Tag Archives: food

Wetherspoons do pizza now*…

17 Feb

…And I tell thee, it’s not bad at all.

Hi! I’m Will, Twitter’s @willmill82, and I’m here to, well, lose the writer’s block that has blighted me since I lost my job back in December. This may not be the most refined review you’ll ever read, but it’s important that I do this. I need to force myself to put stuff on paper (or interweb in this instance), in order to get the neurones firing. I shalln’t bore you with the details today, a further post on that will follow as and when.

So walking home on Tuesday night, I saw this: a photo inviting me to go in and sample what could be a game changer:

Now, pizzas in pubs aren’t new exactly; the fancy bars about town do them, alongside fancy beers from overseas what are sold in bottles with labels written in languages that bamboozle the monoglot, this we know. What we didn’t know was, given the popularity of pizzas in fancy bars, why didn’t Wetherspoons sell them?

I asked a friend of mine who used to work at Spoons this some time ago, who explained the difficulty laid with the fact that many outlets would need to acquire an oven, and even then, be assuming that the cooking would be from frozen, they would not be able to get them to your table within x minutes, unlike the curry, chips, sandwiches etc.

Well, now they do sell pizzas. Sort of. To be accurate, some Wetherspoons do, but most don’t. This is a trial, I’m told, that had been going on since October or thereabouts, that no-one seems to have noticed. If one did a cursory Google (or Bing) for Wetherspoons pizza, you’ll note that this addition to the menu has made the Exeter local press, but made little impact elsewhere. If you search Twitter, you’ll see a picture of a man looking horrified at a pizza that he got at Heathrow a couple of years back; however, airport Spoons are a law onto themselves.

But now that they’ve got their arse in gear, what’s it like? How much is it? How long’s the wait? Do they do my favourite toppings? Is it microwaved?

Let’s find out.

In price terms, it was ok. In the Crystal Palace, Glasgow, my pizza came to a reasonable £7.29, given they are going after the Pizza Express / Ask! / Gourmet Pizza market.

Not bad that – a 12-inch pizza plus a real ale for less than a tenner in Glasgow city centre. It is worth pointing out that I was dining alone, however; many restaurants/bars in the area offer two for one pizzas as a permanent promotion, so may well work out cheaper for couples and groups. It is only a trial, though – should it be successful, I suppose they could always offer an inclusive drink as they do with their steaks and pastas, or possibly a 2 for £10 deal?

The menu is a little basic at the pub I visited – I’m told other Wetherspoons offer a choose your own option. I’d have welcomed black olives and anchovies myself, but the menu is perfunctory in that you’ve got a couple of vegetarian options, two meaty ones, and they can always expand the range.

So, the pizza then. Behold! It doesn’t show all that well in the photo (beware cheap android phones with cheap android cameras, kids), but it was very good. The base was nice and thin, but not too crisp. The sauce was top notch, a rich tomato that didn’t overpower the toppings, just enough mozzarella, as well as chopped up ham, pepperoni, chicken, and garnished with rocket, chargrilled chillis (hot ones, it turns out), and chilli oil.

More importantly, the pizza was served on a plate. A rarity these days, one expects these to be delivered on a bit of wood, or a street sign, or in a bucket, or on a painting – Spoons are old fashioned, and this is to be welcomed. It came with a pizza wheel as opposed to a knife and fork, which is sensible, though one wonders how many of those will get nicked before they revert to normal cutlery or just slice it in the kitchen.

One thing it didn’t come with was a napkin – looking round it looked like other diners had them, so maybe it was just me. Maybe I didn’t look like a napkin guy. Trust me, I need as much help as I can get, especially after having shovelled eight slices of cheese, tomato and dead things into my face.

Notwithstanding, a welcome addition to the menu – hopefully, the trial will pass and more Spoons will sell pizzas. Unfortunately, I have no idea what Wetherspoons are selling what so it is a lottery – am happy to update this post with further information as it’s received – if your local Wetherspoons is doing the trial, why not tweet me or hashtag it #wetherspoonspizza ?

In summary:

Food: 8/10

Price (for one): 9/10

Wait: 15 minutes (moderately busy Friday, not long at all)

Food what I just ate.

