Saturday, 11 July 2015

Cafe Balzar - Stansted Airport

Terminal Building
Stansted Airport
CM24 1QW

Breakfast available all day

Cafe Balzar is described as a modern, artisan, French cafe bar with a sophisticated feel. At first glance it looks quite promising.

Sadly it couldn't have been further from the truth...

 The glitzy interior makes you think you've chosen wisely.

There were plenty of high tables and stalls but very few proper tables to sit at. During our visit the restaurant was looking more like a hostel in places with people sleeping across the seats making some tables unusable.

Thankfully we weren't in too much of a hurry but if you are then the long wait to be served will irritate you, the service here is painfully slow.

I could have been adventurous and gone for the thyme infused roasted plums, for the sake of the blog though I chose the Full English Breakfast.

When you finally get served you're given your drinks and a number at the bar.

The highlight of this breakfast was the Heinz ketchup.

 3 packets of butter had been left on the table by a previous customer. I considered eating them whilst waiting for the food to arrive but resisted the urge.

The coffee here was nice enough.

The Full English arrived looking like there was something missing on a half empty plate.

 Everything was barely luke warm and the bacon was really dry.

Not even a few herb sprinkles could liven up these cold rubbery fried eggs.

My wife's veggie breakfast at least filled the plate, she was far from impressed though. Everything was almost cold and the dry flatbread was like chewing on shoe insoles.

We arrived at Stansted Airport three hours before our flight to Barcelona, I hate rushing and like to be cautious when it comes to flights. With plenty of time on our hands for breakfast the glitzy exterior of Cafe Balzar tempted us in, "Eat breakfast like a king" it read on the poster outside. This sounded quite promising so we headed inside...

Upon entering - Visually this place looked great with it's nicely tiled floors and neon signs, things soon got frustrating though as we tried to find a table to sit at. The fact it was busy was to be expected but the sight of people sleeping across the seats didn't look great and prevented us from using the tables they were laying around. We did ask one family if an empty table was free, they pointed at their family asleep on the bench seating around it and told us "sorry no". We would've been happy to sit there still whilst their sons slept the other side but they refused. We did eventually find a free table which was a standard height though, there were also some higher tables and stalls available too but nobody seemed to want to sit at these. We found a menu at the bar where we placed our order, paid and received a tray with our drinks and a table number. The food and cutlery arrives at the table later, each table had sauces, sugar, salt and pepper already on it. So a nice enough looking place with a fairly good relaxing atmosphere, by the time we had sat down though we were feeling far from relaxed due to the slow service which I will move on to next. 6/10

Service - The staff here are in no hurry at all, not a massive problem for us as we had plenty of time before our flight but if you wanted a quick bite to eat before a flight here you had no chance. Whilst a number off staff were wiping signs and pootling around the dining area one chap was serving behind the bar, he was taking things slowly which meant we waited quite a while before being served. Once our order was placed we paid and took our drinks on a tray over to our table. We waited for longer than we were expecting for the food to finally arrive and that was the end of any staff interaction we encountered. I'm not surprised they don't come over and ask if everything is ok with the food here during the meal as the issues with it seem endless. 4/10

Contents - 1 sausage, 2 bacon, 2 fried eggs, mushrooms, half a tomato and a slice of toast. 5/10

Presentation - It just looked bloody ridiculous when it arrived, the fact they tried to make it look special by sprinkling herbs over the eggs didn't hide the fact that half the plate was empty. The bacon looked dry and before even trying anything you could just tell it was no longer hot. I dread to think how it would have looked had the toast been served on a side plate, I felt quite sorry for it really. 3/10

The food - The lukewarm sausage was at least quite tasty with a nice enough texture. The bacon was cold and dry and the fried eggs were barely warm and rubbery. The tomato was cold with a hint of flavour from the seasoning and the mushrooms were thick cut but having gone cold quite disappointing. Finally a cold slice of buttered toast, the highlight of this breakfast was the Heinz ketchup. 3/10

Value for money - A complete waste of £8.95, I could have laughed off the presentation but the fact it was served almost cold was unacceptable. I will add an extra point here though for the fact they didn't charge my wife for the side order of mushrooms on her veggie breakfast. 3/10

Veggie option - Egg, flatbread, ratatouille and tomato for £7.45

Overall - An impressive looking place that you will soon regret entering with slow service and disappointing cold breakfasts. I can only imagine the problem here is the time it takes for the food to get to the customer once served. I looked them up on Trip Advisor when I returned home and noticed others had experienced the same issues as me. You're better off buying a Full English breakfast sandwich at WHSmiths in the departure lounge for a few quid than stopping here for breakfast, better still head to The Windmill in departures. 4/10



  1. Now what must foreigners, especially Americans, think when they are served that? There really is no excuse for such a poor level of catering.

    1. Most Americans wouldn't know a decent Full English if one bit them on the ass, as they're fond of saying over here (yes, I'm an English ex-pat living in the USA). OK, if you live in the cities you can get something reasonable provided you're prepared to look around, but out here in the wilds, forget it. Very poor quality streaky bacon, cut thinner than paper, awful sliced sausage from a big roll, French toast or pancakes, and these bloody awful "home fries" - sliced potato, which they usually haven't bothered to peel, warmed up on a griddle. Ugh! I know the Inspector quite liked NYC, but if you're in *rural* America, stick to American-style breakfasts - they do at least know how to make pancakes and waffles!