This month, Jean Hill focuses on the women (and a few men!) who’ve helped to form Liverpool’s thriving restaurant scene.
This is an extract from Carol Ann Duffy’s unusual love poem: ‘I give you an onion. It is a moon wrapped in brown paper. It promises light like the careful undressing of love…’
Nisha Katona is renowned in Liverpool for her fabulous Mowgli restaurants, for her dedicated contribution to local charities and her cook books.
Nisha Katona is the author of three cookbooks: ‘Pimp My Rice’, ‘The Spice Tree’, and ‘The Mowgli Street Food: Authentic Indian Street Food’. She founded Mowgli Street Food, initially in Bold Street and then Water Street. She is a director of the Mowgli Trust, the charitable side of the restaurant that donates over £100,000 to local charities every year.
She holds some impressive awards: MBE; (New Year Honours 2019). She has been honoured for services to the food industry. She bagged Business of the Year, City of Liverpool Business Awards in 2018. She also appeared in 2018: Maserati Top 100 list, People’s Choice.
The restaurant in Bold Street is a magical space. It looks exotic and beautiful. I always feel soothed as soon as I step through the door: it is a tranquil space. The staff love to talk about the food, which is part of its charm. And when the food arrives, it never disappoints. I remember some mega sticky chicken wings with spiced molasses and chick-pea batter.
Delifonseca owner Candice Fonseca, said: “We are excited to finally share our extension with the public. And showcase what we have been working on tirelessly since the springtime. 23 Sep 2019.”
She is an entrepreneur who has a passion for really good food. Her restaurant and deli in Stanley Street, proved a great success which led on to Delifonseca Dockside that has won more than a few high-profile awards. This restaurant has recently expanded and had a revamp: it is beautiful, and eating there is a great pleasure. I had a wonderful ‘dry’ lamb stew there recently, that was not dry at all. It had great locked in taste: the cooking liquid was gainfully absorbed into the glorious meat.
Candice Fonseca now manages two sites, and runs an outside catering division. Delifonseca is one of the leading members of the Sefton Street Forum. With the focus on entrepreneurship, she has given talks at LJMU and a number of girl’s schools around the North West.
Rosa’s Thai Café
Saiphin Moore may have grown up in a poor, rural part of Thailand but she was always driven and full of ambition. Coming from a farming family who grew vegetables, Saiphin always had an affinity with food, which was handed down from her grandmother and mother.
Saiphin came from a village which didn’t have electricity until she was 15. She started her first business at just 14, with a stall selling her noodle dishes.
She moved to England in 2005 but didn’t know anyone other than her husband. She started a weekly food stall in Brick Lane which proved popular. Then she discovered a run-down café called Rosa’s and could see the potential. It was 2008 and no bank would lend money for such a venture. They did it anyway. There was an actual Rosa, and she was thrilled they kept her name.
Saiphin is still heavily involved ensuring that quality and standards are maintained across all her restaurants. Rosa’s Thai Café at Royal Albert Dock is an idyllic place to eat. The views across the Dock are breath-taking, you can watch lights dancing on water, and the Thai curries and salads are awesome.
Lunya and Lunyalita make a splash
Lunya and Lunyalita are Peter & Elaine Kinsella’s homage to Catalunya (Catalonia) and Spain. They run independent and multi-award winning delicatessens, restaurants and bars in Liverpool & Manchester. I have met Peter, and he is passionate about Catalan food and committed to bringing something of that culture and cuisine to the North West.
Peter and Elaine Kinsella invest in heritage yet still seek to be creative with their cuisine. Their Liverpool restaurant, Lunya, was in the Good Food Guide North West Restaurant of the Year for two years running (2015 & 2016).
Their delicatessen stocks over 40 Catalan and Spanish cheeses, Spain’s very best wines, sherries, Cavas and spirits as well as a superb collection of jamón – all hand carved fresh from the bone. We have been lucky enough to taste their jamón, freshly carved, and it is memorable, meltingly soft with a hint of sweetness yet slightly salty, with a great depth of flavour.
Thomasina Miers: co-founder of Wahaca
In 2005, Thomasina Miers won the BBC TV cookery competition MasterChef. She wowed the judges: John Torode and Gregg Wallace with her accomplished and distinctive cooking style. And, trust me, they are not easy to impress.
She has made two series of cookery programmes for Channel 4. ‘Wild Gourmets’ in 2007 and ‘A Cook’s Tour of Spain’ in 2008. In 2011, she presented ‘Mexican Food Made Simple’ for Channel 5. I was lucky enough to meet her, at the launch of the El Bandito roof top bar in Wahaca, Liverpool ONE. She was eager to talk food, and has a great enthusiasm for spreading the word about how good Mexican food can be.
Thomasina Miers co-founded Wahaca, with Mark Selby, that became a chain of Mexican “street food” restaurants. The first restaurant opened in London’s Covent Garden in August 2007. In 2011, Wahaca launched their first mobile street kitchen, selling Mexican street food on the streets of London. At the last count, Wahaca has 25 branches. Happily one of these restaurants is in Liverpool ONE. Their food is subtle, rather than full-on burning hot. Eating at one of their restaurants is a fun experience, in a great atmosphere, and enjoyable food.
Cathy Frost, Panoramic 34 and Thyme
Panoramic 34 is a legend in Liverpool: with high octane spectacular views down the Mersey, dizzy heights and classic cuisine. Thyme is gaining a real following in Oxton on the Wirral. I found pan-fried lamb rump, with aubergine and goat’s curd on the menu. Then I spotted baked Camembert, cranberry and port chutney and sourdough. Have a passion for Camembert and sourdough…
Jayne and Mike at The Olive Tree in New Brighton
We, at His & Hers, gravitate to The Olive Tree most Sundays, when I am not cooking a roast dinner for the family. It is a lovely family restaurant, and they do lamb, beef and chicken roasts on a Sunday. All the trimmings make it memorable. The meat is lean, tender, and falling apart, in a flaky sort of a way. The gravy is rich, in colour texture and taste. The vegetables still retain a little crunch. All delicious and very relaxing. Yorkshire pudding takes pride of place on the plate, as it should. Totally recommended.
Tel: 0151 6381810.
You may also enjoy: The Olive Tree Bistro is blossoming in amongst the Victoria Quarter renaissance