Takeaway review: Firezza

I’ve always been a bit bemused by the huge fuss in this country about burgers, which has been around since before I started reviewing restaurants and, for the time being at least, still shows no sign of abating. I used to like to moan that they’re just a sandwich until I even bored myself, and although the better examples – Honest in Reading and the likes of Patty & Bun further afield – have helped me to appreciate them more they’d still never be my first choice. But a really good pizza – even if it’s just a big bit of cheese on toast with a fancy accent – is another matter altogether.

Oddly, there’s something about their universality that makes them an especially comforting thing to eat abroad, if you can find somewhere that does a really good one. I’ve eaten them in Le Briciole in Paris, one of my favourite places for a low-key boozy lunch while pausing between beautiful boutiques, and in Linko in Helsinki, where they remain one of the safest meals you can have without risking having to sell a kidney. I’ve eaten pizza all over the place, come to think of it – one strewn with fiery merguez at Otomat in Ghent, another in the impossibly cool Old Scuola in Rotterdam, all concrete and marble, clean lines and attractive, cosmopolitan clientele. That meal was disappointing, actually, but only viewed through the prism of 2019; I’d sacrifice one of my remaining aunts to Satan for such a city break and such an underwhelming dinner right now.

When I went to Bologna I of course had pizza there too, even though it isn’t from that part of Italy, and on my last trip abroad before the world changed, in Copenhagen, I ate at another ridiculously hipster pizza place called Bæst in Nørrebro, just opposite the To Øl taphouse. The pizzas were small – we’d ordered three between the four of us which turned out to be one of my regrets of the trip – but even so they were exemplary: one, all leopard-spotted puffy crust and tiny grenades of ‘nduja, was one of my highlights of the holiday. The only place I never seem to bother with pizza is on trips to Spain – there, for some reason, it feels like it would be taking the piss to stray from tapas.

Back in the UK, I’ve found excellent pizza more difficult to come by – difficult, but not impossible. There are good examples in Bristol – Flour & Ash has closed down, a sad casualty of Covid-19, but Bosco is still as good a neighbourhood pizza restaurant as you could hope to find, in a neighbourhood where I hope to live in my next life. Closer to home, I’ve grown to love Newbury’s Lusso: how I miss that half hour lazy train journey, stopping everywhere in the West Berkshire countryside and ambling past a giant Harrods depot, seemingly plonked there out of nowhere. And in Reading, of course, you can’t talk about pizza without talking about Papa Gee in general, and their legendary Pizza Sofia Loren in particular.

Takeaway, though, is another matter: much as I love pizza I practically never order it as a takeaway. I’ve tried Franco Manca through Deliveroo a couple of times, and what arrived, although technically a pizza, was so forlorn that it quite put me off doing it again. And I would just never order Domino’s or Papa John’s these days: as I get older I get a clearer idea of what, for me, constitutes empty calories and that kind of thing is very much on the list. This month I’ve taken to watching The Masked Singer on ITV of a Saturday night – because January is nothing if not the month for masochism – and there are what feel like constant ads for Domino’s. In one, there’s a slow-motion clip of someone lifting a slice of pizza up where you see the ropy, gloopy, stringy ribbons of cheese connecting it to the rest of the pizza, straining but not snapping, almost endlessly elastic: to be honest, it makes me want to barf.

Enter Firezza, about which I have heard good things. It’s a small chain of pizza delivery places – most in London but with three random branches outside the capital in Exeter, Reading and Tunbridge Wells. The Reading branch is up on the Shinfield Road, and they used to trade there a while back before closing and then, a few years later, reopening under the same name in the same spot: your guess is as good as mine. The website tells a familiar story – the founder went to Naples, fell in love with authentic pizza and decided to recreate it back in Blighty – but it did seem to be a genuine small chain rather than a franchise arrangement, and the whole thing looked interesting enough to be worth a try.

I ordered through Deliveroo, only subsequently realising that you can order directly through the website: a schoolboy error which will teach me to do a little more research next time. That said, I had a Deliveroo credit to use up from a stone cold Bakery House delivery at the start of the year, and the restaurant was doing an offer through Deliveroo where orders over £20 were half price – so what could go wrong? This doesn’t turn out, I’m afraid, to be a rhetorical question.

The menu has a decent selection of pizzas in Firezza’s trademark square shape – 25cm squared, the equivalent of a 12 inch conventional round pizza – and gluten free bases are available, although they cost more (as do vegan cheese, extra toppings and – a bit stingy, this – basil or rosemary). As is the fashion, ‘nduja makes an appearance on several of the pizzas and there’s also a white pizza with Sicilian sausage and friarelli. 

There are also enough pizza toppings to inflame the militant wing who think chicken or, say, pulled pork don’t belong on pizzas. One of the pizzas boasts “imported Buffalo mozzarella D.O.P.”, which does make you wonder what kind of mozzarella they’re putting on all the others. There is also a variety of sides – chicken or mozzarella dippers, chicken wings, potato wedges and so on, but they all felt a bit Iceland for me so we passed on those. We ordered a couple of pizzas, sat back and relaxed. I even cracked open a beer.

Technology has achieved many things which twenty years ago would have been unthinkable, both good and bad. One of them, which I would say falls into the latter category, is the ability to see your delivery driver getting lost in close to real time. In the good old days, they would have taken roughly half an hour to get to your house while you sat there saying “what’s taking them so long?” to your significant other. 

I still don’t know whether I miss the good old days, and whether ignorance is truly bliss, but now, thanks to the wonders of smartphones and GPRS you can know precisely the answer to that question as you watch your driver buffeted around on Reading’s one way system, hurtle past the turning for your house, meander down the Kings Road all the way to Cemetery Junction, make some kind of u-turn, come back to the vicinity of your house and then do it all over again. There’s an option on the Deliveroo app where you can contact the driver, so we did that. It went to voicemail. Twice.

He eventually pulled up outside our house about twenty-five minutes after setting off, with a big smile.

“Did you get lost?” I asked, which is silly really because we both already knew the answer to that. It’s a ten minute journey door to door.

“I’m sorry. It’s my first day, and I’ve never driven round Reading before.” He beamed again as he handed the boxes over. “It’s still hot.”

Getting them quickly into the living room, it became apparent that he was half right – the boxes were indeed hot, but that’s because they’d absorbed all the heat that had come off the pizzas, never to return. The pizzas looked handsome enough, though, so we decided not to waste any more time and tucked into them. We took off the little plastic trivets (which I discovered during the course of researching this are called either “pizza savers”, “pizza stools” or – not sure I understood this one at all – “pizza nipples”) and got stuck in.

Another problem was that only a cursory attempt had been made to cut the pizzas into slices – a few small incisions, but not enough that you could actually break it into slices without grabbing a big knife. Minor, really, but a nuisance none the less. 

The more successful of the pizzas, I think, was the Porcini Di Bosco, a white pizza with porcini mushrooms, field mushrooms and truffle cream. There were plenty of fat, firm mushrooms on this, including some nicely meaty porcini, and the truffle cream was enjoyably aromatic: truffle isn’t for everybody, but I’ve always been a fan. The problems here were all from the delivery – partly because it just wasn’t hot enough and partly because a lot of the topping, randomly, had all shifted to one corner of the pizza. It was as if it had been stored at an angle, or had suffered from the driver going round a hairpin bend at speed.

The second pizza, the Gorgonzola, was meant to have gorgonzola, pepperoni and fresh basil on it. The basil had gone completely walkabout as, to a large extent, had the gorgonzola – in total we had two slices where it could be detected at all. So what was left was a pretty ordinary pepperoni pizza, apart from one slice in the corner which also had no pepperoni at all. So it was about 33% Gorgonzola, 16% Margherita and, all told, about 99% meh. 

What’s saddest about all of this is that the base itself, the dough, was really pretty good. You could taste in every mouthful what might have been, which in some respects made it worse. We also ordered two optional dips for the crust – garlic mayo with rosemary, which Zoë liked, and smoked barbecue which I thought was just okay. Our meal for two, not including rider tip, came to just under thirty-nine pounds before applying their 50% off promotion and just under twenty pounds after.

Reviews like this make me very glad that, for takeaways at least, I’m not giving out ratings. Some of what was wrong with the meal – the uneven toppings, that missing gorgonzola – was the restaurant’s fault, but the majority of the problems rest with Deliveroo. And even then, I feel bad picking on a delivery driver: it’s a thankless job, not a brilliantly paid one and not one I’d fancy doing. And yet I don’t think it’s asking too much that a delivery driver either knows how to get around Reading, or has a satnav that will take the hard work out of it, or phones a customer when he’s completely lost, or picks up the phone when a customer rings. 

Whether that’s the driver’s fault or Deliveroo’s for not having very stringent standards I really don’t know, but either way it puts me off using Deliveroo again unless the restaurant, or dark kitchen, is slap bang in the centre of town. I wish I’d known beforehand that I could order directly through Firezza: I might have paid more but I probably would have had a much better meal.

So is Firezza for you? Well, possibly: if you collect from them, or you live in Katesgrove, or Whitley, or the southern end of town, and you order directly through them, or you have a house that is relatively easy to find and you get a Deliveroo driver who has ever been to Reading before I do think it’s a superior alternative to Franco Manco or the likes of Papa John’s. I respect what they are doing, and I can see other customers could easily have a better experience than I did. 

The problem with reviewing takeaways is that they are so much more localised than conventional restaurant reviews – I know those of you down the Oxford Road won’t find this terribly useful (in fact, it will probably make you miss Tuscany) and my devoted cadre of Caversham readers will quite rightly stick to Papa Gee. Speaking for myself, I wouldn’t rule out placing an order directly on the restaurant’s website at some point in the future. One day. But for now I’ll stick to adding a pizza to my Waitrose delivery, cringing my way through The Masked Singer and daydreaming from time to time of Paris, of Copenhagen, of Rotterdam and of lovely, sleepy Newbury.

Firezza
256 Shinfield Road, Reading, RG2 8EY
0118 3382694

https://firezza.com/reading
Order via: Direct through the restaurant’s website, or through Deliveroo or JustEat

Takeaway review: Tasty Greek Souvlaki

A couple of years back – what feels like a lifetime ago, in fact – I found myself in Guildford at lunchtime on a summer’s day. I’d taken the train there, back when you could safely do that, for a mooch around and a spot of shopping (back when you could safely do that, too) and my thoughts turned to lunch, as they generally do pretty much any time from half-eleven onwards. I knew a place that did the most incredible bacon sandwich – toasted sourdough bread, plenty of just-right rashers of smoked streaky, Stokes brown sauce on top – but having marched to the top of High Street, I found it had closed down. What to do?

Salvation came in the form of a little souvlaki joint tucked away on a sidestreet near the castle, just down from a fantastic cheesemonger. The sun was out, and there was one table left outside: it was just too perfect. So we nabbed it, and fifteen minutes later I was eating a gyros wrap stuffed with meat and chips, accompanied with a glass of Cypriot beer for no other reason than just because. There was something about it – something about eating outside when it’s warm, something about the golden colour of lager caught in a ray of sunlight, that makes you feel like you’re on holiday even when you’re not. I’ve missed many things over the last twelve months, and one of them is lunches like that.

I have a long-standing love of gyros, of Greek food and of Greece in general, born of numerous holidays there over the years. When I was thirteen my parents took me to Corfu, the first time I’d ever been abroad, ever been on a plane, and I credit that holiday with kickstarting my insatiable curiosity about food. I ate stifado – rich stew with beef that fell apart, soft baby onions and the faintest hint of cinnamon – until it came out of my ears and enjoyed the lemonade, so exotic and so different from the clear, tasteless stuff back home.

The last time I went to Greece it was to Parga, a beautiful harbour town on the mainland not quite so well-known to British tourists. I remember sitting outside a little gyros shop at the bottom of the main street, having a long lazy lunch, drinking another beer and feeling like nothing could be that wrong with the world. Even seeing the frozen pillars of meat being unloaded from a van just outside could put me off my meal: it was sheer bliss.

It’s hard to believe that was over seven years ago, but Covid robbed me of a holiday last June in Rhodes. I had such wonderful plans (if you can use the word “plan” when you aim to do as little as possible) of sitting by the pool reading trashy novels and drinking beer and rosé, taking a taxi down to Lindos in the evenings to eat at restaurants and drink in bars. There’s one restaurant in the square called Mavrikos that does the most beautiful fish and seafood, and there are places that sell ambrosial frozen yoghurt, but I could guarantee that gyros would feature in that holiday too.

Back in January 2021, in the real world, Tasty Greek Souvlaki was an obvious choice for my first takeaway review of the year. It was one of the first openings after lockdown began, so one of the first new restaurants I hadn’t yet had the chance to review. It had opened on Market Place, where MumMum used to be – and heaven knows, 2020 was a difficult enough time to open a restaurant as it is without the additional handicap of being right next to Blue Collar and facing intense competition two lunchtimes a week. 

Nevertheless, most of the reports I’d heard had been very good: my other half had a gyros wrap from there over the summer when they did some catering for her work and had raved about it for weeks. I’d even been on the verge of reviewing their lunchtime offering, on one of the last days when it was warm enough to sit outside, just before our second lockdown was announced. So when Friday night came around and I fired up my phone to decide what to order, Tasty Greek Souvlaki was uppermost in my mind. Could it transport me back to Greece, if only for a few happy moments?

Tasty Greek Souvlaki gives you the option of ordering for collection by phone, but if you want delivery you have the choice of the big three: Deliveroo, JustEat or Uber Eats. I opted for Uber Eats on this occasion, partly because my last two experiences with Deliveroo had been truly awful and I wanted to give Tasty Greek Souvlaki the best possible chance, and partly because I had an introductory credit with Uber Eats burning a virtual hole in my virtual pocket. 

The menu gives you a wide range of options at various price points, from wraps to merida (meat on a plate with salad and chips), club sandwiches and mixed grills. You can even lob in a few additional skewers, if you’re feeling particularly hungry, and there are a handful of sides. This was well suited to takeaway food, because there weren’t really any starters: doing starters and mains by delivery always means you either have to keep something warm in the oven, eat something that has gone cold or hoover food so fast you need to mainline Gaviscon.

I wanted to try a bit of everything, and the menu had the perfect thing for me – the mixed grill for two, which includes a lamb, pork and chicken skewer, a “greek kebab”, some sausage, some pork belly and mixed gyros, along with chips, pita, salad and dips. You get all that for the princely sum of twenty-five pounds ninety-five, and although I found it hard to imagine wanting more food than that I added some halloumi to the order, more out of curiosity than anything else. 

Along with the service charge, and not including the rider tip, this came to just shy of thirty-five pounds: my delivery fee was low because I live a short drive from the restaurant, so your mileage may (literally) vary.

A nice touch which distinguishes Uber Eats from Deliveroo is that you pick the amount to tip the driver but that is provisionally added to the total and you reconfirm it at the end. I really liked that. I strongly believe that people should tip delivery drivers well, especially in a pandemic when they are doing work many of us wouldn’t fancy – but that strong belief has been tested over the last few weeks by Deliveroo drivers, including one who managed to get lost on the three minute drive from Bakery House to my house. I’m not convinced that some of Deliveroo’s drivers have ever been to Reading before, a view only reinforced by the fact that my last one pulled up in a black cab after I had spent ten minutes tracking him going anywhere but in the vague direction of my front door.

There were no such hairy moments with this order, and I tracked my driver making the smooth five minute journey from the restaurant to my house, only panicking slightly as he overshot and had to be waved back to the front door where we were eagerly (and hungrily) waiting for him. The order was double bagged for extra insulation, and felt hot as we rushed it into the kitchen. The whole process, from placing the order to arrival, had taken just over twenty minutes on a Friday night: not bad going at all.

Reviewing takeaways is going to involve talking about very different things to the restaurant reviews. In a restaurant, plating and presentation are all perfectly reasonable things to talk about. At home, if it looks messy you’ve nobody but yourself to blame, and you might be prioritising speed over style: who could blame you, for that matter? Instead, we get to talk packaging, so here goes: the order arrived in two cardboard boxes and a few plastic tubs – hot food in the boxes, cold food in the tubs. For the salad and dips, this made perfect sense but for the halloumi, served on a bed of lettuce, it just meant that the halloumi went colder quicker and was decidedly lukewarm on arrival.

There was no such problem with the cardboard boxes, which were nicely branded and had a reflective silver lining to keep the food hot. One was filled with herb-flecked chips and big pillowy triangles of pitta bread, the other was absolutely replete with meat, a carnivore’s delight. The photo doesn’t do justice to just how much meat there was – aside from the kebabs and sausage you can see, there was another kebab tucked away underneath along with some more pork and the whole thing was on top of an awful lot of gyros meat, both chicken and pork.

We dished it all out onto plates as quickly as we could and got stuck in. We were more interested in it being quick than photogenic, which is why you have no photo of it all on the plate: I’ll do better next time, I promise. But it worked, because, with the exception of the halloumi, everything that was meant to be hot was hot. If you’re eating at the table (as civilised people do) rather than on your lap in front of Rick Stein’s Cornwall (as I did) I can see it would make sense just to stick it all on the table and let people pitch in, especially if you grab a mixed grill as we did. 

And, on the evidence of my meal at least, you definitely should. The souvlaki, ironically given the restaurant’s name, were probably the least remarkable thing we had but were still decent – skewers of well-cooked chicken, lamb and pork. The lamb could have done with being a little softer and all of them would have benefited from more evidence of marination, but they all went perfectly with the dips – both a tomato one which was more tangy than spicy and an exemplary tzatziki full of julienned cucumber and a hefty whack of garlic.

Also excellent with both dips were the chips and the pita. I don’t know if Tasty Greek Souvlaki make their own chips, but if they don’t they’re very good at making you feel like they have. They were hot, crunchy and delicious and the speckled herbs all over them – oregano, I assume – were a very nice touch. And the pita was fluffy and downright terrific – better, or at least more to my taste, than Bakery House’s. The salad was just lettuce, peppers and cucumber – undressed, uninteresting and probably just there to offset some of the guilt of everything else. Two black olives failed to rescue matters: that’s a lot of heavy lifting to expect from olives. The halloumi was the biggest disappointment, as I said earlier, served on top of more undressed leaves and left to sweat in a plastic tub.

The rest of the mixed grill was where you found the really interesting stuff. A slab of pork was described as pork belly, but felt more like shoulder, as it lacked the fatty tenderness of belly. None the less, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m always dubious about things like “village sausage” as they can sometimes have a disturbingly smooth, homogenous texture (“all eyelids and arseholes”, as my ex-wife used to say), but this one was coarse, robust and herby. The “greek kebab”, essentially a kofta, was even better – juicy and deeply moreish. 

All of what I’ve described so far would easily have been enough dinner for two people. But, just as we are so often drawn to things that aren’t necessarily good for us, the thing I really couldn’t get enough of was the gyros meat. It was worth the price of admission entirely on its own – ribboned shavings of chicken and pork, some crunchy-crispy, some soft and yielding but all of it deeply savoury and utterly drenched in flavour.

There was actually more of it than we could physically eat – and that’s saying something where I’m concerned – but having left some, I felt a deep sense of sadness that I hadn’t sacrificed a mouthful of souvlaki or that pointless halloumi so I could fit more in. It stayed in the mind for the rest of the evening, and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about it a fair few times since.

Normally, my peroration would conclude with a rating and I’ve thought long and hard about whether to include them in takeaway reviews. The problem is that when you review a restaurant meal, you’ve reviewing a collection of factors that are all, broadly speaking, under the control of that restaurant. Whether it’s cooked right, whether it sits there under the lights too long, whether it looks like a dog’s breakfast. Whether the wait staff are lovely and welcoming, whether the room feels like a home from home. If I eat somewhere and I’m not a fan I can point out why, but it will usually be down to the restaurant.

But with takeaways there are so many variables in a chain of events which isn’t all down to the restaurant. Some are – the selection, the food, the quality, the packaging and the pricing. But equally, some significant ones are not – like who delivers it, how they deliver it and how those staff are treated and incentivised. On this occasion everything worked perfectly, but if it hadn’t and it was the driver’s fault it would seem harsh to give the meal a poor rating which, in your mind, could well reflect on the restaurant alone. Like so many things about the post-Covid reality, this is complex and nuanced and I’m reluctant to boil it down to a number. 

If that doesn’t suit you, and I’ll only put it like this on this one occasion, I’d say that ordering Tasty Greek Souvlaki through Uber Eats was a four star experience. I liked a lot of what I ate, I absolutely loved some of it, I thought it was extremely good value and I would do it again. Will that do? Possibly not: I’m sure some of you will be saying “what you’ve written sounds like a five star review to me”. That’s the other thing about ratings, they always kick off that discussion about whether you’ve been too kind, or too harsh.

Let me put put it this way instead: in the good old days, I would visit restaurants, love them and start mentally planning my next meal and what I would pick from the menu before I’d even paid my bill. In this brave new world, having committed to reviewing a takeaway every week in this third lockdown, I found myself wondering when I could fit in ordering a gyros wrap from Tasty Souvlaki for lunch into the bargain.

Surely there would be one day when I simply couldn’t face yet another cheese and pickle sandwich? Would it be so terrible to accidentally find myself on Uber Eats again? Perhaps I could get a cold beer out of the fridge that day and maybe, just maybe, there would even be sunshine. To my mind, food remains one of the best forms of escapism there is, and it’s beautiful, now more than ever, to be reminded of that. On the television, Rick Stein was knocking up something magnificent in his fancy Cornish kitchen but, somehow, I found I had no food envy at all. 

Tasty Greek Souvlaki
20 Market Place, Reading, RG1 2EG
0118 3485768

https://tastygreeksouvlaki.com
Order via: Deliveroo, JustEat and Uber Eats, or direct with the restaurant for collections.

Announcement: Takeaway reviews!

Happy New Year everybody! I hope that you’re keeping your resolutions, if you made any, and that you’re being kind to yourself if you’ve broken them. To be honest, in 2021, with things as they are, you could do a lot worse than giving yourself a year off borderline impossible targets for arbitrary self-improvement: most people, after all, get quite enough of that sort of thing in the workplace. 

Personally I’m aiming to follow the excellent example set by my friend Dave who succinctly said “New Year’s Resolution: stay alive”. That’s as ambitious as I plan to be this year, and anything beyond that is a bonus. That said, I did tell myself I would try and write something this year, especially in this third lockdown when we all have plenty of time on our hands – enough, who knows, that you might even fancy reading a weekly blog post from me. 

I did wonder about several different options. I briefly thought about bringing back last year’s series of interviews – there are plenty of interesting people in Reading’s food and drink scene (and beyond) that I never got round to quizzing. And I did wonder about doing another series of diaries, but I think they were probably a little niche by the end. Besides, there are only so many times (and only so many different ways) that you can ponder the eternal verities while shuffling round the Harris Garden for the three hundredth time. 

