Considering we eat out at restaurants a lot, we very rarely order takeaways in our house. However, to Jamie’s delight last Friday when I said I couldn’t be bothered to go food shopping and come up with something to cook, we decided to be lazy and order pizza. I’d seen the hype around Papa John’s initial launch of their vegan options using Bute Island’s Sheese, and it seemed like enough time had passed for any teething problems to be ironed out, so I was keen to give them a try.
After spending some time figuring out which of the seemingly endless amount of offers available was going to save us the most money on our order, we decided to order a large pizza and side each for £24.99. Perhaps in lieu of choosing a vegan pizza himself, Jamie conceded that we could get two vegan sides.
The thing I was probably most keen to try out of the whole order was the Marmite and Cheeze Scrolls. Jamie being firmly in the ‘hate’ camp, he nobly gave one a go but couldn’t face another. You certainly have to be a hardcore Marmite lover to enjoy these (and I obviously fall into that category). The box of 8 doughballs is fairly reasonably priced I think as a standalone side, and being too much for me to eat alongside my pizza, I had a few to enjoy cold the next day – just as good, if not better. The Marmite was very intense, particularly on the smaller scrolls where there was less of the cheese filling. The larger doughballs definitely had a nicer ratio of creamy cheese mixture layered up inside, so the balance of flavours was better. All in all though I would absolutely order these again with my next purchase at Papa Johns.
The other side, the vegan ‘cheesy’ wedges, were very lacklustre in comparison. The cheese was already solidified by the time the food was delivered, so many of the wedges were left plain and dry. The crinkled wedges themselves weren’t particularly seasoned, and they were a bit soggy really, there wasn’t a nice crunch on the outside to compare to fluffy potato in the middle, which is what I want from my wedges. They were the cheaper side dish but I wouldn’t bother ordering them again.
On to the pizza itself. I ordered the vegan veggie supreme and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. They were super generous with the amount of cheeze compared to many chains offering vegan pizza (although I imagine this might differ from outlet to outlet and depend on the individual making your pizza). It stuck to the back of your teeth a little, as it seems to me most vegan cheeses do, but I really liked the taste, and along with all the tomato sauce this was fairly enjoyable to eat. The toppings were plentiful too and they were cooked fine, so the pizza wasn’t soggy. I definitely prefer a thinner base, or even better, sourdough a la Franco Manca, as I find I can digest it easier, but I didn’t feel unwell after eating this, like I do after some brands. Obviously I haven’t eaten Dominoes in a long time but I remember always feeling awful after eating even a couple of slices of that stodgy, doughy base! Still, along with the Marmite scrolls, this was a lot of bread to eat in one sitting, and I left half of my pizza to eat the next day.
An important question to ask when it comes to takeaway pizza is “Is it any good the next morning?”, and I think Papa John’s passes that test! I didn’t refrigerate it (due to a fiasco where our fridge decided to freeze its entire contents that day) but it was perfectly fine to have for lunch the following day, still retaining its texture and generally good flavour.
Is this fantastic quality food? No, probably not. Does it tick the boxes for what you want from a takeaway pizza though? Absolutely! For a vegan ordering a takeout online it can be a challenge to navigate, and particularly when ordering from Just Eat I would always call the restaurant before to double check that my order would definitely be vegan, but with the Papa John’s website I felt confident with my order thanks to their clearly advertised vegan section. The food came quickly and, bar the disappointing wedges, it was all pretty enjoyable. Well played, Papa John’s.
Have you ordered from them yet? What’s your favourite vegan take-out food order (doesn’t have to just be in Oxford)? I’d love to hear your recommendations!