Wednesday, 27 February 2013

The Shepherdess Cafe - London

221 City Road

Opening Hours
Monday to Friday 6.30am - 4.00pm
Saturday 7.30am - 3.00pm
Sunday closed

Breakfast served all day

The Shepherdess Cafe can be found on City Road between Old Street and Angel.

Having been voted best builders breakfast in Britain 2012 I just had to try it out for myself.

 Breakfasts are available everyday except Sundays.

The cafe also sells a selection of crisps, sweets and cold drinks.

On the wall are photos of celebtities who had visited The Shepherdess over the years.

An unusual touch is the curtains painted onto each window.

The cafe is quite large with plenty of tables beside the window.

The menu had plenty of breakfast options but a full English containing all the key items would have been nice.

Sugar dispensers and sauce bottles don't get much better than this!

The coffee was good and reasonably priced at £1.30.

Buttered toast was available at 45p a slice, I am still kicking myself for not spotting the fried slice on the menu till after I had ordered though..

Everything filled the oval plate quite nicely and on this occasion I chose real tomatoes over tinned.

There were plenty of mushrooms and the bacon was excellent.

The fried eggs were perfect and the chip garnish an unexpected bonus.

The severed edged jumbo sausage didn't taste very special.

Last September were searching for "The best builders breakfast in Britain" upon hearing about it I voted for one of my favourites Harty's Diner in Norwich, also a firm favourite amongst builders. People across the country voted for their favourite and in December 2012 The Shepherdess was declared the winner. I had never visited The Shepherdess (a favourite with Jamie Oliver, Tom Jones and many other celebtities) but was keen to give it a look so the next time I was in London my wife and I headed straight there...

Upon entering - As soon as I spotted the cafe I could tell it was a classic that had stood the test of time with its quirky curtains painted onto the windows and clean but well used interior. The cafe is very big inside with plenty of tables, many beside the window allowing you to relax with a coffee whilst the busy traffic passed by outside. Photo's of celebrities that had visited The Shepherdess over the years hung from the walls along with a poster for Russell Davies excellent book "egg, bacon, chips and beans." The essential selection of salt, pepper, sugar, red and brown sauces sat on each table in classic cafe vessels with a laminated menu wedged between them. Take a seat and somebody will be over to take your order and bring everything to the table that you need, at the end ask for the bill or go and pay at the till. The kitchen and counter run along one side of the cafe offering a selection of confectionery and cold drinks, above the counter hung a huge hand written menu. I loved the feel of the place but the menu I found to be confusing and a tad frustrating. I wanted a full English with a coffee but upon studying the breakfast menu discovered each offered different items but none offered them all. We decided to order egg, bacon, mushrooms, a slice of toast and a sausage as an extra item, I wanted beans and fried bread but didn't see them on the menu, however after ordering I spotted fried slice on a different section of the menu and realised I probably could have asked for beans too. On my search for the perfect fry up experience this is the kind of menu I dread but the style of cafe I love so.. 6/10

Service - The staff working here are great at their jobs serving you efficiently with a smile. The chef popped by to ask if everything was ok and our plates were cleared at the appropriate time. 8/10

Contents - 1 large sausage, 2 bacon, 2 fried eggs, mushrooms, griddled tomatoes, a chip garnish and 1 slice of buttered toast. There were plenty of other items I would have liked but I had already ordered 2 extras, (a sausage and the slice of toast.) The small chip garnish was an unexpected surprise and so was getting 2 fried eggs as the menu had stated egg. 5/10 

Presentation - I liked the way the breakfast was presented on the oval plate with the line of huge tomatoes cuddling up to the chunky bacon. A perfect pair of fried eggs sat beside the very odd looking severed sausage that had developed a distinctive curve. There were a lot of mushrooms contained within the curvy sausage, so many in fact that some had escaped towards the tomato and one had headed eggward bound. The chip garnish did in fact seem more fitting than the occasionally seen parsley garnish found on some breakfasts. 8/10

The food - The bacon was for me the best part of the breakfast, chunky, quality and full of flavour. The sausage did nothing for me other than look strange, it was lacking quality and tasted ok but I was quite disappointed by it and I ended up eating my wife's too as she didn't want to waste the tummy space on it. The fried eggs were spot on with nice runny yolks, they don't get much better than this! I usually always choose tinned tomatoes over real ones but had noticed how great the real tomatoes looked at The Shepherdess and they didn't disappoint tasting fantastic. The mushrooms looked deep fried but tasted good as did the chips. The buttered toast was fairly standard and made a perfect base for those great eggs. 7/10

Value for money - My breakfast with toast and coffee cost around £7. The set breakfast prices here are quite reasonable considering its location but bear in mind each set breakfast will need extras added if you are looking for a full English experience and the price will soon mount up. 7/10

Veggie option - No

Overall - The cafe has a great vibe and it is definitely a popular choice, I really enjoyed my visit and it made me glad that some of these great cafe's still survive. I did find the menu frustrating though and would have liked to have seen a full English option on it. The food is cooked nicely and presented well but that curly sausage is not one of favourite sausage moments to date. The fried eggs are some of the best I have ever been served though and I have a feeling that fried bread may have been a bit special had I spotted it early enough on the menu. Another classic cafe that is certainly worth a look if you are in London. 7/10

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The Lemon Tree Cafe - Wymondham

2 Damgate Street
NR18 0BQ

Breakfast served
Mon - Sat   8am - 11.30am 
Sunday   10am - 11.30am

 The Lemon Tree Cafe can be found on Damgate Street.

