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Gordo: of bacon butties and designer pizzas

The 'fat, good looking one' descends on First Taste and Pizza Express

Published on February 25th 2009.

Gordo: of bacon butties and designer pizzas

First Taste have opened a new sandwich shop on Cross Street, not normally something that gets Gordo excited. But what looked like an oven on fire caught his attention one hungover Saturday morning, so he called in to see what was going on.

This place is a step above other sandwich shops in the city, mostly by dint of some very well prepared and 'that-morning-fresh' ingredients, but what sets it solidly apart is the bread. It’s prepared on the premises, in that oven, and is called ‘flatbread’. You can have white or brown, it’s crisp on the outside, slightly salty, moist and a tiny bit chewy on the inside, having been sliced down the middle. Loaded with the filling of your choice, this is the best sandwich bread in town.

So far Gordo has had a breakfast ‘construction’, with excellent leek sausages, crispy bacon and scrambled egg. The scrambled egg here is better than normal (normal being inedible) whilst the whole thing was hugely enjoyable at £2.95. The only other breakfast experience Gordo would say is on a par, is Donna’s bacon and runny egg on toast over at Philpotts underneath the City Tower – she is something special.

Lunchtime a couple of days later had Gordo trying out a Lancashire beef hotpot with a pastry crust (£3.65). It was every bit as good as at our old pals Shlurp (though maybe the salt needed calming down slightly), whilst a flatbread chicken and bacon club was nuzzling towards the best for a very long time.

This shop is owned by some canny local catering guys who deserve our support for two reasons. Firstly, it ain’t a faceless franchise, and secondly it is different and really well thought out. Just like Confidential, apart from the well thought out bit. Give it a go, it’s well worth it.

A few days before, Gordo found himself being taken out for lunch by a couple of fit birds, Angela Brown and Michelle Haynes from Argent. Angie is back from an episode of breeding – before that, she used to be a regular drinking companion for the fat, good looking one. The girls took Gordo to Pizza Express on Piccadilly Gardens. One thing that Pizza Express can’t make is tea. The good humoured waiter brought a large coffee-type bowl full of hot water, with a tea bag on the side.

Are you serious? thought Gordo. He then remembered being here before, getting the same and explaining to a clearly terrified waitress how to make a cup of tea.

“Heat the tea pot, put the tea bags in, pour freshly boiling water on top…”

Gordo was interrupted. “It’s the health and safety rules, Sir,” said the now not-so-terrified waitress. She'd had a good look at Gordo, who doesn’t stand close scrutiny well at all. Gordo gave up.

Anyhow, purely by chance Gordo had that morning been talking to an old pal whose son was doing a stint at one of the Pizza Expresses around the city.

“Well, he tells me that they have some new pizzas on that are doing well,” said the old pal, “designed by some feller from The River Café. Theo Randall. The bugger must be trying to pay the mortgage off.”

And there they were, top right on the menu, 'Pizzas by Theo Randall'. Blimey. Gordo had Theo’s Gamberettini (£10.95): 'A delicate marriage of brown shrimps and grated zucchini, with a crème fraîche and tomato sauce. Finished with a grano padano, fresh parsley, lemon and chilli oil on the side'. Angie had the same, whilst Michelle had Theo’s Favorita (£9.75). They were oddly shaped but tasted great as it happens, if not a bit pricey.

A little known fact is that the word 'pizza' comes from the Greek verb 'pizzahaha' which means 'Let's kick the shit out of those stupid Anglo Saxon wallets just for the hell of it'. Theo is clearly a great exponent of it with that Gamberettini at nearly 11 English. And that lemon and chilli oil was pants.

What must be a comfort to the Sherman tank-driving mummies from West Didsbury, by the way, on their trips to town is that they can feed little Peaches-Acacia Sunrise and Xerces on Plum's 'organic superfood for babies’ here, with either Savoury Plum Baby (spinach, parsnip and basil) or Sweet Plum Baby (blueberry, banana and vanilla). Both are veggie and a steal at £1.65. It’s all nut-free as well. Get down there, girls.

First Taste
68 Cross Street
0161 831 7454

Pizza Express
1 Piccadilly Gardens
M1 1RG
0161 237 1699

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19 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Leo, First TasteFebruary 25th 2009.

