Friday, 29 May 2015

BHS - Norwich

(Now closed)

23-29 St Stephens Street

Serving breakfast 
Monday to Saturday - 9am till 11.30am
Sunday - 10.30am till 12pm

Not the greatest shot of BHS on St Stephens Street but I'm sure everyone knows where it is anyway. If you are are going for breakfast then head up to the first floor.

They had just launched this all you can eat breakfast for £3.99. You can't return for seconds though so get everything you want first time round.

I was still recovering from a weekend at a festival hence the out of focus shot of the restaurant on the first floor. This is what you're looking for though, the trays and counter are to the left as you enter.

The large open dining area could get really noisy if it was busy but it never seems to be when I'm there so it's actually quite a pleasant place to spend time in.

Grab a tray and choose from the cooked items, some look better than others and its pot luck as to how long things have been standing for under hot lamps.

Just as I spotted those cheap looking sausages I was asked how many eggs I would like, they were cooked to order.

I collected cutlery and sauces after paying, a better plan would be to get some first though. This way you can sit down to your breakfast even sooner.

My eggs were still cooking so my breakfast would be brought to the table once they were ready. The cappuccino was fairly nice costing £2.30, the mayo is a guilty pleasure.

The presentation was interesting but I was mildly impressed and couldn't wait to try this.

Tomato juice overload and a great pair of eggs.

Underneath the eggs were a pair of plum tomatoes.

Overcooked bacon and standard hash browns, the fried bread was spot on though.

 Fairly poor sausages a bit like Wetherspoons use and a standard slice of black pudding.

Here's a birds eye view, certainly better than Wetherspoons and I enjoyed it even more than my £14 breakfast from Bill's of Norwich.

Although fairly standard it was piping hot and I rather enjoyed it.

In June 2010 I visited BHS in Norwich for breakfast and left quite disappointed, read that review here. Since then I've often ended up back there for a cup of tea and noticed on occasions that the cooked breakfast display has had me licking my lips. The main reason for this is the sight of the golden fried bread and tinned tomatoes, two breakfast items I adore. I've been meaning to return for a couple of years now to give it a second look. A few weeks ago they launched their all you can eat breakfast for £3.99, this seemed like the perfect time to return again. I know the breakfast here is never going to touch anything in the recommended section but my interest was to see how it compared with the likes of budget equivalents offered by Wetherspoons, Debenhams, Sainsbury's and Morrissons. I'd returned from Bearded Theory Festival feeling really ropey and zombie like, with a day off and in need of a fry up I headed to St Stephens Street...

Upon entering - Once up the escalator I entered the large restaurant, small tables, high tables, sofas and coffee tables await you. I've never seen this place really busy so it never seems at all noisy and you can pretty much take your pick of any table you want. Grab a tray and head to the counter, a vast selection of cooked items are displayed under hot lamps, tell the person serving what ones you would like. Remember this is all you can eat so go for it but remember you can't return for seconds later so choose wisely. Whilst my eggs were cooked I collected my drink, paid at the counter, collected cutlery and sauces and sat down. About half way through sipping my cappuccino the food arrived so I was able to dive in to it nice and hot. This system seemed much smoother than Jarrolds and the environment itself felt much more relaxing and far less hectic.  7/10

Service - The ladies serving all seemed quite chirpy and cheerful, before choosing my breakfast I was asked if I would like a drink. This was a great idea ensuring I didn't need to wait for a drink to be made after the breakfast had been served. As it was though I was told to take a seat with my drink and the breakfast would be brought over once the eggs were cooked. I paid at the till and was given a loyalty card which gives you a free drink for every five that you buy. The food arrived after a short time and at the end I simply left, nobody is likely to come over to check everything is ok in this budget breakfast scenario. 7/10

Contents - Choose from the following items: Sausages, vegetarian sausages, bacon, black pudding, hash browns, fried eggs, scrambled eggs, mushrooms, tinned tomatoes, tomatoes, beans, fried bread and toast. 9/10

