menu THE DAILY POST FOOD & DRINK GUIDE DECEMBER 2011
Season’s eatings The best festive treats for foodies
CHRISTMAS HAMPERS LONDON CARRIAGEWORKSTHE BRINK
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
FRANCOS A True Italian Experience
Serving the best in Italian food Don’t miss our Fabulous
New Year’s Eve Party - Now taking bookings
Egg Mayonnaise or Home Made Vegetable Soup ••• Roast Turkey or Lasagne or Salmon Sambuca Seasonal Vegetables ••• Choice of sweet •••
Lunch £19.95 Coffee & Mints £2.25 extra
Seafood Cocktail or Egg Mayonnaise or Home Made Vegetable Soup ••• Roast Turkey or Salmon Sambuca or Entrocote Steak Chasseur or any Pasta of your choice Seasonal Vegetables ••• Choice of sweet
Dinner £22.95 Coffee & Mints £2.25 ex
bookings now being ta tra bookings@francosliverp ken at ool.com A non refundable depo sit £5 per person is required to secureofbo okings
nd Mr. Franco Colangeli...a s you his team warmly invite n book in his superb Italia est Restaurant, enjoy the ﬁn e iv of Italian cuisine. Attent and service, beautiful setting e. a glowing atmospher Ciao a Presto FRANCO
Franco’s Ristorante Where Italians love to eat
Also available for Business Lunches • Birthdays • Parties • Celebrations • Ofﬁce Functions Monday to Friday 11.30am-3.00pm • Tuesday to Saturday 5.30-11.00pm
48a Castle Street, Liverpool Tel: 0151 236 3375 • Fax: 0151 236 7260 • www.francosliverpool.com
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Enjoyeatingout? Thenjointheclub JadeWrightmeets theteambehind Merseyside’sgrowing diningclub community
OOD food and good company – it’s a recipe that’s hard to beat. And, over the last few months, an increasing number of Merseysiders have been joining a new generation of dining clubs. Taste Northwest ... have launched a series of young talented chef evenings in some of Merseyside’s best restaurants. What started out as a scheme to allow young chefs to demonstrate their skills has quickly become something of a club, where people go back month after month to catch up with old friends and make new ones among their fellow diners. Taste Northwest Director John Lowe says: “We didn’t really think of it as a club when it launched. But now we have a lot of the same people booking each time, along with new guests who have heard about it through word of mouth. “It’s a sociable night. People share tables, and get talking over their meals. They have a shared passion for food and drink, so it made sense that they’d book time and again.” When they announced details of the last event, hosted by Puschka, on Rodney Street, tickets sold out in hours. “It was so popular that we had to put on a second night,” says John. “We have a core of about 60 people who want to come to every event, plus new people who want to give it a try. Even with the two nights, we still had to turn people away. It’s more popular than we could have imagined.” The young talented chef evenings focus around one restaurant each month. There, their young chef (generally under the age of 25) becomes head chef for the night. They plan, cost and produce their signature menu using regional produce for £25 per guest. There’s also the option of a young host, who can take on the mantle of Maître d’hôtel for the event. “The event showcases young talent and highlights the exceptional eateries we have in the region, while providing the vital experience needed to further their careers in hospitality,” says John. These events take place one Tuesday a month. It’s a scheme that’s been running in Cheshire for almost five years, but John, who lives in the Georgian quarter, and his team only introduced it to Merseyside this year. “We did our first one at the
The young talented chef evenings are popular events which provide the perfect showcase for upand-coming talent
375ml beetroot juice 375ml double cream 200ml clear apple juice (reserve a dash) 2 cloves garlic – roughly chopped 2 sprigs of thyme 4 sheets of gelatine /or agar agar Salt and pepper Goats cheese crottins/goats curd 3 large cooked beetroot – boiled or wrapped in tin foil and roasted, then cooled and peeled Rye bread– thinly sliced and dried on a baking sheet in a low oven 80ºC until crispy
1. For the beetroot pannacotta, in a pan heat beetroot juice and cream with garlic and thyme 2. Bring to the boil and add gelatine, stir gently until dissolved 3. Strain the pannacotta mixture through a sieve and allow to cool 4. When cooled, add the apple juice and mix 5. Pour into moulds or glasses and refrigerate until set 6. Use any leftover or trimmings from the beetroot to make a beetroot coulis/dressing
London Carriageworks,” explains John. “From there we went to the Atheneum and Puschka, and the next one is at 60 Hope Street. We choose excellent restaurants who focus on local produce and really good quality food.” The next event, at 60 Hope Street, is scheduled for January 10. The
by liquidising in a blender or food processor with dash of apple juice, pass through sieve and season with salt and pepper to taste 7. Dice, thinly slice and cut beetroot into desired shapes to decorate plate 8. If using goats curd, shape with warm spoons or cut crottins into discs 9. Turn out beetroot pannacotta onto plate, garnish with the beetroot and carefully place the goats cheese. 10. Drizzle with a small amount of beetroot coulis and finish with the rye toast.
