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Jul 28, 2008 08:54 AM

A couple of great new places in Liverpool

These may be news to some of you, they may be not, but I've had lovely meals/experiences recently at Delifonseca:

...up on Stanley Street, which sells the best pies in the UK (in my humble opinion) and is fantastic for eating in our out.

Also brilliant is Heart and Soul, recently refurbished and serving lip-smacking meals using locally-sourced ingredients:

I think anywhere that makes its own bread is a good sign. I can also particularly recommend the thai fish cakes and the suckling pig, when they have it. Ring ahead and check!

Oh, and I have no affiliation with either of these places in case you're wondering. I just happen to think they're great :)

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  1. Yes, the Delifonseca is lovely - the guy cooking there was one of the original kitchen staff in the Everyman Bistro when it first opened (30 or more years ago), and after that he opened up the Armadillo, which was a brilliant place on Mathew St but closed down years ago.

    Heart and Soul first opened about 3 or 4 years ago and was very good, but the front of house and restaurant name changed for a while. It's good to see them back - I'll have to get down there.

    1. Delifonseca is great.
      Sadly Heart and Soul closed recently.
      Another nice place though is Cafe Porto on Rodney Street.

      33 Replies
      1. re: evertonfan

        I'll have to check out Cafe Porto - I hadn't heard of it.

        I still like the Delifonseca, but there have been some notable bum notes at times - particularly when they do one of their wine-tasting set menu evenings. They served up a pretty ropey paella at one, and at another, the mail course of lamb steaks wrapped in vine leaves (I think it was vine leaves, but my memory is a bit hazy now) with herbs was actively unpleasant - over cooked and over-herbed. I still really rate it overall though - I just wish their usual attention to detail and quality of cooking continued on the wine tasting nights.

        I'd be interested to hear what people have to say about Il Forno on Duke St. It has been lauded as being one of the top ten Italian restaurants in England, and for serving the best Pizza in Europe, but gets very mixed feedback from people I know - some love it and others have really slated the food.

        I have been there twice and have enjoyed some dishes, but others were not good (such as an arrabbiata sauce which was so hot it was inedible). I can take a fair amount of heat in my food, but this was obviously someone's hand slipping with the pot of chilli - and they didn't offer to replace it either.

        Has anyone else been there?

        It would also be good to hear from others in Liverpool about any new places to eat, or improvements in old places.

        1. re: Theresa

          I go up to Liverpool fairly regularly to visit friends and family. I haven't been to any of the places mentioned on this thread yet, but I am off to The Monro in a few weeks, and I know it has got some good reviews, so I shall let you know how I fare. I also really want to try the Keralan place behind Lime St, but shall have to save that for anoher time.

          1. re: Sharmila

            I'm afraid the Monro is not very good - it thinks it's a gastro pub, but it just isn't quality cooking. I had a good xmas meal there a few years ago, strangely enough, but other than that I have found it to be very disappointing.

            The Keralan place is quite good - the chutneys etc which they serve with the poppadoms are great, and it's nice to have some South Indian food on offer. My only gripe with this place is that one or two of the main courses were very bland (and I'm not talking about a lack of heat, just a lack of depth to the flavours really). But it does make a nice change.

            It's good to get some discussion on the board which isn't about London or Bray!

            1. re: Theresa

              I had a decent meal at the Monro on a Thursday a couple of years back and so went on a Friday with a few mates - it was so bad it was almost comical and I've not been back since. Not been to Cafe Porto so will have to try there -at the risk of inviting ridicule is it , er Portuguese, cuisine ( like the lovely Algarve just down from Deli Fonseca !) ? .Tried to find Heart and Soul one day but could not locate the place, despit having the address !

              Deli Fonseca is my 'go to' place as its consistently decent grub at reasonable prices and the people are nice.

              Is there anywhere else new in town which is any cop ? I ve had lunch at Host which was fine but a little pricey. Deli Fonseca just seems to have the market for simple decent food totally cornered but any other recs gratefully received as I am sure they are getting sick of the sight of me !

              1. re: willowan

                Heart and Soul is closed again. It's been replaced by a chinese restaurant.

                If you're looking for lunch places, the cafe on Whitechapel, which is part of the same building as Tony and Guys, serves very nice simple Italian food - basically pasta dishes, cooked on the premises, but microwaved to order, and a few salads. It's run by an eccentric Italian guy, and I really like it.

