Located on Ducie Street, many may know Diecast as the location of Leno Ex Machina, a warehouse kitchen specialising in pizza, daiquiris, and immersive entertainment.
This year, however, Diecast has undergone a full ‘Christmasification’, introducing ‘Winterhood’ to its creative neighbourhood. From 1st November – 30th December, Diecast’s main factory floor will be transformed into a ‘Fairytale of New York’ Brooklyn-inspired beer hall. The Mancunion were lucky enough to get a preview of everything it has to offer.
When we arrived, we were instantly hit with the comforting sights and smells of Christmas. With the kitchen being tactfully located at the site’s entrance, the array of food was enough to get our mouths watering before we had even sat down.
Ornamented with sparkling lights, Christmas trees, and a fabulously festive band, we felt surrounded by a winter wonderland. The bar’s positioning, located next to the compact seating area and table tennis tables, enables the vast factory floor to achieve a cosy and communal atmosphere.
Our first set of drinks, mulled wine and mulled negroni, were the ideal beverages to warm us up after a miserably cold walk to the venue. Admittedly, I’m not the biggest mulled wine fan, but its rich, soothing spices went down like a treat. My friend wasn’t so impressed, arguing that it was nothing special, so the debate over the mulled wine was left unsettled.
We all agreed, however, that mulled negroni was a genius idea. Again, negroni is not my cocktail of choice (I’m a mojito girl through and through), but its warming, citrusy flavour dulled the bitterness of the Campari to create a comforting drink with all the festive flavours you could wish for.
Our first bite of the evening was the ‘Johnny’s Hots’ (£9.50), a smoked Polish sausage, accompanied by fairground onions, Viking mustard, and a potato bun. And boy, oh boy, this hit the spot. Warm, juicy, and perfectly smoky, this was Christmas wrapped up in a bite. Enclosed in light, pillowy bread, the soft caramelised onions balanced perfectly with the sausage’s saltiness.
If we didn’t think it got better than that, next up were the ‘G Balls’ (£6.50). These were the overall favourites. What more could you want than cheesy, herby, garlicky dough balls? Straight out of the oven, overflowing with garlic butter, and crispy to perfection, these balls were heavenly (excuse the pun).
As we inhaled these bites, we were offered prosecco and espresso martinis (£10.50). Light, dry and crisp, the prosecco was good quality and delicious, making it dangerously easy to guzzle down.
The espresso martinis were also a game changer. Although two of my friends felt the cocktail had too much coffee, being a coffee-lover myself, I thought it was perfect. Garnished with chocolate shavings, the espresso martini was rich, indulgent, and silky smooth. After seeing how impressed I was, my friend ordered the frozen espresso martini for me to try. The cocktail’s velvety texture was enhanced by the cocktail’s frozen quality, making it even more decadent. This was, hands down, my favourite drink of the night.
Accompanying the lovely food and drink was a Christmas ‘sing-a-long’, where the talented band performed classic festive hits. Given the size and space of the warehouse, the sound quality wasn’t ideal, but the range of entertainment and activities made up for it.
Next up to be served were Leno Ex Machina’s famous ‘NeoPan’ pizzas. Merging the fluffy crust of the Neapolitan pizza with the crispy NYC-style base, these pizzas create a unique and tasty combination. Using San Marzano tomatoes and unfiltered extra virgin olive oil, the pizzas were fresh and full of flavour.
Lacking a crispy, firm base, the sloppiness of the Margherita pizza (£10) made it average. The pepperoni pizza (£14), on the other hand, was impressive. Loaded with crispy cusps of pepperoni, this pizza was bursting with flavour, and I found myself going back for seconds. Leno Ex Machina offers a range of exciting ‘NeoPan’ pizzas, with toppings like fennel sausage and burrata with truffle honey, that would definitely be worth a try.
Unfortunately, as we were seated the furthest away from the kitchen, much of the food was gone before the waiters made it to our table. This meant that we were unable to try the ‘NYC Style Supreme Bagels’. However, after some detective work, we located a table that was lucky enough to get their hands on them. Asking for their opinion of the bagel, the table rated it “a solid 8/10”, describing them as light, fluffy, and warm inside.
The final item of the evening was the classic sticky toffee pudding, which is always a firm favourite. As sticky toffee puddings go, this was pretty good. Coated in delicious toffee sauce, the pudding was super light and fluffy, making it melt in your mouth. However, I feel like the pudding was slightly lacking in flavour, and a few festive spices, like cardamom and ginger, would have taken it to the next level.
After our lovely meal, which was followed by a highly tense table tennis match between my two friends, we headed next door to Leno Ex Machina for the nighttime entertainment.
Every Thursday night, Diecast presents ‘LA Bang!’, an immersive performance that happens across the venue’s network of platforms and vertical stages. From sassy dance routines performed in raunchy outfits, to mesmerising aerial hoop displays, we were surrounded by an impressive spectacle. Following this, the DJ kept the party going, with tunes that got everyone up and dancing. Imagine Blues Kitchen but with double the sass and triple the rum.
Of course, I had to try one of Leno Ex Machina’s famous frozen daiquiris. Opting for the strawberry flavour, I was transported back to my childhood. It tasted exactly like Calippo Shots, and I wasn’t complaining. Matching the room’s atmosphere, the drink was playful, sweet, and worth a try, even if it was a hefty price of £10.
If you’re looking for a fun and festive night out in the build-up to Christmas, then Winterhood at Diecast is a must-try. With delicious food, fabulous drinks, and jam-packed with entertainment, there’s no better way to get into the Christmas spirit.
- Wed-Fri: 4pm-late
- Sat-Sunday: 12pm-late