We were recently out on a family excursion to the Metro Centre (a huge shopping centre in the North East of England for those of you not in the know). Normally we try to steer clear of the Metro Centre, nasty airless place that it is, but It was an obligatory visit, we had lots of birthday presents to buy for varying friends of all ages and even the husband can’t argue that it is the biggest selection of shops under one roof so we were much more likely to find what we needed – although I generally dislike this type of soulless shopping…but I digress.
Whilst there we had to eat and I had anticipated this being a problem given our clean eating journey but as it happens I needn’t have worried.
We ended up in Pizza Express, drawn in by the fact that they had shiny red balloons outside just begging to be taken home by Molly. Equipped with our red balloon, we were seated and presented with a colour in children’s menu (fairly standard), a sheet of stickers (definitely less standard) and crayons that actually still had enough of their end to function as a crayon (absolutely unheard of!) I was impressed and Molly was happy and more importantly, for 5 minutes, quiet! Bliss.
We turned our attention to the food. The first we noticed was that they had a whole Gluten free range developed in conjunction with Coeliac UK which included a range of options that are naturally gluten free but also offering gluten free alternatives to many of the pizzas and pastas on the menu. As I’m still trying to watch my sugar intake I decided not to go for a pizza or pasta but it was nice to know that the option would have been available to me had I had a particular hankering for one of these dishes.
They also had a healthy eating section of the menu which was designed for those wanting to watch their calorie intake. Again as I’m not counting calories (clean eating is a healthy way of eating, not a diet!) I didn’t worry too much about which meals were low fat/calories but I recognise that this would be a really helpful tool for those who are and it’s great that they’re thinking along the lines of people making different food choices. I also noted that there were dairy free sorbet options on the desert menu too.
After I had finished being impressed with the menu, I eventually chose the Leggera superfood salad which included Baby spinach and seasonal mixed leaves, tenderstem broccoli, beetroot, light mozzarella, avocado, pine kernels, cucumber, lentils and fresh basil, finished with our light house dressing – As I couldn’t be sure whether the dressing would have sugar in it, I asked for no dressing and instead asked the waiter to bring me some olive oil so that I could dress the salad myself. It was absolutely huge and super tasty and I was completely stuffed for the rest of the day!
Molly had requested spaghetti which unfortunately wasn’t on the children’s menu as the only option was “little” tubes of penne. I did ask if we could substitute but was the told by the waiter that this wouldn’t be an option which I found a little strange as the website does state “we make it the way you want it” but never mind…she opted for bolognese and was, in the end, more than happy with her penne.
Husband opted for a pizza (I was only a teency bit jealous) which he thoroughly enjoyed. He did mention, interestingly, that since we’ve started clean eating, every time we’ve eaten out his taste buds have been “popping” as he’s able to taste the flavours so much better than before. The books did tell me that this was one of the pleasant side effects of giving up the highly sweetened and salted processed foods so it was nice to see it in action!
Overall this was a really enjoyable meal out, which is a rare thing for us as we always seem to have so many requirements and needs to be met that most places fall flat on their face before they’ve even started, and I can’t blame them really! Having a little peek at their website when I got home, I noticed that they’re also running a campaign to try and get more children cooking at home which is always to be applauded. They genuinely do seem to be considering that an eating out experience can and should mean different things to different people and is made all the more pleasant when peoples particular needs are taken into consideration.
Pizza Express gets a bit clean, family friendly thumbs up from us!