                Also Italian, and good for lunch, I believe, is the Tavola Calda on Bold St - I can't remember what it's called, and I keep meaning to go and eat there because it looks good - plates of charcuterie, paninis and pasta dishes.

                The Room on Castle St, part of a small northern chain, is pretty good. It serves modern English food and does it well - I was prepared to hate it, as it looks like one of those "style over substance" type places, but I have been pleasantly surprised. My only complaints last time I went were that there was not enough green stuff with the meals (I never understand that - it's usually the cheapest ingredient) and I broke my tooth on my pork crackling!

                If you're into Chinese, particularly Sichuan food, then do try Chilli Chilli in China town. They have a menu with all the usual stuff, and a couple of pages of Sichuan, which makes a really nice change. We often go completely off piste and ask the waiter to give us something from the other Sichuan menu only written in Chinese.

                The new Thai place on North John St is a bit up and down - I've had a couple of nice meals there and one which was not good at all. It's called the Sabai something, and is opposite Blakes (which I still haven't been to).

                I haven't been to either recently, but I've had lovely meals at both the Olive Press and Piccolinos - but a bit pricier than the Deli probably.

                There's a new fusion type place up on Hope St which I keep meaning to try - can't remember what it's called, but it's on/near the corner of Faulkner St, just round from the Quarter. The menu is a wierd mix of Asian foods, so it could be awful, but I'd like to try it.

                Is the Algarve good? It's been there forever, but I've never been tempted to try it ...

                1. re: Theresa

                  Hi - Host is the new fusion place on Hope Street - as I say I enjoyed it but it isnae cheap.

                  Blakes - wouldn't bother - nice room but food poor for the price and service amateurish IMO - only went once. have heard other 'horror ' stories though

                  Ive only been to Sabai the once - for lunch - and enjoyed it but it was worryingly cheap !

                  Ive never been to the Quarter but hear mixed things - is it any good ?

                  Place on Bold Street is called the Italian club - not been but looks nice, I agree

                  Oh, and the Algarve comment was meant as a joke ! Avoid.

                  1. re: willowan

                    Ah... deep down inside I must have known the Algarve was bad all along...

                    I'd heard good things about Blakes (on Chowhound I think), but it doesn't sound like it's consistent (which seems to be the problem with many of Liverpool's restaurants).

                    I like the Quarter not so much for the quality of its food, but the location and atmosphere. I don't rate their pizzas at all - the base is all wrong. Some of the pasta dishes are very good, and some aren't - the same dish seems to be different each time, which is quite strange. I do like their platters and starters though, and in the summer I really like ordering some of them and sitting outside with a beer or two or a bottle of wine on a Friday evening after work! Even in bad weather it's nice inside. Overall, it's not a place I would go out of my way for for the food, but it has it's own charm. As it's owned by the brothers running 60 Hope St, I'm disappointed that they haven't ensured better quality cooking - it has so much potential.

                    Have you tried the Cafe Tabac on Bold St? It's another one that's been there forever - I've been a few times recently - for the first time in ages - and I've enjoyed it. The food will never set the world alight, but they serve good value home cooked meals.

                    It's worth trying Chaya, in the old tea factory on Wood St. I have only eaten there once or twice, but have enjoyed it. It's a funky cocktail bar (cocktails are great by the way) and a bit too style conscious for a restaurant, but it's worth a go. They serve fusiony/Thai type stuff.

                    There are still some good places in Allerton, but I don't know if you stray that far from the city centre.

                    I'll let you know if/when I think of other places.

                    1. re: Theresa

                      Hello just wondered if any one could tell me a bit more about the pies (and they are still on sale) in Delifonseca.... my dad's a major pie fan and I wonder if its worth the 60 mile drive?

                      1. re: DietStartsTomorrow

                        I'm probably not the right person to answer this, as I've only tasted their pies once or twice. I've bought slices of game pie and a chicken and something else pie from the deli downstairs, and I've enjoyed them, but I wouldn't travel 60 miles for the pleasure. Willowan eats there more regularly, so may have more to say on the matter!

                        1. re: Theresa

                          I must confess I was a bit perplexed by Monkeytennis' comment about pies as I only really eat upstairs and pies don't really feature on the menu much.

