I know it doesn’t feel like we’ve had a summer exactly – though the Bank Holiday weekend tried hard to make up for it – but it’s already time to start thinking about autumn. Those seasonal menu changes that come in when we’re normally edging away from the bright sunshine into something softer, gentler. Chillier evenings, warmer dishes, and light knits on your shoulders when the sun goes down.
Ply is one of the first to bring in those warmer flavours. And of course, I headed in for a little sampler visit to try out these new pretties.
I was relieved to see they haven’t lost one of my favourite nibbles – olives and almonds. So simple, but so satisfying – and as I had dashed over from a training session, very, very welcome.
A light dish, but full of flavour, the beetroot carpaccio is one of the cheapest of the small plates, but also one of the tastiest. Wafer thin slices of beetroot with goats’ cheese, maple and walnuts. The salty cheese with the sweet dressing, earthy beetroot and crunch of the nuts – it’s a bit moreish. OK, maybe more than a bit.
For something meatier, the charcuterie board is perfect. Coppa ham, salami, smoked mutton, air-cured duck, pickles and bread fresh from the pizza oven.
Substantial enough to be a meal alone, or perfect to pick at if you just want to share a nibble with a friend or two. The combination of rich meats, soft charred bread, crisp buttery olives and crunchy pickles is simple but satisfying.
But we know what Ply is known for – that disco pizza oven.
For something rich, try the pear and blue cheese – keep it veggie or make it meaty by adding crispy pancetta. The pear cuts through the richness of the gorgonzola, the walnuts adding texture and a little sweetness from maple. I must admit it was a little rich for me to dive into more than one slice, but the flavour combination is a winner.
For me it was the Rustica – a white base pizza, with buffala mozzarella, prosciutto, rocket and sun dried tomato. A classic combination, but still with the weightiness that colder weather demands. Classy comfort food.
Over to the cocktail menu, if you’re clinging to the hopes that we’ll get an Indian summer, then the fresh and light First Day of Summer is made with of gin, raspberry and basil, topped with soda water. Maybe a little too easy to drink. Much like the Strawberry Fennel Flip. This blend of rum, strawberry, fennel and cream is a very grown up milkshake. Perfect if you fancy a boozy dessert option.
For something a little richer, the Vitamin Bee was possibly my favourite, gin, bergamot, honey and lemon – it’s a gin sour using a vegan foamer (no egg white in this one for those of a sensitive nature) which gives it a lightly creamy finish.
If that’s still not quite boozy enough, there’s always the Tequila Old Fashioned featuring tequila, mezcal, pineapple and caramel – giving you hints of smoke and fruit in this slow sipper.
Ply never fails to satisfy. Sure it’s not traditional pizza exactly, but there’s something about the soft chewy base, the layers of flavour, that as the weather turns greyer (OK so it’s been grey for most of the summer already) softens the blow of the loss of summer.
A little bit anyway.
With thanks to Ply for the invitation to sample the new menu.
This meal and accompanying drinks were supplied for free by Ply. As ever, this doesn’t guarantee a positive review (if anything, I tend to be a harsher critic).
The food was lovely, (and thank you for keeping the almonds and olives!) and the service couldn’t be faulted.