Last week, I received an invitation to try out Pizza Express‘ new “Express Lunch” menu. Obviously this is my idea of a dream come true, so I jumped at the chance and on Thursday Rory and I headed down to see what was in store.
Although I love Pizza Express (and have very fond memories of a school trip there in year 3), I’ve never actually been inside the Exeter branch. It’s situated right on Cathedral Green in a gorgeous old building with equally lovely views, so the location is easily one of the best in the city.
Inside, we were whisked upstairs to our table and handed the menus. The new lunch menu is surprisingly expansive for a lunchtime offering, with eight pizzas (described as smaller as their regular ones, inkeeping with the light lunch theme), several salads, soup, sides, and something I’d not seen before – the Piadina, which is like a pizza/sandwich hybrid.
I ordered the Polla Ad Astra pizza and Rory had the Italian meat Piadina, and then we ordered a side of doughballs (my favourite food in the entire world – Pizza Express doughballs cannot be beaten), and one of polenta chips, which I was intrigued by. Our waiter seemed surprised that we weren’t ordering more so we were a bit worried that the portions were going to be really tiny, but they weren’t at all!
My pizza was pretty much spot on. Although it looked big, the base was paper-thin enough that it still felt light and not too calorific (I know I know…it probably was). I gave two slices to Rory and was still easily full.
I didn’t try his piadina because of all the cheese, but he assures me it was delicious. It certainly looked impressive!
Doughballs were doughball-like and delicious – honestly, I could eat them forever – and the polenta chips were a revelation in their own right. They came with the most delicious honey-mustard dip (which our waitress may or may not have dropped all over the floor the first time around…it was replaced quickly & apologetically!) and they were so yummy. I’ve had polenta in loads of different forms and I still don’t really understand what it is but they were such a good, unusual side!
Now, at this stage we were pleasantly full. However, then they brought out the dessert menu and I lost my head a little bit. Rory went for the summer pudding, a very sensible, fruity option.
I was tempted by the raspberry sorbet and also, boringly, by plain vanilla gelato…and then when the waiter arrived, I found myself ordering a chocolate glory – the most enormous sundae you could imagine. Even the waiter laughed at me when I ordered it. Luckily Rory was on hand to help!
This visit really reignited my love for Pizza Express. Sometimes you just need a good chain restaurant, and it helps that the Exeter branch is so gorgeous inside! Our service was great, food was delicious and the lunch menu is really well priced. Nothing is more than £7 and like I said, it’s big enough to offer something for everyone and light enough that you won’t come out stuffed (unless you go for that sundae…we rolled home). Thanks for having us Pizza Express, and I’ll be back!
(*On this occasion we were guests of the restaurant but as always my opinons are all my own!)