Gordo goes on an afternoon adventure off Ducie Street
You don’t have lunch at Diecast; you have an adventure. Arriving at the front gates of this ex-aluminium processing plant, which covers acres, there’s a gate, with a very large doorman. Who has a very large smile. He asks my two guests for ID. Harry my grandson and his girlfriend Livi. I was confused, it was a Saturday afternoon around 2pm. I think it’s because of the ‘all you can drink’ brunch thing.
Walking down the driveway past four or five caravans that wouldn’t have looked out of place if they were on bricks, into a reception area with various bits of distressed furniture-as-art which a carpenter with carpentry dyslexia had put together, you get checked in.
This place Out-Berlins Berlin. If Wendy came, she’d drop acid, kick Peter Pan in the balls and then take Captain Hook round the back for a kneetrembler.
The two young women working the lectern couldn’t find my booking, but there was no drama; they found us a table even though the place was rocking. I was sat next to the DJ, and speakers that were nearly as big as the ones at the last Stones concert in Hyde Park. And yes, I did make the first one there in '69 as well. But that skirt Jagger wore would have looked conservative next to some of the staff here. Harry was particularly taken with the feller in the frock coat, fishnet stockings and heels. He wasn’t showing off. It was just his gig.
Our server was Chris, who I knew. “Are you happy next to the speakers Gordo?’. Was I buggery. Chris moved us to a table further down the room.
And the magic started.
We were next to the bar, which sat in the middle of the room, brooding. I was watching clutches of frozen Daiquiris being made. Chris explained they were part of the bottomless brunch experience, as many as you want. Later in the lunch I tried one. It was a stunner. I don’t recommend them for anyone with Type 2 Diabetes or a brain. Apart from sugar, these buggers will give you brain freeze three-quarters of the way down. Something tells me there’s a plan in that there ‘bottomless’ brunch.
The menu sounds simple. Snacks to start, gordal olives (£4.50), salted crisps, (£2.50) and parmesan crisps (£4.50). The olives were first rate, well known to most of us now. Salted crisps were a mean portion but cooked on the premises which gave them a personality, better than the bar in Claridge’s. But the parmesan crisps were knockout. I’m at a loss as to how to describe them. Just order one for yourself, and don’t let anyone else near them.
Next are the starters. There’s a one sheet lasagne (£12) which got me at it, but I decided to save that for another time. We got a portion of Calabrian chicken wings with sour cream and Sicilian oregano. (£9.50)
Calabria is the toe of the Italian boot. You can expect heat in the cooking, from the spicy red peppers down there, with a ton of garlic; herbs, in this case oregano, is typical along with citrus notes. These contained all the above, masterfully put together. The wings were plump from well-fed, exercised birds, cooked to glass-like crispness; covered with a sauce the consistency of a Chinese sweet n sour, but without the radioactivity. Sticky, sweet-ish and loaded with citrus and heat. Reminiscent of boiled sweets bought in the newsagents walking back from Grosvenor Road primary in Salford aged six. It might have been lemon, orange and pomegranate. I’ll probably be well off on that; by this stage I was tripping on the whole experience.
The pizzas arrived late; the only person who noticed was a distraught Chris. The three of us were just sat in front of the wings, mesmerised. “Look, I’m really sorry guys, I’m comping them”.
“Chris, behave, we didn’t even notice. Besides, I’m doing a scored review, so we must pay”. Chris was about to cry. “Hang on”, me thinking on my toes, “if you must you can comp me an extra portion of chicken wings”. When these fellers arrived, they weren’t there for long.
The pizzas are unusual, a mixture of super fluffy crusts from Naples painted with a little cheekiness, and a thin crust NYC style so you didn’t have to fuck about with floppiness. They have been christened ‘Neopan’. The different textures worked well. I chose a fennel sausage, white base, with flor di latte, super-fresh cow’s milk mozzarella, smoked scamorza and broccoletti. This was an Italian topping that danced across the base. The slightly bitter and ballsy broccoletti strode across the two cheeses like sticks of dynamite, the smokiness of the scamorza calmed things down whist the fennel sausage let the rest of the gang get on with it like Marilyn Monroe giving herself a break and letting Louis Armstrong play that trumpet.
This was a magnificent pizza.
The pepperoni (£14) looked and performed brilliantly, although that was Harry’s, who loved it and Livi was well impressed with her Marinara. Frankly, I wasn’t taking too much notice, I’d fallen deeply, madly and truly in love with mine.
There are several dips available at £2. These for dipping the fluffy crusts, they’re a little bit of genius. We had roasted garlic yoghurt aioli. A smart choice.
Finally, a lemon meringue baked Alaska was another seriously well-worked dish. Very crisp pastry base, big dollop of creamy lemon ice cream, with a consistency thicker than clotted cream and softer than straight out of the freezer. Covered in piped meringue, then introduced to one of the Neapolitan pizza ovens to brown them off. It looked spectacular and didn’t disappoint.
The menu includes a section called Leno Burgers, another Jonny’s Hots. On the latter is a smoked Polish sausage (£9.50). By all accounts it’s covered in fairground onions, Viking mustard and served in a potato bun. I saw one pass by. I almost wept for not having ordered it.
We drank various beers. I ordered a millennial style lager, Diecast Tank Lager at £6 a pint, and liked it.
This place out-Berlins Berlin. If Wendy came, she’d drop acid, kick Peter Pan in the balls and then take Captain Hook round the back for a kneetrembler.
Yes, dear reader, it’s that good.
DieCast, 51 Ducie St, M1 2JQ
All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, and ALWAYS paid for by Confidentials.com and completely independent of any commercial relationship. They are a first-person account of one visit by one, knowledgeable restaurant reviewer and don't represent the company as a whole.
If you want to see the receipt as proof this magazine paid for the meal then a copy will be available upon request. Or maybe ask the restaurant.
Venues are rated against the best examples of their type. What we mean by this is a restaurant which aspires to be fine dining is measured against other fine dining restaurants, a mid-range restaurant against other mid-range restaurants, a pizzeria against other pizzerias, a teashop against other teashops, a KFC against the contents of your bin. You get the message.
Given the above, this is how we score: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: sigh and shake your head, 10-11: if you’re passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: nothing's that good is it?
Gordal Olives 7, Crisps 5, Parmesan Crisps 9, Wings 10, Pizza Fennel 9.5, Pizza Marinara 9.5, Pizza Pepperoni 9.5, Baked Alaska 8