Enjoy consuming (HAHA I’m awful) this rewrite of my newspaper article, concerning food and eating, of course.
As chefs, waiters and managers prepared to reopen their restaurant doors, there was an intense hunger in the air for that restaurant experience we’ve all been craving since the 23rd of March – the start of the lockdown. Of course, a number of restaurants have still been available for takeaway over the past few months, but it’s just not the same. Now that takeaway has become a regular occurrence, the luxury that it once was, has seemingly fizzled out.
If your life is anything like mine, a takeaway night will start out with some technical issues, probably because some restaurants websites are not used to experiencing so much traffic. Once you’re past that hurdle, unlike the typical restaurant experience, the bill is immediately presented on screen, as a reminder that a hefty load of money will soon exit your bank account. Following this, there’s the long, impatient wait ahead, whilst the food is not only prepared, but also delivered. When it does finally arrive, it lasts a maximum of ten minutes; I can eat at an alarmingly fast rate when I’m hungry. This is one of my special talents that I’m considering putting on my Hinge account. What do you think?
Actually eating out is a far more fulfilling experience. Right from the onset, it’s an exciting event to look forward to, scheduled into the calendar, perhaps on a wild Friday night, or just a chilled Tuesday brunch date. When the day comes around, you get all dressed up, because the quality food deserves to be consumed by only the best dressed. This is not a casual loungewear dress code, like it is for a takeaway. This is a restaurant. There is less of a long, mouth watering wait for the food and the wait is made much more tolerable anyway with some soft bread to start (I hate olives, ew, I am not part of the olive-eating gang, please join me). As well as this, the whole experience lasts far more than ten minutes (unless you have an exceptionally efficient waiter and chef). It’s spread across one, two or even three courses, ensuring the experience lasts as long as possible.
As of 4th of July, this is now all available, but how do you decide which restaurant to venture to first? As I’ve had a lot of spare time to think about this, I’ve managed to wittle down the numerous options to just one key restaurant.
My all-time favourite should not come as a surprise: Pizza Express. In pre-pandemic times, I’d say I visited this particular chain every three or so months, and it’s not hard to see why. With over 470 restaurants spread across the U.K. and 100 more overseas, I can’t be the only one with a borderline obsession.
Everyone loves a pizza, and as of last year, the restaurant chain introduced more vegetarian and vegan friendly options, meaning there’s a pizza for anyone. On top of this, they’ve added gluten-free options, ensuring absolutely no-one misses out on the beauty that is Pizza Express. Of course, pizzas can be made in ten minutes in the oven at home. What I love about Pizza Express, is that they don’t just use an oven. They cook their pizza properly and professionally, with a masonry oven, colloquially known as a stone oven. To add to this, it goes without saying that their ability to make doughballs is something that will never cease to amaze me.
So they’ve got the starters right. Their main courses are simply second nature to them, even when ordering a bowl of pasta rather than a pizza. With regards to their desserts, I’d confidently argue that they’re winning in that department too. Whether you’re in the mood for a classic chocolate brownie, or perhaps a Honeycomb Cream Slice, Pizza Express know how to satisfy even the most fussy customers.
Obviously, no restaurant can be successful with just quality food. Drink specials have been reported as one of the key persuaders for consumers to try out new restaurants, with millennials especially, ‘driving demand for innovation’. This is no issue for Pizza Express: as well as offering the basics, such as red and white wines, beers, and soft drinks (not my thing), they also offer a selection of cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks, acting as mocktails. For a cocktail, I’d recommend their Aperol Spritz; a combination of Aperol, Prosecco, soda and orange. It tastes like juice and is guaranteed to get you pretty bamboozled after a couple of those bad boys. For a more sober meal out, their Raspberry Sparkle is the perfect alternative; raspberry lemonade, served with mint and lime, and just in time for summer. Get in my belly.
Although Pizza Express has been my one and only recommendation, there were quite a few runners up when I was putting this blog together: Las Iguanas, Zizzi’s and Turtle Bay also hit the spot for me on an unhealthily frequent basis. Everyone has different preferences for a restaurant, but whichever eatery you’re gonna find yourself ending up in this month, be sure to make your first post-lockdown meal out a special one. I know where I’ll be; I’m itchy to watch a smiling waiter coming towards me, wearing the classic plain black T-shirt Pizza Express uniform, and hear them say, “Table for two?”.