young chef of the night, Adam Davies, has planned a menu of beetroot panacotta with goat’s cheese curd and rye crisp, ballontine of Goosnargh chicken, celeriac and apple gratin with kurly kale and red wine jus, followed by rhubarb and vanilla cheese cake. Adam studied catering at Liverpool Community College for
Young chef Adam Davies with his dish
three years and has previously worked as a commis chef at Knowsley Hall and the Crowne Plaza. He joined 60 Hope Street in 2009. Adam says: “It’s great to work with other chefs and learn from their experiences. There is always some new technique or dish to work on. Every day is different and I feel the more I pick up there more I progress.
Each week the menu changes and the head chef involves me in creating the menu so I am able to see what foods go well together. “The thrill and speed of service is amazing. I couldn’t think of anywhere else I would prefer to be than in the heat of the kitchen.” As well as being a director for Taste North West, John also co-owns graphic design company Bolland & Lowe. “It helps to have an eye for design,” explains John. “We design all the menus and marketing material ourselves, so we can make sure it’s up to the standard we expect.” His business partner, Joseph Bolland, is also a director of Taste Northwest, alongside Pam Billington and Mark Loynton. “We all have different skills, which work together,” says John. “What we’re doing seems to be growing quickly, and that can only happen because we’re all focused in the same direction.” As well as the talented chef evenings, John is a regular at Liverpool’s supper club, small popup restaurants set-up when members open up their homes and host evenings with like-minded guests. “It’s a great night out,” he says. “There’s a real community based around food in Liverpool. You see the same faces at events and you become friends. I love to entertain and I love to go to dinner parties, so it works really well.” Over the next few months, John and the team plan to expand Taste Northwest. There have already been events in Manchester, and next they want to start working in Cumbria. “Food and drink is such a fantastic sector,” says John. “It continues to thrive because people enjoy it. In the current economic climate, people are more selective about where they spend their money. But, for a lot of people, really good food and drink is at the top of their list.” ■ TO BOOK for the young talented chef evening on January 10, please contact 60 Hope Street 0151 707 6060 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Taste Northwest, or to offer your restaurant for an event, visit www.tastenw.co.uk
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
cupboard love Christmas gifts special
Festivedelightsfo StilllookingforthatperfectChristmaspresent?Jade Wrightsuggestssomegreatgiftsforgourmands ❆ WHERE once we might have had all our recipes neatly bound in cookbooks, now more and more of us are using recipes we’ve torn out of newspapers and magazines, printed off the internet, or even written out by hand. A simple way to hold recipe pages so they are easy to read, the Recipe Rock, pictured left, is an inspired idea. The two-inch rock and magnet holds up to eight pages so they stay upright and are easy to read. Available from Christopher’s of Heswall and the Steamer Trading Company, in Chester, priced from £7.99 ❆ HAVE a fairytale Christmas with these colourful condiment wands right. Using pink for salt and turquoise for pepper, enchant family and friends with a flick at the Christmas table. Perfect for spreading a little magic this festive season. £4.99 from www.find-me-a-gift.co.uk/ kitchen-gifts- magic-wand-salt-and -pepper-shakers.html
The Recipe Rock, £7.99, makes it easy to read and follow any recipe
One of Wirral’s Finest
International & Modern British Cuisine
Christmas Table D'Hote Menu
Tues-Thurs - 2 Course £16.95, 3 Course £21.40 Fri & Sat - 2 Course £19.95, 3 Course £24.40 Book Your Table Now
Christmas Eve - 5 Courses - £29.95 Christmas Day - Full New Years Eve - 5 Courses - £41.95
DECEMBER MARKET MENU Also Available
Makes a Great Christmas Present Julian’s popular
COOKERY MASTERCLASS PLEASE RING FOR DETAILS BUFFETS & BESPOKE OUTSIDE CATERING To suit all budgets Visit our website at www.juliansrestaurant.co.uk Open Tuesday to Saturday Evenings Small (40 max) private parties catered
0151 632 6241
