As the choice was down to me as to where we went, I opted for Pizza Express. Despite hearing great things about their ‘new’ gluten free options, I still hadn’t tried them for myself, so I thought that now would be a great time to try them out.
When we go to Pizza Express in Bristol, we tend to go the one near the centre of town in Corn Street, so I booked a table online. I discovered that they were still running their weekend offer of 3 courses for £13.75, but I’d previously seen comments that gluten free options weren’t included in this, and indeed none were shown on the set menu options.
I tweeted Pizza Express the evening before we were due to go to see if this was indeed the case, but I didn’t receive a response until after the day after I’d been (more on that later).
I still signed up for the offer as at the very least my boyfriend would be able to make use of it, so we headed into town and to Pizza Express.
On our arrival I asked the waiter if I was right in saying that gluten free options weren’t included in the meal. If this was the case and I was to have just two courses (a pizza and the dessert) I would end up paying more than my boyfriend who would be having all 3 courses, which just didn’t seem fair.
The waiter confirmed that this was indeed the case, so I said that I would be complaining about this, along with the lack of response on Twitter to my query. He took our order and when returning with our drinks, said that he would ask his manager if there was anything that he could regarding my query.
He returned and asked me to speak to the manager, who confirmed that they are regularly asked this question and that he was happy to overwrite the offer and allow me to have the Mozzarella and Tomato Salad as the starter, with a pizza and the gluten free chocolate brownie for dessert. He agreed that he didn’t think it was fair that these were not included in the offer as standard and said that if I was unsure in the future then I should phone up in advance, but that if he was working that day, he would allow the gluten free options to be included in the offer.
As you can probably realise, I was very pleased to hear this and now I was looking forward to my meal and particularly the pizza!
I don’t always have a starter these days, as I would previously have chosen the garlic bread or dough ball options in Pizza Express, but I was happy to try the Mozzarella and Tomato Salad as they’d kindly included it in the offer.
I certainly couldn’t fault the presentation, it looked great!
It certainly wasn’t the sort of salad that I was expecting though, I was expecting more of a leafy salad with mozzarella and tomatoes in it! I’m not even a big fan of tomatoes, so this was actually a bit of a struggle for me as I felt that it was quite bland.
The slices of mozzarella were huge (as you can see from the photo) so I was literally just eating slices of mozzarella and tomato, which unfortunately just wasn’t my cup of tea. My boyfriend really enjoyed it though and said that it was nice and refreshing compared to something like garlic bread. which can be quite filling before you even make it to your main course, which is a very valid point.
Padana Gluten Free Pizza
I purposely chose this pizza for my main course, as it was the one that I always used to eat before my diagnosis, so I wanted to compare one with a gluten free base to those that I used to eat.
When it arrived it certainly looked as good as it ever did :). It was presented on a slate as opposed to on a plate like my boyfriend’s and I couldn’t wait to tuck in (after taking some pictures first of course!).
The base was thin and crispy all the way through which was great and, as you can see from the photograph above, the toppings were perfectly proportioned.
The only negative I have for the whole pizza is how difficult it was to cut through the base – to the extent that the whole table wobbled, along with our drinks! When asked if we were enjoying our meals, I commented on this to the waiter and said he’d get me a pizza cutter, as he could see that I really was struggling. This made a massive difference, I just wish I’d had one from the start.
I remember the last time I was in the same Pizza Express eating the gluten version of this same pizza and I couldn’t eat it all as it made me feel very unwell. This was a couple of months before my diagnosis, which was when it all became clear! On this occasion I finished the whole pizza and as I’d have hoped, I had no symptoms at all :).
Gluten Free Chocolate Brownie
My initial comment about the dessert has to be in relation to the size. The only gluten free dessert option is tiny! It comes under Pizza Express’ Dolcetti range described as ‘mini puddings that come with coffee. Ideal when you can’t manage a whole dessert but still want something sweet’.
The first issue with this was that I wasn’t offered a coffee with my dessert, presumably I should have been?! Not that I would have drunk it as I don’t like coffee, but it would have been nice to have been offered the full Dolcetti experience.
Instead I just had a tiny piece of chocolate brownie, whilst Rich was enjoying a massive piece of chocolate fudge cake, that also came with ice cream! I’d have loved the option of ice cream with mine :(.
Don’t get me wrong, the brownie was very nice and the strawberry was a nice touch, but I don’t see why coeliacs have to lose out on size! The product was described as ‘soft and chocolatey, a classic brownie recipe using gluten-free flour, topped with a fresh strawberry and icing sugar’ and it certainly lived up to this description.
Overall I was delighted with the gluten free options now available in Pizza Express and this was definitely the best gluten free pizza I’ve had. To get it all for £13.75 was an added bonus!
I would definitely recommend that if you’re unsure as to whether your local restaurant will allow gluten free options in a special offer, give them a call first, you may have a pleasant surprise :).
Finally, with regard to my Twitter feedback (the day after I’d been to the restaurant and two days after I’d tweeted them), my initial query and the feedback was as follows:
‘@PizzaExpress may try gluten free menu tomorrow for 1st time, is the 3 course offer applic to the gf menu yet? Doesn’t seem fair to pay more’
‘@tracyattridge Hi Tracy. This is something we are currently looking into so I’ll pass your comments onto our Marketing team. Thanks, Helen.’
Fingers crossed that this is actually actioned and coeliacs will no longer be excluded from special offers due to their dietary requirements, something that we cannot change!
For more information about Pizza Express’ gluten free options you can visit their website (www.pizzaexpress.com/our-food/gluten-free) and you can follow them on Twitter (@PizzaExpress).
UPDATE: I’ve added a review about the restaurant’s gluten free dough balls! Read it here.
Have you tried these gluten free options? What did you think? How do you compare them with other restaurants? Are you having problems making use of the special offers?
I’d love to hear your views – please leave a comment below! 🙂