Don’t get me wrong; I love getting my fist around a pizza as much as the next guy. But it is true to say that nowadays we accurately associate fast food with bad things happening to our tubes, arteries and backsides.
The question for today is: as our streets fill to bursting with funky new gaffs promising all sorts of health nonsense about burgers and pizzas and the like, when is fast food not bad fast food?
At what point does it become nutritious, white-collar, and cool? Is it when happy-clappy words like ‘organic’ or ‘homemade’ are embossed on a menu, or is it when you pay ridiculous amounts of dosh? Whenever I want ‘homemade’ grub I head home and put the kettle on.
But I’m not at home today. I’m dining instead in bright and cheery Castello Bruno in leafy Castleknock in Dublin. I say ‘dining’ because I’m sitting down and there’s a table in front of me – but essentially I’m looking at a conventional pizza, burger, Italian fast food menu.
The dreaded ‘homemade’ word hovers into view and I flinch. However, because it’s so nice and sunny and everyone is so pleasant and smiley, I decide to become a dewy-eyed utopian for an hour.
I order the homemade fishcakes and the Italian burger with homemade pesto and fresh tomato salsa. There’s also a homemade tiramisu further down the page, but first things first.
The salmon-based fishcakes are real winners; perfectly cooked fishy discs that are definitely made in-house and are definitely worth shouting about. A chili dip and a mayo dip don’t exactly mix-n-match, but otherwise, an excellent opener.
There’s always a fine line I think between a truly inventive dish and a truly disastrous dish. And to be honest, I’m half-expecting Bruno’s Italian job to be either a plain old boring burger with a blob of industrial pesto slapped on, or an over-the-top McEverything with its own built-in aortic aneurism.
I couldn’t be further off the mark. What I get is a thick, meaty patty with a juicy blush of pink running through the middle. Great stuff, but no different than any other properly-cooked beef patty. The magic happens with the pesto – real unadulterated gorgeous homemade pesto.
Sounds simple, and it is, but I would never imagine these guys working so well together, the light fresh tomato salsa with a finely, judged smack of spring onion is also a wonderful addition and brings the whole package together.
The skinny fries don’t add anything special and they wouldn’t be missed – but that basil hit!
And how could I not have that ‘homemade’ tiramisu after that? There’s more than a few Italian restaurants around the city that should take lessons from these guys. It is absolutely delicious. The only downer is some awful aerosol cream and a chili dip that may have been popped from a bottle.
The Verdict: 4.5/5