Norwich – Food on Magdalen Street (Week 1 – The Street Cafe)

And the establishment of yet another series of posts, this time a new project of James and I which is to visit every food venue along Magdalen Street. It just has to be open at lunchtime, not be too decadent and we’ll also stretch into Anglia Square as well before it’s knocked down (or falls down of its own accord). There are quite a variety of options, it’ll be an interesting few weeks working down them.


We started here, the Street Cafe and Coffee Bar which takes up two shop units towards the far end of Magdalen Street away from the city centre.


There’s a little external dining area for those who want to sit and watch the traffic on Magdalen Street. I can’t imagine why, but I imagine it’s handy for the smokers. Anyway, after entry we were greeted and seated promptly, with the service always being friendly, personable and pro-active.


The drinks menu.


The breakfast menu.

The pricing for food isn’t cheap by any means. As a comparison, a mocha and full English breakfast in Harrods is £25.45 and it’s £19.05 here. It’s the highest pricing of any cafe that I can find in Norwich, but I have to note that it’s also one of the best reviewed so customers are clearly content. I couldn’t find any indication on the menu of where food items were sourced from, although I understand from reviews that items are locally sourced where possible.


There was a comfortable and inviting feel to the cafe so it seemed relaxed. It was also much bigger than I expected with another seating area in what was previously the next-door shop.


The cafe was nearly empty when we visited on a Wednesday lunchtime. Perhaps they get busy earlier on, but they shut at 14:00 so there’s no afternoon trade.


I don’t want to dwell on this for long, but the pricing of the soft drinks was a little high, although the alcoholic drinks were more moderate and I went for a Harrow Sparrow cyder from Aspall. This was fine, served at the appropriate temperature and in a clean glass. There’s also a waffle menu which has some sweet options including Snickers, Mars, Maltesers, Oreos, Biscoff, Cadbury and Kinder chocolate. These were reasonably priced at £7.95 and were served with sauces, creams and ice cream. The savoury waffles are a fair amount more expensive and although tempting, they came in pricier than at the Waffle House restaurant in Norwich.

I am maybe focusing a little too much here on price, and I’m conscious of the exceptional price increases that the hospitality industry is facing. However, it put much of the menu out of my lunch budget, hence why I went for a cheaper option. The pricing is still relevant to a large degree, the second best rated cafe I could find is the Kitchen in Sheringham, which is significantly cheaper. They’re also more expensive here than the Pigs restaurant, reported to be the best the breakfast in Norfolk, not that I’ve been there to comment on that. Apologies for the mentioning of price, as I’m sure the cafe wants to pay their staff fairly and do things properly, but it did feel something that stood out somewhat compared to other venues.


Given the price points, I settled for a more basic bacon roll. The quantity of bacon was generous and I was pleased that I didn’t have to remove too much fat, one of my personal idiosyncrasies which is no comment on the cafe. It was perfectly adequate, although I’d say unexceptional in terms of the depth of flavour. James wasn’t over enamoured with the quality of the sausage in his bap, although the rolls were fresh and the bacon was cooked well and at the appropriate temperature.

A slight limitation for me is that I’ve worked through so many bacon sandwiches at cafes and restaurants that I’m used to more ingredients being used such as the addition of a spicy sauce, the use of a chutney or something else that added to the depth of the flavour. The roll also wasn’t doing much for the taste or texture or the whole arrangement, but then again it’s a cafe and not some decadent upmarket restaurant. It’s also evident that this is how they’ve served it for a long time and it’s what people want, so I don’t wish to sound critical. But, it’s fair to say that I wasn’t taken away by the taste or flavours, it was just a bacon roll.

However, there’s clearly nothing wrong here as they’ve been trading since 1996 and as mentioned earlier, the reviews are very high and they’re one of the best rated cafes in the area. There’s no doubt a slight premium that very many customers are willing to pay for the quality of the service, the cleanliness of the venue and the reliability of the food. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but I could be tempted to try their sweet waffles if I’m need of something of a chocolate boost and I’ll post back here if I go and try one of those. And perhaps one day I might even throw financial caution to the wind and try one of their cooked breakfasts to see just how good it is.