It seemed a very popular place and soon filled up with customers.

 The building is stunning and the decor very traditional.

You won't spend too long pondering over the menu.

Salt, pepper and sugar is already on the table, ketchup arrives later.

 A decent cappuccino costs £2

I was pleasantly surprised when the breakfast arrived, it looked great!

A quality sausage and proper mushrooms.

The potato slices were a bonus that are not mentioned on the menu and the fried egg was perfect.

 Beans in a bowl are growing on me, piping hot and pour them exactly where you want them.

This is the vegetarian breakfast with  a nice tasting veggie sausage and crisp hash browns.

We decided to visit Wymondham for a change and my first thought was where to eat breakfast. The Lemon Tree Cafe had been suggested and looked nice online so as soon as we arrived we went straight there...

Upon entering - The cafe is inside a stunning building with heaps of character, it is very traditional with its chunky wooden furniture and exposed beams. There is a counter close to the front door but no need to head there as there is a full table service so just find somewhere to sit. There are menus on each table along with salt, pepper and sugar, sauces can be requested later. The waitress will take your order and bring everything you need to the table, simply pay at the counter on the way out. The cafe is a really nice environment helped along by the beauty of the building it is housed in and is clearly a popular choice as there was no end of customers when we were there. 8/10

Service - You are made welcome as soon as you walk in by the friendly staff, they seem to enjoy working there and are efficient and professional. 9/10

Contents - 1 sausage, 2 bacon, 1 egg, mushrooms, beans, tomatoes, potato slices (these were not listed on the menu so were an added bonus) 1 slice of toast and butter. 7/10

Presentation - Stunning! A perfect fried egg sat in the centre of the large oval plate with the other nicely cooked items sitting proudly around it. The beans were contained within a pot waiting to be poured precisely wherever I wanted them. 8/10

The food - A quality butchers sausage and tasty bacon accompanied a perfect fried egg. The potato slices were crisp and delicious, the beans piping hot and mushrooms cooked perfectly. The tomatoes were full of flavour and nicely textured bakers bread was toasted and served with real butter. A great breakfast that was a joy to eat! 8/10

Value for money - The English breakfast cost £5.95 and although on the menu it didn't look like it was going to be very big it was surprisingly filling and worth every penny. 7/10

Veggie option - Yes, Vegetarian sausage, 1 egg, mushrooms, tomato, 2 hash browns, beans and toast & butter for £5.25.

Overall - A fairly priced, nicely presented and delicious breakfast served by friendly staff in a stunning environment. Definitely worth a look next time you are in Wymondham. 8/10


Saturday, 9 February 2013

KO's Sports Diner - Norwich

(Now closed)

65 Hall Road

Opening hours
7am - 3pm

Breakfast served all day

It was sad to see Pat's Cafe close down last year but great to see KO's Sports Diner open in the same premises!

Inside it has been transformed beautifully into a boxing themed dining experience. The wall of fame awaits anyone that can eat a burger the size of a diner plate topped with cheese, omlette, bacon, sausage, chicken and salad, and a serving platter full of chips and onion rings in 30 minutes!

 Inside it is very spacious with plenty of tables.

There are many breakfast options available and all reasonably priced.

Gingham table cloths and squeezy sauce bottles are always a welcome sight!

A hot drink comes with every cooked breakfast.

So does a buttered slice of toast or bread.

This is the heavyweight  breakfast which costs £5.99.

It was nice to see tinned tomatoes and the fried eggs were perfect.

 Excellent mushrooms and crispy hash browns with a great texture.

3 sausages makes a nice change but the bacon seemed a bit dry.

Pat's Cafe closed down in 2012 (read news story here) after over 40 years, it was sad to see it gone and the building sat empty for many months. Just after Christmas I drove past and to my delight noticed it would be reopening as KO's Sports Diner. I was keen to pop in and try their breakfast as I had heard good things about it..

