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Jun 25, 2008 02:42 PM

Liverpool recs for Liverpool people ?

Looking for favourite recs in Liverpool, as a Liverpool resident. Am looking for top quality food but not in the (yawn )Carriage Works or 60 Hope Street mould where I can take my partner for anniversary night out.

Am open to suggestions on cuisine, though Chinese is not a big favourite.

Have seen posts on other forums about Lpool's great 'ethnic' places to eat but have no clue what this is about or where it is referring to.....

Help !

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  1. Great - someone else from Liverpool on this board - I thought I was the only one ...

    Well, for top quality food, why don't you try Ziba? It's in the Racquet Club in the Hargreaves Building on Chapel St. It's in a really nice dining room and they serve great food - not cheap though, but I think the Carriage Works is more expensive.

    You could try the new Panoramic Restaurant at the top of the Beetham West Tower - it's the highest restaurant in the UK and has amazing views of the city and up and down the Mersey. The review in the Guardian wasn't very good, but that was in it's very early days, so maybe they've settled in now - they are aiming for fine dining I believe.

    I like the Side Door on Hope St - it is more of a bistro type place, and more informal than the other two, but they serve good food and it's a lovely room.

    Puschka on Rodney Street is brilliant - they serve great food - modern British and European in style - and it is very friendly. I had a meal there recently which was faultless.

    Apparently Blakes (attached to the Hard Day's Night Hotel) is very good - again, modern British food - and it's in a lovely building. I've not been though.

    Allerton has a good few restaurants, and one or two were serving really good stuff - the one's I've been to, and would go to again (they may not all be open anymore) are: Spire, Spoon and the Ark. Don't bother with Amber - I was very disappointed.

    Liverpool isn't particularly well known for cuisines from other parts of the world except Chinese. There used to be quite a few cafes/community centres which served food from different African countries, but these no longer exist. Indian food is generally the bog standard stuff you get in restaurants across the UK - exceptions are the Mayur, on Duke St, which serves "finer" food than other places, and doesn't resort to the same base curry sauce for everything; the Red Fort on Lark Lane, which is quite good, and perhaps the Ceylon Spice co. in Waterloo (which also does Singapore food). I've been to the latter once - I'd heard rave reviews about it, but was a bit disappointed, but if you're up that way, they're nice people and it's worth a go. We went to the new(ish) Indian restaurant in the Albert Dock, and were not impressed at all.

    Chinese-wise, I know you said you're not that keen on it, but if you do decide to have a go, the best are the Yuet Ben, which has a smaller menu and serves different food from the British Chinese norm; the Mei Mei, which is higher quality than most; Mabo's, which is a cafe, good for chinese roast meats and noodle soups and finally, I like the Chilli Chilli restaurant, which has a Sechuan Menu in addition to the usual stuff - it's good and spicy food, they do great hotpots and it makes a nice change.

    There are loads of inbetween type places - not fine dining, but good food in relaxed surroundings, and if you want to know about these I can tell you more.

      1. re: Theresa

        You might also want to try the newly refurbished Pumphouse in the Albert Dock. Haven't tried it myself but my parents went to the launch night and had some nice canapés! The chef was also there mingling so that's a good sign.

        Pop into Vinea in the dock itself beforehand for some tapas and a glass of chilled Cava.

        1. re: monkeytennis

          So are they doing proper meals in the Pumphouse?

          I keep meaning to go to Vinea, as it looks lovely, but we rarely go down to the dock. Do you rate any of the other places to eat down there - so many of them seem to be all fur coat and no knickers ...

          1. re: Theresa

            Went to Side door last night, encouraged by your original post. Had stopped going there shortly after it was rebranded ( from The Other Place ) as I felt service, food and ability to get a table ( they went to a two sittings model ,which I dislike ) went downhill. Last night was pretty good - I had squid followed by duck and would definitely now go back again.

            Has anyone been to the

            - ' new' Pumphouse ( cant say I ever ate there before )
            - Blakes
            - Panoramic

            as yet ? I too have heard good things about lunch at Blakes, but had heard Panoramic was all view, sloppy service and poor food combined with a ' Bar and grill' style clientele which = avoid.

            Was intrigued by your Puschka rec - I like the atmosphere but have always been disappointed with the food, though i have always ordered fish - perhaps I should stick with meat when going there ?