30 Jul

Dave the Barman suggests I would make a good restaurant critic. Here goes…

I am in a pub. This should not come as a surprise, as it is one of the few things in my life that I do. I am generally either a) at work, b) at home, or c) in the pub. Occasionally there will be an exciting fourth option, such as going to the football, cinema, park or gun shop, but by and large I have a simple life. You can generally have a 33% chance of correctly predicting where I am at any given time, and, if you factor in the likely times at which I’m at home or work, you can increase your chances of correctly guessing where I am to a massive 100%. This is, of course, only if you have nothing to do.

Today, however, I am in the pub purely by mistake. Having been to get my hair cut, and being a very vain man indeed, I decided to stay out in order to fish for complements. I also decided to have lunch. So far, not one person has complemented me on my dapper snipped-up hair. No-one. Not Big Sam. Not Wee Eddie. Not Ray-mund-O!. Not Gary the South African. Not even Pete the Thief. Not even a derogatory remark from Insultin’ Jeff. The first part of the trip has been a waste.

Thankfully, the food fared much better. I went for the lasagne. Lasange is one of these dishes that is easy to make, but very difficult to make good. For my money, only two people get lasagne spot-on, my Dad (sorry Mum), and Tennents bar in Glasgow’s West End. This is almost certainly due to the ludicrous cheese-to-meat ratio that these goons employ.

image

Here’s my meal. As you can see, the lasagne and ONE cherry tomato are to the left of the cutlery, with some ranched up leaves and THREE cherry tomatoes to the right.

The lasange itself wasn’t that bad. I appreciate the effort, despite it almost certainly being a microwave-me-do, but found it lacking. See, a lasagne is split into three parts: a) cow, b) tomatoey goodness, and c) cheesy pasta topping. There was no faulting the cow element of this dish; it was quality beef with a nice bit of spice to it. Perhaps a little too peppery, but worse things happen. The tomatoey goodness was a little bit bland, if I’m honest. Usually, you get complementary vegetables, such as carrots, mushrooms (not a vegetable) and ting, which boost the flavour and bring joy. Instead, this lasagne contained what I call “generic red sauce with herbs”. Not unpleasant, thus rather thin. Luckily, the white sauce/cheese/pasta combination made up for it, but as I lamented earlier, needs MOST CHEESES.

All in all, not bad. Me and Dave the barman (who served me my food) suggested that I should give restaurant reviews a go, so here it is Dave. Also, thank’s for this:

image

That’s right, a lemony fresh wet-wipe. I didn’t know you still got them, such has been the length of time since I last ate out. I thought they were dead.

Furthermore, as I was writing this, Dave came up to me, asked how I was enjoying the meal, and gave me the weirdest backrub since the beginning of time, nearly ruining my meal. Nice one, Dave. Don’t worry, folks, he only does this to people he knows, don’t avoid it on his account, you’ll be fine!

The Society Room
Glasgow.
Wetherspoons (Lloyds Bar No1)
Lasagne: £5.50. 7/10.

Kebabish Vs Kebabish

5 Feb

I love kebabs, me.

As a kid, on my way to visit maternal grandparents, my dad used to drive down Westow Hill towards Streatham, and we used to pass the first kebab shop I ever knew. “What’s kebab Daddy?” I innocently asked one Sunday afternoon. “Ah, son!” he said. “There are TWO types of kebab! The one daddy likes is called SHISH, and it’s meat on a skewer thats grilled on a barbeque!”

“Barber queue?” (I was young)

“The other type of kebab, sonny, is the Donner kebab. Don’t touch it son, it’s SHIT.”

And there I was. Years later, I went into the Broadway Kebab shop in Catford after a few beers in the Bromley, and missing my last direct bus home (necessitating a walk home from Catford, which NO-ONE LIKES). Having remembered my old man’s advice, I considered the shish. I liked how the marinaded bits of fresh lamb looked on the skewer, imagined them being tossed over the charcoal grill in the corner to perfection, and then being served on some chips, or something.

