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Last week it was my boyfriend’s mum’s birthday and we wanted to go somewhere fairly casual to celebrate that could cater for 12 people, including a toddler. That ruled out pub restaurants of course. So we tried to book a table (12 people can’t just turn up!) at Pizza Hut, where we were told they don’t accept bookings because they’re very busy on a Friday night but we were welcome to turn up and see if there were any tables left. How kind! So I looked up the phone number for Deep Pan Pizza and told my boyfriend to give them a try. Luckily they do accept bookings and they do cater for children (in fact they offered a separate table, which wasn’t necessary for one child!)
Arriving on the night, we saw a long line of tables that had been joined for us and knew that was where we would be sitting. It was close enough to the door and had a nice window view. The girl double checked we had booked and proceeded to seat us. The table was plain and clean and there were ample settings and chairs for our group (perhaps in case anyone else showed up). We were each offered a menu, including a children’s menu for Mike’s niece, which she was delighted with. As well as tables, they have booths but these are better suited to parties of 4 rather than 12!
The menu at Deep Pan Pizza is pretty standard for a pizza place but offers plenty of variety for any group. For example, I’m not a massive pizza fan and wanted to check out the side orders and starters and we weren’t quite sure whether Mike’s grandad would want pizza so we checked the other options – such as pasta – just in case.
Starters at Deep Pan Pizza included garlic mushrooms, potato skins, deep pan dippers (chicken breast), soup and garlic bread, all reasonably priced at around £2-4 a portion, the only exception being the Big Dipper which was about £8. We ordered all of these items and everyone seemed to wholeheartedly enjoy them. I ate my garlic bread with cheese in record time!
The pizza menu is of course the main feature but there was plenty of choice to suit the tastes of our group, with a choice of deep pan or thin crust. We decided to order 4 large deep pan pizzas – Hawaiian (ham & pineapple), Country classic (ham & mushroom), Fully Loaded (ham, beef, pepperoni, pork, onion, mushrooms and green peppers!) and Spicy Chicken (Mexican spiced chicken with red onions). Pizzas range from £5.99 for a small one to £11.99 for a large one, which is fairly reasonable. You can also get a Vegetarian pizza for veggies, which is topped with roasted vegetables, red onion and tomato. It is worth noting that the toppings differ slightly on the thin crust pizzas, e.g. Meatissimo is topped with pepperoni, chicken and ham making it the thin crust alternative to Fully Loaded or Meat Feast.
Side orders are available with your main meal, such as garlic bread, coleslaw and chips (or chunky fries as they are called). You can also order starters to go with your main meal – I ordered the deep pan dippers and chips for my main, since I was only picking at a slice of Mike’s Hawaiian. Chips are about £2 for a plate but they’re very nicely cooked and you get a decent amount of them.
There are several pasta dishes on the menu for those who prefer it to pizza, such as spaghetti bolognaise, tagliatelle carbonara, and 2 vegetarian pastas. The pasta costs about £6-7 which is fairly average, although I couldn’t comment on the quality. Last, but not least, there is a salad menu which is similarly priced, featuring chicken Caesar salad and chicken salad Italiene – vegetarians would be better off visiting the salad bar as they appear not to be catered for.
The staff members at Deep Pan Pizza were very friendly and were really nice to Mike’s niece – asking her what she wanted, although she wasn’t certain since she can’t read yet! The children’s menu is very handy as the portions are more child-friendly. Libby “ordered” chicken nuggets with chips & beans, which meant she also got a free soft drink (A Pepsi in this case) as well as ice cream (a choice of chocolate, strawberry and vanilla that come dressed with chocolate buttons and wafers!). Alternatively, your child could choose from sausage, chips and beans, spaghetti bolognaise, a mini pizza or salad – all for just £3.29.
The staff did pretty well to keep up with the large orders while managing to smile, but they did swap a couple of times, meaning we didn’t have just one girl waiting on our table – she started us off and came back later but another girl took over for a while and a young man helped to carry out our main courses. I can appreciate this is because we ordered a lot, but it would be nice to be continually served by the one person, especially in terms of tips.
The food was all nicely cooked and hot upon arriving at the table (unlike in some places where they leave you waiting too long only to bring tepid food). All of the plates were warmed before bringing to the table, which was nice but also a bit dangerous if you wanted to pick it up to put pizza on it. Strangely, separate cutlery was not provided for children so Libby (not yet 3) had to use a proper fork and drink from a proper glass. It might be a nice touch to provide children’s cutlery and beakers. Also, Libby’s beans were in a little pot (the kind used for dips) which is not very practical when feeding a 3 year old – surely it would be better to just serve them on the plate?
The pizzas were of a very high quality – I only tried a little of the Hawaiian but it was delicious – warm, soft and not overly doused in tomato purée. The base tastes deliciously homemade and fresh and not like something you just took out of the freezer. The deliciously crispy chicken deep pan dippers came accompanied with 2 dips (sweet chilli and sour cream & chive), and the chips came with garlic mayonnaise/tomato ketchup. The big dipper, which is a platter for 2 to share, was piled high with nachos as well as the chicken dippers, potato skins, garlic bread and dips.
Drinks are fairly averagely priced at Deep Pan Pizza, although they don’t have free refills on soft drinks, unlike Pizza Hut, which might be something they should consider. We ordered several soft drinks (Pepsi and 7Up) at £1.65 each, as well as a few alcoholic ones - beer, wine and Smirnoff Ice at around £3 each. One tiny criticism about the drinks is that the glasses looked a bit "cloudy" as if they weren't washed properly in the dishwasher, which wasn't very appetising so I drank out of the bottle!
We were too full to have desserts (with the exception of Libby's chocolate ice cream that looked very nice), but if I had room I would have been torn between chocolate fudge cake and apple pie, as I can never resist either. They have a decent range of desserts, priced around £3.50, so next time I go I will definitely save room to try one.
I used the toilets once during the meal and I have to say they’re pretty typical of a Fast Food restaurant’s toilets – they don’t refill the toilet paper often enough and it could be cleaner but they are by no means the worst toilets I have been in. Other than that, I think Deep Pan Pizza rate quite highly in terms of hygiene – I even saw our waitress pick up a knife she dropped and take it back to be washed (I’d have been ill had she put it back on the table next to ours).
Our entire meal came to around £130 which may sound like a lot but it was a meal for 12, making it very reasonably priced. Including the tip it worked out at about £11.60 a head, which you would pay far more than at a pub restaurant or regular restaurant.
Deep Pan Pizza is ideal for informal meals and family get-togethers, although a few tweaks (such as more children friendly policies and free drinks refills) would make it the ideal venue. I couldn’t fault the food and the service is friendly so I would definitely go back again.
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