We all know that there are some fantastically good places to eat as a person with dietary requirements and some not-so-good. It can be a bit of a minefield, especially if you’re dining out with someone who can just eat everything and anything. That’s why some of our high street restaurants adopting a more liberal approach towards accommodating a vegan diet has been such a positive thing. To walk into an eatery without giving advanced notice, pick up a menu and order 3 courses is such a relief for those of us who avoid allergens like dairy and eggs. PizzaExpress is a chain that have recently started to add more options to their offering, including a vegan friendly dessert.
I must admit it was a long time between visits. Because competitors like Zizzi have such a good vegan menu we have overlooked PizzaExpress. That said, I’m finding my need to eat vegan cheese topped pizzas not as strong as it was when I first transitioned and had heard good things about their Pianta . Made with a tomato base and topped with spinach, mushrooms, artichokes, pine nuts and fresh rocket, it is designed to be cheese free. You can take along your own alternative (in unused and sealed packaging) and the chefs are happy to use your cheese. I’ve been known to do this with other establishments but decided I would order the Pianta as it was conceived.We were invited along to check out the revamped restaurant in the Metrocentre, which has taken some inspiration from the previous inhabitant of the Qube – Metroland. Boy, I miss that rollercoaster! The Teen was just old enough to start riding on it when the theme park was closed and it started off his love of scary rides. Least said about our trip to Florida a couple of years ago and how chicken I was, the better 🙂 There is also a private dining area that can be used for pizza making parties, for corporate lunches, etc.The Dinky Diner was not in a jolly mood during our visit. There were attempts made by the staff to placate her with balloons and colouring in activities but she was having none of it. Trust her to be tetchy on the one occasion we didn’t have a dummy with us! We started off with a Doppio portion of the famous PizzaExpress Dough Balls. These came served with the pestorissa – a harissa dip that’s suitable for vegans – and balsamic & olive oil. The mildly spiced tomato dip worked really well and I kept some to dunk my pizza crusts in.
The Pianta is a beast of a pizza and I really struggled to finish it. Loaded with vegetables, it feels more virtuous than a standard pizza with a cheese topping. I actually ended up taking half home with me as I wanted to save room for dessert.The Teen chose the Classic Margherita as his main course and made swift work of it. He knew he was going to finish the meal off with a slice of Vanilla Cheesecake, which also disappeared as quickly as it arrived at the table.By this time Dinky was definitely ready for the scratcher (bed, as my Dad refers to it as) and was being super fussy. She did, however, stop twisting to help me finish the bowl of Coconut Delight. Tasting like Bounty, this creamy dessert is dairy free and delicious.
I felt anxious about Dinky’s behavior, especially as she’s normally very good in restaurants, but the staff were really helpful with her. Their Piccolo Menu is good for smaller diners and starts at just £3.95. I think PizzaExpress offer a decent selection of dishes for who are dairy free and/or vegan and with whispers of a new dessert launching I think we’ll be returning soon to try it out. The menu also mentions that they have been accredited by Coeliac UK so you can feel confident if you are gluten free that they understand your requirements.
Thanks for reading,
We have featured other local restaurants who cater for those who are dairy free or vegan here.