The Californian Pizza factory, hang out of the stars! Well maybe that's pushing it slightly but I did see one of the local newsreaders in there once (I think her name is Kay Alexander.) Anyway the Californian Pizza Factory is in Harborne which is in the outskirts of the Birmingham University student area and very much considered the posh end of studentville. It's one of the few places in Brum which really isn't accessible by train so if you want to get there wihtout a car it means negotiating the bus system (take correct change) or walking from Selly Oak. I can say that I have only had bad experiences of The Californian Pizza factory, which was sometimes (but not always) their fault. The first time I went we'd booked a table for 7 people. In the end only 5 of us were able to go. We turned up to the half empty restaurant to be berated by the staff for not letting them know. Look, I know we were in the wrong but the place was nowhere near full! The second time I went one of my friends tried to order an extra topping on her pizza only to learn it would cost an exhorbitant amount to do. The third time I went I ended up having a huge row with my then boyfriend. What can I say? The place must have bad Feng Shui. The pizzas are passable and aimed to be a bit more genuine than your standard Deep Pan fare but they are so expensive. For this much money you could go into the city centre and have a nicer meal at Pizza Express. The decor last time I went in was somewhat industrial and not very cosy. I'm sure it's meant to be minimalist but it doesn't really inspire me. Considering the plethora of good, cheap eating establishments in the Selly Oak area, I'd not bother with this place. If you fancy a nice meal at the more pricey end of the spectrum, go into Broad Street in the city centre. I think it's about £30 - £35 for two people. You could pay £10 for a balti for two and £5
on the beer for a nicer meal in Selly Oak. I know where I'd go.
Being with pizza loving people, this place is a favourite regular venue. Although a bit away from the centre, there is good parking nearby. The place is lively, small but very welcoming. The choice of food is good and the pizzas are different, don't expect this to be your usual Pizza hut place, its not. The base is different, not to my liking as I have been brought up on Pizza Hut style ones but perfectly authentic Italian. The desserts are nice and the price reasonable. A cracking place all in all for unusual pizzas with good service.
OK, so pizza is not the world's most exciting prospect for a meal out, but the California Pizza Factory in Harborne (two miles from Birmingham City Centre) could broaden your horizons... It's bright and bustling, and offers an unusual range of pasta and pizza dishes, along with good salads, and tempting puds. The pizzas include the standard four cheeses/four seasons etc, but if you're feeling more adventurous, what about curried vegetables or Mexican chicken? They sound a bit scary, but most are very tasty, from the authentic thin crispy bases, to the generous toppings. The pasta dishes are similarly ambitious. If you can, leave room for the brownie, cheesecake or ice cream sundaes which feature fruit, cookies, hot sauces and all the goodies... The place is very child-friendly, and there are also special offers at lunchtime and early evening. It's worth the journey! Harborne High Street, 0121 428 2636 Meal for 2 with wine: £35 or so