Upon entering - A huge refurbishment has taken place and a new modern and spacious boxing themed diner has been created. The dining areas are huge as the diner occupies a double sized shop unit, I didn't see it but I hear there is also a games room within the diner. Boxing legends can be found on the walls along with a TV for watching sporting events and if you want to make it on to their wall of fame you can attempt to eat a massive burger the size of a diner plate in less than 30 minutes. A long counter towards the rear is where you place your order, collect drinks and cutlery and pay for you food, it will be brought over to your table when it is ready.  The style inside is a mix of modern and classic with gingham table cloths covering the tables, a menu is found on each table along with squeezy sauce bottles, salt and pepper. The diner had a great feel to it when I was there with music from the radio in the background setting the tone nicely and the sports theme is great if that is your thing but not too in your face if it isn't. 9/10

Service - A friendly staff team will take your order and bring the food over when it is ready. 8/10

Contents - I went for the heavyweight breakfast which consisted of: 3 sausages, 2 bacon, 1 slice of black pudding, 2 fried eggs, 2 hash browns, mushrooms, tinned tomatoes, beans, 1 slice of buttered toast and a coffee. 9/10

Presentation - Everything sat nicely on the plate and those perfect looking fried eggs were a beautiful sight! 8/10

The food - The sausages and bacon seemed quite good quality but both were not quite as hot as I was hoping for and the bacon was quite dry. The best part was those perfect fried eggs, they couldn't have been cooked any better and tasted fantastic! The hash browns were piping hot, crunchy and had a delicious hint of onion inside. The black pudding was fairly standard, the mushrooms excellent and the tinned tomatoes a welcome sight. The nice stodgy beans ended up on top of the slice of buttered toast. 7/10

Value for money - £5.99 seemed a good price for this huge breakfast that comes with toast (but only 1 slice) and a hot drink. 7/10

Veggie option - Yes, Veggie sausages replace regular sausages and bacon can be swapped for either another egg/hashbrown or more tomatoes/mushrooms/toast. This is available on all breakfast sizes.

Overall -  I really liked KO's Sports Diner and I think it will definitely succeed with its strong sports theme and addition of food challenges, something a bit different to the rest. The staff are friendly, the environment is great and the breakfast menu varied. Most of the breakfast was excellent but hotter sausages and juicier bacon would have been nice although I am fully aware it is still early days. Fried bread would have make a nice addition to the menu as would 2 slices of toast as standard. Well worth a look though and considering it has just opened they are doing a great job and I'm sure it will grow from strength to strength. 8/10

- Update, March 2014 -

Over a year had passed since KO's Sports Diner had opened so I decided to return for another look and to try the heavyweight breakfast again. It now costs £6.25 and includes a hot drink and toast.

Everything was piping hot and it was an enjoyable breakfast to eat.

Good quality sausages, some great mushrooms and I do like tinned tomatoes.
The bacon still seemed a bit dry though and the eggs although cooked nicely were very oily on top.

It was nice to see two slices of toast being served with the breakfast now.


Saturday, 2 February 2013

The Cottage - Norwich

(No longer serving Breakfast)

9 Silver Road

Breakfast served Saturdays only
10.30am till 2.30pm

The Cottage serve a great roast dinner (read my thoughts on my other blog "Roast Inspector"  here)

We sat on the same table again by the back door.

The area by the back door is quite cosy and warm.

It was far to cold to be sitting outside but looks great for the summer.

A quick Game of Life whilst the sausages are cooking?

A large breakfast with toast and a hot drink for £6.95 seemed like a great deal.

You can chose from tea or coffee.

Sugar lumps in a bowl, nice!

Plenty of piping hot toast served with real butter.

Very colourful and nicely presented.

Excellent fried eggs and mushrooms.

Quality bacon and sausages and sweet tasting tomatoes.

Having eaten a delicious roast dinner at The Cottage a week ago we decided to pop in for a fry up...

Upon entering - Inside it is a very traditional pub with a bar in the centre and plenty of tables to choose from. At the rear is a decent sized beer garden that looked good to sit in during the warmer months. Lots of pictures, trinkets and photos can be found on the walls along with a good selection of board games stacked on a shelf. It was nice and warm with a welcoming feel, a really nice place to sit and spend some time in. Order your breakfast at the bar, tell them what drink you would like, pay and chose where to sit. Once you are seated cutlery, ketchup and eventually the food will be bought over to your table. 8/10

Service - The chap serving us was friendly and ensured everything arrived in good time. We requested ketchup and he bought it over for us. 7/10

Contents - 2 sausages, 2 bacon, 1 slice of black pudding, 2 fried eggs, potato chunks, mushrooms, grilled tomato, beans, 2 slices of toast & butter and tea or coffee. 8/10

Presentation - Everything that arrived at the table was nicely presented from the drinks and the toast stack to the breakfast itself. 8/10

The food - The quality of the sausages was excellent, really meaty with a slightly herby taste. The bacon was delicious and cooked very nicely as was the black pudding. Two great fried eggs with nice runny yolks went perfectly on top of the chunky hot buttered toast. The potato chunks were just how you want them to be, soft in the centre with a nice crispy edge. The grilled tomatoes, mushrooms and beans were all really tasty and along with everything else on the plate served piping hot. 8/10

Value for money - The breakfast was huge and I left feeling incredibly full up. The ingredients used were good quality and the fact it included toast and a hot drink made the £6.95 price seem very reasonable. 8/10

Veggie option - No

Overall - A really enjoyable breakfast and possibly my favourite pub breakfast so far. The selection of items on the plate is excellent, the food is delicious and the pub is a nice place to spend time in, definitely worth a look! 8/10