To clear things up, First Taste have a couple of shops - one on Oxford Street (no flames) and one on Cross Street (with flames)... so not quite up to chain numbers. We're local and independent and we started off with First Taste Corporate which delivers chef prepared food for meetings, business lunches and the like in Manchester, Leeds and B/ham. Maybe that's where you've seen the name? Hope this helps, enjoy.

Burt CodeineFebruary 25th 2009.

I noticed the warm, inviting glow of the wood oven on a recent stint down Cross Street and it caught my eye like a bourgeois pin cushion on Blackie Lawless's knees. Reminded me a bit of that restaurant in Barcelona (Los Carocoles), although their oven is on the outside (could you imagine that being allowed here?). Glad it's not a national and it gets the thumbs up...I'll pop along and give it a whirl. Philpotts (at least the Lincoln Square branch) is tough to beat mind.

HowieFebruary 25th 2009.

First Taste wins hands down for me the tuna melt flatbread is the best in town. Far better than the boring chains - definitely worth a try.

nickFebruary 25th 2009.

Toasted Flatbreads taste great, good selection of fresh fillings!!! better than a soggy sandwich from Greggs...

It's all Greek to meFebruary 25th 2009.

If the word pizza is derived from the Greek, why can't the mummies of Didsbury spell XERXES? Or are they Egyptian mummies? By the way, I went to Pizza Express in Piccadilly Gardens last week and the "new" pizzas we had were great if you like a soggy bottom. I don't and won't be back. Croma rules.

AnonymousFebruary 25th 2009.

I love Croma... it's my favourite pizza place to eat in town... but isn't it a franchise of pizza express??!!

AvoFebruary 25th 2009.

You can't beat the turkey, bacon and emmental from Philpotts with salad and cranberry on a huge floury ciabatta!

AnonymousFebruary 25th 2009.

Im a fellow fan of First Taste, great tasting fresh sandwiches and much friendlier staff than in the likes of phil potts! Would definitely recommend

AnonymousFebruary 25th 2009.

Tried a First Taste Flatbread for the first time last week. Went for the Chicken & Bacon Club. I was not disappointed!! Makes a nice change seeing it being made fresh.

AnonymousFebruary 25th 2009.

I'm confused, is this first taste the same as the one on Oxford Street? If so doesn't that mean it is part of a fairly large chain!

AnonymousFebruary 25th 2009.

I've only tried the muffins so far...they were amazing, all gooey in the middle

AnonymousFebruary 25th 2009.

hey Leo, im afraid i've never been - the Oxford Street frontage made me think your food would be like the hot food &sandwiches section at Spar. Guess i was wrong.

beeFebruary 25th 2009.

re Philpotts - i don't like having to re-mortgage the house to buy my lunch... though when i can afford their extortionately-priced sandwiches they are nice. Not as nice as Rustica in the NQ though.

Burt CodeineFebruary 25th 2009.

Good question re the other 'First Taste' chain which is in the city (and other cities for that matter). Doesn't seem to be part of it but I'm surprised they've opened with exactly the same name. Could a 'pret a manger' do the same?

davidFebruary 25th 2009.

Pizza express!! My wife tok our daughter to Pizza express, the one near San Rocco, there was a cockroach in her ice cream, the manager was most apologetic , you will be receiving a leter from our head office she said as she comped us the meal, Nothing yet !! What a load of corporate crap, Go to Croma its much better pizza and they care about there customers.

ChukkyFebruary 25th 2009.

I don't think it's a franchise; I think the owner of Croma (who's a loner in a coma) used to manage a P.E. and took all their secrets with him, which is why their menus are almost identical. Crazyjohn, pizzas have toppings; sandwiches have fillings.

crazyjohnFebruary 25th 2009.

If that blonde in the pictures wants another not very substantial filling then page me huhuhu

the FoulgerFebruary 25th 2009.

I checked out first taste and I have to say the sandwich I had was top, the bread is far tastier than that from eat or pret. I've been back on several occasions, the menu is extensive! :) Check it out!

davidFebruary 25th 2009.

Update on the cockroach at Pizza express- Got a letter today from Pizza Express hq in Uxbridge expressing how sorry they were and explaining how their suppliers etc were fastidious in quality control and hygiene. They also sent me £30 vouchers for use at Pizza express.nice gesture, personally I still prefer Croma , nicer people better pizza , better wine more grown up envireonment

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