                          Of course this inevitably leads to the question of where is good for pies - and I mean proper pies as opposed to a hot pot with a pastry lid ! - which is near to Liverpool ?

                          As for delifonseca - come for the good food and atmosphere anyway ...

                          1. re: willowan

                            will do - we like any excuse for a nice drive. Have asked about good pies in the n. wales area before..but it could be a bit of a desert. Any reccs for cheshire and merseyside gratefully recommended

                2. re: willowan

                  Well, I went to The Monro last Saturday, and had quite a mixed evening. The service was appalling. We got served a warm bottle of Chablis, that had already been corked before it got to the table. We sent it back, asking for a chilled bottle. It was obvious they didn't have one, cue manic behind bar attempted chilling of said bottle. This meant our wine effectively arrived as we were already diving into our starters.

                  My boyfriend's lamb arrived without any sauce, whilst his dads did. So we sent that back. We never got any water we asked for. We had to ask for a coffee at the end three times. To their credit they profusely apologised and didn't charge us for the coffee or one dessert. However, they should be well equipped to deal with a rush on come 8pm on a Saturday night.

                  On the food front, some things were good. The braised shoulder of lamb is everything you would want in a piece of lamb shoulder - tender and very lamby. The liver and black pudding starter was a bit odd, but the requisite parts were cooked well. My salmon was overcooked but it was a nice idea for a main. Desserts was slightly incongruous as my tiramisu arrived with a slick of vanilla cream mingling with passionfruit coulis. I have never previously longed for some passionfruit to go with my coffee-based dessert but hey ho. There was a nice bit of salted caramel lurking on the plate though, which I would have happily eaten more of. The coffee was very good.

                  All in all, a bit odd then.

                  1. re: Sharmila

                    Thanks for reporting back. I think your review sums the place up really - some dishes are ok, but they can't really hack it as even a half way decent place to eat, let alone claim to be a gastro pub. I don't need anything fancy, but I just hate places that over promote their abilities.

                    Somewhere much simpler, but more honest is the Baltic Fleet on the Dock Road opposite the Arena. They have a straight forward menu, which is cooked well, and they brew their own beer.

                    The Munro certainly has ideas above its station/delusions of grandeur ...

                    1. re: Theresa

                      Does the Baltic Fleet do evening grub as well as lunches ? Or would you not line it up for a night out ?

                      What about all of those places on Duke Street - I 've not been to any apart from Il Forno - for lunch - which I thought was very mixed - delusions of grandeur x10.

                      And where are all those pie recommendations ? !

                      1. re: willowan

                        Sorry - I now have to retract my comments about the Baltic after eating there on Friday night. They still do great beer, but the guy who used to do their food no longer does, and it's not very good at all. I had a really nice cabbage and bacon soup, but apart from that everything else was pretty grim - cheap sausages, tasteless "onion gravy" which had so much black pepper in it to disguise its lack of flavour that it burnt the back of your throat - and not in a good way. The scouse was pretty good, but other stuff wasn't. There was four of us, so we were able to try quite a few things on the menu. I could have kicked myself for not going to Vinea over the road in the Albert dock instead.

                        I've had some dodgy experiences at Il Forno (see above), but I still think it can be very good. I do really like their pizzas, and some dishes are great - but, again, not completely consistent.

                        The Mayur just down from Il Forno is very good - an Indian restaurant that doesn't rely on one or two base sauces. It is more expensive than your average Indian place, but I see no reason why the food should be cheaper than European style restaurants when the food is good - so it's definitely worth a visit.

                        I haven't been to the Mexican place nor the Japanese one in the same block.

                        As for pies - I don't really know of any good outlets - but I've never been a big fan of pastry, so perhaps they are there, but I've never bothered to route them out.

                        1. re: willowan

                          I went past the Cafe Porto the other day, and had a look at the menu. It is a Portugese place - it does portugese tapas (which, I must say, look exactly like Spanish ones, but written in Portugese - but I'll probably be shouted down by people saying that Portugese tapas were the original ones/better than Spanish ones/etc) and apparently does portugese specials as main courses - but I'm not sure if they have to be ordered in advance, it's not clear from the menu.

