I thought I’d write this blog post to share what it’s like to eat out during the pandemic. Although a lot of people used the Eat Out to Help Out scheme in August, many have still felt uneasy to eat out. We were certainly in the latter half, and it almost feels as if we are creeping out of hibernation and slowly trying out the outside world in the new normal. So, earlier in the week, on the second last day of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, we decided to dine in our local Pizza Express.
We phoned up at 6pm to find out if they had any tables, and they had one free at 6.30pm. This was our local one in Slough which we could walk to. We quickly got the kids to go to the loo and put their shoes on, then we were on our way.
There was a small queue outside when we arrived, and we didn’t know if this was a takeaway queue or a ‘waiting to get a table’ queue. G went in to ask, and we found out we could walk straight in as we had booked. So, top tip – book a table in advance so you don’t have to wait outside.
Inside we were greeted by a member of staff and shown the hand sanitiser to put on before we went to our table. The tables were all spaced out and in groups of two – one table being a free one to ensure social distancing.
Instead of physical menus, it’s all digital now. You scan the QR code on your table and it brings up the menu on your phone. I had to use the restaurant’s Wifi as my 4G wouldn’t work, so it took a bit of faffing and entering details for track and trace. But eventually I got the menu up. I must admit, it was hard to navigate the menu on the small screen – there was lots of scrolling and reading the options out to the kids.
There’s also a page that takes you to online children’s activities, instead of colouring pencils that they would have had pre-pandemic. We didn’t bother with the online games though. The digital menu had an option to ‘add to basket’ but our waitress came over and said she’ll take our order as it was easier for them to do that.
We ordered a Piccolo meal each for the kids – doughballs with garlic butter & a margherita pizzas, and us adults both ordered Polla ad Astra (chicken) pizzas. We had a good table as we had a view of the whole restaurant and we were directly opposite the kitchen – so we could see the chefs cook our food! The food came quite speedily – the children’s doughballs first followed by the pizzas. It was so enjoyable to eat out, the kids were really happy. After 5 months of eating in, this was such a treat. And no washing up to do afterwards – yes!!
It was good having the spare table next to us, as we could put our empty glasses/plates there after we had finished. And it was lovely to be spaced out in general – no feeling of claustrophobia and being squashed in. You know what, it felt normal. It didn’t feel weird, I think because we didn’t need to wear masks. We are all aware of the need to be careful, but being spaced out made people feel relaxed I think. Nearly all the tables were in use (bar the spare ones), so there was a buzzy atmosphere.
The children had dessert as it was part of their Piccolo meal – one ice cream sundae and one chocolate brownie topped with a strawberry, both accompanied by a babycino. Or a bambinocino as they call it here! When I asked the children was their favourite part of the evening was, they said the cappuccino (they call babycinos this now, ever since Poppy had one in Trolls World Tour). They have definitely missed our coffee shop outings, that is for sure.
That was the end of our evening. The food tasted so good, the pizzas and doughballs always taste nicer than the ones from the supermarket. We always love eating at Pizza Express as the staff are always cheerful, and it’s very child-friendly. That’s at every branch we have visited (which, believe me, is a lot!).
The Eat Out to Help Out scheme cut our bill down by £20. I can see now why loads of people used the scheme – what a treat!! Shame it’s only on for August, oh well.
Having a meal out here has made us feel more confident to dine out more. This Covid situation has made us all wary, but I can see how restaurants have made changes to keep us safe. Obviously this is just our experience at Pizza Express, but presumably this is how it will be at other restaurants.
I hope you have found this post useful, and feel a bit more reassured about eating out if you want to.