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20 BIRKENHEAD ROAD HOYLAKE WIRRAL CH47 3BW www.solobiketour4cancer.com
❆ CLAREMONT Farm Shop is a haven for foodies at any time of the year, but at Christmas it’s extra special. They’ve got homegrown stalks of sprouts, a fantastic range of cheeses for after your festive dinner, and gifts. We love their gift sets of preserves, oils and seasonings. Best of all, they make up pretty baskets of gourmet goodies to order, so you can personalise your present. They also offer gift vouchers in £5 and £10 denominations, which you can spend in the shop, on their cookery courses or use to pick your own fruit and veg. Claremont Farm, Old Clatterbridge Road, Wirral CH63 4JB. Tel 0151 346 1796 ❆ SCORE heaps of brownie points with the scrumptious new baking set from Joseph Joseph. The collection includes adjustable rolling pin, timer, and Elevate spatula and pastry brush – which are balanced so they don’t leave marks on your worktops. They are sure to inspire baking brilliance this winter. £39.99 from www.find-me-a-gift.co.uk/ kitchen-gifts-joseph-joseph-baking-set .html ❆ IF YOU’RE looking for an interesting, interactive and unique gift to give this Christmas, then a Gorge’Us gift voucher will make any food lover’s Christmas. Vouchers can be spent on luxurious afternoon teas, Ceri’s signature baking workshops, the popular Gorge’Us pudding clubs and a range of award-winning cakes, as well as delicious home made and locally sourced produce. Vouchers are sold in various denominations, are valid for six months from date of purchase and can be personalised and posted out gift wrapped. To find out more, pop into the Bebington or Spital shop, or call 0151 334 4353. ❆ STELLAR’S Rudolph Nut Cracker is a fun, seasonal way to enjoy a tasty treat. Dish washer safe and easy to use, it’s £18.99 from www.onestopcookshop.co.uk ❆ IT MAY sound more at home on a space station than in the kitchen drawer, but surface glide technology makes a real difference when it comes to grating. Cuisipro’s range offers more gratings with less effort, and they look good, too. Each blade
is colour coded, with five grades of rasp from fine to coarse. They’re from Wirral kitchenware producers PHA, and available from Christopher’s of Heswall, from £11.99. ❆ THE Italians call this panettone, right, Il Panbriacone, which loosely translates as “The Drunken Cake” . . . and, being soused in a sweet dessert wine, it's quite an apt name . . . Baked traditionally by the Bonci Pasticceria, in Tuscany, using a mother yeast matured for 50 years, it is incredibly moist and so light that it practically melts in your mouth. £18.99 from Lakeland, in Liverpool One. ❆ MONTEZUMA has relaunched its popular gourmet chocolate club. Their new “chocolate by post” concept – which sees you or a loved one receive a box of chocolates and truffles delivered to your door every month. £19.99 per month gets you 600g of chocolates and truffles. For details, see www.montezumas.co.uk ❆ POP some fizz into your festive season with the Harvey Nichols “hatbox” style gift box, main picture, which contains a set of four newly designed “mini” Champagne Piccolos – two Rosé and two Brut. £45 from Harvey Nichols’s Pop-up shop, Liverpool One. ❆ PROCOOK, the UK’s specialist retailer of cookware and kitchenware, has some lovely gift ideas for Christmas. Their beautifully handcrafted Glass Cheese Dome, £19, right, will present your choices perfectly, whether you’re entertaining family or friends. Available from www.procook.co.uk ❆ FROM basic kitchen skills and tasting
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
MRS Bridge promises to give you a “taste of nostalgia” in a jar; a range of marmalades and preserves with a twist. Included is the devilishly good Orange Marmalade with Cognac, the classic Cranberry Sauce with Port and the
Fruity touches from Waitrose WAITROSE has a fabulous range of gifts for anyone who loves good food. We love their Richly Fruited Christmas Cake, £16.99 (see cover picture) so much that we’re already on our second, with a good week and a half left until the big day. If you’d rather have something a bit more lasting, how about their Keep Calm and Carry On retro tea set, £16? So, even if deadlines are looming and there’s no hope in sight, take inspiration from this World War II information poster, and keep a stiff upper lip.