                          They do breakfasts and salads and paninis etc for lunch - but not particularly Portugese - pretty standard fillings for the paninis and other things like Greek salad and croque monsieur. It's bring your own wine, which is a bonus.

                          They've got a website, so you can have a look. We may go to try it out at the weekend - if so I'll report back.

                          One other place I forgot to mention is the restaurant at the Bluecoat. We ate there a few weeks ago and had quite a good meal. They are clearly aiming quite high and have a modern British menu. There were a few bum notes though, which they could do with sorting out - the terrine we had was straight out of the fridge; no bread served with the starters - and we had to pay extra for some; we asked for a portion of spinach, which was so tiny as to be laughable at the price and the beef was not as hot as it could have been. However, this is not meant to be a negative review - overall the food was good and hopefully they will iron out the niggley things. They serve a different menu at lunch time and do afternoon teas too. It might be another good place for you to have lunch.

                          Just on the beef dish we had - is it just me, or do other people have a problem with the very concentrated reductions which are often served as the gravy with lamb or beef dishes? I find them way too strong, and they often completely overpower the natural flavour of the meat - which is a shame when the restaurants serving these meals will usually have sourced very high quality meat with lots of flavour of its own. I think I'd prefer a simpler gravy with my red meat - and more of it!

                          1. re: Theresa

                            Ate at the Bluecoat once last year. Disappointed and not been back. I liked the room ( unlike my mother who likened it to sitting in a corridor ) and thought they had some interesting ideas but they were poorly executed, on the whole. Staff also not much cop in terms of knowing what the dishes actually consisted of ( a pork dish to share being described like it was a piece of meat to carve & share when in fact it was a casserole/stew (which also made me wonder why they were selling it 'to share ' anyway ! ).

                            Be interested to hear how Cafe Porto is, especially of an evening as its a bit of a schlep across town centre for a lunchtime for me.

                            1. re: willowan

                              I agree about the staff - they were all pretty clueless both behind the bar and when serving food. And the room is a bit corridor-like ... I think I'll still give it another go sometime soonish - maybe they will get their act together, as we left quite detailed feedback on one of their evaluation forms!

                              1. re: Theresa

                                Just want to chip in here and say I must be a very lucky chappie because I loved everything I was served at the Monro in January. Unpretentious, honest food, friendly service and a real bargain. Can't wait to go back:


                                1. re: monkeytennis

                                  what day of he week was it though ? i think they are fine midweek but the wheels come off when they get too busy. I loved it first time I went ( Thursday ) but second time was just too mixed( Friday )

                    2. re: willowan

                      Just seen that the Italian Club on Bold St has opened a new place called Italian Club Fish - and the menu looks very good. Obviously pretty much all fish, but with a couple of meat and one veggie main meal for people who really don't like/eat fish. I'm dying to give it a go. It's on Bold St, but further up by the Cafe Tabac.

                      1. re: Theresa

                        I am going to try it out this weekend and will report back. Thanks for the alert!

                        1. re: willowan

                          Went to Italian Club Fish last night and am pleased to report that it was great. Very buzzy atmosphere - been open 3 weeks. Food we had was all good simple stuff, done well. Particularly enjoyed tuna carpaccio with balsamic, fritto misto and fish and chips ( good tartare sauce ! ). House white very swiggable and only £9.50 for a litre. Staff friendly and helpful and other diners on table next to us had been every week since it opened and said everything they had eaten had been similar quality. Recommended.

                          1. re: willowan

                            Brilliant - I'm really pleased - and it's great that they seem to be doing so well already. I want to go soon. What are their opening hours? Do they close early like the other one?

                            I went to Host on Saturday for the first time, and quite enjoyed it. It's definitely better than Wagamama - the corn fritters were great, and both sea bass dishes were too. The belly pork - both in the starter dish and in the chilli and noodle dish tasted reheated, which is a real shame, as the pork also tasted as though it had been a happy pig. The squid starter was a bit ropey - the batter was greasy and needed a sharper dip with it to cut through the grease, rather than the chilli mayo it comes with - it felt like it needed something like a thai/vietnamese dipping sauce with lime and chilli - or at least a slice of lemon. I'd go again though, as there are some other dishes I'd like to try.

