HIS & HERS SET OUT TO EXPLORE THE EXPLOSION OF FINE INDEPENDENT RESTAURANTS IN THE AREA. WE FOUND DEDICATED CHEFS PRODUCING AUTHENTIC FOOD FROM SCRATCH. WE WANTED TO DISCOVER WHAT DRIVES SUCH FIERCE AMBITION. AND SPREAD THE WORD.
Words: Jean Hill
It began with a birthday celebration in Heswall on the Wirral. We ate at Nova. Moyo, the chef and Jana, who is front of house have an inspirational approach to modern British dining. It is about the whole experience of dining, and there is always a surprise in the mix. It sounds deceptively simple. The reality is subtle distinctive flavours, using locally sourced produce. Globe & Jerusalem artichoke, truffle and parsnips combine to make a delicious and unusual starter. Duck, potatoes, black garlic, blackberries and vanilla parsnips makes for an inspired mix of flavours that marry perfectly. It is a great place to eat.
Still in Heswall, it is a short walk to Burnt Truffle. It is an unassuming space, but it has its own stark beauty. Gary Usher, owner and head chef, explained his take on classic cuisine. He is not an innovator. His argument is: if you can make Crème Brûlée perfectly, why mess with it. I get it. I am often a ‘no dessert’ kind of a guy, until someone tells me Crème Brûlée is on the menu. Gary Usher had a brilliant apprenticeship in classic cuisine, and had some great mentors: Angela Hartnett, and Matt Christmas from Chez Bruce.
When I interviewed Gary, he was about to launch Wreckfish in Liverpool. He managed to do this through crowd-funding. He explained that people who supported this venture, were able to choose the kind of restaurant they wanted. The launch was spectacular. The building has been lovingly restored and reveals a rich heritage: open spaces, vintage wood and leaded lights. The beautiful green tiled kitchen is centre stage on the ground floor. Downstairs has a gallery feel, with photographs and paintings that relate a personal history. We were treated to feather blade beef canapés: a fierce flavour with moist delicious after taste. Breathtaking.
There is a deli feel at Wreckfish, with great cheeses, and sausage, with piquant relishes. A green tomato chutney carried sharp flavour and heat with star anise. It is the attention to detail that impresses. There are very early morning or lazy later breakfasts to be had. Ultimately it is that classic dining experience that will thrill. One chef seems to be creating a movement: he wants to create opportunities for his chefs. His staff love being there: you can feel the buzz in the air. The food is special, and it will crystallise Liverpool’s reputation for fine dining.
More independents to come: Sean Paul Redding, celebrity chef to the stars, who cooks up a vegetarian and vegan feast at The Organic and Natural Food Market, and Gary and Bretta at The Chancery on Paradise Street, Liverpool.
Nova: 0151 3429959
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