Saturday, 17 September 2011

Liverpool - City Break

A Greedy Gastro Tour Of Liverpool

Famed worldwide for the docks, the football and The Beatles, this European Capital of Culture receives little in the way of foodie recognition. On a recent visit, I discover it has a lot more to offer than bowlfuls of scouse.

It’s with a line-up of recommended restaurants and a handy helping of local insider tips that my guest and I embark on our weekend jaunt to Liverpool, a city which at points in the 19th Century had a greater wealth and prestige than the capital itself. Arriving at our destination around two hours after hopping aboard our post-work train at Euston, it seems we could have done alright without the tips anyway. Walking for a maximum of twenty minutes to get to our hotel on the other side of the city centre, we pass numerous enticing gastropubs, bustling cafes and cosmopolitan restaurants; it doesn’t really feel like we’ve left London at all.


It’s ironic that the first restaurant we visit is called The London Carriage Works. Not just because of where we’ve come from, but because head chef Paul Askew is a renowned champion of Liverpool cuisine and local food. The menu merges British and Mediterranean flavours, but carefully cites its Mersey and North West produce. A dish of scallops served with tender pork cheek pieces, morcilla-style black pudding and a cauliflower puree, and another of rabbit and leek terrine, wrapped in bacon and served with a mustard vinaigrette are highlights of a creative and seasonally changing menu. An extensive and well-priced wine list featuring no fewer than 170 bins is another high point.
The London Carriage Works, Hope Street, L1 9DA |

A lazy lie-in and short stroll to The Quarter is order of the day for Saturday morning. This laid-back spot is a justifiably popular one with locals, coming at anytime of the day to eat, drink and while away the hours with friends. Opt for English and order a distinctly grease-free fry-up using locally sourced eggs and meats, or go Continental to sample the impressive selection of homemade breads and pastries that you’ll have smelt on your way in. Read the papers that are provided and don’t worry about watching the clock. Sit outside if you’re lucky enough to catch a bit of sun.
The Quater, 7 Falkner Street, L8 7PU |


A waterside walk, an historical tour or gander at the city’s outpost of Tate might be in order to allow breakfast to subside before heading to the centre of town for lunch at Delifonseca. Owned by Candice Fonseca, this friendly venue harmoniously merges deli, cafe and restaurant. Choose from a selection of light bites, antipaste platters and tapas dishes, or opt for any one (or more) of the daily changing larger dishes which are listed on a homely wall of blackboards. Of a selection ranging from spaghetti with meatballs to a Goan curry and fish ‘n’ chips, we couldn’t fault a thing. Save room for a slice of Crack Pie, though - this indulgently caramel-laden house special is so named because of how addictive it is.
Delifonseca, 12 Stanley Street, L1 6AF |

It’s a look through the beer shelves of the shop at Delifonseca that inspires this next pit-stop. The Baltic Fleet occupies a Grade II listed building by Liverpool’s docks which is thought to date back to 1780, and it has resisted change as much as possible since then, remaining every inch a traditional British pub. The unseen cellars are the highlight of the sparse layout, boasting more than ten homebrews on tap at any one time.
The Baltic Fleet, 33a Wapping, L1 8DQ |

Early evening sees people start to pack in to Liverpool for a Saturday night on the town, so it’s best to have a dinner reservation rather than chance your luck. Il Forno is a particularly popular place, and is at capacity on our visit despite offering an impressive number of covers. They can clearly do quality as well as quantity, as the old-school Italian food is all it should be: richly flavoured, simply presented and passionately served. Osso buco served with saffron flavoured risotto Milanese comes with our recommendation, though the jury’s still out on the Nutella pizza.
Il Forno, 132 Duke Street, L1 5AG |


There’s no shortage of night spots in Liverpool, with more than enough bars and pubs in close vicinity of each other to warrant a proper crawl. One place that anyone you’ll meet will tell you is a must-visit is Alma De Cuba, which is set in an old church. Make sure you try a few of their house cocktails – such as the fig and amaretto sour – and that you’re there for 11pm when they do their renowned petal throwing act. It has to be seen to be believed.
Alma De Cuba, St. Peter’s Church, Seel Street, L1 4BH |

Sunday morning will no doubt see a late start follow a late night. If, like us, it’s straight to lunch for a sobering feed before heading back to London late afternoon, then be aware of the glories of kicking things off with a spicy Bloody Mary at 60 Hope Street. Best described as a plush British bistro, this intricate yet informal venue backs up the drinks with a menu of comfort food dishes gone only ever-so-slightly posh. A Sunday roast of rare-cooked, juicy beef hits the spot, boasting Yorkshires the size of bowls. Either a generous plate of English and Irish cheeses, or a choice from the creative dessert list will provide good sustenance for the short walk back to the station, but you may be sad to say goodbye.
60 Hope Street, L1 9BZ |

Liverpool isn’t as far away as you might think, taking just over 2 hours to get to Liverpool Lime Street on a fast train out of Euston. Trains leave at least every 30mins for most of the day.

This modern, boutique hotel is set within the same building as The London Carriage Works, at the heart of Liverpool’s restaurant strip. Features include a well-stocked bar, meeting areas and private function rooms. The restaurant offers both English and Continental breakfasts which make use of local artisan produce. Prices start from around £89 per night for a double room.

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