Pizza Express by Tom
I’m fortunate enough to live in an area of the country filled with great eats. Like wild orca whales surrounding a precariously balanced podgy seal, award winning chefs surround me, vying for me to fall off my current diet-berg and stuff my face with their delights.
Even as a self-confessed food snob, I’m spoilt for choice and the eating’s always good.
However, something grimey lurks deep within me, more specifically within my tum tum. I call it the ‘Stomach Prince’. This prince of darkness, awakens whenever I consider my next food outing. He speaks to me, whispering sweet nothings, corrupting my thoughts. He demands I consider an alternative course of action. He demands mid-90s, mid-class faux Italian mediocrity. He demands Pizza Express. I can’t explain why. I can’t answer for him. But 3 times out of 10 he wins and I take myself and whoever I can drag down with me to Pizza Express.
This presents an immediate problem for anyone who is familiar to Pizza Express. One cannot simply go to Pizza Express. No, no, first admin is required. There is ALWAYS a voucher for pizza express. I’m no coupon scrounger, but when said voucher results in a whole free course, you have to print one off or suffer the guilt your wallet demands for not doing so. This system has been the same for years and therefore must be successful for them – which says a lot about their main customer base.
Once there, I’m always impressed by how busy it is. A real authentic bustle of underpaid staff frantically scurrying around ferrying their body weight in dough balls to each, never contented, diner. Their thirst for spherical dough never sustained. Commendable. I don’t judge the patrons for this, I’ll be joining them soon enough – the prince has already whispered a need for doughy balls en route.
Balls quaffed, I move on to Pizza. Apparently they do salads and pastas too. I will openly judge anyone within a 10m radius of me who elects for one of these alternatives. Stay at home, you aren’t welcome here.
As I mentioned earlier, I am a food snob. Irregardless of the stomach prince, I am still aware of this. I want to judge the pizza, given its relatively low price and the cheap plate it’s been served on. But I can’t. Pizza Express have one thing to get right and, to their credit, they do indeed nail it. The modern fashion with pizzerias at the moment seems to be a ‘less is more’ artisan route – to the point of it essentially being toast with a bit of tomato on top. Not at Pizza Express.
Criticisms? A few: Clearly at this price point, the toppings aren’t going to be of the highest quality. We aren’t going to get artichokes hand selected by Pope Francis that have been watered with a virgin’s tear. No, we are getting the tinned, CostCo variety. But really it’s not noticed. The only real major criticism comes when it’s time to pay. The hideous moment I have to announce I have a voucher. It feels like a confession. I feel cheap. Then I look around and every other fucker is doing the same, with the same grimace.
The Dark One sated for another month or so, I am now free to go home. And I can announce my confession. There is no ‘Stomach Prince’. I just didn’t want to admit what I knew all along: Pizza Express is bloody great and I don’t care who knows.
I do maintain that the intestine dwelling ‘Dainty Duke of Macdonalds’ is real however!