My boyfriend, Jamie, had a £20 voucher for Prezzo which was due to run out, and I’d found a code on their website for 25% off food, so we decided to visit their Oxford Castle Quarter branch for dinner last weekend after listening to a conversation with Toby Jones at the Oxford Literary Festival (which is fantastic, by the way, I encourage everyone to have a look at the line up when the time comes again next year, because it is a great event in our city’s calendar)!
I wasn’t actually planning on reviewing a chain restaurant so soon, but sadly I was pretty disappointed with my meal here, so I wanted to share my experience. There are many chain restaurants in town that offer fairly decent vegan options (Bella Italia, Ask, Zizzi, to name a few), so if that’s the kind of food you’re looking for, I’d probably suggest to steer clear of Prezzo unfortunately. Although Jamie didn’t order vegan food, he said he felt the same, so perhaps it’s the overall Prezzo experience that isn’t that great, rather than their vegan offering alone. I’ve been to other Prezzo locations and I don’t remember thinking it was quite this bad so maybe it’s not all branches, but certainly the Oxford one is probably one to avoid.
We arrived just before 5.30pm so the restaurant was extremely quiet. It was definitely partly the fact it was so early, but the atmosphere was uncomfortable, and having looked at the menu beforehand to find all of the main meals at £12+, we were kind of surprised that it felt pretty much the same inside as a cheap Pizza Hut – even though technically we weren’t really paying for the meal as it was on a gift card, it still somehow felt like a rip off. There were two other tables in the restaurant occupied and everyone was very subdued, it was just a bit weird.
I already knew I was going to order the vegan pappardelle, described on the menu as being served with ‘our mix of chargrilled vegetables, roasted red pepper tapenade, parsley, rocket and smoked balsamic dressing’. I can only guess that the couple of specks of grey grease on top of my rocket was supposed to be the smoked dressing! At the time I was concerned some sauce had dripped onto my dish from something else. I couldn’t really taste it. I didn’t get much flavour from the tapenade either. The pasta tasted and felt like it had been submerged for some time in a neutral flavoured oil. The ‘mix’ of chargrilled veg was in fact just aubergine and two slices of sweet potato, the latter which I’ve never had with pasta before and probably never will again. On paper the dish sounded really nice, so it’s a shame the execution left so much to be desired. I was still a bit hungry but we decided not to get dessert, as everything seemed overpriced for the quality of the food, so I ended up snacking when I got home!
I do want to say that the service was great – the servers were very friendly, attentive, and as you might expect at this time of day, the food came out really quickly. That being said, the food is definitely the most important thing for me, so the good service probably isn’t quite enough for me to give Prezzo a second chance 😦
I’d be really interested to know if anyone has visited the Oxford Castle Quarter Prezzo, or any other, and maybe had a different experience though – let me know in the comments what you think!