I am a big fan of Pizza Express as it's reliable, cheap and there's a branch everywhere in the UK. When I want a casual meal with friends or family I have no qualms about going to a Pizza Express. Even though it's a chain, I rate it far more highly than Ask, Zizzi, Prezzo etc.
However, I did not enjoy my mid week visit to the Hampstead Branch. There was one absolutely brilliant waiter, who in all honesty was carrying the rest of the waiting staff. The others were chatting at the bar for half an hour when my Mum and I tried to order a drink and it was a long time between ordering drinks, starters and mains. The staff were perfectly pleasant to us, however, a couple of young lads were eating next to us and the waitress was actively unpleasant towards them for no apparent reason. I couldn't understand this - they were just quietly chatting, sharing a bottle of beer and there was no need for the waitress to treat them disrespectfully.
The food was fine though they gave me my salad pre-dressed, when I had specifically asked for it not be dressed at all as I prefer to do it myself.
When I ordered the bill I presented my 25% off code to the waitress. We were in a bit of a rush so I paid the bill quickly and later realised that only £5 had been deducted from the bill. If the discount code is entered to a central system, I don't understand why the necessary deduction was not made and I do find that a bit disingenuous.
Regardless of service and even though my own income is modest, I always tip between 10-15 percent. I know staff in the restaurant trade are notoriously badly paid and that's especially true in chain restaurants. However, I wish I had never left a tip here as it was not a quality experience and has definitely put me off Pizza Express. Pizza Express may be a conveninent option to meet up with people as they have branches everywhere. However, this was an eye-opener as to why chain restaurants are really not worth it.
If anyone is in the Hampstead area and thinking of going to Pizza Express, I would urge you to go the independent pizzeria just two doors down. It looked to be a lively, well priced place and the sort of place that deserves customers far more.
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