❆ A DECENT spice rack is a staple in most kitchens, and Judge have introduced two goodlooking racks that come filled with 12 or 16 different herbs and spices. Each carousel revolves through 360 degrees for easy spice selection. The easy grip flared glass spice jars can be opened to either pour or shake. Packed and displayed in a gift box perfect for
WHO could resist these teeny Dark Chocolate Mini Cupcakes? Judging by the reaction here, certainly not us. Gloriously girly, with a dark chocolate base, creamy filling and swirl of chocolate “icing” in strawberry, mint or vanilla flavour, they’re cute as a button. £8.99 from Lakeland, Liverpool One.
SPICE up your Christmas dinner this year with Mr Vikki’s Indian Fusions. Homemade in the Lake District and using ancient methods of preserving, our favourite is the Apricot Preserve with Indian Red Chilli.
Champagne hatbox, £45, from Harvey Nichols’s Popup shop, in Liverpool One
evenings to delicious dinners and party food, Harthill Cookery School has something for everybody. Owner Brian Mellor is offering gift vouchers which allow the recipient to choose from a wide range of half-day or full-day courses and events for six months. Book online at www.brianmellor.co.uk or call 01829 782097.
traditional Luxury Scottish Strawberry Preserve; the range has something to suit every taste bud! Why not treat the foodie in your life with an indulgent twist on the classics? Prices start at £2.40, from the Quarter deli, on Falkner Street.
Christmas, the 12 jar size is £32.99 and the 16 Jar set is £55 from /www.4yourkitchen.co.uk ❆ PORCELAIN espresso cups, left, by Gilberts, come lovingly gift-packed in sets of four. Each cup has a unique design and the silicone ring around the middle of the cup allows you to hold your hot drink, without needing a handle. £19.99 from Gilberts on 0845 230 0681. ❆ WITH the sparkling lights on the Champs-Élysées and wintry strolls alongside the River Seine, nothing is as romantic as Christmas in Paris. This year, La Maison du Chocolat has rediscovered its roots with a gourmet collection paying tribute to the capital of France. The Christmas in Paris coffret is a veritable delight for the senses. With five delicate bonbons, La Maison du Chocolat has captured the essence of Christmas in chocolate form. Prices start at £40.50, from www.lamaisonduchocolat.co.uk
If you’re feeling a little bit braver, give the Chilli Jam a try – but, be warnedP: the Hot Brinjal Piquin is not for the faint hearted! Perfect for the chilli enthusiast on your gift list. £3.25, again from The Quarter deli.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
JadeWright samplesthefestive menuonofferat theLondon Carriageworks
ORGET blue sky thinking and getting your ducks in a row, there’s a new business speak concept that really gets me down – that of managing ones expectations. But, when it comes to choosing the perfect Christmas dinner, it seems that’s where I’ve come unstuck. As I browsed through the proliferation of Christmas menus from city centre restaurants, one in particular caught my eye. The London Carriageworks had a great deal – their Festive Prix Fixe offered three courses and an aperitif for £25 for lunch, early evening and until 9pm on Sundays. So, when looking for a nice spot for a meal on a wintry night, it seemed the obvious choice. I’ve often walked past the London Carriageworks, but never eaten there. Walking in, I was impressed. It’s a stylish, low-lit, well-decorated venue with views out over Hope Street. The menu looked fantastic too. But I was a little surprised that it was £35, and not the £25 I’d been expecting. We asked if there had been a change, and were initially told that the Festive Prix Fixe had finished at 6.30pm. It hadn’t, as it turned out, and the new menus were quickly delivered. They were equally impressive – almost identical in fact. From the four choices, I opted for pan fried haloumi with wilted Roma tomato, beetroot puree and balsamic reduction. My boyfriend went for the warm salad of spiced Gressingham duck livers with wild mushrooms, griottine cherries and winter leaves, and ordered a glass of Merlot to go with it. We sat back and enjoyed our aperitifs – beautifully spicy merry berry bellinis – and looked out over the prettily wintry Hope Street. The only problem was the music, an incessant conveyor belt of Christmas tunes, which was too loud. There are a million places out there where you can sit eating a Christmas menu meal with Shakin' Stevens blaring in your ear, so perhaps a restaurant that looks so stylish and offers a sophisticated menu should distinguish itself from the rest. But my starter more than made up for it – the haloumi was nutty and chewy, the beetroot puree was packed flavour and it was perfectly complimented by the balsamic reduction. It was one of the most imaginative vegetarian starters I’ve had in a long time, and one I’d definitely go back for. The Gressingham duck livers were well received too – they were tasty and the texture was just right, moist but powdery. The cherries tasted like they'd
The entrance to the Hope Street Hotel
Dining details The London Carriageworks, Hope Street, Liverpool L1 9DA Tel: 0151 709 3000 Website: www.thelondoncarriage works.co.uk/ Bill: £59.50 for two, for three courses, plus two aperitfs and a glass of wine £5.50 Service: A little slow and confused, but generally friendly.
