Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Pizza Express Spring Menu & Healthier Choices

All of you know how much I love food... You also know that I am obsessed with healthy eating and I am still trying to lose those stubborn pregnancy pounds :) You can follow my food diary here, where I share all my meals and workouts, but today I want to tell you about some healthy options available at Pizza Express and introduce you to their new Spring menu. Eating healthy can be very difficult, if you want to have a nice meal out, but Pizza Express makes it really simple with their healthy Laggera range. Warning! This post includes mouth watering food pictures :) 

We went to the Glasgow Fort branch and we had one of the best dining experiences ever. The service was fantastic and we were well looked after by the lovely staff. As someone who doesn't feel 100% comfortable in public places, I was worried that I might take a little panic attack if there is too many people around, but thankfully the restaurant wasn't busy (Monday, 4-6pm) and I was very relaxed :) We were able to pick our table as well, which is always nice. I love comfy seats, so we picked a table with a corner 'sofa' with a view of the full restaurant to give me an opportunity to take some photos of the interior from my seat :) 

I very rarely drink soft drinks, but if we go out for a meal, I usually order lemonade or Sprite. It was actually my first bottle this year, haha. Our drinks were served chilled, with ice and lemon. Perfect! 

The menu offers a big selection of starters and main dishes, including salads, calzones and obviously pizzas. The prices of the main dishes range from £8.45 to £12.65, which is very reasonable, considering the quality of the food.

Before you order your starter, you can ask for a little intro and we were recommended a new Spring addition - 'Olives Marinate' (£2.55) - green pitted olives marinated with pink peppercorns. Yum! The peppercorns add a nice twist and the marinate was light and non-greasy.

We also opted for a side of Polenta Chips (£3.95) and oh my... they were insanely good. I cannot wait to go back and have them again :) they are made with Italian polenta with rosemary, twice baked and finished with Gran Moravia cheese, served with honey & mustard dressing. 

For the starter I picked Leggera Panzanella (£4.85), a healthy low calorie option (under 250 calories) made with Santos & vine tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, surfine capers and croutons marinated with extra virgin olive oil, garlic, basil and balsamic vinegar. It was full of flavour and all the ingredients were fresh and tasty. You can ask for it without croutons if you are allergic to gluten or want the calorie content even lower than 250 per portion.

My husband opted for the new Risotto Fresco (£5.45) and I couldn't resist having a little taste of it :) I love anything with salmon! The white wine risotto was creamy, packed with flavour and a good size as well. It was prepared with an oak-roasted peppered salmon fillet, garlic and parsley and finished with rocket and lemon. My husband doesn't usually go for fishy dishes, but he absolutely loved it! You can also get it as a main course for £10.85.

We didn't have to wait too long for any of the dishes and all of them were a decent size, especially the main courses, which left me pleasantly surprised.

As a salad lover, I had to try the Leggera Salmon Salad (£11.45) - a new addition to the healthy Laggera range. The total for this dish is under 500 calories, which is brilliant for a main with a lot of salmon and avocado (both high in calories, but really good for you). It was one of the best salads I have ever had and definitely the best salad I have tried in a restaurant. It features an oak-roasted peppered salmon fillet, chargrilled red & yellow peppers, sweet baby onions, cucumber, avocado, red onion, mint, rocket and seasonal mixed leaves with parsley and fresh lemon juice. The sweet baby onions and mint add a nice twist to the dish and anything with avocado & salmon gets a big thumbs up from me - my skin loves them. I had a small portion of Caesar dressing with it as well, but you really don't need it, because the salad is super tasty on it's own. 

Scott had the Pollo Forza Pizza (£11.75) and again, I had a cheeky nibble for review purposes :) haha. Shhhh... Pollo Forza is described as a fiery pizza with chicken marinated in smoky chilli powder, garlic and dried chilli flakes with chargrilled red & yellow peppers, roquito peppers, mozzarella and tomato, finished with Gran Moravia cheese, parsley and chilli oil. The base was thin and light, which we both like in a pizza and there was a decent amount of cheese on top - something most restaurants seem to struggle with :) The amount of spice was perfect too and overall it was really, really tasty!

As you can see, we polished off the plates, because the food was finger lickin' good! Literally!

Surprisingly, we still had space for desserts :) We skipped lunch to be able to try all three courses. The dessert menu looks fantastic and there is something for everyone, from cheesecake, banoffee pie and chocolate fudge cake to gelatos, summer fruit puddings and light sorbets. 

I always order a Latte (£2.45) with my dessert, because I love coffee and most restaurants serve amazing lattes. Pizza Express has their own triple certified blend with beans from Ethiopia, Honduras and Peru. It was delicious! Scott opted for a Hot Chocolate (£2.76), as usual and he really enjoyed it. I can tell if he likes it by the amount of sugar he adds to it - he didn't need any in this case, which means that the flavour was lovely. I can confirm - it really was.

My dessert was absolutely divine and I was tempted to lick my plate! I went for the Vanilla Panna Cotta (£5.25) - a light set cream dessert flavoured with vanilla bean, served with strawberry and fresh mint. It was better than I imagined and I couldn't believe how creamy and tasty it was. Sooo good!

Scott settled on a dairy free Raspberry Sorbet (£4.35) with a chocolate straw, mint and a side of mascarpone. Believe it or not, without the side, two scoops have less than 200 calories and the flavour was incredible! Scott is very fussy with ice cream, but he enjoyed every single spoonful of this dreamy dessert. There is also a lemon option.

I also loved the decor of the Glasgow Fort branch. The space is big and light and there is a nice selection of different sitting areas, including standard tables, booths and corner 'sofas'. Big mirrors on the walls make the space look even bigger and the full restaurant was absolutely spotless! 

You can also enjoy your meal outside, if the weather is nice and that's what we will be doing the next time we visit Pizza Express. Perfect setting for lunch!

Overall, we had an amazing time, the food was very tasty and the staff were absolutely lovely and helpful! I also love the fact that there is a big selection of gluten free dishes available and they are clearly marked on the menu.  I must admit, I was expecting Pizza Express to be similar to Pizza Hut, but I couldn't have been more wrong. It is sooo much better! The selection of starters, mains and desserts is amazing and there are plenty of low calorie options too choose from, without compromising on the portion size. We will be going back to Pizza Express in Glasgow Fort very soon to try their lunch menu and we already recommended the restaurant to our family. 

To find your local Pizza Express branch, visit www.pizzaexpress.com. You can see their full menu online, complete with prices. They also offer takeaway, if you are in a hurry, or prefer to eat at home. 

*We were invited to try the new menu free of charge, but my opinion is completely honest

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