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RestaurantsHighlandInvernessIV2

survey result

Summary

Entering its 55th year, the granddaddy of all UK pizza chains has “survived the passing of time”. These past five years have not been vintage ones for the brand, however – since its takeover by Hony Capital in 2014, “the whole experience seems a bit more soulless” and, after a continual slide, its ratings have bottomed out somewhere between “just so average” and “all-in-all not bad”. As “a good introduction for kids to eating out” however, it still enjoys massive support thanks to its “kind and supportive service given to frazzled grandparents and over-excited grandsons”. Some wider hope comes from the recently “much-improved” Oxford Circus branch which is the prototype of a promising new look (“newly revamped with a central bar feature, at which you can eat if you prefer, plus draught Peroni and a better menu has brought some desperately-needed vigour back to this tired chain”). “Only a few more hundred branches to refurb now...”

£50
   ££
2
Average
2
Average
2
Average
* Based on a three course dinner, half a bottle of wine, coffee, cover charge, service and VAT.

Summary

“There is a lot more competition in the chain pizza market these days”; and while this long-enduring (est 1965) feature of every high street still has a very large fan club, it is steadily losing support. Some of this may be that “it is inevitably a much less distinctive presence nowadays” and huge numbers of reporters do still see it as a “safe bet” (and most particularly “an easy choice for a meal out with a five-year old”). More rivalry doesn’t really explain its steadily bombing ratings however – in particular the evaporation of the once-excellent ambience at its branches since Hony Capital took charge. In this regard, cynicism seems justified: “my favourite branch has been ruined by the greedy private equity owners cramming in small tables so that the atmosphere is as delightful as rush hour on the underground. Such a pity – as it was so good for so many years”. “Generous discounting” has also seemingly become a permanent factor – “without one of their plentiful voucher deals, it can seem distinctly overpriced”.

£49
   ££
2
Average
2
Average
2
Average
* Based on a three course dinner, half a bottle of wine, coffee, cover charge, service and VAT.

Summary

For the first 20 years of this guide, this famous pizza chain with its “surprisingly distinctive branches” was – with tedious regularity – the survey’s most mentioned group: constantly re-inventing itself to remain everyone’s favourite standby, especially with kids in tow. Competition is sharper nowadays however, and since its ownership changed a couple of years ago (to Hony Capital) ratings and the volume of feedback have slipped well below their historical average. Yes, it is still much-mentioned, and still “as reliable as ever” to armies of loyal supporters, but harsher critics “are stunned by the complacency and staleness of the brand: even the ubiquitous, good value voucher deals are starting to lose their shine”.

£46
   ££
2
Average
2
Average
2
Average
* Based on a three course dinner, half a bottle of wine, coffee, cover charge, service and VAT.

Summary

“All outlets deliver great grub and a cheery ambience” – for as long as we’ve produced this guide, that’s been the most common view on this “amazingly consistent” 50-year-old, chain, also renowned as “a super place for kids” (“basically a crèche serving OK food!”). Is that changing since Hony Capital took over last year though? Critics have found it more “money driven” of late, and the atmosphere in particular seems far less sunny than it did.

£41
    £
2
Average
2
Average
2
Average
* Based on a three course dinner, half a bottle of wine, coffee, cover charge, service and VAT.

For 28 years we've been curating reviews of the UK's most notable restaurant. This year diners have submitted over 50,000 reviews to create the most authoritative restaurant guide in the UK.

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