"Why is it that Manchester's
restaurant trade can not manage their staffing levels and
opening times around Manchester United home games, stadium
concerts or events at the MEN Arena? Late night dining after
midweek events is largely restricted to China Town or Rusholme
and you can guarantee that every restaurant will be full.
The same applies to Sunday match days. Those restaurants
that do decide to open are often ran on skeleton staff despite
that fact they're having to turn away customers because
every table in the place is already taken. And so it was
at Pizza Express South King Street on Sunday. United had
just beaten Villa at Old Trafford and Simply Red were playing
their farewell gig at the MEN Arena. As with every open
restaurant we walked past, the queue for empty tables snaked
out the door so we didn't really begrudge having to wait
15 minutes for an available table. The fact that we had
to wait for a further 20 minutes to even order drinks probably
should have indicated what was to follow.
boast a fantastic menu and prices are very reasonable. The
decor at the South King Street branch, the first in the
city centre, is also very inviting and helps create a vibrant
atmosphere. The dining area upstairs is even bigger than
the main restaurant downstairs and, during our visit, hosted
a large birthday party. At a guess, this group booking combined
with the sudden influx of post-match and pre-concert diners
was too much for the restaurant's staff to cope with and
complaints seemed to be coming from virtually every table
in the place.
We'd already been
sat down for 30 minutes when we forcefully had to ask to
order. The scene from the open kitchen explained the delay.
A flustered manager, clutching a handful of orders, argued
with the laid-back chefs with the entire waiting staff gathered
around rather than dealing with customers' requests. When
they'd finally sorted out the problem our food eventually
arrived and, to make matters worse, the starters were very
disappointing. The Mozzarella & Tomato Salad (£4.55)
was better than the Bruschetta con Funghi (£4.15) although
certainly not worth the hour wait. The mains were a vast
improvement though, the Pizza Funghi di Bosco (£7.25)
and signature American Pizza (£9) were both tasty,
if somewhat on the small side, and certainly up there with
the best in town. And that's probably the point here. There
are many excellent pizzerias in Manchester and if they're
not on top of their game, customers can afford to be unforgiving.
The South King Street branch of Pizza Express certainly
said goodbye to many unhappy customers on Sunday night,
who are unlikely to return.
On another visit,
when they are probably better staffed and more organised,
Pizza Express South King Street could well be recommended,
however the only redeeming factor from our visit was one
excellent very apologetic waiter. Empathising with each
angry table he visited, he went out of his way to make sure
our request for more drinks came with a free double measure.
Had he not been there, we would not have left a tip - and
I can't remember the last time that's happened."
- Restaurants Of Manchester 6/5/09 (visited on a Sun evening)
"After a lazy Sunday afternoon pub crawl, we decided a pizza
was the best way to end the day. My husband and I had some
olives to start with which we washed down with a lovely Nero
d'Avola - Shiraz. We the both had the 'Etna' Pizza (described
as 'an eruption of flavours, scorching hot soft salami, sweet
fiery roquito peppers and smoked speck ham; finished with
grated grana padano'). I can't stress how delicious
this is. You have to try it if you love spicy pizzas. The
restaurant was very busy and at times we felt a little
irritated at having to wait for drinks, however the waiter
was so friendly and explained they were short staffed that
day, and he made up for the wait with his bright personality.
This is not the first time we have been to Pizza Express and
it certainly won't be the last." -
Michelle, Rochdale 19/11/08 (visited on a Sun lunch)