While I’m not a huge one for life-affirming mantras, or ‘inspiring’ memes on Instagram, one lesson – taught to me by Madonna at the end of the Human Nature video – I like to live by is ‘absolutely no regrets’.
While not normally a hard thing to abide – this lapsed Catholic very much lacks the guilt gene – I had to struggle to remember it upon waking after our evening with the Pet Shop Boys at the Late Night Proms. Suddenly all those double G&Ts to slake our thirst, followed by a boozy late night roam through St James and past Buck House to wave at Liz, followed by a few more cans of cold Six Point IPA we found back at Stealth’s house seemed a very bad idea indeed…
Auspiciously, just at the moment I feared I might never be able to sit upright with my eyes open simultaneously, the ice cream chimes could be heard across the Newington Estate. Moments later the magical Stealth had raced outside to grab a brace of 99s, and even deigned to let the Ewing and I eat them in bed.
With sugar safely on board – rarely has whipped fat and air seemed more welcomed - things didn’t seem quite as hopeless; suddenly the lure of more carbs and some hair of the dog began to look very appealing indeed. A cold shower and a cup of tea later and we were back out pounding the – very, very hot and sticky - tarmac of London Town in search of further sustenance.
In view of Stealth having a date to keep in Soho later that evening, we hit the centre of town, conveniently forgetting the horrors of the Big Smoke in the midst of a sultry summer that we had experienced just the previous evening. Thankfully, as with our noodle exploits the night before, braving the hordes was worth it as I had one goal in mind: securing beer and pizza.
Our destination was Homeslice, hidden away in the bright and busy warren of Neal’s Yard – alongside the eponymous cheese and natural remedy purveyors - tucked between Shorts Gardens and Monmouth Street.
As with nearby neighbours, Pizza Pilgrims, Homeslice started out with a mobile oven, this time situated in an East London brewery. After a couple of nomadic years they found a permanent home in the West, and rather a nice one it is; wooden benches and exposed pipes and brickwork are all present and correct, alongside the jewel in the crown, the wood fired pizza oven. It’s cool, fun and (very) loud.
Orders are taken on an ipad, obviously, and we start with frosty tankards of Camden Helles, served on tap alongside glasses of Prosecco, and pretty good value for a restaurant in Covent Garden (or pretty much anywhere in Lahndan now days) at £4.50 a pop.
Rambling aside alert: While it may start to show my age, I remember my aunt buying me four and a half pound pints at the Rock Garden, just around the corner, when I was an impoverished student. This was over fifteen years ago, now, when the average pint cost £1.97, and I was at once both in awe of the cost and faintly cheated that tasted more of fizzy regret than sparkling ambrosia.
There are also over-sized bottles of wine available in the full trio of colours; drink what you like and pay by every centimetre glugged, the remaining vino measured out with an old fashioned wooden ruler by your waiter on requesting the bill.
Unsurprisingly Pizzas are the main draw; in fact the only draw. There are no sides, starters or puds to muddy the waters, just pies, whole or by the slice, from a regularly changing list chalked up on a board by the entrance.
Choices are different without being too outré. Expect to see combos like scallops with peanut, haggis and Ogleshield cheese or oxtail and horseradish alongside more familiar favourites such as the classic Caprese or aubergines and courgettes with artichoke. All slices – usually three choices – are £4, all pies £20. If you think that’s a lot of dough to drop on some dough, check the diameter – these babies are the size of a BMX wheel.
We went for a half and half split between a pizza Bianca of white anchovies, chard and Berkswell and a red pie topped with pulled pork, radish, pea shoots and mint pesto.
Everything was spot on; the crust both blistered and charred and floppy and chewy in all the right places and the toppings artfully placed to fill every bite without being sparse. Fortuitously, in the intrests of having to share, I preferred the fish and greens, with the salty sheep's cheese and tang of lemon while the Ewing liked the porky side, especially the crunch of radish and the sprightly mint pesto. Meanwhile Stealth just got stuck into the beer while trying to snaffle all the nice crusty bits when our backs were turned.
Of course, I couldn't omit a mention of the wonderful PSB, debuting their Man From the Future, a musical tribute to the great Alan Turing, at the Roal Albert Hall. A fabulous performance of a bittersweet story; we even bumped in to the girls from the future, too...