I enjoyed Christmas dinner number two at Zizzi at St Katherine’s Dock, London, but their Christmas menu is available nationwide. The booking experience is great, as menu selections and deposit payments are all done via an online portal, meaning little hassle for the party planner, important when there are about 16 of you. The menu, as always with Zizzi, is really clearly labelled and caters for most dietary requirements, as well as including a box for notes if you have any specific allergies or other concerns. Vegans actually have multiple options to choose from for each course too, which is already a vast improvement from my experience at The Red Lion.
To start, I had the bruschetta with pesto and cherry tomatoes. It looked quite pretty on the plate and tasted nice enough, though was fairly uninspiring, and actually a lot smaller than most of the other starters when it arrived (although with it being a three course meal I suppose I didn’t need a huge starter anyway). The cherry tomatoes were pretty cold and firm, and they’d obviously just been taken out of a fridge, so I think they could’ve done with having been at room temperature a little longer which might have helped with the flavour.
For the main course, I picked the lentil bolognese, because although I love Zizzi’s vegan pizza, I was having bread for a starter and pudding and I knew my stomach wouldn’t appreciate quite that much of the stuff. I’ve also had the pizza so often before that I thought I’d go for something different. One of the slightly disappointing things about the Christmas menu for vegans is that there isn’t really anything different on offer from what you can order on their usual menu throughout the year, so you’re actually just paying more money for the same dish, while meat-eaters have a choice of multiple specials exclusive to the festive menu. This somehow makes the meal feel a bit less Christmassy, knowing that you could literally be having this meal at any other time (though obviously the most important thing is that it brings family and friends together, regardless of what you’re eating). Hopefully Zizzi will spend some time developing some vegan Christmas options next year. The bolognese itself sadly was very bland, there was not much sauce for the amount of pasta, and it tasted like it had hardly been seasoned at all, and my sister who ordered it too said exactly the same. I don’t know whether this varies between different branches depending on the chef, but none the less I was discouraged enough by the main course that I’m unlikely to order it again at any of the Zizzis I go to.
One of the vegan desserts is technically a special Christmas dish, but it’s a repeat from last year, and for someone who has eaten at Zizzi at Christmas time before it’s a bit boring. I think it would be nice for them to put forward something new rather than roll out the same ones every year – particularly as again they seem capable of doing this for the non-vegan menu options. Having said that, the dessert calzone with banana and blueberry filling is pretty tasty and a nice warming, filling pudding, and it’s topped with their coconut ripple vegan ice cream which tastes wonderful. I left the restaurant feeling content that I’d consumed a sufficient number of calories for my money. Also on offer is a vegan chocolate torte which you can find at Zizzi all year round, equally delicious and decadent.
Overall, I’d give Zizzi top marks for booking experience and catering for different diets in principle, though the menu could have been a bit more inspiring and have been packed with a bit more flavour. Admittedly as it was a chain restaurant and came in at around £23 for three courses and a free drink (we got 20% off food for booking our meal so early) perhaps the quality of food was pretty much what should be expected. I’d recommend Zizzi if you want a fuss-free Christmas meal without breaking the bank, with the confidence that there will be something for everyone.