Gordo speaks fluent food at this new Man City-backed Catalan restaurant
Gordo can order dinner in four languages; German, Italian, Spanish and French. In the first three, he can also ask his way to the toilets as well as finding a bank. The toilets becoming more important as time goes on, the bank less so.
He’s capable of carrying on a conversation in French, but starting to doubt his ability in English the more he encounters, in UK restaurants, the phrases Eh? You what? Què? and Qué? These language problems will of course recede with time as our friends from across the seas start to heed the advice from Gordo’s cleaner, a stout-hearted Polish lady.
“You English with Breggshit going skint. That pound is worth fukall now, we off to Denmark. Even that Noma can do better than you lot scraping moss and shit off Copenhagen harbour wall”.
Chef Pérez has no less than five Michelin stars and is clearly a busy feller
Telling Mrs Przybyszewski that at least us Brits will be happy because we’ll be in charge of our destiny brings a look of total disdain as she gathers up Gordo’s underpants.
“Ha”, she snorts, pointing to a spectacular skid mark, “you lot can’t even wipe your own arses”.
It really is best for Gordo’s self-esteem to deal with Mrs P via smartphone and hope that her five militarily-drilled children like the English school system too much to allow mum to drag them off somewhere to learn a fifth language fluently.
In the meantime, what does ‘wy a nglodium’ and ‘tempo de llolbregant’ mean? They are actually two different languages. One’s egg and chips in Welsh, the other lobster, egg and chips in Catalan.
For anyone who hasn’t been to University (apart from those who did ‘media studies’) or spent a holiday on the Costa Brava, Catalonia is part of, attached to or completely separate from Spain, depending on your point of view. A bit like Wales in regard to the UK. Catalans have their own language, which, to the average Englishman’s ear is about as clear as Cymraeg; or Welsh as we Viking and Norman immigrants call it.
So, why is Gordo (Spanish for Fatso, by the way) going on with himself? He visited Tast last week, on the day it opened to the public. It’s co-owned by Catalans Pep Guardiola and Feran Soriano, Manager and CEO of Manchester City football club respectively.
It’s rumoured that an old school pal back in Barcelona told the duo that blue was Catalana for vermell, or red. Which left them both scratching their heads when the posh people carrier dumped them at the sky blue front door of MCFC a month or so after signing contracts (in English) and Fergie wasn’t there to greet them. The driver, wearing a bucket hat and smoking a spliff, urged the pair not to look back in anger and drove off laughing to himself.
Anyway, the pair consoled themselves by building the restaurant of their dreams near the Deansgate end of King Street. The place has had two goes at being a restaurant in the past four years or so; will it be third time lucky?
The fit out is refreshing; the ground floor is all blond wood, highly functional and very Scandi. It’s meant for ultra-casual dining, where a bottle of wine and a few tapes can be shared with a pal or two.
That wine? It’s an unusual, well-chosen Catalan list. A bottle of Abadia de Poblet 2016 is a new white with a 90% macabeo and 10% parralada; it’s from the spectacular monastery, Poblet, which has a history of Cistercian monks who originally came from Burgundy and brought their winemaking skills with them.
The red was a Cims de Porrera Vi de Vila 2013, excellent vintage, Garnacha tinta (Grenache) lifted with Cariñena. A bit steep at £49, but difficult to find. Notes include big butch cherry. A good alternative is Modernista, Pagos de Hibera (£26) another Garnacha but with Tempranillo. You can take that by the glass.
On the first floor is a more serious room that is gorgeous, relaxing and made for a long chat with friends or a seduction. The food is hugely interesting. Take a big slice of what Gordo knows as Tostados; here its known as Pad de Pagès amb Tomàquet (£4.90). Hard core bread toasted, rubbed with over-ripe tomatoes, sprinkled with sea salt and dribbled liberally with olive oil.
The charcuterie board (£22), a sharer we all know well these days, works in tandem with the tostados. Croquetas with roast pepper are glorious (£1.70 each). Order two per person. The ‘duck’in donut (£3.80), a weird small ring of foie gras enclosed in chocolate is on executive chef Paco Pérez’s menu back at The Miramar in Girona. Chef Pérez has no less than five Michelin stars and is clearly a busy feller. He also serves Miramar’s truffled white cheese made into a tiny sandwich with crunchy, light biscuit. Its fab and scored a 10.
Fried duck egg, crispy squid, crunchy potato chips and tartar sauce arrived looking good. This is large, aimed at sharing. It’s about the best value in Manchester at £10.50. You are encouraged to slice it up and “make a mess” as the fragrant Sandra Soriano (Feran’s missus) explained. This dish is worth all the pain of finding out what the hell ‘Ou D’Anec, Xipirons, Salso and Tàrtar’ means.
Roast chicken wings with chicken gravy (£7.50) are excellent. Rice with red prawns, squid and funky flavour (£29.50) is baked off in a flat tin, the flavour heightened by pulling off the heads of the prawns and squeezing their brains out across the rice.
A plate of Catalan cheese (£14) is a great way to finish, particularly if you have some of that Porrera left. Get that decanted by the way, it’s hard-core at 14.5%. Needs air.
Tast works well. This place is an adventure. If you go, Gordo’s advice is to pick a couple of things that are in your comfort zone and add one you’re not sure of.
Next time he’s going to try the lobster, as well as the potatoes with various mushrooms. These dishes are too small to be described as tapas (the Catalans call them 'tastets') more in the Cicchetti range; you need two or three. Fun to share, roll your sleeves up and get stuck in.
Tast Cuina Catalana, 20-22 King St, Manchester M2 6AG Tel: 0161 806 0547
All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidential and completely independent of any commercial relationship. Venues are rated against the best examples of their type: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: Netflix and chill, 10-11: if you're passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: cooked by God him/herself.
Charcuterie 8, truffled cheese 10, tostados 9, foie donut 9, duck egg 10, chicken 8, cheese 8 red prawn rice 10
Gets posher the higher you go