The stylish dining room of the London Carriageworks, on Hope Street been marinated in a bit too much alcohol and so added a bit of a sharp aftertaste to the dish, but overall, it was a good starter, with crisp salad giving it a bit of a crunch. But, he bemoaned, it was a bit of a small portion, which, for the price, could have been twice the size. We’d finished the starters but the wine still hadn’t arrived. While the staff were polite, it was hard to catch their eye, and they didn’t come to ask how our food was once it was served. For the main, there were four options – Portobello mushroom, turkey, pork and salmon. I opted for the chargrilled mushroom, which came filled with Burt’s blue cheese, walnuts and squash, served on a bed of barley risotto with spinach and pecorino. It was a real treat – with all the
Slate is not always the most practical podium
flavours perfectly balanced. I’m not really a risotto fan, but the barley was an inspired choice, giving a fantastic texture to the dish. My boyfriend had chosen the pork, which was excellent. The meat was tender and had a lot more flavour than pork tends to have, and where it can often be on the dry side, this was juicy and flavoursome. The cauliflower purée was sweet although a bit cooler than he’d have liked. The greens, leeks and kale, were crunchy and colourful, but the dish could have done with making it to the table a bit earlier. It was further down the line of being cold rather than hot. When it came to pudding, there was just enough room left for Victorian plum pudding with rum and raisin ice cream and rum sauce. Again, I was impressed. The plate was beautifully presented, with the rum sauce
artfully drizzled over the ice cream, pudding and delightfully tangy plum reduction. My other half chose the cheese board with celery, apple chutney, grapes and biscuits. While I was delighted with my choice, he was a bit disappointed. The waitress made no attempt to explain what anything was and the cheeses had obviously been left out that bit too long so that the Brie had formed a skin on the cut part. The Stilton was subtle but piquant, but what he assumed to be the Lancashire, by virtue of it being too warm, was unpleasant. But by far the biggest challenge was the fact that the cheese, biscuits, grapes, celery and chutney all came served on too small a piece of slate. While serving things on slate seems to be all the rage, it is not always the most practical podium, and a separate plate would have helped stop the cheese falling onto the table.
Value for money: Average. The fixed price menu places them on a par with most city centre restaurants. The London Carriage Works is known as one of the city's better restaurants, but on this experience, its Christmas menu, and its service, are not its best attributes. I hold my hands up – £50 for two is much less than you’d normally pay in such a high end restaurant. My food had been good and imaginative, but the service had been less than I’d have expected. With restaurants having to work increasingly hard to get customers in, and everyone fighting for their market share, diners want to feel they're getting something that bit more special. In short, there are as good if not better Christmas menus and service elsewhere at the same price. Sadly, for somewhere I’d always thought would be so special, there was something frustratingly ordinary about the offer. Perhaps I should have managed my expectations.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
menu best bar none: The Brink
Dry and delightful: alcohol-free bar is one of city’s best
David Hand, from Harvey Nichols'S pop-up shop, in Liverpool One, shows off some of their hampers
Timetothink insidethebox JadeWrightisonaseasonalmissiontofind theperfectgourmethampersforfoodfans
T’S the perfect present for the person who has everything – there are few of us who wouldn’t welcome a festive hamper. But rather than picking one off the shelf, more and more people are creating their own. “People want to show that they’ve put some thought in to what they choose,” says David Hand, Assistant Department Manager at the Harvey Nichols pop up foodhall. “Some people like to go on a theme – if they know the person loves America, they might choose all American products. Others go around and pick out special things one by one – some things they know the person already love, others that they think they’d like to try. It’s a really nice way to put together a present whatever your budget.” One thing David and his team have noticed this year is customers looking to try more inventive products. “This year, and in Liverpool in particular, people have been much more adventurous. Often they’ll have read about something in a magazine or tried it in a restaurant and they want to recreate it as a gift. The Bubbleology teas have been flying out of the shop, and a lot of people have bought Larua Santini’s Easy Tasty Magic. “Customers have really enjoyed the Pariya Foods – the rose and saffron fairy floss are lovely and people keep coming back for them.” Hampers and gift boxes vary in price in the pop up shop, but they start at £4. “It makes all the difference to present it nicely,” says David. “That would be my top tip. Take your time, have a look around and ask about
