When The Kentishtowner first revealed news that Soho House Group were touching down in NW5, readers went potty. We witnessed unprecedented, almost feverish excitement, with gossiping and retweeting aplenty. The buzz hasn’t let up since, further fuelled by the revelations that this third branch of the Pizza East chain would be accompanied by a brand new Chicken Shop concept in its basement and Dirty Burgers round the, ahem, tradesman’s entrance too.
So we hotfooted it over at lunchtime today in an attempt to land a meal that was affordable, yet delivered an experience worthy of all the local hype.
Arriving at midday to ensure we bagged a table, the place filled up fast around us, but that wasn’t any surprise. The totally re-imagined interior – a bit too cavernous in its Grand Union days – can (and will) fit dozens due to the clever counter for diners facing some attractive white tiled ovens.
Design-led industrial touches, dark wood floors and loft-style steel windows add to the overall zeitgeisty experience and staff are extremely, almost unsettlingly attentive (although not necessarily knowledgeable).
Immediately, we were pleased to see that prices are keen. This is a realistic lunch option for the legions of office workers nearby, many of whom were already eagerly occupying tables or already busy gobbling down interesting looking pizzas.
Sticking to our entry-level remit, we plumped for a classic margarita. At £6 it’s simply excellent value, particularly when stacked up against those of dramatically lower quality served up pretty much everywhere. Its easy-going flavours danced a merry little jig across the palate, while the dough veered between crisp/light and stretchy/moist across every bite, all with a woodfired kick.
Sea bream with olives and tomatoes (£13) proved a deliciously fresh and light alternative for the non-pizza lover. Garlic bread was weighted heavy with hot butter and serious amounts of bold, juicy garlic, plus an abundance of rosemary. It made us too guilty to have dessert. The bill? Just over £30 for two including soft drinks and service.
At last night’s launch it’s also worth mentioning that we tried the porchetta, mozzarella, tomato and rosemary (£11), the first ‘pork pizza’ we’d ever sampled – and the crackling and tender slow-cooked pork belly worked surprisingly well. Proscuitto cotto (£9) with soft, creamy buffalo ricotta was also salty and delish (and possibly our top recommendation should you need it).
A gripe? Wine served in tumblers is annoyingly en vogue, but it never really does a good white justice. And we imagine the menu will be quite familiar for those who have visited the Shoreditch or Portobello branches, but of course, the point of dining here is that it now serves these dishes in Kentish Town. Yup, Pizza East KT knows what it’s doing and is already doing it effortlessly well.
The buzz feels justified. NW5-ers (and others) will be tweeting their glee for the foreseeable.
Words & Pics: Tom Kihl