However, in between deciding on the shish and opening my mouth, my eyes noticed that the price of the kebab was a hyperbolically large amount, somewhere in the region of NINE MILLION POUNDS. I had only three quid, so I said to the man behind the counter “Good even, shopkeep. May I purchase one of your finest Donner kebabs please!”. The gentleman obliged, scooping large amounts of what can only be described as grey strips of non-descript bubbly meat into an opened, unleavened bread of some sort (pitta, as I now understand), which he topped off with some mixed salad and some odd looking ketchup from a bottle. “Thank you!” I said, as I handed over my change. I sat outside, at the bus stop, and started to eat my evening meal. Do you know what, reader? It was fantastic. The greasy gristle was alive with flavour, the salad was foul, but the spicy red stuff, combined with the previously imbibed alcohol made it absolutely bloody brilliant. From that day forth, I was a convert. I arrived home at about one in the morning. “Papa!” I shouted, tears running down my face, “why did you LIE?”. The reply was incomprehensible, something about “work in the morning” and “shut your face”.

Anyway, that was then. Let bygones be bygones and all that. Since then, I’ve moved to Scotland, received an education, and become one of the least successful office guys the world has ever seen, but I still have my kebabs to look forward to of an evening.

Having moved to Glasgow’s sunny south side of late, one of the first things I noticed about my new neighbourhood is that there are literally a dozen kebab shops within 5 minutes walk from my flat, and that two of them are called “Kebabish”. Now, at first glance, I thought that these were two different branches of the same kebab tree, and that this kebab shop was soooo good, it felt the need to open another shop about 10 minutes walk away, like what Subway do.

NO.

Upon further inspection, the one on Pollokshaws Road is a “Kebabish Original“, whereas the other one, on nearby Victoria Road, is the “Kebabish Grill“. Two completely different beasts, so I decided to investigate. Surely, if one is the “original” one, then the other should be called “Kebabish FAKE” or “CHEAP KNOCKOFF KEBABISH”. I met my mate “Big Gordy”, who I call him that due to his height (he is tall) and because he is a Gordon. Anyway, Big Gordy is a native of where I now live, so I asked him about the two places.

“Ahh yes, dear chap!” (Big Gordy is a) posh and b) doesn’t like being called Big Gordy), “that Kebabish has been there years, but then the chap who ran the place sold it to this other chap, and then opened up “Kebabish Original” round the corner!”

“HOLD IT THERE, Gordon. Are you trying to tell me that Kebabish Original is the FAKE?”

“No, not quite, it’s the original owner of the other place (Kebabish Grill), in his new place (Kebabish Original)”.

“Oh.”

A quick look at the respective websites seems to back this shit up – Kebabish Grill declare that they became independent around about 2005, whereas Kebabish Original say that they’ve been around in franchise form since 2002. It seems plausible that Mr Kebabish, upon hearing of a franchise named after his restaurant, would wish to sell up and start up a franchised restaurant in competition with his former business. It is worth pointing out that Big Gordy was drunk.

Now, if you were expecting some kind of restaurant review, you’re in luck. I decided to pit these two foes against each other to see who was the best.

Kebabish Original

The Kebabish Original corporate logo. Look at it! It's skewered! You know, like a kebab!

First off, I tried the Kebabish Original. It was late one Saturday evening, and me and my pal Joe had been drinking beer up at the Laurieston Bar, a popular ale haunt on the south bank of the River Clyde. As we were walking home, Joe said that he could murder something to eat. BRILLIANT, I thought. This means I could try out that place that I was writing about earlier. So we went in, and I ordered the Donner Kebab to take away. By the time we had got there, Joe had decided that this place wasn’t for him, and away he went in search of his own grub. Meanwhile, I took the container home, and set about demolishing the contents.

The food was pretty good, all things considered. The salad was fresh, the sauce was very spicy, and the serving of shaved elephant leg meat was, by all modern standards, very generous indeed. Best thing of all was; whereas most kebabs are served in a rubbish pitta bread which invariably breaks up when you try to eat it, this was served in a naan bread. A freshly cooked, robust naan bread. This was seriously good news. The meat was particularly tasty, lightly spiced lamb, and not too greasy. I will not lie; this wasn’t the healthiest meal I’d ever had, but it hit the spot, and for £3 on the nose, it was excellent value too.

