What: Fire & Stone, Italian restaurant chain
Where: 31 – 32 Maiden Ln, Covent Garden, London WC2N 4BF
Price: Quite reasonable
Rating: 3 stars
Fire and Stone has five restaurants, (three in London, one in Portsmouth and one in Oxford), with the Covent Garden branch being the flagship restaurant.
This is not a cosy little trattoria but a contemporary, modern-industrial space with high ceilings, rough brickwork and exposed pipes. For a pizza-joint it’s actually quite cool.
By now you might have guessed that Fire and Stone eschews the traditional and I should tell you now, it is not for the pizza purist. If you don’t think classic toppings should be messed around with, then this restaurant is not going to be for you.
The concept here is ‘deliciously different’ pizzas, with toppings inspired by flavours from around the world: Europe, Australia, Africa, Americas and Asia. With 27 different pizzas to choose from, themed by region, to say the selection is overwhelming is an understatement.
Starters were more conventional, so we ordered these whilst I tried to wade my way through the pizza menu. We went for deep-fried button mushrooms, with aioli dip and fried won tons (most of the starters were deep fried!). The starters, although not going to win any prizes for originality, were good; they weren’t swimming in grease and both came with a small fresh Asian salad, which helped cut through the fat
But back to the pizza; I have to admit, I was apprehensive when I saw the menu, as I am one of the aforementioned purists! The Asia section, with toppings such as Thai curry were definitely a step to far for me and I eventually plumped for a much tamer ‘Melbourne’, with butternut squash, brie and pumpkin seeds.
My other half suffers from none of my food snobbery and gamely took on the Christmas pizza. As you might have guessed, this was a pizza base topped with all the elements of a standard Christmas dinner – from the turkey right through to the sprouts! As it turned out, this was much less terrible than it sounded. The toppings were delicately chopped and it actually tasted quite good.
The toppings on the Melbourne pizza worked very well together but both pizzas were slightly let down by their bases, which were unfortunately a little cardboard-y.
Too full for pudding, we decided on a cocktail to round off our meal. Call me contrary but, whilst I don’t like my pizza being messed with, I’m more than happy to sample an unconventional cocktail. In-keeping with the festive theme, we tried both the gingerbread and trifle martinis, which were extremely good.
Whilst I wouldn’t recommend making a special trip to Fire and Stone (unless you have a bizarre carving to combine a pizza and a curry!), it is in a great location for a bite to eat after shopping in Covent Garden or pre/post theatre. I can also imagine the concept being particularly appealing to older children, just don’t take an Italian!
For more from Claire, check out her wonderful blog.