            I totally agree with your comments on Ceylon Spice - I can walk there from home and still dont bother. One thing which has always puzzled me is that Waterloo has a rep. as a place with lots of decent places to eat but I never eat out close to home at all.Am I missing something ?

            Any further recs welcome. Is there , for example, a decent gastropub anywhere ? I have tried the Monro a couple of times but after a great experience first time my second visit was a shocker - poor food - comically bad service, the works. Perhaps it is best midweek as first visit ( reasonably quiet ) was a Thursday and second time was a Friday ( chaos)

            Oh and is there a half decent authentic Italian anywhere ? I saw a decent review for the Italian club on Bold street recently but have not been.

            All views welcome - I agree we need some more Liverpool posts !!

            1. re: willowan

              I think maybe Puschka has upped its game over the last couple of years - it seems more consistent. Faultless meals are hard to come by, but, as I said, I have had one there recently. The only really bum note I've experienced there was a salsa verde I had there a few years ago (large lumps of lemon rind in it - really nasty) - otherwise it has been very good. Not sure about fish vs meat - I rarely order fish unless it's a starter, and the only fish main course I've had there was accompanied by the afore-mentioned salsa verde!

              I don't eat in Waterloo very often, as I live the other side of the city - the only really good meal I've had there was in Tapas Tapas - we had very good quality and well prepared dishes when we went there a couple of years back.

              Gastro pub-wise, Liverpool doesn't seem to have any, but the Baltic Fleet does food and the menu looks good and not expensive. I haven't had a proper meal there, but they have been doing barbeques there most evenings over the summer, and we had rare marinated beef and very good burgers with great homemade tomato ketchup one evening, so the kitchen seems to do some interesting stuff. I reckon it's worth a look, and it's also a micro brewery, so they do good beer too.

              I've not been to the Italian Club, as it closes so early, but I really want to give it a go soon. As for Italian places, I like the Ristorante Italiano on Castle Street (it is towards the Law Courts end on the left as you go towards the Town Hall, and it's down a few steps). It's old fashioned, and does some really good dishes - the penne arrabbiata is great, as is the minestrone soup (according to my boss, but I didn't try it) and the lasagne.

              The Olive Press and Piccolino's on Castle Street and Cook Street don't feel authentic, as they are modern places and are both part of mini-chains, which always puts me off a bit. However, the the cooking is good at both places, and the pasta is hand made at the Olive Press. Il Forno on Duke Street is supposed to be one of the top Italian places in the country, and they won the best Pizza in Britain award a couple of years ago. I've been there once or twice, and thought it was pretty good, and two of my friends swear by it, but I hate the corporate feel to it. It's family run, and all the chefs are Italian, but it feels like part of a chain - I would give it a go though, if you are on the hunt for good Italian. Let us know what you think!

      2. Has anyone been to the Panoramic? The menu looks nice on the website, and the view of course.

        3 Replies
        1. re: monkeytennis

          Had a shocker of a review from the Guardian - see below, but that was early days. I can't imagine they'll sustain that menu (from the website) in somewhere like Liverpool, but a mate went recently and said it was pretty good.

          With a mixture of hope and expectation, with a small majority of the chips riding on the former, I ask readers in Liverpool to forgive what follows. It's not that you will find any unfunny gags about lads of seven asking the visitor to Anfield for a fiver to mind his Merc ("Don't worry, son," says the driver. "I'm leaving the rottweiler in the back." "Oh yeah, mister," says the boy. "Put out fires, can it?").

          Such witless stereotyping we can safely leave to the late Bernard Manning and the Tory candidate for London mayor. All I will say, at risk of causing offence where none is meant, is this: for all the impressive regeneration of its city centre and docks, regardless of the Beatles-inspired exponential growth in tourism, and even despite its current status as European Capital of Culture, Liverpool remains the restaurant black hole zone it has always been. Why this should be so is a curiosity, although the Scouse friend who joined me on this trip did just happen to mention that Alexei Sayle's Liverpool, an eagerly anticipated three-part TV series this summer, may offer some socio-economic or historical clues.

          For 30 minutes at Panoramic, near the summit of a gleaming new tower block, it seemed the jinx had been broken. As the lift opened on the 34th floor, we were warmly greeted by a charming, smartly black-suited manager who showed us to a bar that offered magnificent views over the Liver building and a lone ferry crossing the Mersey.

