As part of the new long awaited Cineworld complex in Loughborough, Pizza Express opened its doors to customers early – before the cinema opened and while Nando’s opposite was still getting fitted.

I went early on a Saturday lunchtime a few weeks later to check it out. The cinema was open along with neighbouring Starbucks and Bella Italia. I worry that the chains are going to kill off the Loughborough indies but on today’s performance maybe they need not worry too much. It was pretty mediocre and certainly not value for money.

A 500ml bottle of Fuller’s amazing Honey Dew beer cost five pee short of six quid which when it’s around four quid on draft in London is very pricey. There’s nothing on draft by the way at Pizza Express and most of the bottles are the stingy 330ml size. They seemed to have a better selection of wine than beers.

I skipped having a starter since while I was flying solo for this post (Siggy was livin’ the vida loca in Liverpool) I’m still supposed to be on a diet. The choice was all quite boring anyway – dough balls and the like. For the main I opted for a nicoise pizza on the thinner and wider than normal romana base. It was definitely big enough to share between two and made MyFitnessPal have a hissy fit as it exceeded 1000 calories despite it being light on toppings. The rocket was tasty and so too were the capers and anchovies when I could find them. There were hardly any olives on the pizza and only a thin scattering of cheese. Very authentic Rome pizza which I always remember being far stingier than their pasta. For the price – over twelve quid I was expecting a lot more.

Just because I knew I’d blown any hope of staying within my daily calorie count and because I’m a huge tiramisu fan I got a slice for pudding. It was okay but not as moist as I would have liked and so not as coffee flavoured either. The whole point of tiramisu is ‘pick me up’ and it didn’t. Croma attached to the now I expect beleaguered Odeon within walking distance of this new complex has a far superior tiramisu (you’ll hear more from me about Croma and most definitely about tiramisu in other posts).

The atmosphere was noisy. It’s a family friendly restaurant and with that comes a huge torrent of extra decibels but the interior design in no way helps the acoustics. The toilets reminded me of airport toilets being individual cubicles with a sink and dryer and were obviously in good nick – I should expect so given the restaurant has only been open for a week or so.

There were plenty of staff and while to begin with everything was running smoothly, as soon as the place got around 2/3rds full service started to slow and I could see a few people waiting for what I thought was too long. That said all the staff were very polite and helpful.

All in all because of the noise and the pricing I wasn’t overly blown away – it’s just like every other Pizza Express I have been to and the only novelty really is that it is Loughborough.