                            1. re: Theresa

                              We went to Italian Club Fish last night, and had some lovely food. I really liked the way they have done it up inside - it feels like you are in one of those relaxed bar/restaurants in Italy, and not like you are in an Italian theme park. "Buzzy atmosphere" really describes it well. The tuna carpaccio was very good, as was the frito misto and the linguini alle vongole, which was just how i like it, with cherry tomatoes. the only disappointment was the cooked oysters. They were supposed to be in a light batter, but the batter was really thick and stodgey. It was hard to find the oyster - and a real shame, as the salsa verde served with it was great - one of the best I've had.

                              Anyway - I'm sure we'll be there often. The Cafe Tabac next door has just had a refurb, and it looks brilliant. They'll be serving food as usual, but will be extending the time they serve it till 10pm (it's only 8pm at the moment).

                              I still haven't made it to Cafe Porto - will report back as soon as I do.

                              1. re: Theresa

                                I went to the Cafe Porto the other day, and have mixed feelings about it. I've never been to Portugal, but the cafe feels like a typical family dining room - it's basic, but homely. The guy running it is lovely, and I really wanted the food to be great, but it wasn't brilliant. We had tapas - I think they usually have a couple of hot main meal specials on the board, but there wasn't anything other than tapas on the night we were there.

                                The salt cod fish cakes were good, and I really liked the pork medallions with rice. The patatas bravas weren't great - I think the spuds had been precooked and then microwaved. The chorizo in red wine was quite nice, as was the marinated chicken salad, but they didn't set the world alight.

                                Overall, I liked the place and the people more than the food. It's BYO wine, and the corkage is a very reasonable £2.50. I would probably go again, particularly if they had some specials on the board, but it was slightly disappointing. I would be interested to know what other people think.

                                1. re: Theresa

                                  What day of the week did you go on ?

                                  I've not been but a colleague from work went in on a whim on a Tuesday evening ( when I don't think they are meant to be open late ) and had such a surreal experience of being told what they did not have that they left after 10 minutes without having eaten.

                                  I did fancy trying it one weekend but it's on Liverpool Confidential today ( and gets a glowing review ) so that will be that for a while !

                                  I can't really make up my mind about the LC reviews - they sometimes strike me as a bit OTT. That said , their piece on the Adelphi restaurant last summer was a comedy classic

                                  By the way went back to Italian Club Fish last Friday and I don't know if it's just me but I thought that the tuna carpaccio and fritta mista were both decidedly less generous that when they first opened. Hopefully just a blip...

                                  1. re: willowan

                                    It was a Friday evening - they seemed to have all the tapas available. I thought they also offered hot main courses as specials each day, but from looking at their website, it seems that they only do this for groups of 8 people or more - shame.

                                    Their website also says that they close at 5pm except for Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, so I guess that will be why they had nothing left on a Tuesday evening - the wierd thing is why they let customers in, when they are usually closed at that time, and knowing that they had nothing left!

                                    I don't read Liverpool Confidential very often, but they are a bit inconsistent - they don't always give positive reviews (unlike Sugarvine, which I can't stand), which is good, but I can't trust any reviewer who claims that the food served at the St Petersburgh is good!

                                    1. re: Theresa

                                      "they don't always give positive reviews (unlike Sugarvine, which I can't stand)"

                                      Sugarvine has a declared policy of NOT publishing anything negative - which makes it totally worthless as a review site. I don't know if Onionring makes its way down to your end of the M62 but they now have the same policy as well.

                                      1. re: Harters

                                        Hello all, i'd like to recommend Pablo's on lark lane (midweek menu very good) and also neighbourhood on woolton rd

                                        1. re: hale

                                          Thanks for the tips - I'd wondered about Pablo's - so I'll have to give it a go.

                                          1. re: hale

                                            I went to Pablo's recently, and was pleasantly surprised. I say that because it looked like one of the many places that focus on style and don't deliver on the food. However, the staff are lovely, and the food was pretty good too. Three of us ordered pretty much every starter on the menu, so we got a good idea of the quality . . . There was only one I didn't like, and a few were very good. I'll go again and sample the main courses!

                                        2. re: Theresa

                                          I think the thing with restaurant reviews is that you can only go by the experience you have on the night/day and write about that.

                                          I like the LC reviews, because they tend to flag up the minus points as well as the good, and I don't think their Porto piece was as glowing about the food as it was about the place, but I would really hate to have to be in their shoes!

