For many years Matt and Cat took advantage of generous offers punted under what was, until recently, “Orange Wednesday”. The buy-one-get-one-free tickets at the cinema and BOGOF pizza at Pizza Express made for a cheap date night. However, also until recently, Pizza Express was more like Pizza Somewhen, so M&C watched with interest last summer as a new pizza oven was installed in a renovated cafe on Ryde seafront. Could this be somewhere new to spend their pizza pounds?
The venue eventually opened on New year’s Eve in an umm, blaze of glory, as Blaze, a pizza cafe. This double-fronted venue has, along with Hong Kong Express and the newly-expanded and relocated Chocolate Apothecary, extended Ryde Leisure Strip eastwards along the town’s esplanade.
Since it opened Blaze has been metaphorically on fire, garnering some very positive Trip Advisor reviews and a good local reputation. As the venue is aiming at the family market, Matt and Cat waited until Matt’s teenage sons found time in their busy rock ‘n’ roll lifestyles to join them for an early dinner at Blaze.
Fish and chips £6.95
Always with an eye for a bargain especially when it’s their shout, M&C timed their trip to Blaze with the restaurant’s enticing buy-a-pizza-for-a-fiver offer. And so it was that the three chaps ordered pizzas and Cat, defiantly non-conformist, picked fish and chips – there’s always one isn’t there?
Despite its fast food origins, the service at Blaze is distinctly restaurant. Each time that M&C have visited, they have been seated and handed menus. Drinks have been delivered on a tray with napkins flurried at their approach. Depending on what is ordered appropriate cutlery is delivered, again on a tray. It is all rather nicely done.
But what of the food? Well, to be honest, having been before Cat knew she would be defeated after about a quarter of a pizza which was why she decided to have fish and chips. She (incorrectly) imagined this would be a more modest portion. A pretty decent piece of white fish languished on some chunky fries, with a wedge of perky lemon and more than enough peas to satisfy the five-a-day vitamin zealots. The chips were thickly cut and possibly double or triple-fried. This led to a discussion about the prevalence of French fries, and the politically-correct ‘freedom’ fries, versus the inherent worth of the true British chip. Blaze certainly supports the latter camp, with some impressively large and crispy chips, which Cat dunked into her punnet of tartare for good measure.
Matt and his boys had kept their eyes on the oven and watched in eager anticipation as the flat wheels of dough were baked. Generously topped with stringy cheese, tasty tomato paste and, in the case of Matt’s dinner, plentiful chicken and red onion. It was delicious and, for quantity, it was hard to beat.
Honestly, Matt and Cat don’t know how they do it for the money. They’d wondered if the five pounds pizzas would be half the size of the usual ones – they weren’t. Even the stomachs of Cat’s three strapping companions were stretched to capacity by the vast pizzas.
So, if you are looking for somewhere friendly to feed a family on a budget – with leftovers to take home in a box for breakfast, and probably lunch as well – then Blaze is the place for you. It’s a neat and enjoyable restaurant with service of a higher standard than one might expect of a pizza parlour. And, if you go on a Tuesday, your purse won’t believe its eyes!
A shorter version of this review appeared in print in the Isle of Wight County Press.
- Amazing value
- Cheerful service
- Open most of the time
- Generous portions
- Don't imagine this is a fine dining experience