Tag Archives: breakfast

Moose: Where quantity outstrips quality

Moose Coffee: 20 York Street, Manchester, M2 3BB:

This cosy, neutral-coloured diner is a perfect relaxed setting for a weekday brunch or coffee. Situated near Piccadilly Gardens, the exterior is quiet and clean, without the price tags of the Northern Quarter or the many competitors of other areas in the City Centre.The décor makes it almost train carriage-like with wall-mounted wire shelves and steel wall lamps. Dark strips of polished wood finish it off and you’ve got to love the chandelier of antlers and the picture of knights in shining armour with, oh wait, moose heads instead of human ones. The American influences shine through in the diner-style seating but the cream and dark colour scheme ensures nothing is too overbearing.

The menu is American-Canadian inspired with a vast array of breakfasts with potato hash waffles, eggs in every variety, bacon smothered in maple syrup and stacks of fluffy American pancakes. Some of the pairings sound a little strange, like the burger in a sugared doughnut, but Moose assures us they work.

The staff were friendly and quick to serve, though there were a couple of memory mistakes which sometimes made our breakfast a little pained and service took longer than it could have done. A bounty shake hadn’t been mixed properly, leaving the chocolatey coconut mix to be slurped out at the bottom of the glass once you’d washed down the thinner, milkier mixture at the top. The mocha was average but the cream topped it off.

A bowl of homemade granola was overpoweringly sweet, not helped by the side portion of honey. However, the texture was crunchy, the oats well-cooked and the inclusion of different nuts gave it a good diversity. The fact that the waitress served hot milk when it said it came with ‘fresh cold milk’ was another little blip in our dining experience. Presentation was also good in thick lipped bowls with little ramekins for the natural yogurt and honey.

The Vegi Mighty Moose was a whopping potato hash that took up half the plate, served with 2 poached eggs over a griddled tomato and 2 slices of thick brown bread. Flavours of Dijon mustard and garlic pushed through the potato, adding a nice kick, and the egg yolks came oozing out over the white fluffy mountains when pricked with a fork. A well-cooked breakfast but there was nothing to blow us away.

Overall, Moose can offer some wonderfully different dishes, especially for brunch or if you enjoy sweet-savoury mixes, as well as a large range of milkshakes and sandwiches. However, the style is in the chunky portion sizes and American décor so a great place for a bit of fun when you’re very hungry!



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Let’s Do: Brunch

the full english – brunchified

It’s what Saturday and Sunday mornings were made for; to relax with the papers and a hot drink or to take the dog for a walk, to recover from the night before with a pillow over your head and the curtains closed or a chat with that special someone you haven’t seen for too long.

So when 11 o’clock comes around you’re hungry. And nothing, believe me, beats a good brunch.


Nothing before 9. Sorry early risers, you’ll have to wait. And no breakfast either! That defeats the point of the long, leisurely brunch that is centred around needing to, wanting to and enjoying eating. Around 11 is best – note the word brunch combines lunch and breakfast…it should therefore be self-explanatory when it takes place.


My favourite? Eggy bread. Cereal, toast, fruit salads, even the full English; we’re back to breakfast again. Brunch must be something out of the ordinary, a little bit lazy because it’s easy to cook but at the same time it’s satisfying and shareable. There should be a guilty but enjoyable element of disgust at your own lack of energy and carelessness about it.

For eggy bread you want two thick slices of good fresh bread, none of this silly sliced white stuff. Whisk a large egg and soak said bread on both sides. Salt and pepper. Leave to rest momentarily before frying with a small amount of heated oil. Once egg is fried and bread is hot, serve onto plate.

Extra additions may include grilled mushrooms or tomatoes. Cheese is allowed but remember, this is not a lunch-time toastie. Omelettes are acceptable also provided you don’t stray into the artisan or the gourmet with haddock or double cream. You want a good knob of butter or oil, lots of colourful veg and maybe some ham. Bacon fans, or alcohol fans, a thick bacon butty should satisfy you; no trimmings of lettuce and tomato please, this is not a coffee shop sandwich. Pancakes and scones are also good choices; choose fillings and toppings of unusual chutneys, jams (no cream – wait until afternoon tea) and sugar and lemon for the pancakes. Maple syrup will go down a sticky treat.