                3. any feedback on Chaophraya? a few people have recommended it to me.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: abby d

                    Only eaten at the Manchester branch. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Much wider menu than the "sort of hot Chinese" you often get in Thai places.

                    1. re: Harters

                      Dear all

                      Not sure if anyone is sad enough ( like me ! ) to still be checking this post but I have one quick point and a tricky question

                      1. I think Italian club fish is definitely going downhill- went last night for first time for a couple of months and had lemon sole & chips - batter was not great and fish was a bit measly - partner's chips were not properly hot and someone else's pasta was undercooked. It was very busy - just won an award. Overstretched ? Overconfident ? Hmmm. Which leads to...

                      2. Anyone have any Liverpool recs for someone who has coeliac ( gluten intolerance ) as I now need somewhere else to take my mum & dad for their anniversary ! We are not talking fancy just somehwhere which might serve suitable food anyway or which has a kitchen which can be trusted to produce something on spec ( with a call n advance of course ). Just to make it difficult - not the Everyman as we have been too often before !

                      I am also going to put this up as a separate post just in case no one else is checking this on !

                      1. re: willowan

                        I got fish and chips from them at the food festival, and also got some to take away last week, and it was still very good - the batter was lovely and crisp (even after being in a closed box for ten minutes) and the fish was perfectly cooked. Maybe it was an off night? Lets hope so.

                        What award have they won, by the way?

                        1. re: Theresa

                          hey there

                          Anyone been to anywhere new which is any good recently ?

                          I ate at San Carlo on Castle Street he week it opened - not great. Interesting decor, tables too close together and the only decent course was the bresaola ! Also had squid starter which seemed a bit tired - at 12.45 lunchtime ! Risotto and lasagne both went unfinished though the place was chocker by the time we left - having waited 20 minutes because they could not get a signal on their credit card machine so that in the end we had to pay using one of those paper slip visa machines - so at least it was retro !

                          Not been to Merchants ( the old Room ) or the new gaff which has opened in the old Silverbecks building opposite the ( awful ) Bar + Grill. Its called the ( cant remember - something or other... ) Club and has frosted windows with an odd looking crest on them. At least it makes it look slightly intriguing, though I am not sure if its in a good way.

                          If anyone has been do post and let us all know if the march of mediocrity and style over substance continues !

                          Oh and is there anywhere decent to eat at Liverpool One, at all ?

                          1. re: willowan

                            I've not been to anywhere new in town for a while - since redundancy, a period of unemployment and then a lowr paid job have clipped my wings considerably! We have tended to use old cheap favourites (like Cafe Tabac or Chilli Chilli in China town) if/when we go out, or get takeaways.

                            One place we have been to a few times recently - mainly because they sometimes have accoustic musicians playing on a Thursday night - is the Little Green Cafe on Aigburth Road. It's a mix between a cafe/bar/wine bar/restaurant and is on the strip of shops just south of the junction with Jericho Lane. They will never win gastronomic awards and not every dish is perfect, but I have had some really nice food there, at very good prices. They do great fish cakes, excellent steak and ale pie (well, stew with a pastry lid ...) and the steaks are pretty good too. Nice atmosphere (has a neighbourhood-type feel, as they have quite a few regulars and you can just go there for a drink) and worth a go if you're that end of town.

                            Have also recently heard about a gastro pub in Garston (!) called the stables - it's been open for a year and is apparently very good.

                            Where abouts on Castle St is San Carlo? I've not been to Merchants either - and I'm sorry that Room disappeared - it had all the indications that it would be style over substance, but the food was very good the times I went.

                            Intrigued about the Place opposite Bar and Grill - I used to work down that way, and the place was up for sale for ages.

                            As for Liverpool One - it breaks my heart to see so many chains and souless eateries. I've got a little bit of a soft spot for Las Iguanas - I've only been twice - once in Sheffield years ago, and once in Liverpool about 6 months ago - they do have some quite tasty dishes on the menu, but I have only ever had a couple of their tapas type dishes.

                            Chaophraya's other branches in Manchester and Leeds (I think) gets good reviews, so I would like to try it - and at least it's only a mini chain!

