Earth 'n' Sea
To clarify things first, I hate pizza. I'm talking about the 'normal', fast food kind of pizza you get from Domino's or Pizza Hut. It wasn't always like this - when I was young, the thought of a deep pan Domino's pizza hot out of the oven was ecstatic. Nowadays, I find them 'ok and edible' at best. I favor thin crusts and vegetarian toppings. How can things change so much?
On the flip side, I do get the odd craving for gourmet pizza, which I happen to like. In my opinion, gourmet pizza and fast food pizza should not be classified as the same food. They are completely different! Above all else, I can't stand one but will happily munch a slice of the other.
That disclaimer aside, I will go into my experience at Earth 'n' Sea. It was a really damp, dark and rainy Brisbane evening. We wanted something warm and hearty but relatively close by. Earth 'n' Sea has several locations with the Taringa branch closest to us.
After parking down the road, we jogged to the restaurant (it was raining, mind you - I wasn't just very keen or hungry). I noticed it was really busy and took this to be a good sign.
We sat down and a waitress quickly brought our menus. Earth 'n' Sea does pizza and pasta. They also offer the 'usual' starters: garlic bread/herb bread etc. For dessert, they're boastful about their crepe creations.
I had mentally cataloged the place as a 'pizza restaurant' and I've had really bad experiences getting pasta from pizza places before - something like frozen pasta spun through the pizza oven and served still cold on the inside isn't what I like repeated.
Pizza comes in 3 sizes. Small is really small. At $19 for a one-person serving, I thought it was very expensive. Large was $29 and about the size of a large in fast food pizza joints. Giant was a bit bigger than that.
We chose the Quattro Stagioni in large; it's basically 1 pizza divided into 4 sections, each with its own flavor (Some Like it Hot, Mullumbimby Madness, Hot Lips and Troppo). For indecisive people like us, we thought it was the best way to try more things in one go. We also ordered a herb bread to share.
The herb bread came after not too long. Although we were grateful of anything hot to munch on (as you are, on cold, wet nights), I couldn't help but speculate that it was a bought, frozen herb bread simply reheated. I started getting doubts about the place but reassured myself that the pizza would be different.
It was a bit of a wait till our pizza came. When I saw it, I noticed that despite there being 4 different flavors of toppings, the whole pizza looked the same - red and cheesy. At first we thought we might have gotten the wrong pizza. After digging in a bit, I noticed small differences like one piece having olives and another piece being slightly spicier.
I found the pizza very disappointing. All I could taste was cheese and sauce and even that seemed a bit bland. I would even go as far as to say it was worst than Domino's pizza (which can actually taste good, especially if you're really hungry or hung over). Charlie doesn't entirely agree with me there but he also thought the quality of the pizza completely conflicted with its price. The base was very obviously a frozen one, it was nothing like a gourmet home-made base. Even Deep Pan base in fast food pizza stores have some appeal. This one tasted like cardboard to me.
We left plenty of the pizza behind and were thankful we didn't order pasta or dessert. If the pizza was cheaper, I would have still thought it was substandard. The fact that Earth 'n' Sea charge more than most gourmet pizza stores or restaurants that offer wood fire pizza just makes the whole thing ridiculous. I felt very ripped off.
I am surprised they had so many customers but personally, I wouldn't recommend this place to anyone. Sure, the staff were alright (nothing exceptional but definitely not impolite) and the whole place has a homely, casual vibe. Those features aren't enough to redeem the poor quality of food or justify the prices.