Relaxed. Read the paper, watch tv or listen to the radio. If you’re more sociable than I am then chat to friends, family or your cat. Eat accompanied by a large cup of tea or coffee, whatever you prefer to savour and what comforts you most. No cocktails; you are not at a Carribean island hotel, you are in Britain.

Brunch was originally defined in 1895 as a Sunday meal for “Saturday-night carousers,” combining breakfast foods and “heavier fare.” Dim Sum brunch is still popular in many Chinese restaurants and even the French use our wonderfully azy word for the combination of two meals. Oh, yeah, remember to eat enough so you don’t want lunch.

That’s brunch with me, but how do you do it?

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Hotel Akrabello – A Tourist’s Hotel

We kicked off with dinner at the Hotel Akrabello in Agrigento in the south of Sicily. In a rose-clad dining room, suited waiters glided around large round tables. Baskets of small, seeded rolls were crunchy but soft and almost sweet on the inside and bottled water was readily provided.

To start, came macaroni pasta in a tomato and aubergine sauce. The pasta was a little tough and chewy in places but mostly tender. The aubergines were wonderfully fresh, if a little overdone, and the whole dish was seasoned well, bringing out the more positive elements.

The main was more disappointing. Butter-flied chicken breasts were served up beside scoops of greasy, slightly soggy chips. The chicken was golden-brown and tender, surprisingly nice, while the chips were those awful representatives of the name; the twice removed cousin of the skinny frie and the fat, fluffy chip-shop chip, these were the cardboard type served up in fast-food chicken shops that barely qualify as chips.

Dessert came along in a more authentic style. It was a kind of frozen nougat, sprinkled all the way through with crushed almonds which combined well with the cool vanilla. A creamy dessert with a rather strange taste but definitely an enjoyable alternative to ice cream.

From a typical tourist hotel, I suppose dinner was passable, though something rather more native and fresh would have been appreciated.

Moving not too swiftly onto breakfast. Selection was limited but included the expected sugared croissants and bread rolls along with the variety of jams, honey and chocolate spread. The juice was more akin to the British style though thicker and with a slightly appealing bitter tang. A passable meal but lunch out was something to look forward too.

Dinner the second night began with penne pasta in a tomato sauce, worringly similar to the Heinz canned type. Seasoning was lacking and the sauce baby-puree smooth. Main course came as a pork escalope; thinly sliced, lean and very tender with the skin bordering on too hard but it was better than being soft. Accompanying the pork was peas and bacon though the bacon was dark in colour and hardly flavoursome but the peas were appetising and just firm to bite.

Finally to finish came the Italian version of mille feuille, or millefoglie in Italian. A light sponge, similar to madeira cake, atop which sat layers of cream and flaky pastry. It wasn’t as rich as the French delicacy but no worse because of it. It was light and fluffy, the wafer crumbling inside the cream. Very filling but certainly satisfying.

So, would I dine or stay here again? Dine, probably not, though one must remember they were cooking for a group of 37 and may have altered their menu; still, fresher cuisine and more interesting flavours or ingredients would definitely have lifted the meal. One for the tourists who love a good hotel pool and a tasty dessert.

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Hotel Athenaeum, Palermo

The modern, comfortable reception interior of Hotel Athenaeum is a welcome break from the oppressive Sicilian summer. Meals are served in a laid-back, red-tiled dining room, wooden tables and chairs spotted about the space, more traditional than the welcome-desk but pleasant nonetheless.

Breakfast is a buffet; cereals and tinned pears or sugar-dusted croissants complimented by an array of potted jams. A cherry tart was also available, the lattice pastry golden-brown and the deep red cherries ripe but just tart in taste. An interesting mix but it appealed to all tastes, and white bread rolls or packaged golden husk biscuits completed the mix of fresh and classic hotel.

The coffee machine beat expectations, doling out rich dark coffee, perfect with a small sprinkling of sugar. Orange juice was un-diluted and much sweeter than the English variety; thick but not gloopy and very popular amongst guests. Service was non-existent but even that was welcome as everything was laid out neatly and clearly, allowing a relaxed mood.

