Pizza and ping-pong are clearly here to stay…
Typical. You wait years on end for one pizza and ping-pong joint to open in London… okay, so we’d never previously found ourselves pining for the combo until now, but it seems as though table tennis is the new bar trend du jour and some higher power has decided that pizza is its perfect partner.
The brainchild of the team behind popular bowling establishment All Star Lanes, Bounce is the latest venture to pair our favourite foodstuff with the time-honoured parlour game of wiff-waff, and it’s already proving popular with the legions of city workers that surround its Holborn location. Not that the site was chosen solely for its proximity to the Square Mile…
Housed within a cavernous former nightclub, Bounce is situated on the very site where the game of ping-pong was invented back in 1891 by one John Jacques II, who first devised it as a pre-dinner parlour game. As such, the ping-pong element is at the heart of the venue, with a whopping 13 tables in the main playing area, and a further three available for hire in a private room.
As a ping-pong venue alone, the site works incredibly well, with a buzzy, vibrant atmosphere surrounding the flying balls, and a spacious bar offering a welcome vantage point from which to observe the action. We spent an hour playing on the Olympic table (purchased from the 2012 games and sat in pride of place on what is affectionately referred to as “centre court”), and soon found ourselves totally immersed in the game, pausing only for a sip on a couple of cocktails from the well-judged drinks menu.
However, we were of course most interested in the standard of pizza on offer, and it’s here that Bounce begins to let itself down a little. The dining area itself is a real pleasure, elevated above the main playing floor allowing you to enjoy your pizza without fear of being struck by any wayward shots. Boasting room for 95 people, it feels like a proper restaurant rather than an afterthought, with an attractively rough-around-the-edges feel afforded by its tiled walls and exposed pipework. Sadly however, the pizzas can’t help but let the side down.
We opted for one Salami Milano pizza and one topped with smoked mozzarella, roasted garlic, rocket and speck. Both were overwhelmingly salty, with the passata struggling to make any kind of impression against the punchy toppings. Adding roasted garlic to a pizza sounded interesting, but when each slice is topped with its own individual clove, it becomes a little overpowering. The salami meanwhile was pleasingly flavoursome, but could have done with another complementary ingredient to balance out the salt. Sweet peppers might have been a welcome addition.
Bases were similarly underwhelming, lacking the kind of tacky, scorched quality of the best wood-fired discs. A quick look around our fellow diners told us that a lot of crusts were being discarded, and with no chilli or garlic oils provided on the table, there wasn’t much incentive for us to redress the balance.
None of which should suggest that Bounce should be avoided. It’s a great bar with a fun, post-work atmosphere, and if you fancy a game of ping-pong, you’d struggle to find anywhere better. The pizza might not be great, but it isn’t terrible, and will do its job in soaking up the booze. Judging by the amount of cheerful players packing the place out during our visit (on a Tuesday night no less), it seems as though that will be more than enough to keep the tables buzzing for some time to come…
1 Ping Pong Show
1 Treacle Tart
1 Salami Milano
1 Smoked Mozzarella, Roasted Garlic, Dressed Rocket & Speck