Presentation - This isn't their strong point but I guess not knowing how many items are going to be requested in an all you can eat situation makes presentation quite tricky. A  tinned tomato and baked beans lake edged incredibly close to the edge of my plate but it didn't quite escape which was a relief. The sausages looked cheap, the fried bread and eggs looked great and the rest looked quite average. 5/10

The food - The sausages were not great and tasted like a cross between Wetherspoons sausages and those tinned vegetarian ones served in beans. The bacon was overdone in places but tasted ok and the black pudding was fairly standard. The hash browns were quite nice housing a soft centre in their crispy outer shell. The beans were slightly stodgy which was a bonus however quite a lot of tomato juice had gate crashed the party. In amongst the sea of tomato juice I discovered a pair of nicely formed tinned plum tomatoes. The highlight of this breakfast was most definitely a great pair of eggs with intact runny yolks and some golden crispy fried bread not holding excess oil. Despite a few standard items I did scoff the lot and quite enjoyed doing so. 6/10

Value for money - £3.99 for a huge breakfast that was a bit of a rollercoaster ride for the tastebuds with the disappointing sausages but quite amazing fried bread and eggs. Was it worth the money though? For this price yes and I am guessing the "all you can eat" element means if you want six of each item then nobody can stop you. Toast is an extra 30p if you want it, I didn't bother though as the fried bread was all I was interested in and that's included in the price. 9/10

Vegetarian option - No

Overall - Compared to the amazing selection of breakfasts available in the recommended section of the blog this doesn't come close. As a budget option though I was quite impressed and for me it was better than Wetherspoons and the Supermarket Cafe offerings, I actually even enjoyed it more than the breakfast I was served at Bill's of Norwich in June 2014! I will have to give it a further visit to see how different the experience can be depending on how busy it is and how long items have sat for though. Certainly a much better experience to my 2010 visit and a good option if you are really hungry, can handle a cheap sausage and are quite skint. 7/10    

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Bearded Theory Festival - 2015

Special Feature

Catton Hall
South Derbyshire

21st - 24th May 2015


We hit the road around 10am on Friday morning and headed along the A47 towards Leicester. I was really hoping to find somewhere serving a full English on the way but couldn't find anywhere. A pub (I forget the name now) just outside Leicester was serving food so we stopped for lunch. It was only after placing our order for burger and chips that we realised a missing page from the menu showed an all day breakfast, bugger! Nice burgers anyway and it was more about lining our stomachs for alcohol than anything else, next stop Bearded Theory!

We were given a generous amount of space to park the campervan and put the awning up. As soon as that was done we cracked open some Crabbies, let the drinking commence!

There were 4 main areas for music and it was looking like nothing we wanted to see would clash. We had been to Bearded Theory last year when it was really muddy and still had an excellent time, it was because of this we decided to return again this year.

We arrived at the main stage just as Hugh Cornwell was about to come on, we were gutted that we had missed Sonic Boom 6 but the sight of vodka jellies was a nice bonus.

Last year we really enjoyed The Stranglers here and Hugh Cornwell certainly performed an entertaining enough set which included many familiar Stranglers hits.

The first day at a festival is always the time when we usually drink the most and today was no exception. These hay bales seemed like the perfect spot to drink more vodka and people watch. 

The atmosphere here was really friendly and everyone was having a great time, I certainly prefer festivals this size.

This may well have been Muff Said, we only caught their last song though.

The sun was going down and there were plenty more bands on that we wanted to see tonight so we skipped dinner and headed back to the campervan for more drinks.  

I was tempted to go on some of these rides but just never got around to it.

I don't remember too much about The Mission's set except I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would.

I clearly wasn't the only one!

I must confess to not remembering too much about Jaya the Cat either except how amazing they were, my wife loved them too and bought a couple of CD's.

I seem to remember meeting these people outside Magical Sounds tent.

Magical Sounds had drawn me in and refused to spit me out again until the very end, I think I got back to the campervan around 3.30am, a great first day!

