Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Pizza Express - Disaster

Rest : Pizza Express
Meal : New Years Lunch
Loc : Off Regal, near Gateway of India, Colaba 

Mrs Jain & I, have a new years tradition, we usually go to Thai Pavilion for our new years lunch because not only is the food great, its freakishly consistent and i call it the best restaurant in the city if not the country.

However this year, i let Mrs Jain break away and we ended up at Pizza Express, this alone should have set alarm bells ringing. Like a gambler, once you place your bet, you NEVER move your chips because that is the sign of doom but then again, i dont gamble. 

Pizza Express has nearly 450 restaurants across the UK, Europe & the ME, which means more or less that they know what they are doing, or rather should know what they are doing. The menu is largish with a bunch of different pizzas, some pasta and appetizers. 

The ambiance is okay, industrial, exposed piping which has been done to death even in India. The kitchen sits in the middle which is kind of awkward and unfortunately, their exhaust system does not work nearly as well as it should. My eye were stinging a third of the way through the meal and it was pretty irritating. 

The first thing we got were the stuffed mushrooms, i remember having these before at San Marzano which was Pizza Express's earlier avatar at Churchgate. I also remember the dish being pretty good, this one however was under seasoned and under salted, no great shakes despite adding salt either. 

The dough balls, apparently based on a secret recipe, were quite ordinary and definitely  not an appetizer. Also, the mushrooms came with a bunch of dough balls, so we ended up with a portion and a half of something not quite so good. I wish they let you know on the menu what other dishes comes with dough balls so one does not go around ordering them, i could have gotten some garlic bread with mozzarella instead. 

The Canneloni, was okayish, it had a funky after taste and  i dont mean funky bad but just funky weird. The tomato sauce too felt like it was just warm sauce with no seasoning or taste, puree like almost.

The funghi di bosco was mushrooms, garlic and parsley and not much taste. thin and crispy, quick to eat but honestly it could have done with some taste to it. There really was not much going on here. 

The pizza was burnt on the edges, something i dont mind personally but mrs Jain dislikes immensely. Funnily enough, although the pizza was burnt, it was served completely cold. 

My Bruschetta con funghi was possibly one of the worst plated dish i have ever seen, didn't feel like eating it, the taste too was not that impressive, the bread they use tastes too much lik pav. Besides, this too was served cold and showed up only after our mains were finished, a dish nearly 50 minutes in the making.. not worth it in case you were wondering.

The side salad was rocket leaves with a balsamic drizzle and emil grana, the leaves were bitter and the drizzle and most of the cheese was hidden below the leaves, so all you essentially got was a mouth full of bitterness. 

The Chocolate Fudge Glory is quite inglorious, or rather it was a bit of a cock up. Should come with chocolate sauce but they couldnt find it apparently and ended up putting in caramel instead. weird thing is, mrs jain said both the desserts were sitting on a serving table for 15 mins and she was wondering which unlucky table was going to get them. Turns out we were the lucky ones.

Also, i am not a fan of substitutions to dishes without permission, beyond the fact that is is supremely annoying, it could be a hazard if someone is allergic to a particular item.

The Gelato was supposed to be chocolate and strawberry, turned out to be vanilla and chocolate, which i actually hate. the waiter insisted on taking it back but i had had enough of it. I took a spoon full of the mostly melted chocolate and it tasted too much of whatever liqueur they had used and we decided that was the end of it and walked out. 

Overall, the food was badly executed and carelessly presented. The recipes seem completely out of whack with every dish under seasoned, under salted, or just plain tomato sauce. Not a single thing stood out as remotely appetizing.

 The service was even worse, slow, dim witted, clue less and completely disorganized. We ordered our mains with the appetizers and still had to wait 40 odd minutes for them and one of the appetizers showed up 15 minutes after the appetizer. We could see food just lying on serving tables for minutes on end but no one could come pick em up. Our servers kept constantly changing and we must have dealt with five different people, so they are certainly not under staffed as they claimed. 

The table behind us was getting upset enough to get talk about throwing their glasses to get attention, i for one dont subscribe to that kind of behavior but they were truly driven to it with three little children it must have been exasperating to wait for food. 

The service is certainly a training issue, i dont think the team has been trained well at all and its unfair to have them face the brunt of angry patrons. A floor manager is a must, especially on a holiday like today when there are bound to be crowds. The only way to fix this place truly, is to shut down for a few days, re look at their recipes, figure out whats wrong and seriously, hyper train their people.

This is truly a management cock up and they really need to get their act together very quickly if they intend to survive in that area. I used to think Indigo Deli across the street was bad or slow service but damn they are positively electric geniuses in comparison. 

I have had a good run of excellent meals of late, so perhaps this had to happen sometime. I just hope this is not a sign for the coming year.

Food : 3/10
Service : 3/10
Damage : 3000 without drinks.  

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