Friday, 5 August 2011

Restaurant Review: Delifonseca, Liverpool

London is awash with great restaurants. People often ask me about my favourites and I struggle to answer as there are so many that come to mind. If someone were to ask me right now about a favourite spot, though, I would have to spark controversy and pick somewhere.... outside London. Not only that, but in the North. Could it be? Really?

Yes. It could. In fact, a recent trip to Liverpool (hard research for an upcoming Blue Tomato travel feature) spawned many a gem. For a city that felt remarkably small, it certainly 
crams in some top notch dining destinations: bistro/ coffee shop The Quarter, old-school Italian Il Forno, modern British 60 Hope Street and London Carriage Works... the list goes on. The crown goes to Delifonseca, though. A relaxed all-day eatery kind of a place with a deli and food store built in, it literally exudes friendliness and comfort. Not to mention some tasty smells.
Aside from my beloved (and much talked about to anyone who listens) local spot ScooterCaffe on Lower Marsh, I could think of no better place to while away time. And coming second to ScooterCaffe is pretty damn impressive.

Part of Delifonseca’s charm is that it shouldn’t really be as good as it is. The large blackboards which cover the walls and list the dishes of the day offer so many vastly diverse options – a Goan curry, spaghetti and meatballs, chilli con carne, fish ‘n’ chips – surely they can’t all be done well? Making it my mission to try as many things as possible (I’m a professional, after all...) I can confirm that they are. Cured meats, olives, marinated vegetables, fresh bread, meatballs and curry all come tried and tested and not one lets the team down. The food is simple, fresh and uncomplicated. Each dish is like the kind of thing your mum would make as her speciality. It’s apparently chef Saul O’Reilly who heads up the city centre kitchen, though, not the expected team of multicultural mothers from Italy, India, England and afar all cooking up their respective national dishes. It’s probably for the best, though the alternative could make for a good sitcom.

A word to the wise for anyone planning a visit to Delifonseca (and if you’re heading Liverpool way, it’s a must) is to remember to leave some room for pudding. With their generous portions this may be more of a challenge than it sounds, but unleash your inner greediness and give it a go. The indulgently erotic caramel nuttiness of the house special Crack Pie is something not to be missed and I don’t doubt it’s every bit as addictive as its namesake cocaine.

Never mind the coke, Delifonseca’s beer list is enough to induce ecstasy. The vast selection of local ales as well as craft brews from further afield is the one of the best I’ve ever seen, standing its own against dedicated London beer emporia. Try the wares of Wapping and Liverpool One breweries for a start...

In summary: go. It’s just over an hour on the train. Either that or petition owner Candice Fonseca to open a London outpost.

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