                            1. re: willowan

                              I went to San Carlo for a lunch time snack the other day. I only had one dish, so I can hardly give a full review, but I liked it enough to want to go back for a full meal. I thought the room was lovely - modern, but a bit flamboyant and different to the usual souless places which are so popular.

                              I had the Manzo pepito from the bar menu, and it was delicious. It was slices of seared peppered beef (almost a carpaccio, but not quite ...) topped with some delicious soft onion and capers. It came with a mustard mayonaise, which, again, was great. I thought the beef was very good quality and the dish as a whole was well balanced.

                              It wasn't cheap for the size of portion (£8 for a starter-type size), but I wouldn't have minded if bread had been included - I had to pay £2.30 for bread on top. It was lovely bread, but way too much for one person - I resented paying for it when a couple of pieces would have done me.

                              I would like to go again, though - has anyone else been recently?

                              I've also been to the Sahara a couple of times - it's a Lebanese place behind the Everyman. The food is great value and well cooked. There are a few more unusual items on the menu too. Even the standard kebab dishes were a cut above the norm. It's BYO if you want to drink alcohol, and they don't charge any corkage.

                              1. re: Theresa

                                Hello again

                                Went back to San Carlo Friday lunchtime. More impressed . Service has smoothed out and my food ( calamari - better this time ) the the old test of any Italian - Margerhita pizza was pretty good.

                                Think I will now return .

                                Have you been anywhere else of note recently - I am also looking for Wirral/ Chester area recs at the moment ( see separate post ) so any help in that area would be welcome.


                    2. Obviously not a new place, but we'll be schlepping down the M62 to 60 Hope Street, on Wednesday evening.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: Harters

                        My boyfriend went to 60 Hope St just before Christmas for the early evening meal and he had a good meal. SImple but well cooked. Monkeytennis also has a recent review of the place on his blog:

                        1. re: Sharmila

                          We used to go to 60 Hope St quite often, but haven't been for ages - I'm tempted to go while they've got their Jan/Feb special offer on. That review is interesting - particularly as half of it is not a lot to do with food, and is a somewhat exaggerated and over-the-top review of the city 25-30 years ago...!

                          We went to the Carriage Works recently for their January offer, and it was very good. They have been slaughtered in Hardens this year - I can't see how the same chef could go so radically downhill - not just a wobble, but people who contribute to the guide are saying it is bad food. Has anyone eaten there recently and have any opinions on this? I sometimes wonder whether people just decide that it's time to slag a place off if they think it's getting a bit complacent ...? Or maybe there are more sinister forces at work ...

                          1. re: Theresa

                            I've only been to LCW once and that was in late Feb last year. Menu read much better than it ate.

                            This was part of our ongoing Good Food Guide tour of the North West. Similarly, we were at Spire in December and I was even less thrilled.

                            1. re: Harters

                              To be honest I've never really rated LCW and was always amazed when it got decent reviews in the guides. It has always struck me as nice room, poor service and erratically seasoned food.

                              Think I posted briefly above about 60 Hope. Went on one of their fixed price offers last Oct time and it was very good value, I thought. We were meant to be sat downstairs but they put us on a lovely table upstairs and the food was very good. They were also very accommodating with my dad, who is coealiac, which meant he got the panna cotta from a la carte menu - very good - in my all time top 3 I'd say.

                              I think the food there has always been decent but they suffered at the start with an overbearing maitre d and then became popular with the drug dealers and football players which meant that you were having to contend with shouts for more champagne while trying to eat your dinner. Happily the 'in' crowds have now moved on, so its safe to go again.

                              Talking of 'in' crowds - anyone been to Noble House as yet ? Or how about Panoramic - Lpool Confidential big it up but I have still not ventured in !

                              1. re: willowan

                                I have had one or two really good meals at the Carriage Works - probably in its first 2/3 years in operation. We also went to a couple of their wine tasting nights. The food was interesting with great flavours and the chef obviously knew what he was doing. Service in the Bar area (which used to act as a second brasserie type restaurant with a separate menu) was often a bit slow - the waiting staff could be a bit dippy, however, the food was still high quality. Granted, I think that it has lost some of its sheen, but I couldn't say it was bad food and the menu we had recently was good value - my husband had this amazing halibut dish with lentils. I wonder if it is less consistent now - maybe Paul Askew is spending less time in the kitchen?