          Then we were shown to a table in the dining area, plushly but plainly done out in the style of the posh corporate canteen, from which the vista over the docks and Irish Sea beyond was equally dazzling. Liverpool, it seemed, may finally have its first great restaurant.

          "Ah," said my friend, an air of resignation born of interrupting the idyll as the menus arrived (there's also a cheapo set lunch at £17.50 for three courses), "this is where it all starts to go wrong."

          But it wasn't. A waiter had repeatedly insisted that the scallops were "much, much bigger than normal today", in a bemused tone suggesting that they'd been stored in a nuclear reactor overnight to mutate, and these whoppers were juicy, sweet, perfectly cooked, free of radioactivity and served with impeccable black pudding. My own starter - skate wing in nut butter - was also excellent, the fleshy, flaky, pleasingly salty fish working surprisingly well with the accompanying chicken wings.

          "I've never experienced anything like this in Liverpool," enthused my friend, by now almost in a state of shock. "Fancy napery, terrific food, a level of professionalism from the staff..."

          It was at this moment that Zoltan, a young Magyar who supplied us with not just his name but also its Ottoman empire derivation (from Sultan, apparently), made the first of several extended visits to deposit our main courses.

          My friend's John Dory, served with a weirdly chewy crab tortellini, was desiccated, mechanical and so devoid of flavour that we suspected the Piscine Taste Inspectorate of having raided the kitchens to extract every fishy molecule with their syringes. This overwhelming blandness, however, gave it a crushing victory over my sirloin of beef, served with salsify, roasted parsnips and a quivery, off-white piece of bone marrow that resembled the penis of an albino turtle. The dish was a cataclysm, the top burned to an encrusted black finish that was texturally more suited to a truncheon than to prime beef, while the meat inside was grey and sallow rather than the requested medium-rare. Clearly it had been kept (luke) warm on a hot plate, and the auto-response to an offer of a doggy bag would have been, "Watch yourself, pal. Do I look like Cruella de Vil?"

          By the time a pair of gruesome puddings - offputtingly soggy slabs of mush that went by the name of "honey brioche", and a clumping, artless twist on a toffee apple - had come and gone, the sweet but fatiguing Zoltan had followed a carefully nuanced analysis of the Hungarian political system with a barely abridged verbal autobiography that took us from his early years in Budapest, via his time as a business student in Indiana, to the news that he was leaving in two days for a hotel on Ireland's Atlantic coast.

          His colleagues, we felt, would handle the loss with fortitude. "I saw him chatting away. He can go on a bit, can't he?" said the bearer of the bill, indulgently, before concluding amateur hour with the request that the tip be left in cash because the company that owns both restaurant and tower snaffles any gratuities that are tacked on to credit card payments.

          Whether that corporate entity would be more generous to punters by letting them enjoy the view from the bar while ordering in a pizza or Indian takeaway, I've no idea. But that, alas, is the only recommended way to dine at this strangely endearing but wilfully incompetent addition to the restaurant tradition of a city that deserves so much better than this.

          The bill

          2 chardonnay spritzers: £8.90

          Skate: £7.50

          Scallops: £10.50

          John Dory: £18

          Sirloin: £22

          Apple baked in toffee: £7

          Honey brioche: £7

          3 glasses pinot grigio: £11.85

          Bottle sparkling water: £2.95

          2 filter coffees: £7.80

          Subtotal: £103.50

          Tip: £10.35

          Total £113.85

          1. re: nick78447

            Thanks - yes I think that's the Matthew Norman review, I remember it well :)

            What surprises me is that if you ask anyone in Liverpool what the Panoramic is like, they'll all say "Oh, it's not supposed to be very good", and yet I've found nobody who's actually been themselves to find out!

            If anyone out there has, I'd be very interested in reading your thoughts.

            1. re: monkeytennis

              I've been. I went the first week it was open, to be fair, but I wasn't impressed. The view is a jaw-dropper - go for a drink in the bar and you'll get the best of the place. I expected the food to be much, much better than it was. Not bad, exactly, but not amazing (and it was certainly going for "amazing.". Extremely fussy food with a lot going on that didn't all add up to tasting good. One for the dudes in suits and expense accounts more into impressing each other with the size of their bill than having a satisfying meal.