Pizza Express – Balham
Out in Balham and wanted to grab a quick lunch. Usually we got to Megans however today we tried somewhere different.
Where is Pizza Express in Balham?
Balham is in South London, on the Northern Line tube. It is situated between Wandsworth Common and Tooting Bec Common. Pizza Express is a short walk from Balham stations so easy to get to.
Outside Pizza Express – Balham
Its not actually on the main street, but is off a street perpendicular to the main street. There are lots of restaurants down this road so they do manage to get plenty of footfall. From the outside it looks like it would be quite small inside.
Branding wise, it is typical Pizza Express, nothing exciting with how it looks.
Inside the Pizza Express – Balham
When you step through the front doors there is a large hallway with the restaurant split into 2. To the left there are some tables and benches with a view out the large front windows. Unfortunately you are just looking over the Sainsbury’s carpark.
To the right there is an additional restaurant seating area. I’ve never eaten in there as it has always been pretty empty when I’ve visited.
Its not called ‘Pizza Express’ for nothing! This chain does branch away from Pizza slightly, with a number of pasta dishes available for a main course. They have also expanded out their starters to offer more range – its not longer just dough balls or Garlic Pizza bread with mozzarella!
Check out the menu from Pizza Express.
As we sat down, I checked online and there was a 25% off your total bill offer as well as a 3 course set menu for £16. You could only have one or the other, not both. We chose the 25% off the total bill as we were unsure whether we wanted dessert and didn’t fancy the restrictions of the set menu. It is always worth checking the Pizza Express offers website as there is usually some sort of deal to be had.
We started with calamari. They always look good to me but I remember its because I like the look of onion rings – I actually can’t stand squid!. I went for the chicken wings. These are a new offering for the menu and its nice to have something that isn’t bread-based as a starter.
The calamari was a decent portion and comes with a dip and a wedge of lemon. I was reliably informed that they weren’t bad. I begged to differ! 😀
The chicken wings come with a side dip and that’s it. There were 6 ‘half-wings’ in the portion and they weren’t the very small wings you get in other places. I don’t think they have a deep-fat fryer in Pizza Express so you know they have been oven baked so must be a little bit healthier than fried chicken wings.
The Mains Event
Its Pizza time! We both went for pizza and decided to share a side salad. Pizza Express offers a couple of options when it comes to the base. Regular, Romano, Leggera and Gluten Free. Regular is like what you get in the supermarket – it always feels too much bread. The Leggera, they just cut out the center! I didn’t fancy gluten free so went for my favourite base, the Romano – although it has the same amount of dough as the regular, they stretch it larger. You get any additional toppings but it is just nicer to eat.
Annoyingly, this was the start of the poor experience we had at Pizza Express Balham. While we were still eating our starters they decided to deliver our main courses to us. I’ve not had this before and I really should have said something at the time, but they just brought the pizza over and had to squeeze them onto our table.
My pizza was the Pollo Forza – Spicy Chicken on a Romano base. I requested the magic pizza topping of ‘a soft egg’ but when the pizza were delivered the egg yoke was hard. Again, I should have complained but didn’t, usually the eggs on the pizza have been fine. The Pollo Forza has chicken, red and yellow pepper and cheese.
The other pizza we ordered was the Funghi Di Bosco. It looked like just mushrooms on a margarita pizza.
Other secrets to improving a Pizza Express pizza is to drizzle on some chilli oil but also to ask them for some parmasan. Sprinkle that stuff on top of your pizza – it will help improve the flavour. Finally, crack black pepper over it. Bam! Perfection.
We asked for the side salad to have the dressing on the side and this appears to have meant, “throw the leaves in the middle but cut a tomato into 4 and put them at 12,3,6,9 o’clock on the plate. The presentation wasn’t thought of when putting it together.
To drink we had a coke, a fresh mint tea and some water. Fresh mint tea is always lovely. No other drinks.
Cost of Lunch at Pizza Express Balham
The waitress accepted our 25% off voucher and the bill was £30-ish. I put £5 cash tip down for her. We took our time to leave but just before we did another member of staff came over. He explained there had been an error and that we’d been presented the bill for another table. As it came in at what I expected a Pizza Express meal for 2, with 2 drinks and a 25% off voucher would come to, I didn’t check the bill to make sure it was correct. He then told us that he would need to charge us for the correct meal at £50+ and that he would refund us back for the incorrectly paid meal. However, this would take 3-5 days to hit my account!
I wasn’t too happy with this so I suggested we just pay the difference. He went off, then came back, without an actual bill, saying we owed another £15-ish. I paid this and we left. As we were leaving I heard him tell the other table (who’s bill we had paid in error) that he was giving them 25% discount for the inconvenience – My guess is that he couldn’t remove my 25% discount from their table after it had been added!
So, the total bill after the discount was around £45 which makes a 2 course meal at Pizza Express about £60. Let me tell you, it isn’t worth £60. Even at £45 I do feel that they are charging more because this is ‘London’. I will probably go to Pizza Express again but not for a while as there are plenty of other places to eat.
The Reverend’s Final Thought
When did Pizza become so expensive? Or did I just not notice it when I moved to London. The Pizza Express in Balham served ‘ok’ food although did it almost all together. They also messed up the bill and it was only because we weren’t in a rush that it could be fixed. Then they suggested they charge me twice and I wait for the refund to go through.
None of this leaves a good feeling with me so I don’t want to go back there in a hurry. I will find other places nearby to try out before I choose to head back to Pizza Express Balham. I did like the chicken wings though!
Check out my other restaurant reviews here https://thereverend.co.uk/blog/category/food/restaurant-reviews/