cross between Sprite and ginger ale. I love it and managed to pick this 600ml bottle up from Daiso for just ¥100 (67P)

Having explored Tokyo on ground level we decided to take a look across the city. The best place to do this is from the observation deck of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building. It's free to visit the observation deck, just take the observation lift from the first floor of the main building.

The views of Tokyo 202 metres above the ground are breathtaking, down below you can see Yoyogi Park.  You can view the city from nearly every angle and on a clear day it's possible to see Mt Fuji.

Another thing on my list of things to do before leaving Japan was to try some conveyor belt sushi. I've eaten at Yo Sushi back at home on a few occasions but here it was much more fun and slightly more complex. A few regular items were doing the rounds on the conveyor belt, if you liked the look of any you could take them.

On a screen overhead you could order anything from the vast menu on offer here.

When your order was ready a boat would glide along a track from the kitchen to where you were sitting. Simply take your food and press a button sending the boat back from where it had come from.

I tried a few different sushi here including this one with a pink fishy foam on top. 
It tasted ok but I wasn't really a fan of the foamy texture.

These ones were much nicer and beautifully presented too. Sushi here cost between ¥99 - ¥280, at the end I took my stack of plates to the till and paid on the way out. 

Asahi Red Eye sounded interesting so I bought a can to try back at the guesthouse.

I wasn't convinced that I'd enjoy a tomato beer but to my surprise I really enjoyed it. It contains 20% tomatoes and 80% beer and costs ¥210 (£1.40) for a 330ml can.

The takoyaki stall beside the guesthouse was open tonight so I ordered some coated in cheese, mayo and takoyaki sauce. They were beautifully cooked and contained plenty of octopus chunks inside the crispy battered balls. They cost between ¥500 - ¥680, depending on the topping you required, traditionally they're topped with takoyaki sauce and sprinkled with fish flakes and green lavar.

Up on the roof terrace my wife enjoyed a beer whilst I opened a can of Chu Hi. Our time in Japan was almost over but we still had one more full day here so over a drink we discussed how we would spend it.

I ventured out to 7 Eleven and returned with a final nightcap and some snacks.

A ¥110 (74p) pork dumpling.

And some chocolate mushrooms, I love these! I'd never tried the strawberry flavour before, quite nice but the chocolate flavour were still my favourites.

Click here for Day 21
The big rumble