Hans texted me, as he does most days, “business lunch?” We pushed back the time several times as it was raining, then it got quite late and we left in peak rain.
“How fortunate, Sophia, that we waited for the rain to stop so that I could come for lunch without an umbrella.”
I previously had said that the rain was due to stop at 2pm. It did not. This is the second time this week that I have such wild assumptions and been proven wrong.
Hans wanted pizza. I had already eaten so would just be company. He suggested ECCo, I said fine, then remembered that there was a new Pizza Pilgrims that had opened nearer my work, meaning that I wouldn’t have to undertake the long slog down Hi-Ho in the rain.
“I presume you would still rather go to ECCo as I expect that the pizza you want will by £9, rather than the £4.50 of ECCo.”
“You presume wrong. New is good. Let’s go.”
We passed the Post Office that all roads seem to lead to, turned onto Exmouth Market and saw the light.
Seating was swift, as was service. There were about 15 covers upstairs, all of which were taken, so we were seated downstairs, which had an addition 20 or so covers. Don’t quote me on this.
The decor is my favourite of any pizza place so far, as was the general vibe. This was the first lunch pizza that I had (in a non-competitive means at least) so it was brighter and quieter than it would be of an evening I suppose. I should maybe have taken a photo, but my words are picture enough: wood; Italian paraphernalia, including a picture of a woman pouring olive oil onto salad with quite some liberty; big bags o’ flour on the stairs. Voila!
We looked at the menu.
The prices are slightly cheaper at Exmouth Market than in Soho. Hans remembered that I said £9 so looked to see what I was guessing. I informed him of the price differences. He turned the menu round and said that he had picked and asked me to guess. Nduja. I was correct.
Poor old predictable Hans.
There was a “white pizza” on the Exmouth menu, which we presume meant beschamel sauce instead of tomato, which doesn’t appeal to me. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t try it though. Harvey said that if he ever wanted to check whether I had been replaced with an alien he would offer me some gross food for free, knowing that the real me will eat anything.
“Hi are you ready to order?”
“Sure. One Nduja [pronounced “en-doo-ja”] and one Diet Coke please.”
“I’m fine thanks.”
“Okay. One “Un-Ja” and one Diet Coke. My name’s Rob by the way. I’ll be your waiter so just shout if you need me.”
He went and swiftly came back with a Diet Coke.
“We should make a point of always calling him by his name.”
A conversation about Christmas shopping and work.
“Here’s some tap water for the table.”
*in unison “Thanks Rob!”
Laughter into drinks.
Yesterday while watching Masterchef The Professionals, there was a guy who was 26 and looked 45. “He does not look 26”, Harvey and I both said. I should spend less time with my friends and more time thinking original thoughts.
Hans looked around the restaurant. Everyone else at all the other tables were looking at or talking to each other.
“Do you think they’re all related? Or is that just how Italians are?”
I had noticed before that there were Italian customers in which I remarked was a good thing. I didn’t realise that they were all together.
“I think they are. They must have to get a mini bus.”
The pizza came.
Twas not Rob who brought us the ‘za. The waitress gave us two side plates (not pictured, but you can see that) and a ton of extra cutlery.
I had two slices, as Hans wanted pizza, “but not that much pizza.”
Too big for the plate, too big for his appetite. Kudos to his self control.
“Go back and make me a smaller one.” He could have said, but thankfully didn’t.
Paul was right in his assessment: sloppy but tasty. However, it was too thin and didn’t have nearly enough toppings – cheese in particular. It was a sourdough base which was nice for an autumn afternoon, but Franco Manca edges it out.
We asked Rob, by name, for the bill. It came to £10.50. £2 for a can of Diet Coke is mildly insane. As was the menu option of adding Nduja, olives or something else for £2 a pop. Restaurants live by their mark-ups though so who am I to criticise. A valued customer, that’s who. Cheaper olives for all!
The card machine wasn’t working. Rob said that we should have been told when we came in. We should have. Hans only had £10.20 so we had to go to a cash point. They let us leave, which really was very trusting of them. I had the impulse to dine and dash (this was not my meal so really it would have been Hans dining and dashing) but Hans says that it was hardly worth it for such a small bill, and we’d be coming back when Dirty Burger opens anyway so best not to get a bad rep on Ex-Ma (all shortening all the time). Ah Hans and his restraint.
The cash point at the Post Office was easy to reach. We returned and the entire Italian family were standing outside.
“Huh, looks like they were together.”
We went in and down and Rob was there.
“A glass has been broken.”
“Was it the family?” [me trying to verify if it was a family]
“It was a poltergeist. Or me.”
Never introduce yourself by name as a waiter lest two terrible people are seated at your table.
Another not the best pizza in London, but so far the most enjoyable business lunch experience. I would be interested to try the £5 “pizza soup and calzone” deal (or £7 with Nduja, because it’s £2 you know).
Based on their Food Network slot I kind of found them annoying before going and was looking to not like them, but if you have a weird, fun lunch, sins can be forgiven.
7.5/10 – mostly from the ambiance and decor. Needs more toppings. Sourdough fo sho. Ho ho ho. Gotta go. Whoa!