The Bus versus The Tube?
It took me several years of London life (and the skint phase of studenthood) to discover the hidden perks of the red London bus. Slow, stop-start and smelly? On occasion. But also less crowded, cheaper and if you get your foot in the door fast enough to bag the window seat, you may even see some of the city. The tube is for novices and commuters (and latecomers like myself) but the bus? The bus is for champs. And all the better if it happens to serve Italian pizzas, cocktails and the first knickerbocker glory I’ve had in 15 years.When Pumpkin and I first met, numerous dates began and ended at various London bus stops – you may sneer at how wholly un-romantic this sounds but never ones to splash the cash on mundane things, the London bus now holds a special place in our hearts.
The Big Red Pizzeria, Deptford
When fabulous London food blogger, Inher30s invited me to join her on a blogger evening at The Big Red Pizzeria – a seriously cool establishment on a stationary red bus in the offbeat and arty neighbourhood of Deptford, South East London, I accepted faster than you could say the word Routemaster.
Upon arrival, you can opt to either sit inside the bus itself or you can gleefully face it, like we did. The lighting is dim and any apprehension regarding pretence, gimmickiness (is that a word?) or it being too staged are rapidly allayed when we walk in and see rows of pinned pictures of London buses drawn by local children, as we are welcomed with a good array of cocktails and mocktails (their Virgin Mojito was so zingy and refreshing but not nearly as pretty as the Kir Royale being drunk by fellow bloggers). First impressions? There is a sincerity and warmth to this establishment. It is family friendly and it is cool but clearly not too cool for school.
Well-fed is not the word to describe how things were to unfold over the next couple of hours. With an array of sample dishes from both their lunch and dinner menus, the feast commenced with grilled chicken skewers served with lemon and rosemary – these were so light and perfect for spring with a burst of citrus tang but I just loved the Caponata (roasted aubergine with herbs and spices), which took me back to my first night in Rio, where I first tried this dish.
Lentils aren’t normally my thing but I took a couple of generous spoonfuls to throw in a dose of “health” to the proceedings and must admit, I was pleasantly surprised. The beetroot salad was also strangely moreish with understated, earthy undertones.
But this was a working day and I was starved – salads and proteins weren’t going to cut it. GIVE. ME. CARBS. And that’s exactly what they did. A selection of pasta dishes including Bigoli pasta with Italian sausage and pesto spaghetti featured but the pasta highlight for me, in fact the overall highlight of the night, had to be the fresh ravioli with chervil and lemon butter – so beautifully seasoned, presented invitingly and with such a creamy filling. it’s the kind of yum that makes you not care if you’re getting fat.
I managed to squeeze in just a couple of slices of pizza (both of which were gluten free), one with artichoke hearts and capers, which was pizza of the month and the other with anchovy, garlic capers and buffalo mozzarella. I particularly liked the pizza of the month but ironically, it was the other dishes of the evening that stole the show for me. I would be interested in trying some of the other pizzas on the menu, especially the Flamenco.
A Dessert Coma at The Big Red Pizza
I was so full, which I certainly wasn’t complaining about but the problem with having a sweet tooth (or in my case, multiple sweet teeth) is that there is always room for dessert and we were spoilt rotten with three of them: chocolate brownies in handy bitesize chunks, an alcohol-infused knickerbocker glory and a banoffee pie with a luxuriously sweet, toffee sauce.
The service is genuine, attentive and welcoming and whether you are coming with a group of friends to celebrate an occasion, a family or just a couple looking to avoid the cooking on a Friday night, you will fit in fine and you will leave full. They also have a room with a stage used for live comedy and film screenings, including free children’s films at weekends. And if you want a unique, quirky party venue, you can even arrange private hire for parties and weddings. I’d already discovered Brockley Market and with the discovery of this quirky restaurant, it makes me wonder which other foodie gems are lurking on these South London soils…
Do you have any London secret finds you are willing to share?
Disclaimer: I accompanied Inher30s, who was invited to this blogger evening, where our meal was complimentary. As ever, I remain an opinionated, little Madam and all views, good or bad, are entirely my own.