Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Barbarella's Cafe - London

141 Lower Marsh
Lambeth
London
SE1 7AE

Opening Hours
Monday to Friday - 7.00am till 3.00pm
Saturday and Sunday - 9.00am till 1.00pm 



Barbarella's Cafe can be found just behind Waterloo station on Lower Marsh.



Inside is clean and spacious.



There's a counter which runs along the side of the cafe, further seating and toilets can be found beyond this.




The breakfast menu offers a selection of breakfasts which include a tea or coffee.



I must admit I was very tempted by the Four 'B' but settled for the Big 'B' in the end.



Traditional sugar pourers and squeezy sauce bottles could be found here, expect almost luminous cheap ketchup though!



A frothy white coffee came with my breakfast. You may have to ask for the free top up though as nobody offered me one.



Chips with a breakfast! It was gone midday and I was hungry so I was quite up for chips today.



A side plate arrived with 2 slices of toast per person.



Butchers sausages are served here.



Deep fried but thick and juicy with a nice flavour.



The griddled bacon was average at best.



Deep fried frozen chips, they were nice enough.



Deep fried and very oily mushrooms.



Not the tastiest of tomatoes so I dipped it in ketchup.



It was difficult to spot the egg yolk.



It was in there though, nice and runny too!



My wife ordered the vegetarian breakfast minus the egg.



We were visiting London for the day to visit the Moomins exhibition at the Southbank Centre. Our train arrived at Liverpool Street Station giving us just enough time to get to the Southbank Centre for 10am. This made a breakfast inspection in London quite tricky unless we could find somewhere serving past midday. To be honest it was such a nightmare trying to find somewhere online that was close to Southbank and offered a vegan option for my wife too. We'd pretty much given up on the idea, instead we were considering having lunch at Borough Market. Just as we were approaching London though my wife showed me Barbarella's facebook page. It looked quite promising so we decided to give it a look and from the Southbank Centre it was just a short walk away...

Upon entering - The five-star food hygiene rating on the window is hard to miss and was an encouraging sight. Once inside you'll notice that everything looks really clean and the cafe is much bigger than it looks from the outside. Plenty of well spaced out tables with menus and a neat cluster of condiments fill the vast dining area. On one side of the cafe is the large counter, beyond this you can find the toilets. It's full table service here so choose where you'd like to sit and decide what you'd like from the menu. Somebody comes and takes your order, cutlery arrives with the food and you settle your bill at the end. 7/10

Service - As we entered somebody welcomed us and invited us to choose where we wanted to sit. Whilst looking through the menu we were offered drinks, once the drinks arrived we placed our order. I noticed that my breakfast included a coffee with free top up, nobody returned to offer one though so perhaps you have to ask for one. The food arrived in good time and we paid at the counter on our way out. Certainly a friendly enough staff team working here and pretty efficient too, a point lost for not offering a coffee top up though. 6/10

Contents - The Big 'B' breakfast consisted of 2 sausages, 2 bacon, 1 egg, chips, mushrooms, beans, half a tomato, 2 slices of toast and a hot drink. 7/10

Presentation - The Big 'B" breakfast certainly lived up to its name filling up a large plate quite nicely with the toast served on a side plate. Much of it looked deep fried and a few beans had gone astray, the egg yolk wasn't visible at first glance but it was intact, runny and just well hidden. 7/10

The food - The butchers sausages were deep fried with a pleasant taste and firm texture, the bacon was griddled and average at best. The chips and mushrooms were deep fried, it's not often I have chips on a breakfast but afternoon was upon me and I was feeling peckish so I soon wolfed them down. The fried egg had no visible yolk, it was in there though and released a nice runny flow which I dipped the toast into. The beans were plentiful and the tomato lacked much flavour. A pretty average breakfast really but the sausages certainly livened it up a bit. 6/10

Value for money - The Big "B' breakfast included toast and a hot drink and cost £9.90. It certainly filled me up and for London seemed like a reasonable enough price. I'd liked to have had black pudding but it wasn't available as an extra and the only way to get it appeared to be by ordering the £12 Four 'B' breakfast. The free coffee top up would have been nice but I wasn't willing to get up half way through eating to ask for it so another point deducted for not being offered it. 5/10

Veggie option - 1 veggie burger, 1 egg, 2 hash browns, beans, tomato, mushrooms, 2 slices of toast and a tea or coffee for £8.00.

