Pizza Express gets it right - again

I’m long enough in the tooth to remember PE when it only had a couple of branches - including the one on Wardour Street (which I think was its second outlet). I also make claim to have had dinner with Brian May (the Queen one, not a random Brian May) in the Richmond branch - although when I say “with”, I mean he was on the other side of an almost empty restaurant.

And I’ve been quite a fan ever since. Nice reliable pizza. We went to the local branch for lunch. They have a newish one - Calabrese - and it’s a belter. It comes as a large rectangle - crisp base, usual pleasant tomato sauce, with nduja, spicy Calabrian sausage, red chilli, drizzles of pesto and nuggets of mozzarella baked in and more scattered on top.

I chatted with the waiter about the Government’s proposal, announced today, to prevent restaurants retaining any of the service charge. PE’s practice of retaining something like 10% of amounts paid by card was exposed a couple of years back and, to be fair to them, they immediately stopped doing it. But he was glad to see it being suggested that it come into law. Of course, these issues don’t arise in countries where service is inherently included in the menu price and nothing further, by way of a tip, is expected from the customer. Just pay your staff properly for the work they do, Mr/Ms RestaurantOwner - and, like in every other commercial business that includes taking the order and delivering the product.


I remember being extremely excited when the Oxford branch opened in the 1990s. Then again Pret and All Bar One opening there in the same decade was (were?) also quite exciting…

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Hmmm. I also remember McDonalds’ first opening in Manchester in the early 80s. We’d had our first trip to America in 1980 so knew what to expect but friends went along and were somewhat shocked that there was no cutlery.


Pizza Express announces it’s to close 73 branches, with the loss of 1100 jobs, as a response to its on-going financial troubles. It includes its once flagship Soho restaurant on Wardour Street which I mentioned in the OP. Ah, those were the days - when a chain pizza restaurant was a “destination”.


Awful news. :frowning_face:

If your friends went to Tokyo and dine at 7025 Franklin Avenue, they’d be shocked, but for the opposite reason.

When my Japanese colleagues told me they were bringing me to a “fine-dining burger restaurant”, I thought something was lost in translation - until we got there and there was this sumptuous dining room with French windows that looked out to a manicured lawn. The chefs were all in toque blanche and crisp-starched linen uniforms, and waiters in vests, with napkins draped over their arms.

The restaurant served only hamburgers and hot dogs - on proper crockery and expensive silverware. Onions rings were carefully arranged into a bouquet, and French fries were meticulously stacked like a miniature Jenga block set. I thought I’d died and gone to burger hell. :joy:

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There was a fashion in the UK a few years back of stacking chips in Jenga style. Mercifully, fashion seems to have changed, although we are still often stuck with the ubiquitous “fat chips”. Why places can’t serve chip sized chips beats me.

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I’m also perplexed by all the places boasting about their “skin-on” chips, as though it was some amazing flavour experience rather than a cynical way to save time and peeling costs! Or am I the cynical one? :joy:


Isnt it supposed to be a nutrition thing? TV celeb chefs always seem to be saying don’t bother to peel the veg, just give it a good wash (to get the shit off it if you’re an organic buyer, like me).

Respectfully, if I am relying on the nutritional value of potato skins on my chips, I think I should be reassessing my food choices. :joy: