Everybody knows there are a lot of different pizzas out there on the market. Some are good, Goodfella’s Loaded Cheese Deep Pan for instance, and some are bad, like Dr. Oetker’s Ristorante range (who puts tomato chunks in the sauce? Horrible. The Papa John’s of supermarket pizza). Some, however, are amazing, like Pizza Hut, without doubt the best crust going. Trips to sit in at a Pizza Hut are usually amazing, the lunchtime buffet provides great value, and the free refill policy for drinks is a delight, especially with the different flavour variations that have been brought in over the past year or two. Not so on my latest visit, however.
Throat aching from cheering on the mighty Toffees in their 4-0 drubbing of Manchester City, and arms weary from scrubbing my long-overdue-for-a-clean oven, I decided to seek respite and solace with my girlfriend, the lovely Ffion, in Pizza Hut Trafford Centre. There was something distinctly odd and a little foreboding about its Egyptian facade, but nevertheless we bounced in and were immediately shown to a table for two (booth for 4…winner!). We were even given the option to sit outside, where we’d have had to contend with the cacophony that was the arcade, the absurdly loud water features, and 50 or so embittered Manchester United fans, fresh from throwing away 2 points at home to an ailing Liverpool. We chose to sit inside.
Things were going well as our waiter showed us to the table, gave us a few minutes to look over the menu (not realising that I’d known what I was ordering since 1997) and promptly indicated where we could get our all-you-can-drink drinks. The one blot so far perhaps being the revelation that there was no longer a choice of 4 sizes, only the “Individual” or the “Sharing”, a title which succeeded in making me too ashamed to order it all for myself. Well played Pizza Hut.
Things started to slide from there. The first crack showed when I was asked if I’d like cheese on my Garlic Bread with Cheese. I gave the waiter the benefit of the doubt, mind you, my accent not always being the easiest to understand. “Cheese” can sound very much like “please”. A pasta dish for Ffion and a reluctantly Individual Deep Pan Pepperoni pizza were also ordered.
The garlic bread came about half way into my first drink. Perfect timing, leaving me with just enough to wash down my share of the 4 greasy slices on the slab before us. The needle was swinging back to positive already. Not long after collecting the 2nd round of drinks, we were greeted with our main course. Good fare, even if it was a little on the small side. 11 inches it was not, but, not being the sort to complain, I tucked in heartily. Within minutes, Ffion and I were finished and were sitting back in our seats, content with our experience so far, and looking forward to sharing a much-ballyhooed Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough dessert.
15 minutes later, our waiter, the pleasant if slightly bumbling Mohammad, came over to see if everything was alright with our food. “Yes, cheers”, I replied, sitting back to make space for him to clear the plates away. He smiled, turned around and left us. In the next 25 minutes, 2 tables of girls came, ate some Cookie Dough, paid, and left. But our plates remained staunch and steadfast upon our table. We tried multiple times to catch Mo’s eye, but he was having none of it. Table after table of people, many of whom had been seated after us, had their table cleared, paid and left. All the while, we sat waiting, unnoticed, and peckish for dessert.
It’s very unlike me to complain. I’ve perhaps never done it in a restaurant. However the service was so slow on this occasion that when Mohammad returned to finally clear our plates, fully 50 mins after we’d finished eating, I did just that. I mentioned that the food had been very nice, although we’d been waiting an exceedingly long time for our table to be cleared and for our dessert order to be taken. He was very polite and apologised for the slow service, which was nice of him, so I relented somewhat. I was suspicious about his “I didn’t clear it because I thought you were chit-chatting and didn’t want to disturb” excuse. I wasn’t chatting to the empty plates, after all. We ordered our cookie dough (sans ice-cream, Ffion’s not a fan) to share and parted on good terms.
15 minutes later, we were wondering where our dessert was. The kitchen could hardly have been busy, as we were two of perhaps ten customers left in the restaurant. 15 minutes, even in a busy Pizza Hut, is more than enough time to produce one dish of the stuff. I looked for Mohammad. There he was, sorting cutlery, as, it turned out, was his wont. My urge to complain was again growing. He ended up bringing the Cookie Dough with lashings of unwanted and half-melted ice-cream on top. He was apologetic again, but this time it didn’t calm me as much as it had before, and I asked him assertively, yet politely, to bring another without the ice-cream on. He did let us keep the original one, fair play to the guy, and we ate around the ice-cream. Another 15 minute wait ensued and we finally got what we asked for. I was curt yet mannersome upon receipt of it. Letting him know that this just wasn’t on.
We realised after finishing the cookie dough that we’d been in the restaurant for well over 2 hours (a record amount of time for me, and not a record that I enjoyed breaking). I thought that they’d be on the ball, what with us being almost the last patrons to remain, with clearing the cookie dough away but even this took too long. When Mohammad came to ask if everything was ok, I asked for the bill and, summoning up my courage, to speak to a manager. The manager was by far the fastest thing to arrive at our table during the meal. I explained that the service was well below standard all round and he nonchalantly and rather dismissively nodded, smiled, and brought us over our bill, minus £10 to keep us sweet.
Fair enough. Luckily Ffion, sharp-eared as ever, had noticed talk of a 41% off offer for January and had been all-the-while badgering away on her phone to get a code. So not only had our £36.94 bill been lowered to £26.94, but the 41% off left us paying £14.05 for 3 courses for two. Not a bad way to end our stay in purgatory.
If you dare try Pizza Hut Trafford Centre (let’s not kid ourselves, I almost certainly will, and very soon) after this, the most scathing of reviews, then you may as well do it in January and take advantage of their 41% off deal. Though be careful, it doesn’t count drinks, the sly foxes. https://www.pizzahut.co.uk/restaurants/offers/41-off-food-web/
So, perhaps “Hell” was a strong way of putting it, but it was certainly annoying and didn’t match up to the high standard set by Pizza Hut Carryduff in the late 90s. R.I.P* Pizza Hut Carryduff.
*Rest in Pizza.