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The restaurant I am reviewing is that of Prezzo's Italian restaurant in Epping.
Full address is 236 HIGH STREET, EPPING, ESSEX, CM16 4AP. Phone 01992 570 056.
On this occasion I went with a friend and as we were planning to go on a Friday evening, I felt it best to book.
My phonecall was answered promptly and courteously and allowed me to request a table for two for 7.45 on that coming Friday (I gave them about 5 days notice.
My friend and I know the area well and thought the parking would be a doddle so didn't leave much time to get parked. Essentially the journey there was very easy. We came from the M11 roundabout and simply followed the signs to Epping. Then kept on the straight and didn't turn off anywhere until we saw the high street.
The restaurant is visible from the road (coming from the M11 direction, it is on the left. Parking wise the place is a bit of a joke. Well, there is quite a lot of places to park but some of them worry me as it is double yellow lines and some say 'taxi's only'.
I am usually inclined to believe that traffic wardens do not work at that time of evening, but I suppose you never know. In the end we pulled up outside the restaurant and waited for someone to leave so we could get a space near to the restaurant. We could have parked further up a bit more easily but the night was cold and we didn't fancy the walk.
Outside the restaurant does not look very stylish and almost looks quite pokey and small with just one or two tables outside for outside diners or smokers.
Anyhow, we eventually entered the restaurant at 8pm. I had never been there before (my friend neither) and although some may say it is self explanatory, it wasn't very obvious which door was the entrance. I am pleased to say we picked the correct door the first time!
Inside we were instantly hit with the heat and promptly removed our coats and hats (as I said before ti was a very cold night!). We had not been before and we unsure of what to do as no one greeted us as soon as we got in. It was only when we got up to the bar and said sorry we were late and that we had a table reserved that we were dealt with. I said my name and our reservation name and the waitress looked unsure. I started to think they had not booked us in at all and we were going to be turned away. She then went up to the bar and got out a big book and sure enough we were booked in thenakfully. However, our table wasn't ready and we were asked to take a seat in the bar area. Wasn't offered any drinks whilst we were waiting. It really was quite hot inside. There was no menu's at the bar table we sat at, so we talked amongst ourselves. It would be handy to have menus here as we were starving and wanted to decide and eat ASAP.
Anyhow, we only waited about five minutes, so twenty mintues after our reservation time we actually sat down. After you go through the bar area, we were led to an large restaurant area which surprised me as, as I said before the outside looked quite pokey and small.
Contrary as well to my reconceived idea as to what the restaurant would be like, it was not filled with couples dining, but mainly large groups of girls and one family whilst we were there.
We were left for a while before asking for our drink and food order. The table we sat at was quite small and I worried about how we would fit everything on the table if we both had big plates. There was a large candle on each table in the room and I suspect that they added to the massive heat in the room. Also, as the evening progressed, a waitress got out a large fan (which did nothing but circulate hot air) and so I suspect they either did not have air conditioning or it was not working. The waitress then later opened the fire exit to let some air in. The walls were decorated with loads of paintings and on some of the shelves there were quite unusual things like loadsw of vegetables stuffed in jars etc.
The menu itself is large and has quite an extensive range of dishes to choose from, including chicken, salad, pizza, rissotto, pasta, desserts, starters etc, with a range of sides including chips, potatoes, salad, garlic bread etc.
Anyhow, we both ordered starters and drinks to start. I chose the mozzarella garlic bread and a sparkling water and my friend chose the normal garlic bread and a glass of rose wine. The garlic bread was on a large piece of what looked like was freshly baked foccacia bread and was piping hot; mine had mozzarella whereas my friend's didn't (as per our order). I was pleased with this as mine cost £2.95 and my friend's cost £2.55 and I was expecting the normal garlic bread that you can by in Tesco's or somewhere for example. We were also given some olive oil and vinagerette in pouring containers as side dressing (if you like) and that was delicious. My friend didn't like either though so it is not for everyone. The only drawback with the starters on the menu (and the reason we chose such simply small starters that were not relly starters!) was that the starters were quite pricey at an average of £4-6 per starter and were not at all plain for the more finicky eaters as there included seafood (mussles, prawns, squid, crab) and olives which we did not like.
My sparking water came in a 500ml glass bottle, with a glass with ice and lemon (to which I was not asked if I wanted either). I didn't mind though as would have probably said yes if asked if I wanted these. For £1.95 I was quite pleased to get a big drink.
My friend was not very pleased to get quite a small glass of rose wine (175ml) for a whopping £4.25. Later on in the evening I had another bottle of sparkling mineral water and even my two drinks were still cheaper than my friend's one drink!
Soon after finishing our starter, it was cleared away and we didn't have to wait long before receiving our mains.
I chose Pollo Au Funghi with gratinated potatoes and was oevrcome as to how big the portion was. My gratinated potatoes came in a separate dish which I had to spoon out and put on my plate as I do not like my food separated as it is harder to eat. I was glad on the menu that each dish had little definitions underneath its name as most of the dishes were written in Italian and I had not a clue what they were. My dish essentially was chicken wrapped in mushrooms and spinach with a very strong wine sauce. It was extremetly delicious though and well seasoned and at £9.95 so it should be! I was hungry though (as I always eat very lightly during the day before eating out in the evening so I did not have to leave anything as wasted food and money!). I was pretty stuffed though.
My friend's dish was spaggetti bolognaise and was huge. It was slightly more reasonable in price compared to mine at the cost of £7.95, but we both agreed it was not really spaggetti bolognaise, it was more spaggetti (pasta) with a bolognaise sauce. Normally if I make this dish at home I would obviously have the spaggetti, the sauce, but also loads of mince, whereas this did not have a lot. Anyhow, she certainly did not finish it all, only half, as she said it was so filling, as pasta usually is.
We did not get any courtesy checks whilst eating our main - usually someone would come up to you (usually in the middle of a mouthful!) and ask if everything is ok, can they get you anything etc, but we did not get that.
I finished my drink halfway through the main, yet no one spotted this and asked if I wanted another, which I did as it was so hot. I had to grab someones attention as they walked past.
After our main, we both had desserts. I couldn't really fit one in but there was such a lovely selection, I couldn't resist.
I eventually chose the tiramasu at a cost of £4.25 and it arrived beautifully presented and a huge portion. It was so delicious I think it was the best tiramasu I have ever had (except my Auntie's home made one!). The only drawback was that I could not taste the alcohol that is traditionally in this dish.
My friend had the chocolate cake, which looked more like a chocolate cheesecake to me, with little bits of digestive biscuit though. She said it was very rich and almost sickly and did not finish it all. It was beautifully presented though.
We were asked after if we wanted any coffee's, to which we didn't as we were so stuffed, so just asked for the bill.
I was presently surprised that it came to £40.30 as we had both had drinks and three courses each. A service charge was not included, so we just tipped a total of about £2.00 as the food was great but they service was merely average.
When we looked at our watches afterwards, we were shocked to see that we had only actually been sitting at our table for an hour, yet we did not feel rushed. Looking back though, the service was very quick, but I guess maybe they wanted our table!
After paying and then proceeding to leave, no one said thank you or come back soon as most places do.
I was quite impressed with my frist visit here, and will probably go again, they just have a few areas in which they can brush up their service.