Jazz Up Your Pizza
Pizza Express Jazz Club (London)
Member Name: Essexgirl2006
Pizza Express Jazz Club (London)
Advantages: Good value food, live music
Disadvantages: Stroppy waitress, untidy loos
A friend organised a night out a Pizza Express Jazz Club on Dean Street in London's Soho. As I understand it, you can eat downstairs in the jazz club, but my friend booked a table on the ground floor which was a good idea as it was lighter and roomier. The restaurant is situated just 5 minutes from Tottenham Court Road tube station and is really easy to find.
Due to time constraints we decided to have a main and dessert only. Personally I prefer a starter and love their Dough Balls with garlic butter (£3.30), but was happy to have a dessert for a change. The menu is the same as the regular High Street versions of Pizza Express. My favourite pizza (and the one I chose this evening) was the Margherita Leggera (£8.95). The Leggera pizzas are supposed to be the lighter choice at approx 500 calories each. This isn't why I like them, I like the fact that they are not as filling (as they have a hole in the middle) or greasy, plus they fill the hole with a tasty, fresh rocket and tomato salad dressed with balsamic presented attractively on a grey slate. The one I ate here was no exception. Other pizzas include American Hot (pepperoni, mozzarella, tomato, jalapeño peppers) and Giardiniera (artichokes, mushrooms, red peppers, tomatoes, courgettes, olives, on a tomato & pesto base), but there are many more to choose from. You can also have a salad on its own or a pasta dish such as lasagne or cannelloni.
For my dessert I got my dough balls, this time with Nutella. I was presented with a large bowl of the Nutella, surrounded by more dough balls than I could ever eat - I think it would make a great sharing dessert, but I have since noted that they also do a smaller version, which is what I should have gone for. Other desserts include cheesecake, chocolate fudge cake and ice cream.
The restaurant offers a range of mainly Italian wines and bottled beers but you can also have spirits if you wish. If you don't want to drink alcohol, I can recommend the Scilian Still Lemonade (£2.30), as a refreshing alternative to the normal range of soft drinks. Our service here was good, but a bit slow when it came to getting the desserts made for twelve of us. Our nearest toilets were in the basement, opposite the jazz club - I am not sure if there are ground floor ones on the other side, as we were in a separate part from the main restaurant. These loos were cramped and not particularly tidy - towards the end of the night, the standard really dropped to well below what I would think is typical 'last orders at the pub' messy standard.
THE JAZZ CLUB
As I mentioned this is downstairs, and there was no lift, just a narrow spiral staircase, which could be awkward if you have mobility problems. I did see staff members assisting customers, so hopefully that is something that always happens. The downstairs is dark with black walls and ceiling (as far as I could tell). There are tables down here and it is a bit of a squeeze. You can eat here, but I think we were better off eating upstairs. The music starts about 9pm and there is no space for a dance floor. Obviously the music is jazz and on the night we visited we were entertained by an talented Australian called Nina Ferro who sang a mix of original compositions and cover versions. I would liked her voice to that of Lisa Stansfield and would certainly be keen to hear her sing again. We also had a couple of songs by a chap called Lance Ellington, who is one of the vocalists on BBC's Strictly Come Dancing. Also advertised to be performing the following month was Jamie Cullum, so the acts are credible jazz performers. It is advisable to book as it is not a large venue.
The service here is waitress service and it was unfortunate that the waitress allocated our table was not very happy about it. The club was understandably noisy, even when just a backing track was playing, as it was quite intimate and low-ceilinged and we struggled to hear what she was saying. We tried to order at the bar to make things easier (and quicker) as we didn't want to go down the route of ordering twelve drinks and sorting out the money at the end, when some people were only drinking soft drinks or didn't want to stay for very long. Instead we preferred to order drinks individually or in smaller rounds. However when we did order at the bar we were told the drink would be brought over. Spirits are normally doubles and service is automatically added. When I paid with a note I got the change less the service and because of her stroppy attitude, I asked for it back (where normally I may just have let it go). She brought the money back without complaint and her attitude noticeably improved after that too.
I really enjoyed my evening. The food is typical of any other Pizza Express restaurant - no better, no worse - but at least you know what you are getting, and the food is good value. I don't remember how much we paid for the tickets but they are normally between £15-£20.
Four stars - they lose one for the loos and the waitress in the Jazz Club.
Jazz Club Soho
10 Dean Street
Tel : 0845 6027 017
Summary: If pizza and jazz is your thing, then this is the place to go.