Where to eat and drink in Liverpool?
I'm spending a weekend in Liverpool and looking for good places to eat. My pet hate is places that try to cook above their abilities. Anywhere with good ingredients cooked well would suit, especially if they are grounded in regional cuisine. Not sure what the main ethnic minorities are in Liverpool, but ethnic is also good. Will stay fairly centrally but am willing to travel if the food is worth it (no car though). Good wine list with reasonable mark-up is a plus. Any suggestions? My other need is for really good espresso in the morning. Are there any high end coffee places?
There are a couple of threads on Liverpool places which are worth searching this board for - most/all of my recommendations will be within those threads, so I won't repeat them here.
The main ethnic monority groups in Liverpool are people of Chinese, African (mainly Somalia, but also Nigeria and Sudan) and Arabic origin (mainly from the Yemen). There is not a large population from other parts of Asia, so Indian and Pakistani food is not as good as elsewhere in the North West.
When I say this, people always ask me whether there are lots of good African and Middle Eastern places, and the answer is no - I think this is because there is less of an eating out culture in these continents/regions/countries. I could be wrong, but it seems to be reflected elsewhere - even in London, there are many, many more Asian and Chinese restarants than African and Middle Eastern. But this is a different debate!
There have been a few African and Middle Eastern places opening in Liverpool in recent years, some of them basically in people's flats above shops. Those operating officially as restaurants include the Sahara, a Lebanese place on the street just behind the Everyman Theatre. It won't win any awards, and the quality of your meal does depend a bit on what you order, but they do a great Lebanese version of babaganoush; a great pepper and nut dip, which looks like red hummus; very good lamb and aubergine stews and decent rice dishes. Their kebabs are pretty good too - standard stuff, but always juicy and cooked just right. Bring your own alcohol and no corkage fee.
Lodge Lane has recently seen an increase in activity - including another Middle Eastern place and an East African one too - but some of the places there need a few more months to bed in properly.
I think I have covered China Town in previous threads, but the best of the bunch are Mei Mei, Yuet Ben, Ma Bo (just a rough cafe, but good noodle soups and roast meat and rice dishes) and Chilli Chilli (good Sichuan dishes on a separate menu within the main menu).
As for good coffee - there is an Australian place on the corner of Lord Street and Castle Street between the main shopping and business districts in the centre of town. You don't say where you will be staying, so this may not be near enoug for a morning coffee.