Monday, 16 September 2013

Fire & Stone, Covent Garden -Review

If you're bored of the generic pizzas churned out by Pizza Express and the like, then Fire & Stone in Covent Garden may well be the place for you. Their global themed pizzas allow pizza to step away from it's Italian origins, pack up it's map and compass, and really explore the world. Take for example, The London; "Cumberland sausage, streaky bacon, chunks of roast potato with roasted cherry tomatoes and roasted field mushrooms". A stereotype, perhaps, but reading the menu feels somewhat like a static, culinary version of a trip to Disney's Epcot Centre - I was just left to hope that these pizza stereotypes were as well executed as their theme park counterparts.

The interior of Fire & Stone is an unusual one, causing me to comment that it was the most open plan restaurant I have ever been in. The combination of close proximity to other tables, and low backed chairs and benches make privacy an impossibility.

Opting to share two different starters for the maximum experience, we went for the Crispy Mushroom Strips and Arancini. Although they were served quickly, I wish I'd waited for the main. The Arancini, with it's flecks of bacon and cheese flavouring, would have left me disappointed in any other scenario, however as a bed-mate to the Crispy Mushroom Strips, it was certainly the more memorable of the two. The mushroom strips were flavourless and unforgivingly dry, and were beyond rescuing by the garlic mayonnaise dip, despite it's best efforts.

Starters unceremoniously over, it was onto the mains. I'm not normally one for fussing over menus; once I know what I want I settle for it without any backtracking or mind changing. However, in this instance, there was no one option which stood out more than the others, or, if I'm being really honest, particularly appealed to me at all. After much to-ing and fro-ing between the Florence and the Arizona, I caught sight of the Pizza Specials section, hidden in the corner of the menu, and opted for the Canberra pizza: "Roast chicken breast, garlic & rosemary potatoes, marinated mushrooms, mozzarella, sour cream and topped with sweet chilli sauce and chives."

I still wasn't entirely convinced by the presence of potatoes on pizza - a combination that occurs several times on the Fire & Stone menu- but The Boy, who is all too familiar with my whimsical ways with food, assured me that it works. He was right about the Chilli Poppers on the Chiquito's menu a few weeks previously, so I went with it.

Cautiously trying the first few mouthfuls of my pizza, I was pleasantly surprised. The generous amount of chicken was well cooked and brought out very well by the sweet chilli sauce. However, as I ventured further away from the safety of the crusts and into the unknown centre, it went downhill. I found that there was too much going on (and the potatoes were a mistake!). I am also convinced that the chef does not know what to do with a mushroom. After the disappointment of the mushroom starter, the mushrooms aboard the pizza were flavourless and slimy- I'm not sure what they'd been marinated in, but the result was as if they'd been overcooked in their own juices.

Whilst the Canberra may well appeal to those with a more adventurous palate than myself, I'll stick to a run-of-the-mill pepperoni in future. Top points for the raspberry daquiri though, and a fast and efficient service throughout.

Conclusion: If simplicity is your thing, this probably isn't the place for you, but if you prefer a more extravagant pizza, give it a go. Just don't expect good things from a mushroom.

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