A river runs through it. There has always been old-world, and transatlantic, trade coming into the port of Liverpool for as long as I can remember. With that ebb and flow came new influences, and cultural gains. Cuisine was a crucial acquisition, that got absorbed, adapted and very much appreciated as people chose to eat out more and more.
WORDS: Jean Hill
I can remember my mother in serious conversation with the folk who shopped for Chinese restaurants, as they were doing the rounds in St John’s Market. They gave my mother recipes and cooking tips, and she discovered where the best quality produce was to be found.
Within a few generations we had Indian, Spanish, Greek, Chinese, French, Italian and USA style eateries in the region. We were soaking up all these flavours like dipping bread in rich gravy. And in time we built up a reputation for fine dining. That happened because both local entrepreneurs and new comers invested in developing brands and restaurants that were simply the best they could be. We have vegan restaurants that burnish the taste buds and lead the way in sustainable living. We have adopted Asian-fusion, Moroccan, Turkish, Greek and Cuban fare and devoured it all.
In difficult times, it seems only right to celebrate and support the hospitality trade who make all this possible. Until restaurants are fully operational again, we can support our favourites with vouchers, click-and-collect and delivery.
Justino’s Italian restaurant and bar
This is an Italian family business. Our editor, who loves Italian food, rates Justino’s as pretty much the best in our neck of the woods. Their pasta is fresh and springy with a subtle hit of garlic and olive oil. The fish is glistening and fresh with lemon zest. My favourite is Risotto alle Verdure: peppers, onions, asparagus, spinach, aubergine, mushrooms, red win (and chicken as an optional addition). It’s a glorious mix, layers of marrying flavours.
Check online or call for delivery and collect details.
We were invited for a review meal at Kasbah and I learnt how the Moroccan chef cooked by taste in large cauldrons, and worked tirelessly to recreate the essence of Morocco.
The food is hearty, balanced, authentic and healthy. We enjoyed a range of dishes, including vegan delicacies and an extensive selection of desserts – pancakes, baklava, and Moroccan sweets. There are wonderful liquid concoctions, that are none alcoholic but addictive.
Kasbah is a reflection of Moroccan hospitality. The transition happens because of the quality of the service, the distinctive décor and of course beautiful food and drink.
It’s an exotic place: the Arabic lamps, the music and the decor all combine to create the mood. This is a little slice of Morocco in Bold Street, Liverpool. Check online for delivery details via Deliveroo and Uber Eats.
Graffiti Spirits Group
Graffiti Spirits Group launched Slim’s the New York diner-style restaurant on Bold Street and gourmet chicken takeaway, with a speakeasy style retro arcade, Super Megabite on Seel Street. Slim’s does succulent burgers, and great fries. Their speciality is barbecued corn on the cob. No idea how they do it, but I would travel a long way to enjoy this dish.
The group’s first venue, Santa Chupitos, was launched back in 2009. The legend is that they began with £200 and used it as the float and needed a quick turnaround to survive! Not a bad investment as it turned out. Theirs has been a great contribution to Liverpool’s flourishing eating and drinking scene with smokehouses, a Rodizio pizzeria and an intriguing Mezcal bar.
Matt and John shared a vision, and their joint talents and knowledge perfectly matched their ambitions. They travelled the world to unearth the best of spirits and garner authentic ingredients. Their intent was to be substantial part of putting Liverpool on the map as a destination for foodies and cocktail lovers. Our editor used to make her way to Salt Dog Slims enjoy the best mojito in the city.
Duke Street Market
Duke Street Market is home to flagship restaurant Pilgrim, the name refers to the Camino De Santiago pilgrimage trail. Pilgrim does great tapas, and beautifully cooked fish. The market also has six kitchens producing the finest street food alongside cocktails, craft beers, organic wines and spirits, artisan coffee and cakes. Please check for details of click and collect and delivery. The Market does not open until Wednesday each week.
East River in Allerton
Josh Roberts opened East River, a cocktail bar and restaurant inspired by Manhattan’s Lower East Side. As you might imagine bagels feature, both savoury and sweet, with some mention of blueberries and cream cheese, oh and honey. They hail from the State Fayre Bakery. I have fond memories of the smoked salmon nori bowl, with avocado, sushi rice, wasabi mayo, coriander and lime. There is a tantalizing Jewish flavour to the food on the menu which I really enjoyed.
There is curb-side collection. Check on-line for details on delivery. Order online via Uber Eats.
Paul Askew and The Art School
Paul Askew has strong opinions about the hospitality industry. “The thing for me about the Liverpool City Region is that people don’t realise what’s on their doorstep from a produce point of view… You’re talking about Claremont Farm asparagus, or Wirral watercress in Hooton, or Liverpool Bay sea bass, Southport potted shrimp, and Oldfield Farm Galloway beef from Callum Edge in Heswall. We’re talking about ingredients that aren’t simply top class local produce, but world class. At the Art School our menus are very much ingredient driven, they’re all about the integrity of the ingredients cooked in ways which are sympathetic to what they are.”
The hospitality industry has suffered greatly during the pandemic. If you agree that a Minister for Hospitality is needed to champion the sector and the estimated three million people it employs, you can sign the petition. Every little helps.