The brief for this review was a piece of cake (or pie, if I may). Eat the food, bathe in nostalgia and plant the tongue firmly in the cheek. But the stars did not align that way.
For me, there are only fond memories of the old school Pizza Hut. The all-you-can-eat buffet packed with every kid's dream snacks: soft serve, bacon bits, chunks of green jelly and, I suppose, there were probably pizzas, too. Pizza Huts were everywhere, until they weren't anymore. But, after a few years in the lab, the Hut has started to scratch it's name into the honour board of fast food joints again. Their latest move is the fast-casual dine-in 'concept store', the first of which has just opened in Waterloo.
The shop itself looks halfway between grandma's kitchen and an American highway diner in which the only guests are on the lam, truckers, or the inexplicably lost. Sparse tables, an open kitchen, a red-and-white-chequered design theme and an eclectic playlist of popular music invoke an odd feeling of waiting for something to happen — the just out-of-reach feeling you'd experience if you were trapped in a Samuel Beckett play. The menu is pretty much what you'd expect from a Pizza Hut, but the inclusion of unique sides like the chipotle waffle fries and jalapeño poppers are a fun touch. Order at the counter, get your numbered buzzer, sit yourself down with a Coors and wait for the magic.
I really wanted the pizza to be average, at best. I wanted to be able to write a review that made people laugh, and still said, "how good is takeaway pizza, though". But when my spicy chorizo pizza landed on the table, I was sucker-punched by the gorgeous beast in front of me. Crisp crust. Liberal and evenly spaced meats. Cheese that's crisp on the top, but runs gooey down each slice. I didn't want it to be. I really didn't want it to be. But the pizza was good. Actually good.
The concept store isn't the Pizza Hut five-year-old me is so fond of remembering, but it does exactly what it says on the packet — it's fast, it's casual, and it's definitely a restaurant.
Pizza Hut, Waterloo, offers unlimited pizza by the slice Mon–Thurs from 5.30pm. For $19.95, you get unlimited slices of pizza, garlic bread and access to the dessert bar.