I also considered doing a series of short pieces in praise of particular aspects of Reading and Reading life – you know, to provide the unrelenting positivity with which I am so strongly associated. I even got as far as drawing up a list of candidates for that one: perhaps another time.

But really, that would be like turning up to a gig and playing nothing but songs off the new album that hasn’t come out yet, when everybody wants to hear the hits: the overwhelming response on social media has been that people want me to review Reading’s takeaway options, so takeaway reviews you shall have. The first one will go up at half-eleven next Friday, and I’ll try and put one up every week until the lockdown is over, everybody has lost interest or I’ve contracted botulism, whichever happens first.

Early in the first lockdown, I decided against reviewing takeaways. I said that it wasn’t a level playing field to compare them against eat in restaurants, and that I would feel bad about writing negative reviews. The best part of a year later, I think the landscape has changed enough that it’s worth a go. Takeaways and deliveries have become a big part of most restaurants’ revenue streams over the last twelve months, and they’ve had plenty of time to get good at it, pick a delivery partner or build their own ordering and fulfilment capability. 

And actually, I think the point of reviews is as important as ever: you want to know whether a restaurant constitutes a good use of your money. I still believe that we should be protecting the independents we want to survive, but it seems unfair to draw a line at the start of the pandemic and say that none of the restaurants that has opened since should be supported. It’s very brave to open a new business in times like these: those restaurants deserve consideration, too.

So, here are the general principles. I’ll review a different restaurant each week, and I will try and use a range of different delivery providers – so a mixture of ordering through Deliveroo, JustEat, Uber Eats and (where possible) direct via the restaurant. I’ll only review deliveries, not collection takeaways: mainly because a delivery service that can deliver to me is more likely to be able to deliver to you too, whereas if I traipsed over to e.g. Finn’s to pick up some fish and chips it’s quite possible that lots of people reading wouldn’t be close enough to have the same luxury. 

I know geography will be a problem, and that some restaurants I review won’t necessarily deliver to you, depending on where you’re reading from: that is, I’m afraid, the nature of the beast.

In the majority of cases, I’ll try and review places that haven’t previously been reviewed on the blog. The emphasis on deliveries also opens up some options I couldn’t have previously reviewed – whether that’s the Caversham Park Village Association delivering Caribbean food every Friday and Saturday, or Flavours Of Mauritius which is currently delivery only, or even somewhere like Rizouq down the Wokingham Road which is just too small to eat in anyway. 

I will try to prioritise independent businesses, although I may well also want to try some chain options which come out of dark kitchens, like Shake Shack and Burger & Lobster. And further down the line I don’t rule out trying heat at home meals (as offered by Clay’s, and numerous other high profile national restaurants), although for the time being I’ll be prioritising local restaurants because I want to try and keep my money in the local economy where possible. Let’s see how we go, and how long this lockdown lasts.

My takeaway reviews won’t operate on the same rating scale as the restaurant reviews, because you’re not comparing apples with apples. I’m still making up my mind whether to use ratings at all, but whether I do or not I will try and make sure the review covers things like how long it takes to get to me, whether it’s hot (the most crucial thing of all, obviously) and whether the packaging is wasteful or efficient, recyclable and so on. Sometimes when a delivery meal is disappointing it’s hard to know whether that’s the fault of, for example, the restaurant or the Deliveroo driver: so things won’t always be cut and dried but, as always, I’ll try to be fair.

I’ve had a brilliant response on social media when I put out feelers about reviewing takeaways, and as a result I’ve had plenty of great suggestions and am building up a pretty good to do list that will easily keep me occupied for the rest of lockdown. But I’m always open to more, so if you have any places you’d like to see reviewed please feel free to comment here, or on Twitter or Facebook, or just by dropping me an email – ediblereading@gmail.com.

Does that sound like a plan to you? Excellent. See you back here next week for the first review.