The restaurant wasn’t bad either; I can see myself going back for a sit down meal one of these days; it would be unfair to call it “a kebab shop” per se, as the large seating area is atypical of the genre. From what I am told, it is a popular local eatery, with the curries and mixed grills being the specialities. Should you be visiting and have a spare £26 to hand, the “K.O. Special Ship” looks quite nice; the dish consists of a spit roasted baby chicken, chicken tikka, lamb tikka, chops, kebabs, half a chicken shawarma, and chicken wings. Dare I say it, if the powers that be ever want to do a “Man Vs Food: UK” style program, I would consider it a bloody honour to shove all that down my neck in the name of reality TV.

Next up was the place around the corner. Now, like the Kebabish Original, I never really meant to go when I did. Truth be told, I actually headed out to Lidl over the road to buy some half price chicken drumsticks, but alas the thrifty shoppers of Govanhill had beaten me to the punch. None left by 12.30 on a Sunday lunchtime, and it was a weekend only offer. Bloody typical, eh? Now, the Kebabish Grill doesn’t open until 1pm on a Sunday, which meant that I had some time to kill. Naturally, I wanted to do a like-for-like comparison, and I was fairly pissed when I went to the other one, so I went to the pub. 1pm came and went, but I still hadn’t worked up the hunger. A couple of Guinnesses later, and I was good to go.

Kebabish Grill

Look! The Kebabish "K" looks like an open pitta bread! And the Kebabish "i" looks like one of those pickled chillis you throw away! You know, like in a kebab!

Unlike the Kebabish Original, which had it’s own takeaway counter, this place was a full on restaurant. I was a little concerned that I might not even get a takeaway from this place, given how grand it all looked. I stood by the “wait to be seated” sign, and the Maitre D came over. “Hello! I’m just here for a take-out”, I sheepishly said. Half expecting a look of disgust, I was delighted when the chap smiled, and took my order there and then. “May I have a Donner Kebab please?”, I asked. “I’m afraid it’s only Chicken Donner we sell, is that alright?” the chap replied, in the same rhetorical manner that bar staff at Wetherspoons habitually tell you that it’s Pepsi your going to get in your Vodka. “Yeah, that’ll be fine” I said. CHICKEN DONNER? I honestly had no idea that this existed, which brings a whole extra dimension to my world of boozed up cuisine.

Having got home with my takeaway, I inspected the contents. It was very, very different to the kebab I’d had the week before. Aside from the fact that this was poultry based, the salad was very different – the tomatoes were quartered, not sliced; there was carrot in it, which is just weird, and the spicy red sauce was nowhere to be seen; instead, the sauce was a minty yoghurt, a raita if you will. It did, however, smell damned good. The chicken, as it turns out, is a bloody great beast to kebab; like its lamb counterpart, the meat was marinaded in spice before being flung on a vertical spit, cooked, and then sliced off into a buffet tray. The flavour was fantastic, with a nicer consistency to it than traditional lamb shavings. The salad and sauce combination was nice too; the spice came from the meat, so the yoghurt sauce gave it a nice balance. Best of all, like their near neighbours and deadly rivals, the kebab came on a naan bread, which I have subsequently decided will be the industry standard when I’m in charge. One day…

However, it wasn’t all good. The kebab set me back £3.95, which was more than I’d usually be looking to pay. Furthermore, the portion of meat wasn’t all that great, I must say – and I got the impression that there was more salad than meat. On the bright side, however, this may mean it qualifies as diet food, and therefore can be marketed as a post-pub snack for the modern man who starts his day with a bowl of Special K. Having had a flick through the menu as I waited, the food in there looked pretty awesome; no massive meal like Original’s, but they do offer a mixed grill for £12, which is better than a kick in the mouth, as well as a fish kebab, which I can only imagine to be like the worlds best fish finger sandwich, times a million.

Sadly folks, I cannot declare a winner here, because they were both good in their own way. If this were a fight to the death, they’d both give killing each other a good go, only to find out that they were both immortal, or something. No, there’s room for both of these places in my life, and I’ll be going back to both as and when my bank account lets me.