I remember, back in the day, a school friend who used to bring sandwiches to school with the crusts chopped off. Just a personal preference, I suppose, and catered to by mother dearest every day. I, on the other hand, enjoyed my crust as it was the slightest of variations on a dependably mundane sandwich. That is, the crust provided distraction to the same-old peanut butter on white, or ham and lettuce on white. That's not to say that the odd seagull, or entire flocks of pigeons, didn't benefit from my eternally boring sandwiches.
There's nothing boring or bird-charitable about Crust Gourmet Pizza Bar though. It's all stylish, fresh and about as far away from a ham and lettuce sandwich as possible - thankfully. We hit up Crust in Surry Hills on another one of those awkward in-between meals, most likened to afternoon tea on this occasion. Almost forcing ourselves in the door to a just-opened store, the menu is quite a new and different pizza experience for the Crust uninitiated.
The variety of base sauces alone is staggering - your standard tomato and barbeque for sure, but olive tapenade, refried bean, pumpkin, and satay? I need to sit down. Luckily, Crust have done most of the work in putting together combinations and slapping on a straightforward, no confusion and indecision-reducing name along the lines of prosciutto, pepperoni, peri-peri chicken, tomato or smoked salmon.
Decisive one chooses; indecisive one agrees; animated chatter; presentation of pretty pizza box - it's the natural cycle of ordering takeaway pizza. With news and sensation surrounding swine flu all but disappeared, we're unintentionally heading on a flavour trip to Mexico.
One look at this crazy melange of toppings and the tastebuds are watering. The first thing that hits, other than the headily tempting aroma, is the liberal squiggle of green sauce - as if someone went a little over the top with silly string. A quick menu check reveals that it is in fact fresh avocado salsa. We're game and dive in, me studiously avoiding the jalapenos.
I don't think I've ever had such a topping-rich pizza, supported most capably by the base. On that, the Crust crust is definitely up there with the best - thin, golden, crisp and crunchy - giving even traditional Italian bases a good run for money. There's no throwing away of these crusts. On this Mexican pizza we have the refried beans base, which is an interesting first but nothing to write home about. There's the perfect amount of stringy cheese covering thinly sliced spicy chorizo, slivers of Spanish onion and roasted red capsicum, and easily sighted and picked off jalapenos.
The combination of toppings meld together well, the avocado salsa working surprisingly hard in tempering the overall spiciness of the pizza. There's a good ratio of chorizo to vegetables though somewhere during my third slice I begin to wish for a tomato sauce base instead of the heavier refried beans.
I also note that some of the Crust pizzas have the Heart Foundation tick of approval. Quick scan - not the Mexican. It's pretty impressive anyway for something that's traditionally lumped in with the fat fast food files, but then again I think even McDonalds has some ticks on some menu items.
Well, I'm not eating pizza for a health kick, my point driven home by the quick stroll up the road to the Dolphin Hotel for a drink by the fireplace - pizza that good deserves a beer and those pesky seagulls to be kept far away.