Monday, 29 July 2013

Afternoon tea with Sergeant Sausage

Whilst carrying out enquiries for breakfasts in Manchester I came across The Sugar Junction in Tib Street.  Unfortunately they didn’t do a Full English so I had to eliminate it from my investigations, but it didn’t stop me popping in for tea and cake. And boy, what a treat this place was……

Head for Tib Street in the Northern Quarter, the excellent Vinyl Revival is just round the corner.

All very Vintage

An excellent selection of teas

A wide variety of seating

The cake list  

 Tea for two

A cake selection platter is on offer for £6.50


This peanut butter & Crunchie milkshake looked incredible



Even the toilet roll holder was posh!

Upon enteringThe Northern Quarter of Manchester is full of cool shops and eateries, but the Sugar Junction stood out as an exceptional one.  Its all very 50s throwback and the ground floor is light and airy, the instant you step inside you know this place means business.   A sign by the door incites you to wait to be seated. The party I was with chose the selection of comfy armchairs and sofa by the standard lamp in the corner. Lots of admiring comments from everyone.  9/10

Service - We were greeted warmly and made to feel very welcome. The menus are done out like newspapers that feature articles mostly about the benefits of enjoying tea and cake. A huge range of teas from classic blends and flowering teas are on offer as well as a selection of yummy cakes.  Our orders were taken with a big smile and arrived quickly.  We were even offered a top up of hot water halfway through our pot, which I thought was a really nice touch.  9/10

ContentsThe cake taster platter consists of three (slightly smaller) pieces of cake. I chose chocolate & guinness, pear, raspberry and almond and a jam and peanut butter cookie.

The foodThe chocolate and guinness cake was a smooth chocolate with a good moist but firm texture topped with a guinness flavoured buttercream, and yes they went together really well.  The pear, raspberry and almond tasted good, the pear and raspberry complementing each other. Although the almond was only hinted at in the delicious sponge the chopped almonds added a nice crunch.  Finally, the cookie was quite soft in texture and the peanut butter and jam were quite rich, but by this point I was starting to get sugar blindness.  A mention has to go to the Nuts about Tea which was a Sri Lankan black tea with marzipan aroma, containing almond and vanilla extract, which was an excellent brew.  9/10

Value for moneyThis was a real treat. My cake taster platter was £6.50 and I shared a pot of tea so the whole experience came to just under £9. It was top quality and well worth it. 8/10
Veggie optionNot a beef cake in sight. Plenty of Gluten free options too

OverallThe Sugar Junction sets its stall out in an uncompromising way.  Vintage 50s retro throwback melded with gourmet afternoon tea, and it does it very well.  I visited with some friends and we all had a great time. Everyone loved the place and the food and not a bad word was said. Pob was particularly fond of his peanut butter crunchie milkshake, only slightly upset when a morsel of crunchie got stuck in his straw, but a fresh straw was quickly dispatched by the waitress. The staff gave a great service and all look the part.  When we had finished our tea we all sat round in a sugar daze, completely satisfied.  Its a shame they don't do a full English, although they probably would if you asked them. The Sugar Junction gets a thumbs up from me.  9/10

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Terry's Cafe - Borough, London

158 Great Suffolk Street

Breakfast menu available from 7am till midday

I left Spitalfields Market at 9am and arrived at Terry's cafe just after 9.30am. It was nice weather so sitting outside was a tempting option but I decided to head inside to take a closer look.

From the gingham table cloths and classic condiment stacks to the historic local photos on the walls this place was visually stunning and one you just have to see for yourself.

 The counter is a hive of activity as is the kitchen behind.

 The varied breakfast menu had something for everyone and each breakfast had it's own great name. I went for The Works but if you prefer chips with your breakfast then perhaps The Blowout is more your thing. Take a closer look at the menu here

Condiment and table cloth perfection

At 20p a cup (when buying food) I chose tea over coffee on this inspection and was well impressed, strong and piping hot.

The works arrived and it was really big and looked delicious with lots of great features I look for in a fry up, just a shame the sausage was burnt.

 So the sausage was well burnt on top but this jumbo cumberland beast tasted great with its thick meaty texture. My good friend black pudding was back on a breakfast plate again so I was one happy inspector.

The bubble and squeak was pretty good, I've had much better at E.Pellici though.

A perfect egg yolk was bulging from beneath the bacon and I was delighted to see tinned tomatoes sitting between the thick beans and chunky mushrooms. Egg touching beans could be a nightmare for some here though!

Terry's Cafe had recently been guest reviewed on the blog and as soon as I read the review I just had to go and look for myself at this classic London Cafe that had stood the test of time for 31 years. I was helping my wife at Spitalfields Market for the day so as soon as the stall was set up I headed towards London Bridge and onto Borough High Street until I eventually reached Great Suffolk Street where the cafe appeared in the distance..