                                I've been to the Panoramic, expecting not to like it, but I was pleasantly surprised. Our starters were spot on - really good. The mains - well, there was nothing wrong with them, but they didn't hit the spot in the same way. I also remember thinking that my husband's belly pork meal was presented in that nouvelle cuisine type way, and I think that's wrong for that kind of dish... The only real disappointment though was the cheese board - not very much choice, and it didn't look very well kept. This was all about 18 months ago though. The staff had a very irritating habit of insisting on pouring your wine, even though we were happy pouring it ourselves. Once, she took it out of my hand and poured it into my glass and then moved the bottle further out of my reach!

                        2. re: Harters

                          Hope Street was a damn good meal. Best three courser we've had in some months.

                          My only gripe - and I have to say it is a significant one - is that I hate the room with a vengeance. The stripped down decoration means that every sound bounces off the walls and revebrates round the room. Mrs H and I found it impossible to have a conversation at normal voice levels.

                          1. re: Harters

                            Fair point - I always just thought it attracted shouty types !- what did you have to eat. Where you full monty a la carte or on a deal of some kind ?

                            1. re: willowan

                              Full monty.

                              I don't like post reviews on more than one board so hope it's OK to offer this link.

                        3. Tried the Noble House recently (Brunswick St - opposite the Restaurant Bar and Grill). We went for lunch and ate several dishes off the tapas menu. It was pretty good and there were some unusual offerings. I particularly liked the pork crackling and the squid. I'd like to go gain and explore the main menu. The staff were great, and clearly proud of working in this new venue. It's been done out very well (apparently by the Alma de Cuba people - but a much less OTT interior...). I can't help feeling like it is yet another place for people wanting style rather than good grub - but on first try it seemed worth another go, and it impressed me more than Alma de Cuba did.

                          Has anyone been to Da Piero in Irby, or Lunya in Liverpool 1?

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: Theresa

                            Thanks for posting about the Noble House. I've not been but mainly due to the Colleen's Xmas 'do' factor aka anti WAG snobbery. Not been to either of the others you mention but did recently have some decent squid at Piccolino's at lunchtime. Not a place I have previously rated at all, but it wasn't half bad.

                            I am still not convinced by San Carlo, having been back a couple of times. It is still a 'suited and booted ' kind of gaff ( a BAD thing in my eyes at least ) and it strikes me that the starters are okay ( thought not great value ) and the main course pastas are very average indeed.

                            Continuing mixed reports of Host and the ( once much loved ) Side Door. Had a decent pre Phil meal at the Quarter recently . Anywhere else of note or on the up out there ?

                            1. re: willowan

                              I generally agree about San Carlo - but it's what you might expect from a mini-chain. The branch in Manchester is still in the top three of the metro area's Italians, I'd reckon (or two, if you discount Ramsons as only being Italianesque).

                              1. re: Harters

                                Where is Ramsons , and what place completes the top 3 ?!

                                1. re: willowan

                                  Ramsons is in Ramsbottom (on the outskirts of Bury). A Good Food Guide score of 6 makes it the highest in the metro area. A bit quirky - but probably worth the schlep from your part of the world. Go sooner rather than later - it's very distinctively the owner's gaff and Chris is batting on in years. It won't be the same when he comes to retire. His ex-sous chef now owns the very well-acclaimed (but still untried by me) Aumbry in Prestwich.

                                  And the final place, in my book, will be Palmiro in Whalley Range (just to the south of the city centre). Short menu reflecting the owner's Venetian background.

                                  If you want to add in another, then Stock in the city centre (in the old stock exchange trading room). Can be good; can be indifferent - I currently have a down on them due to a less than indifferent meal at their other place - Osteria Mauro - near Prestbury (village of footballers's wives and, also, my birthplace).

                                  I'm hoping in the next few weeks to make to trip over to Da Piero.

                                  1. re: Harters

                                    hey all

                                    anyone know of any decent ( mainly ) veggie places in or around the 'Pool without schleping to Manchester ? Any decent Thali places perhaps - or am I dreaming ?

                                    Thanks in advance

                                    1. re: willowan

                                      Couldnt even give you much by way of decent veggie in the Rainy City. If you come across a decent thali place, I'll schlep your way.