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    


  1. Not bad for under a fiver, i'd be happy with that.

  2. £3.99 you can't grumble at that, obviously your not going to get an amazing breakfast, but you have the option of choosing whatever looks best at the time so I'm saying pretty good value.

  3. So on your advice I made my way to BHS Norwich Sunday Morning and have to agree it was a great breakfast , staff friendly and a great price ........