With a brand new interior and a special festive menu, Pizza Express on Manchester’s Oxford Street is well worth a December visit. In fact, the pressure of seasonal shopping offers a perfect excuse to indulge in a complete carb-fest.

I recently sampled its Christmas menu and, at this early juncture, I should like to point out that I was plus one, not scoffing the whole lot myself. Starters kicked things off nicely with two delicious options, in particular the pulled beef and chianti croquette. It was very more-ish (if a little luke warm), and extremely tender and flavoursome. The other option was a scrumptious salmon, crab and prawn terrine which, if you like fish (and I do) is a real treat. It came complete with warm flatbread, all the better to liberally spread terrine over.

For the main course, I recommend the hog roast and stuffing pizza. It has a real festive flavour and a nice little kick to it. But the vegetarian option was a little underwhelming – a cheese and onion pizza with cauliflower (a version with added pancetta is also available). No amount of parmesan can cover up the fact that the cauli is one of nature’s blandest vegetables.

Dessert offers three options including rich, tangy jaffa profiteroles and ice cream that hit all the right spots. The other choice was a wee bit of a let down, however. The snowball doughballs were just the normal starter doughballs but, instead of garlic butter, they were covered with a dusting of cinnamon – which didn’t really require a heck of a lot of effort, and they were a tad dry. The third option is a panettone cheesecake which looked really good. I would have tried it had I not been ready to explode by this time.

All in all, the Christmas menu is very reasonably priced, and there’s a special offer of a free dessert when you order a starter and main, resulting in a three course meal for just £11.95. The staff are very friendly and knowlegable and it’s well worth treating yourself to a glass or three of the chambord prosecco.     

By Drew Tosh