Overall - If you're looking for an independent cafe in the Waterloo area of London and you don't mind things being deep fried then this place is probably worth a look. The breakfast was big, the service was friendly and the environment was pleasant. I'd like to have seen a large breakfast that included double eggs, hash browns and black pudding. The only way to get all of those things though was to order the £12 Four 'B' breakfast which I thought seemed way too big and also came with chips. If you do visit Barbarella's Cafe be sure to check out the other shops along Lower Marsh, there's some great vintage signage and interesting shops to be found along this street. 6/10


Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Drayton Road Cafe - Norwich

85-87 Drayton Road
Norwich
NR3 2DN

Breakfast served all day
Monday to Sunday
7am till 3pm



I was last here in November 2011, there were new owners now though so I decided to revisit once again for breakfast.



 
This seemed like a pretty good deal.




The only menu here is above the counter on a blackboard, it offers a good selection of reasonably priced breakfasts which include a hot drink. Extras are available too as well as a selection of breakfast baps, no vegetarian breakfast though.



 
Reasonably priced Yorkies and there's free wifi.



 
Although the cafe looks quite small from the outside there's plenty of space inside.



 
A London theme features throughout the cafe.



 
Decent sauces and salt & pepper can be found on a table beside the counter, just help yourself.



 
The coffee came with the breakfast, I loved the mugs!



 
A thick slice of toast also came with the breakfast.



 
The full monty cost £7 and arrived nicely presented on a large oval plate.



 
A quality sausage is a must for me, sadly economy sausages are served here.



 
They did have a reasonably firm texture though and tasted ok.



 
3 slices of fairly nice bacon.



 
Tinned tomatoes were a welcome sight, the fried bread was excellent and something was hiding underneath it.



 
A quarter pound burger! Not often found on a breakfast but I rather enjoyed it.



 
A nice pair of fried eggs.



 
 The runny yolks were perfect to dip the toast into.




Many may gasp in disbelief, I think eggs and beans compliment each other beautifully though.



 
I wasn't too keen on the mushrooms but the bubble and squeak was a nice touch.



 
I prefer them much stodgier but the beans were nice and hot.



Over five years have passed since I first visited Drayton Road Cafe in Norwich, you can read my 2011 review here. The comments on the 2011 review divided opinions of the cafe and hearing it had been taken over by new owners made it clear I needed to revisit and write a fresh review. This was something I didn't get around to doing as soon as I'd planned, thankfully though Adam Pinnock's regular reminders to do so on my facebook page finally paid off. The Easter Bank Holiday was over but I still had one more day of work, I decided to make good use of it and made my way towards Drayton Road... 

Upon entering - The cafe may look quite small from the outside but looks can be deceiving as once inside you realise just how big this place is. There are lots of tables to choice from and a quite traditional feel to this cafe with a distinct London theme going on. In the corner is the counter with a large breakfast menu overhead, beyond this is the kitchen. Choose what you'd like from the menu, place your order and pay at the counter. There's a small table beside the counter where you collect cutlery and sauces, the food is brought over when it's ready. There's free wifi here which kept me entertained whilst drinking my coffee, the code is by the counter. The radio was on in the background at just the right volume, I found this place quite relaxing. 8/10

Service - The staff seemed friendly and made me feel welcome as soon as I walked in. I was given the choice of hash browns or bubble & squeak and tea or coffee when placing my order. I sat down and realised the wifi had a password, the chap in the kitchen was able to help though pointing out the code beside the counter. I didn't have to wait for very long at all until the food arrived at the table. 7/10

Contents - 2 sausages, 3 bacon, 1 burger, 2 fried eggs, fried bread, mushrooms, beans, tinned tomatoes, bubble & squeak, 1 slice of toast and a coffee. 9/10

Presentation - The full monty was served very neatly on a large oval plate with the toast served on a side plate. I'm quite happy if my eggs and beans touch but it's a well known fact that a huge majority of people can't bear it. Drayton Road Cafe are clearly aware of this issue and separate the two very effectively using the sausages. The burger hiding underneath the fried bread was a nice surprise and the eggs were looking really good. 9/10

The food - Last time I was here I was served butchers sausages, sadly the new owners are now serving economy sausages. They were nicely cooked, didn't taste too bad and had a firmer texture than I was expecting but for me an economy sausage is always a disappointment. The bacon seemed quite nice though, I popped it between the toast with a squirt of ketchup. I would have preferred to see a slice of black pudding instead of a burger, that said though I did quite enjoy it. The bubble and squeak was crispy with a very smooth texture inside, a nice flavour though and an excellent alternative to hash browns. I wasn't too keen on the mushrooms, they were really dark in colour and didn't look fried. I loved the fried bread, an entire slice served golden and crispy but not holding too much oil. The beans were served in quite a lot of juice, nice and hot though. I was delighted that they served tinned tomatoes here, intact without excess juice which was spot on as they contain just the right amount of juice inside. 7/10

Value for money - The Full Monty cost £7 and included toast and a hot drink, I enjoyed it and felt it was good value for money. I didn't feel hungry again until the evening so it kept me going all day. 7/10

Veggie option - No.

