For His & Hers ‘The River of Light’ began the Christmas celebrations and made us truly appreciate this beautiful city. Since then we have enjoyed carol singers and brass bands on Liverpool streets, whilst ‘glugging’ delicious, piping hot mulled wine.
Review by Jean Hill
So an invitation to Tapas Revolution, Queens Square, right in the heart of Liverpool was impossible to resist. It was a pre-Christmas get together in honour of its launch.
It’s a beautiful location. The interior has been lovingly recreated, with tiles, glittering bar, beautiful lighting and seamless, stained wooden floors, all combining to create a feeling of lightness and space.
I was barely through the door when I was introduced to Omar Allibhoy the celebrity chef, who owns quite a few tapas restaurants. He wants to talk Spanish cuisine and I want to listen. He grew up in Madrid. After he arrived in England, he toured the country on his motorbike cooking and promoting tapas and Spanish cuisine along the way. The result is his seven restaurants, located around the country. His Spanish food empire reaches from London, to Windsor, to Bath, to Sheffield and back across to Liverpool.
Omar worked in Gordon Ramsay’s ‘Maze’. He has a great respect for Ramsay and says that his passion is to deliver beautiful food for all his guests in his restaurants. Sounds fair.
In Omar’s words: “my passion for Spanish food is really at the heart of everything I do. My earliest memory is of watching my Mum in the kitchen cooking crème caramel. She was a great baker but a terrible cook so I took over (at) the helm as soon as I was old enough. When I came to the UK I was shocked by the lack of Spanish restaurants and how rarely anyone I spoke to cooked it at home. I decided it was time to do something about it and so my Tapas Revolution began.”
We enjoyed great food at his new Liverpool restaurant. I chose a few small plates: croquettas de jamon, deep-fried cured ham with béchamel: crispy, rich, slightly spicy and melt in the mouth in the centre of the croquettes. The prawns were still partially in their shells, the flesh had just a little bite and I totally appreciated that fresh fish juiciness. I love the language of Spanish cuisine: queso manche go membrillo: Castillian ewe’s milk cheese served with quince jelly. The brand mission statement is the desire to serve good food to be shared with friends and loved ones.
The desserts we sampled definitely had the wow factor. There is one: tarte Santiago (made with almonds) with vanilla ice-cream, that reminded me of my mother’s Christmas baking. Traditional Basque cheesecake is a classic with a red berry compote. Coulant de chocolate is a fondant with a hint of orange served with clotted cream. All beautifully presented. I noticed that the couple I shared the table with, though they had chosen some small plates and enjoyed a very generous serving of paella, managed dessert. That’s the spirit. Viva la revolución.
For those of you cooking Turkey at Christmas. Omar said treat your turkey with due respect. He recommends whiskey or Spanish ‘brandy de Jerez’ for a marinade that banishes any risk of dry turkey meat.
Intend returning to this venue quite soon with the whole family. The atmosphere is welcoming, busy and bustling, yet the waiter took time to discuss the food with me. Remembering the evening makes me smile.
From the archives: Tapas Revolution launches in Liverpool to fly the flag for Spanish cuisine.