Away for work, all week, again. Out for an impromptu meal with some colleagues, at Pizza Express. “Would you like dessert?” asked the waitress. “Go on then,” we said. My choice was clear.
I’m in a bit of an unsettled period at work, with a few things that were supposed to be long-term projects ending ahead of schedule, so I’m reticent about saying that things are now confirmed and I know where I’ll be for a long time. But, at least for the time being, I’m in Southend-on-Sea in the week for a new project.
I worked in Southend before for a long period of time, and it’s not a bad town. It’s just quite small when compared to the places I’ve tended to live long-term, like London or Bristol. My previous stay here was for almost eighteen months, living in hotels and eating restaurant or takeaway food for every dinner. Eighteen months is enough time to get to know just about every menu in a town the size of Southend, to become familiar with and bored of every hotel, to know that you’ve been to every bar and coffee shop that you either want to or are likely to be able to visit. So I’m in a good project with people I like and doing work I enjoy, but I admit that I’m not overly thrilled about being back in Southend. I guess my only way forward is to see this as an opportunity to eat many more brownies.
So Pizza Express! I don’t know if you can call this an ‘Italian restaurant’ really, because it’s all about what’s in the name. (I think they might also serve some pastas. I can’t be bothered to go look it up.) Before I started eating in restaurants for work all the time, I only really interacted with Pizza Express to occasionally take advantage of their free dough balls. Which I’m not that obsessed with, although I know some people are, but hey, free dough balls.
I was lucky to have very understanding colleagues along for dinner, so after I finished my carbonara pizza (it’s great – try it, seriously) and our desserts came I took a quick photo and wrote some notes on the brownie. I’ll be honest: I did not get out my laptop and start writing this blog post in the restaurant, that seemed to be going too far. I promise you that this hasn’t affected the quality of my review.
Taste: These were alright, but not actually as good as I was hoping, or expecting? Powder sugar on top of the brownies helped make them a bit sweeter. The strawberry and mint seem like a bit of an obligatory addition. The vanilla gelato that came with it was very nice, though. 6/10
Texture: The first thing these put me in mind of was Tesco’s tub of brownies. That’s… not a great thing for a dessert prepared in a restaurant, and not sat in a plastic tub on a supermarket shelf, to resemble. They worked alright with the gelato. 6/10
Presentation: Strictly speaking, presented well: the look of icing sugar added, fruit & leaf, gelato, etc. The brownies themselves didn’t look so great, but that’s quite well covered. 4/5
Value: This brownie was north of £6, and that is a lot for a really quite small pair of brownies – comparable in size, as well as texture, to Sainsbury’s brownie bites. I can’t pretend these are good value. 3/10
Fudge Factor: Maybe not all restaurant brownies need to be as good as, say, Zizzi’s. But I was undeniably disappointed by these. -1/5
Points Total: 18
Should I Buy And Eat This Brownie?
It’s not bad to the extent that I’d try to talk you out of buying and eating it if that’s what you wanted; but the other desserts might be a better choice. My colleague got the chocolate torte, and it looked pretty tasty. Is it wrong to plug a non-brownie dessert on a brownie blog? Ah, well.
Forty-nine brownies! That means the next brownie is my fiftieth blog brownie! That’s maybe not actually that many, but it’s a good milestone. Tomorrow I’m going to write my fiftieth brownie blog post – I already know where I’m going for it – and I’m also going to make some changes to the blog, moving around and rewriting some of the pages.