Upon entering - Outside seating was available but I headed straight inside keen to take a look and was delighted to find an empty table to sit at. The interior is incredible with a classic/traditional look with lots of fascinating photos covering the walls of local workers from past times. Its not just the look of the place that impresses though, the feel of it with locals chatting and background music immediately makes you feel at home making for a hugely pleasant environment to spend time in. Good solid tables and chairs, gingham table cloths, classic condiment stacks and a varied breakfast menu soon make you realise things don't get much better than this. As soon as you take a seat the staff will take care of everything for you and you simply pay at the till as you leave. 9/10

Service - As soon as I sat down I was offered a cup of tea and the staff were efficiently taking care of all the customers around me. During my visit I encountered four seperate members of staff who were really on the ball and friendly ensuring I got served and ate in good time. When my tea arrived I took the sugar from another table and before my bum hit the seat another sugar pourer was bought to my table. When I placed my order I was told bread and butter may not be needed as the breakfast was big, this was good advice as I only just managed to finish what I did have. I liked being called darling and sweetheart and seeing such an efficient and friendly staff team who clearly enjoyed their jobs work so well together. 9/10

Contents - 1 jumbo cumberland sausage, 3 rashers of bacon, 2 slices of black pudding, bubble and squeak, 1 fried egg, tinned tomatoes, mushrooms and beans. 9/10

Presentation - The giant sausage was looking well burnt on top but the meaty inside was clearly visible still. A carpet of bacon covered half the plate with a generous serving of black pudding laying on top. The egg was difficult to see at first but the perfect yolk was clear to see surrounded by the beans and tomatoes. A generous stack of chunky cut mushrooms sat beside a mountain of impressive looking bubble and squeak. 7/10

The food - The jumbo cumberland sausage was good quality and nicely textured, a real shame they burnt it though... luckily the bacon was thick and perfectly cooked. The black pudding was fairly standard but the bubble and squeak was quite nice, soft and nicely textured with a crisp golden edge. The thick cut mushrooms tasted amazing and the fried egg had a lovely runny yolk. The beans were slightly stodgy as I like them and the tinned tomatoes tasted great and gave a nice bit of moisture to this thoroughly enjoyable and filling breakfast. 7/10

Value for money - The works cost me £8.80 and with 2 cups of tea the total cost was £9.20. The breakfast was huge and a pleasure to eat and tea at 20p a cup is unheard of these days! Taking into account the excellent environment and service this seemed like a reasonable price to pay. 8/10

Veggie option - Egg, veggie sausage, bubble and squeak, beans tomatoes and mushrooms £7.00

Overall - There are not many places like this about anymore and Terry's is a cafe that you simply must visit, proper old school! Its not just a good breakfast you will find here but a stunning interior, great atmosphere and friendly staff that immediately make you feel at home. The 20p cup of tea is really nice touch but one thing not to miss is that amazing bubble and squeak. 8/10

Sergeant Sausage in Linda’s Pantry

As I was staying two nights in Manchester I had the opportunity for a second fry up investigation.  I was catching a mid morning train and the word on the street was that there was a decent breakfast to be had less than five minutes from Piccadilly station.
With my Frying Squad issue notebook in hand I took a wander to 23 Ducie Street.

The prime suspect

 A breakfast this cheap normally sets the alarm bells ringing

Reminds me of the hatch at the cop-shop, but serving traditional home cooked food

Particulars to be taken down

The word is traditional

A good mug of strong tea

The big breakfast, complete with slice of Spam

 Cooked to perfection

Good Egg

Excellent black pudding, and Spam!

The home cooked pies looked amazing

Upon entering – Not far from Manchester Piccadilly and backing on to a 2nd hand car lot Linda’s Pantry looked very inviting as I approached. An al fresco experience was on offer, but I wouldn’t be doing my duty if I didn’t enter the property. Inside its small but perfectly formed. A large drinks cabinet to one side. Solid formica tables with bolted down plastic chairs just screams traditional café at you.  I knew I was in for a treat and just felt compelled to approach the serving counter   9/10

Service – The lady behind the counter was very welcoming and having spotted the big breakfast on the blackboard my mind was made up.  I don’t think I have ever seen a fry up with a slice of spam on it so I knew I had to have it. The guy behind the counter, who I guess was the owner, then took my order again, just to make sure, and it was really charming.  The place had a great feeling of community about it and the staff seemed to know all the customers and chatted away to them, but as a stranger I didn’t feel at all out of place. Everything was quick to arrive on the table. This was traditional northern hospitality at its best. 10/10

Contents – 2 bacon, 2 sausage, black pudding, Spam (yes I know!) mushrooms, 1 egg, 2 hash browns, baked beans, tinned tomato, toast.   9/10

Presentation – Faultless. It was a lot of content on a big plate. Under the egg the beans and tinned tomato nestled nicely. It just looked exactly right.   9/10

The food – The first thing I noticed is that it was all piping hot, which is exactly how a fry up should be served. The mushrooms were delicious, if a little oily, but this was a fry up with the emphasis on fry. I know the Inspector is a fan of tinned tomatoes and when they are done right I can understand why, and these were done just right, really adding to the beans which they pooled with.  The bacon was a standard cut and tasted good, but the sausages were a bit of a let down, of the same chip shop variety as I had sampled the previous day, all the same they were cooked perfectly. The black pudding actually took me back to my childhood, that’s how good it was, not because it was a super gourmet expensive variety, but the fact that it was also cooked perfectly. Nice egg too, the yolk wasn’t overly runny, but runny enough. 9/10

Value for money – Really, at £4.95 for such a heaving plate of contents including tea and toast you cannot go wrong. N&N Hospital take note!! 10/10

Veggie option – I didn’t see one on offer, so I will have to say no. Chips & gravy?

