Over the last couple of years I have been quick to extol the benefits of the magnificent Monday and Tuesday night collection deal at Gusto Didsbury, which allowed hungry girls and boys to snaffle pizza at a bargain price. It was almost as if they knew that on a Tuesday I teach from nine till five with only the slenderest of breaks, and often come home in a toweringly bad mood, needing to lie on the sofa and have highly calorific food prepared and fetched by someone else and liberally applied to my face.
As well as the 40% discount applied to all food on a Monday and Tuesday, a further 10% discount was generously heaped on top for simply being able to turn one's laptop on and press keys randomly until the right food was procured. Food safely ordered, one simply dispatched one's husband into Didsbury to collect the dinner - a system, by the way, that suited us both, as I could sneak in last night's America's Next Top Model while Mr Liz constructed elaborate stories about "bad traffic in Didsbury" that would require him to set off very early and take refuge in, say, The Royal Oak, until the danger had passed.
Things have changed, however. Firstly, I was unable to order online. When I rang up to query I was told that they no longer take internet orders, although the 40% discount still applied to collections on Mondays and Tuesdays. No problem, I thought - I may have lost my extra 10%, but the deal was frankly embarrassingly good to start with. The food was ordered for 7.30, and Mr Liz sensibly set off to collect it at 6.45, just in case the traffic was bad - so far, so good.
The problem was this: if you are going to insist on phone orders, you have to get the order right. Despite having had my order read back to me correctly, the food Mr Liz brought back was just not quite right - the wrong dip with the potato wedges, and the wrong size of pizza for me. I had ordered 9" and got 12", problematic for two reasons: if the food is there I will eat it, even if all my buttons have popped off, and more importantly, they charged us for the 12" even though we hadn't asked for it (husband too embarrassed to point this out).
The quality seems to have slipped a little as well. Mr Liz's pizza disappeared too quickly for anyone to pass judgement, but mine was disappointing. The Gusto capricciosa is normally a thing of immense joy, the kind of thing you would not be permitted to eat as a child but take great delight in as a grown-up - anchovies, capers, olives, red peppers, ham and egg melding to generously provide your whole week's salt needs in one handy package. Yet today, the egg was not quite cooked and my bottom - never, ever repeat this - was a little soggy. Even worse, something seemed to have spilled into the box, as one half of my pizza was unpleasantly coated with something that had the consistency of molten ear wax (although we can only presume that this is not high on the list of Gusto's preferred ingredients and must in fact be something else).
Hopefully this was just a one-off, and normal service can be resumed with immediate effect. Oh, and one last thing - I now have a blob of tomato sauce on my favourite red dress, although Mr Liz points out that this may be one thing I can't pin on the restaurant. Excuse me while I look for someone else to blame...