Overall - Five years on from my first visit and Drayton Road Cafe is still going strong, a steady flow of customers came in whilst I was there so it's clearly a popular choice. The food was nice but I felt the breakfast was slightly let down by the mushrooms and use of economy sausages. I also think black pudding would have been a far better choice than the burger. It was nice to be served fried bread, tinned tomatoes and bubble & squeak though. If you haven't eaten here yet it's definitely worth a visit. 8/10


Saturday, 15 April 2017

Stars Cafeteria & Bar - Norwich

112-114 Magdalen Street
Norwich
NR3 1JD

Breakfast served
Monday to Friday
8am till 4pm



Stars Cafe is located right next to Epic Studios on Magdalen Street.



This blackboard offering a big breakfast for £3.99 had caught my eye for some time now.



Place your order and pay at the bar.



I really liked the interior of this place, plenty of natural light floods in and it feels really spacious.



The prices are cheap and Stars is only open on weekdays.




A reasonably priced drinks menu, I usually always have a coffee with my breakfast.



Today was different though, I'd already had lasagne on Norwich Market for breakfast and was having a full English for my lunch, this called for a diet coke.



A selection of sauces can be found on the counter in sachets, just help yourself.



I've no idea why tomato doesn't feature on this breakfast, It's my least favourite breakfast item though so I wasn't overly concerned.



I guess a £3.99 breakfast was always going to include economy sausages.



Everything on the plate was pretty average but piping hot, for the £3.99 price tag a perfectly acceptable breakfast though.



The yolk was runny on top and firm towards the bottom.



The hash browns looked slightly underdone.



Underneath they were crispier though.



The breakfast offer on the blackboard outside Stars Cafe on Magdalen Street had caught my eye many times as I passed. The problem was I was always working when I spotted it and whenever I wasn't working at the weekends they were closed. With the Easter weekend fast approaching and some time off work I passed the sign once again as I returned from the city having already eaten breakfast. A snap decision was made that I could always have a full English for my lunch and I was through the door...

Upon entering - I loved the look of this place inside, very colourful, clean and modern. There's heaps of space, lots of tables to choose from and the huge windows allow plenty of natural light to flood in. The menu is quite basic here and reasonably priced offering two cooked breakfasts but no veggie full English option. Place your order and pay at the bar, collect sauces from beside the till and take a seat, the food and cutlery are brought over to you when it's ready. You can sit and watch the world pass by on Magdalen Street over a coffee in the relaxing environment of this stunning looking cafe. 8/10

Service - My visit here was incredibly swift, I ordered within five minutes, the food arrived five minutes later and once I'd eaten it I was out the door again having used no more than twenty minutes of my time. The lady serving me seemed very busy in the kitchen, she mentioned when I placed my order that it could take five minutes to cook. I'm used to waiting up to half an hour for a breakfast to be cooked so this seemed incredibly quick. The food arrived with some cutlery but I had to work out where the sauces might be myself as she rushed back into the kitchen. Although friendly enough when ordering there was no welcome and no return to the table to check everything was ok. I guess at these prices though I can't really grumble and other than not knowing where the sauces were I didn't really need anything else. 4/10

Contents - 2 sausages, 2 bacon, 1 fried egg, 2 hash browns, mushrooms, beans and a slice of buttered toast. 7/10

Presentation - For a budget priced breakfast the presentation was about how I expected it to be. The egg yolk was intact and the sausages were nicely browned, everything else looked acceptable to me. 5/10

The food - I'm not a fan of economy sausages but on a breakfast at this price their presence on the plate is inevitable. They didn't taste too bad actually and were nicely browned all over. The bacon was fairly standard and cooked on the griddle, underneath I noticed it was even crispy in places. The hash browns were slightly undercooked on top but golden on the bottom and certainly hot enough. The Mushrooms were rather tasty and the beans were slightly stodgy which is always a bonus. The fried egg had a runny yolk on the top but a solid yolk further down and the toast was a standard slice of white evenly browned. 5/10

Value for money - For £3.99 the big breakfast served here seemed like good value for money. The quality of the ingredients are quite basic but this is to be expected at this price. 7/10

Veggie option - No.

Overall - A really nice looking cafe serving an economy breakfast which I enjoyed more than breakfast at nearby Cactus Cafe Bar. It's a cheap no frills breakfast but if your only looking to spend under a fiver then it may well meet your needs. If you're willing to spend more though then you'd be much better off visiting Olives, The Plasterers or The Street Cafe, all within five minutes walk away. 6/10