Overall – The setup and the team running Linda’s Pantry reminded me a lot of Hartys. This was traditional café grub honed to perfection over the years. I’m pretty sure one of the ladies was Linda and the guy was the owner, whether they were husband and wife I don’t know, but the buzz about the place was good. Every order that came in, either on foot or on the phone the guy seemed to get wrong, or have to question, or offer an extra slice of toast instead of an egg, but it was just all done a bit tongue in cheek and was just good honest fun. The fry up was excellent, not your gourmet ingredients, but cooked by experienced professionals who got the best out of the food, at a great price. If I wanted to be brutally honest I would say that perhaps the food was a teeny bit stodgy, and its not cooked in the healthiest of mediums, but this is a traditional northern fry up, and if you find yourself in Manchester, Sergeant Sausage recommends Linda’s Pantry.  9/10

Friday, 26 July 2013

Sergeant Sausage meets the Met

My favourite band was debuting their new album in Manchester so full of excitement I packed my bags and jumped on a train to the North West, knowing that whilst I was there I would have a chance to investigate a breakfast or two.  I stayed at the centrally located Mitre hotel, a cheap and very cheerful budget establishment, the staff were excellent and the rooms weren’t at all bad. I paid £20 a night for my single, but that didn’t include breakfast (available for an extra fiver) and so I planned to try Manchester’s finest.  I’d heard good things about the Café Metro so proceeded across the Arndale Centre….

  The Metro is located on a busy street, with outdoor seating

Inside there is an upper floor with a galley kitchen in it

Good Morning Manchester

Metroplitan scenes adorn the walls

Feeling Metrolpolitan, I ordered a large coffee

A plate of toast soon arrived

Closely pursued by the Manchester Morning Breakfast

Not the kind of sausage to blow you away

A bit too overdone for my tastes

Upon enteringIt was a hot sunny day, but I declined the al fresco option and headed inside where there is a ground floor with fairly basic tables and chairs about the space, a short flight of steps leads up to a larger floor abour three times the size. It was all very clean and there were lots of smiling staff around to welcome me. I noted that there was only one window over the stairs and not a lot of natural light, but the large street scene pictures attempted to convey a bit of character. A large galley style kitchen takes up one side of this space with a couple of grill chefs manning it.  7/10

ServiceI was greeted by a friendly looking chap in an apron who was all smiles and very efficient, allowing me to choose my table and leaving me for a moment to take in the menu. Mind made up I ordered the MMB and a large coffee and the waiter was quite chatty.  The coffee and toast arrived pretty quickly and the fry up not long after. I felt like I was in safe hands.   8/10

Contents2 bacon, 1 sausage, black pudding, mushrooms, 1 egg, hash brown, baked beans, tomato, toast.   7/10

PresentationIt looked okay when it arrived, although the sausage and the egg yolk were definitely a bit suspect. It was a good sized plate, but not overloaded.   6/10

The foodAs always I started with the mushrooms which I found to be a bit tepid, but the bacon was quite nice and had some flavour to it, having been cooked on a hot plate.  The deep fried sausage tasted quite bread crumby, like the ones served in Stafford Street chippy, but minus the batter, and just a little overdone.  The black pudding was also overcooked, only just, but it was a bit lifeless.  I was pleasantly surprised to find the hash brown was pretty good, crispy on the outside and soft on the in. It made up for the very lightly grilled tomato.  Im thinking deep fried wholesale ingridients, some fresh from the freezer. The egg white was okay, but the yolk was a fail for me. It had been freshly cooked, but just too hard.  The hot toast was good, with plenty of marge on it. The beans were just that.  5/10

Value for moneyAt £5.45 it seemed about right, but the watery large coffe for an extra £2 made it less competitive.  6/10

Veggie optionDefinitely one on the menu, as a well as a selection of eggy/cheesy items

OverallThe premisies were okay and the service was good, but I came away feeling like I had visited a high street fast food chain. They could have got away with the contents if the cooking had matched the service. It was just all a bit average and nothing to get excited about.  It made a promising start, but for Manchester Citys centre, it lacked a little heart  6.5/10

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Fry Up Inspectors Spanish Adventure

 Day 1 - From Norwich to Pineda de Mar, click here

Day 2 - Cocktails in Calella & dinner in Malgrat de Mar, click here

Day 3 - Cycling to Canet de Mar, ron rolls, pizza & back to the festival, click here 

Day 4 - A trip on the Xino-Xano, a walk in the hills and last night of the festival, click here 

 Day 5 - In search of giant cakes and dinner at Les Caves, click here

 Day 6 - Time to visit Barcelona, click here

Day 7 - Gaudi's masterpieces, a trip to Tibidabo and time for some tapas, click here 

Day 8 - A morning in Barcelona and the journey home, click here