anything you’d like to know more about. Then bring it to us and we’ll pack it into a lovely presentation box that whoever opens it is sure to love.” Here are David’s tips for the hottest products in this winter’s hampers. ❆ Bubbleology Gift Set Bubbleology is the latest tea craze to hit the UK and with this exclusive gift pack customers can now get experimenting with the delicious science of Bubble Tea at home. Bubble Tea is a colourful milk or fruit based soft drink with delicious chewy tapioca pearls at the bottom of the cup that are sucked up through oversized straws. This exclusive gift pack includes eight cups, straws, a shaker and all of the ingredients needed to make two flavours of Bubble Tea. £24.95. ❆ Edgerton Pink Gin A newcomer to the London gin scene, Edgerton is causing quite a stir with its latest release; an inspired twist on the London Dry style - that happens to be pink! Produced in small batches, boasting 14 exotic flavouring botanicals and distilled to 47%, Edgerton Original Pink is a complex, versatile and unique tasting gin that
represents a rare balance of style and substance. The striking colour is due to the use of pomegranate, which imparts a unique visual point of difference and adds a fabulous new twist to a number of gin based cocktails. £39.50. ❆ Zubrowka Vodka with Winter Jacket This popular vodka, flavoured with bison grass has been made in the Biatowieza region of North East Poland for more than 600 years. It is a dry, herb flavoured vodka that is distilled from rye and bottled at 40% alcohol by volume (ABV). Its unique flavour has been described as having woodruff, vanilla, coconut and almond notes. This exclusive limited edition bottle comes complete with its own fluffy winter jacket. Price available on request. ❆ Harvey Nichols Traditional Champagne Christmas Pudding An award winning concoction packed with wintry fruits and spices soaked in Marc de Champagne and brandy. Serve with Harvey Nichols Brandy Butter. Available in 120g, 450g and 954g servings. £3.95 (mini), £6.95 (medium) and £12.95 (large). ❆ Harvey Nichols Fizz Trio This bespoke gift box contains the three expressions of Harvey Nichols Fizz in newly designed bottles: one bottle of Champagne Brut, one bottle of Champagne Rosé and one bottle of Prosecco. Priced at £75.
Zubrowka Vodka with winter jacket, above; and Harvey Nichols Fizz Trio, left
The Brink, on Parr Street WHEN I told my friends I was going to a dry bar, it provoked somewhat mixed reactions. “Oh, like a kids’ bar?” asked one. No, I explained, adults go there, too . . . “Do you take your own booze?” enquired another. Again, I said, no, that wouldn’t be welcome. The Brink is Liverpool’s – and it seems the UK’s – first adult dry bar. It offers non-alcoholic drinks and a fresh, seasonal menu in a vibrant and contemporary atmosphere. It looks exactly like any other bar on Parr Street – but it doesn’t serve alcohol. Some of the staff have overcome alcoholism. It’s a social enterprise – the profits it turns are reinvested into Sharp Liverpool, a charity dedicated to helping those battling drug and alcohol addiction. Formerly a garage housing a rusting and dilapidated classic car, the people behind The Brink are breathing new life into the building and community. There are all sorts of activities on, from poetry nights, acoustic nights, film nights – pretty much whatever you could want, with something cultural every day. On the night we called in, Chris Difford, from Squeeze, was playing a fantastic set. It was one of the best gigs I’ve seen in ages – and in refreshingly relaxing surroundings.
Even if you’re in a group, your bank manager won’t advise against ordering cocktails or bottles if it happens to be your round. The Australian Root Beer (£2.10) is a real treat, and they do a superb range of Tea Pigs teas. Don’t miss the Virgin Mary (£2.75), a deliciously tangy treat. You won’t have to wait long to order either, which indicates a core of efficiency beneath the staff’s friendly and attentive aura. The decor is bright and cheerful in a way that isn’t overly trendy or flash. The upside down plant pots suspended from the ceiling take a bit of getting used to, but, to give them their credit, the designers have done well to make such a high roof feel cosy. Some people might say that you can’t have a bar without alcohol – The Brink proves them wrong. It’s one of the best and most sociable bars I’ve been to in a long time. Factor in the social conscience clearly in evidence and a food menu that shames most restaurants in the city, and I’ll drink a nonalcoholic toast to that. ■ THE Brink, Parr Street, Liverpool, L1 4JN, 0151-703 0582. 9am-11pm Monday to Thursday, 9am-midnight on Friday, 10am-midnight on Saturday and 11am-10pm on Sunday
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