Overall, tasty, but it was neither in keeping fully with the traditional style of the hotel, nor had it gone the whole continental hog. Depends on what you prefer but I’d say more traditional would have worked better given the simple rooms and dining room decor.

Dinner is always difficult when it comes to 41 diners in a hotel but at the Athenaeum it was done with subtletly and speed, although a little touch of personality wouldn’t have gone amiss.

To start was a small serving of a style of rigatoni pasta with cubes of pork and a rich tomato sauce. Tasty, not too oily, though the pasta was a little rubbery. To follow was a small burger, and going by the taste, it was beef. Colour-wise it was rather pale, admittedly unappealing smattered with the green faces of herbs. A bit of a cheesy taste came from the burger, though there was no cheese in it and it could have done with being a little hotter. To accompany it was a mixed salad of lettuce and tomato dressed in vinegar. It was overdressed and decidedly inconsistent between dishes. To round off the main course was a basket of bread topped with sesame seeds; fresh and strong in taste and a lovely addition.

Again, an interesting medley, though I think quality wise breakfast definitely won. Added to the friendly staff and handy location in Palermo (by the university) I would recommend the Athenaeum to those who like the simple and the comfortable traditional.

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Rise and Shine: The Copthorne Hotel, Sheffield

18Fifty5 – The Copthorne Hotel, Bramall Lane, Sheffield

Had a rough night? Got a big conference in the morning? Or just fancy a great breakfast? Enter the 18Fifty5 restaurant in The Copthorne Hotel in Sheffield.

Here, they take the idea of a buffet breakfast and execute it almost faultlessly. Staff flit effortlessly around the nature themed dining room, dark wood pannelling gently lit by hanging lamps. Its all a bit Japanese really, what with the faint images of trees and dawn sunlight splashed across the pale walls.

The requested tea was brought quickly to the table by smiling servers, every one making an effort to say good morning and to make it clear that if a food was not available, the chef would be happy to assist.

There were the usuals: rice crispies, shredded wheat, fruit salad; but who really wants this stuff? Or who has a small bowl to start to tell themselves they’re being healthy? Never mind, the fruit was bright and fresh, selections of adornments from crushed nuts to banana chips and dried prunes available to sprinkle on natural yogurt. Platters of cheese and cold meats were also available, as well as 3 types of sliced bread, jams and spreads.

Next along was the real thing: the full english. Fat tomatoes with their insides dribbling out; tender button mushrooms in their own meaty juice; bacon, crisp but not too salty and sausages, well-cooked but perhaps the weakest element. Scrambled eggs were fluffy and light, as they should be, the black pudding dense enough to hold together, not gooey, and the baked beans, well who could fault them? Dishes were frequently topped up and nothing was too oily or had sat for too long – perhaps as we were among the early risers but who am I to judge what I do not see?

A raisin and walnut bread tasted a little under-done but mini pastries, though probably not homemade, were warm and just flaky when bitten into.

A lovely start to the day and nothing was too much trouble. When we asked a waitress the origins of the name 18Fifty5 she even sent her colleague over to explain that the site had first opened as a cricket ground, as she herself didn’t know. Since we booked about a week in advance, including a one-night stay, this was also great value for money.

18Fifty5 at The Copthorne Hotel serves breakfast how it should be.

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like toast?

if, like me, you like toast for breakfast, here is a quick and simple recipe for a fruity, nutty hot breakfast:

  • 2 slices bread
  • 1 banana (soft is best)
  • dried dates (I used 20g but it depends how hungry you are!)
  • 12g almonds

It’s really simple:

  1. Toast the bread – only lightly
  2. While the bread is toasting chop up your banana, dates and almonds. For the banana slices are fine, for the almonds the finer the better.
  3. Spread the soft banana across both slices of toast. Top with dates and most of the almonds. You can spread the dates if they are soft enough or just cover the banana with them.
  4. Place toast in griddle pan or under grill for a couple of minutes to finish toasting and to heat toppings
  5. Scatter with remaining almonds and enjoy!

You can use any dried fruit or nuts in this recipe – these are just ones that I enjoy 🙂

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