Fire & Stone, 4 Horner Square. Old Spitalfields Market
When I announced to the office that I was going to try the new and improved pizzas at Fire & Stone, it was met with universal approval… One colleague even admitted that she arranges shopping trips with the girls in Covent Garden just so she can pop in for a Fire & Stone pizza at their Maiden Lane branch. Saff was gutted she couldn’t come along, not liking cheese gave her a slight disadvantage in pizza tasting,
The team at Fire & Stone have spent months looking for more exciting combos for their toppings and I think that they’ve got it spot on! This new trial menu (only available at Spitalfields – for now anyway) has been streamlined, but don’t worry the old favourites are still there. The pizzas, all named after world cities, aren’t like your usual pizzas. The toppings reflect the flavours that the pizzas are named after, for example the Hong Kong £10.99 has five-spiced pulled pork rib, spring onion and a hoi sin dressing – you wouldn’t find that at Pizza Express!
So what’s different? Well, near enough everything! It’s all been thrown up into the air and started again, even the regulars have been updated. For example the New York used to have small cubes of potato, now it’s a proper roastie… You can taste each ingredient individually as opposed to all the flavours at once. Even the base has improved, it’s now thinner and bigger, plus it has the bonus of having fresh Parmesan grated over the crust before it’s baked… Genius and delicious, pizza crusts will never be an afterthought again!
We started of with a couple of ‘While you waits’… Hand stretched wood fired flatbreads, one with crushed garlic and rosemary with olive oil, £3.45 and another with blue cheese and roasted garlic, £3.65. My top pick from this section were the savoury polenta chips, £3.95, tossed in Parmesan – giving it an amazing cheesy coating. One small criticism was that the tomato salsa dip was too chunky for a dipping sauce.
Next up were the starters proper… Calamari, £5.95, tender squid and crunchy coating, I loved its garlic tip. Arancini, £5.45, risotto balls with a cheesy and bacon centre – again with a garlic dip. These were followed by a light and crispy Feta, butternut & beet salad, £4.95 and my favourite, Crispy mushroom strips, £5.15, a deep-fried portion of breadcrumb field mushrooms.
Now onto the famed pizzas. Up first was the New York £9.95. Oven cooked bacon, those fab garlic & rosemary roast potatoes and onions topped with dollops of sour cream – what’s not to like? The New Delhi £9.65 and the Mexico City £9.95 both arrived at the same time and both have a spicy chicken as the main topping. The Mexico City edged it for me purely as I love guacamole although the coriander & mint yogurt on the New Delhi added a fresh, cooling flavour.
The Copenhagen £8.95 was my least favourite, maybe because it was a vegetarian option (I’m such a carnivore!) or maybe because I’m not a huge fan of blue cheese – but that’s just my opinion. The other toppings all complimented each other perfectly, especially the chunks of butternut and the pumpkin seeds. The Buffalo £9.95 had delicious hot and spicy torn chicken and when combined with the blue cheese dressing and celery tasted just like the classic US style Buffalo Wings that graced almost every menu a few years back! (Showing my age again!)
Last up was a taste trip down under… The Queensland £11.25 had huge king prawns, sun-dried tomatoes, anchovies and capers all topped with wild rocket, olives and lemon zest. Even though by now we were all getting full this pizza’s light and fresh flavours made it too easy to eat…
I had just enough room to try a couple of the pasta dishes, I didn’t really know what to expect from the Macaroni Cheese, £8.45. My earliest memory of Mac n cheese is the horrid wet and soggy tinned variety and have avidly avoided it ever since. Was tempted by Spuntino’s but it was too big a portion to eat alone. But this was good, really good. The toasted cheese breadcrumbs are a winner! And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better out came the Beef ragu & tagliatelle, £9.65 which keeps popping up on restaurant menus lately. The slow-cooked short rib beef and Fire & Stone sauce was just amazing, had this been the first dish out I would have demolished the entire pot!
For once I couldn’t face dessert, I was far too full (click here for dessert list) but was more than happy to drink my Flat White and listen to MD Hugh Fowler talk about his fantastic life story of how he went from farmer’s son to advertising graduate to restaurateur via a hot potato cart outside the Tower of London … Such an incredible and inspirational tale.
Believe it not, the best news was yet to come. We were invited to ‘invent’ our own European City themed pizza that, if voted the best by you our gorgeous readers (creep, creep), would be added the proper Fire & Stone menu… What an honour! We have until May 16th to submit our idea, so if you have any suggestions please let us know. We let you know as soon as the voting goes live… Go team We Love Food (#cityinspiredpizza)
• 31/32 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, London. WC2E 7JS. Tel: 0844 371 2550
• Southern Terrace, Westfield Complex, Shepherds Bush. W12 7GB. Tel:0844 371 2551
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• Blake House, Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth. PO1 3TH. Tel:0844 371 2553