Pizza in a Big Red London Bus

Posted by Colin

Where: Big Red Pizza, 30 Deptford Church Street, SE8
Cost: Pizzas between £6.50 and £10 per person, cocktails £6
Twitter: @thebigredpizza

Pizzerias are so ubiquitous these days that you’d think it would be hard to do it a little differently. Fortunately, the folks behind The Big Red in Deptford have managed just that – they’ve set themselves up in a old red London bus. The inside has been converted to provide tables around the retro brown and orange seating. The bus itself is surrounded by a modern and comfy looking terrace.


On arrival we were shown to the front of the upstairs of the bus to seats gazing out the front window.

In a nice touch from the friendly staff, they double checked whether we were OK with these forward facing seats. We decided to start our meal off with a cocktail and plumped for a mojito each. Whilst they were tasty, they seemed to have been watered down a little to fill the glass and so ended up being a bit thin. Serving them in a smaller glass and not adding the water would have been a better move – a minor point though.

Our starter of garlic pizza bread was absolutely lovely. The pizza dough tasted fresh and perfectly cooked with a good hit of garlic. For mains we had the Flemenco (tomato, mozzarella, morcilla and chorizo) and Classic Marinara (tiger prawns, mussels, octopus, squid, cuttlefish, rocket and cherry tomatoes).

Despite loving seafood, I don’t normally go for it on a pizza – but then I don’t normally have dinner in a old London bus. I was warned by the waitress that the seafood toppings would be cold, but what I hadn’t counted on was that this would quickly cause the base and cheese to lose heat. But that was my fault and other than that the pizza was top notch.


Perhaps the quirkiest and most unique pizzeria in London. Delicious pizza dough that tasted wonderful and avoided the criminal offence of making the cheese on top too greasy. The staff were friendly and informative and the atmosphere inside the bus was really fun. It would be a great place to take a group of mates for either pre or post night out food. You can even hire the whole bus and it would make a cracking location for birthday celebrations.


The Cat’s Pyjamas!

Where: Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Yard, EC2
When: 24/02/12 (exhibition open till 28th May)
Price: Free

Intrigued by the idea of an event combining art, gin cocktails and 20s music, we went along to the Cat’s Pyjamas night with high hopes. This was a late night opening of the Guildhall Art Gallery , displaying the Age of Elegance exhibition. Unfortunately our expectations were not quite met by the event, and on leaving we were a little disappointed, with a feeling that the evening could have delivered much more.

On entering the gallery we were unsure which way to turn, there was a useful handout on the different activities, but no clue as to where these were located. Unsure, we headed up to the main gallery, which was filled with people dressed in 20s attire, and a small group dancing to the Charleston . Many people had gone to considerable effort to dress up- which did add to the atmosphere. However the bright lights of the gallery, and mix of statues and much older paintings seemed to jar with the exhibition. The combined effect felt like a 20s night by numbers, rather than a transportation back to the jazz age.

In search of the promised cocktails, we eventually located a small pop up drinks area, which had already accumulated a rather large queue. We both tried the Trilby; gin, maraschino liqueur, grapefruit juice, lemon juice and sugar. While delicious, this was not great value at £9 each, especially as it was served pre-prepared in a very small glass.

The exhibition was split across two areas and so we decided to explore, hoping to find more. Whilst the paintings were attractive, they did not capture the essence of the age of elegance that we were expecting and failed to keep us sufficiency interested. Fortunately the evening did improve when we went to the literary section. Mark Oostervan read a short story called ‘The Truth About George’ by P.G. Wodehouse; an intriguing tale of man overcoming his stammer and shyness. The audience were enchanted and this was definitely the highlight of the night. Elsewhere dancing lessons took place, but with our combined lack of coordination we decided to give this a miss.

We felt on balance that given the event was free it was worthwhile going along, and good fun to get dressed up in pearls and braces. What was missing was a certain speakeasy atmosphere of decadence and danger, that the best 20s nights in London deliver. So while it could have been much more, it was still an interesting night, and it was good to explore one of London ‘s lesser known galleries.

Graphic Bar

Where: Golden Square, Soho, W1F
When: 17/01/12
Price: £7 – £8 a cocktail

There are times when only a cocktail will do. Tuesday night was one of those nights. After a long day, at the beginning of a long week, and after seeing Steve Pretty regale us with the musically comedic tale of attending his own wake, Ruth and I headed for Graphic.

I had known about this bar, tucked away on the side of a square nestled behind the hustle and bustle of Soho’s main streets, for a while. It had been introduced to me by the blogging tour de force that is the Gin Monkey, who took me along last year. She is a much better reviewer of cocktail bars than us, and so you should really read her blog post on the place. However, here is a flavour of what we thought…

Set out in a spacious bar, with plenty of room between the old rustic tables, and art exhibits on the walls, Graphic boasts its own cocktail gimmick – drinks served in paint tins. In addition to the well established fixtures on the cocktail menu, you are able to sample Graphic’s very own Paint Tin Punch. All based on gin – the house specialty – it comes in five different incarnations, each assigned a different colour. Ruth went Green (Hendrick’s Gin, Fresh Cucumber & Mint, Fresh Lemon Juice, Lemon Bitters & Apple Juice); I went Blue (Plymouth Gin, Briottet Blackberry Liqueur, Fresh Blackberries, Lemon Juice, Orange Bitters & Cranberry Juice).

At £7 they are reasonably priced for a cocktail and boy did they hit the spot. Refreshing, tasty and very very easy to drink. So much so that we had two before disappearing back to Charing Cross for the train home.

Verdict: Mouthwatering cocktails, that don’t cost the Earth, in a great venue that wasn’t too crowded. Top tip would be trying to avoid a seat by the door as it quite often sticks open, exposing you to the bracing cold. Come summer, however, you’d be hard pushed to find a drink more refreshing than Graphic’s Paint Tin Punch.