There aren’t many restaurants which can call themselves a landmark, yet Owens, sitting at the Childwall Fiveways roundabout, has, down the years, become exactly that.
But as anyone who frequents this convivial suburban eating place will know, Owens is far more than a pin on the map.
Step inside and the hustle and bustle of traffic and leafy south Liverpool life is left behind and a world of warm Mediterranean twists beckons.
The welcome is as inviting as the tantalising aromas from the kitchen
You may find yourself greeted by Maitre d’ Keith Parr, one of Liverpool’s most knowledgeable front of house managers, who has been involved in every level of the hospitality business since he was a boy.
And that’s the key word: hospitality. The welcome is as inviting as the tantalising aromas from the kitchen. Beef braising slowly in treacle, free range belly pork roasting lazily to perfection, stocks simmering all day for wine poached salmon, flames searing fillets, ribeyes and bass.
It has been the same for the past 22 years and it’s the reason Owens is an irresistible neighbourhood favourite.
Ordering is easier than the imaginative line up of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes would suggest. Starters, are mostly £5.50, mains £13.50 and desserts are a sweet £5.75.
Liverpool Confidential was lucky enough to sample it all recently and here are a few highlights of our visit.
In the beginning
Maple glazed wild boar sausages
With a Spanish-inspired fiery chorizo, this masterly five bean stew is pure rustic flavour and colour - and we’d eat a main course sized portion any day. Next time perhaps we’ll even order double and wipe up the moreish residue with the hunks of freshly baked artisan bread which arrived, as an appetiser, with some very proper olives indeed.
King prawns in wild garlic pesto
Generous meaty prawns arrive in a fresh tomato broth with a hint of chilli that is barely detected but which is an essential component in this kind of Italian sauce. Oregano and rocket leaves add a flourish.
Rosemary roasted shank of lamb “Sicilian”
Our host Keith tells us this is among the most popular dishes at Owens and it’s easy to see why. Meaty and succulent, the sweet, pink lamb is given the Tuscan twist with a delicious tomato and garlic ragu, pepperonata and a dish of buttery gnocchi.
Roast pheasant with braised red cabbage
However much we love our Mediterranean food, there is sometimes, just sometimes, no place like home on a cold night. Cue this fantastic deep, dark and gamey casserole in a rich port wine and chestnut jus. On the side, a bowl of comfort: potatoes “au gratin”.
Chocolate and hazelnut fondant
Warm chocolate straight from the oven is something few of us have time to indulge in creating at home. Here the aroma is unmistakeable, soft sponge on the outside and runny in the middle, and offset by madagascan vanilla ice cream, crushed roasted hazelnuts and a marmalade glaze.
Tipsy Irish coffee trifle
This is pure luxury - a take on tiramisu closer to home and the best thing in a glass this year. A layer of coffee soaked sponge topped with Irish cream liqueur and flavoured with whipped mascaparone, and dusted with the finest cocoa. One could eat this all day, and then be in big trouble. But as we all know: some times the trouble is worth it.
There are cocktails, spirits and champagne and, of course fine wines to suit every occasion. They range from a very decent Chilean voigner and a Rioja at £20, to a 1er cru Montmains chablis (£46) or a French Nuits St George En La Perrier Noblot (£48).
Keith steers us to a punchy, Montepulchiano d’Abruzzo (£24) packed with concentrated fruits and almond flavours, sitting perfectly with our food choices.
To round the evening off to perfection, Janneau Armagnac X.O (£6).
Owen’s is always pleasantly full. And that’s how you will, rather elegantly, end your visit. Magic, indeed, on the roundabout.