We woke up about 10am on the second day, the guy next to us was pouring a bowl of cereal. We decided to have some breakfast too but not quite as healthy as cereal, I put the frying pan on.

 Trying to cook meat and vegetarian breakfasts with one frying pan was something I wanted to avoid. Instead we kept it simple with tinned vegetarian sausages in beans, a fried egg, mushrooms and tomatoes. It served its purpose quite nicely and tasted great, I do wish in hindsight though that I'd tried a festival breakfast somewhere instead.

We didn't venture much further than the campervan field for most of the day except to visit Ghandi's Flip Flop to get this mixed Indian dish (Thali) for £8.50. The lime pickle was really bitter but everything else was amazing, if you ever come across Ghandi's Flip Flop at a festive they are well worth a visit.

New Model Army sounded great but some of the classics we were hoping to hear (Vengeance and Vagabonds) were not played. They seemed to be playing quite a lot of newer stuff, still really enjoyed them though.

This looked like good fun!

In the something else tent we arrived in time for Inner Terrestrials, a fast and powerful set went down a treat with the crowd, a really great band! After these had finished it would have been the perfect time to get some sleep ready for the final day. Magical Sounds sucked us back in again though with Eat Static and once again we were there till the very end. At that point it would have been a wise move to get some sleep but some familiar faces from earlier in the evening were nearby in their campervan. I popped over to say hello and didn't make it back to my campervan till 11am!

I was up making breakfast on Sunday about 1pm, we were both feeling quite ropey by now but with such a strong line up we forced ourselves back to the Woodland Stage in time to see Eastfield. I can't believe I had never seen them play until now, instantly catchy with a great sound, I can't wait to see them again sometime.

James came on to the main stage as the sun was setting. Plenty of familiar songs made up their set that was a perfect end to an amazing weekend.

A really nice touch was the fireworks display that went off above the main stage. It wasn't quite over yet though, we had one last thing to do before calling it a night.

Over on the Woodlands stage Neville Staple was entertaining the crowd with no end of classics from Pressure Drop to Ghost Town. This really was the icing on the cake for this great festival!

 We were up and off the site by 8am and Jaya the Cat provided an amazing soundtrack for the journey home.

We may not have found a full English on the way here but Little Chef sorted this out on the way home, read about that here.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Dandy Horse - Norwich

- Special Feature -

27 Magdalen Street

Opening hours
Weekdays - 9am till 5.30pm
Saturdays - 10am till 6pm
Sundays - 11am till 5pm


I had walked past Dandy Horse on Magdalen Street plenty of times over the past year with every intention of going in to take a closer look. It may have taken me longer than I had expected to finally go inside but I was so glad I finally did, this place is amazing!

Inside is a custom bike shop and cafe that blend together beautifully.

A selection of delicious cakes tempt you on the counter.

There is seating on the ground floor and a nice relaxing atmosphere.

Head upstairs and you can find a selection of quality bikes for sale.

Upstairs also offers another seating area, sit at the table or relax on the sofa.

Cyclists paradise!


Everything is beautifully displayed.

Downstairs is the workshop offering repairs and services.

The cafe serves a vast selection of drinks and bagels. I was torn between The Ultimate and Big Breakfast Bagel, I decided to keep things breakfast based though.

Manager Chip gives you a warm welcome and is certainly a bagel legend!

I was a bit late for this but certainly a great deal to bear in mind for the future!

I had to try one of these, it sounded so good.

The monkey business milkshake was a devine blend of banana, peanut butter and honey. So delicious and beautifully presented, everyone should try one of these!

My wife went for the jazzy jalapeno humous bagel, it had a wonderful kick and came with plenty of fresh salad.

The big breakfast bagel arrived and I couldn't wait to get stuck in!

Inside it contained a fried egg with nice runny yolk, bacon, tomatoes and cheese. This combination worked beautifully in a bagel and I really enjoyed it, top job Chip!