Harley Young drinks sangria and avoids eating sushi in a club
Most people go for food before starting their big night out. Some skip the stomach-lining tactical meal entirely and crack straight on with their pre-drinks. Others go to Zenn where they combine the two.
I visited Zenn at 6:30pm on a Saturday evening, just as things were starting to get lively in the city centre. The white stone building sits on Victoria Street backing onto a multi storey car park and has a rooftop terrace for drinking and dining on summer evenings.
A pair of security guards point us inside and we’re shown to our table by a member of the waiting staff. At first glance it’s easy to mistake Zenn for being solely a nightclub due to the pounding music, dim lighting and luminous back bar that plays artistic clips of a model and a spinning Zenn logo on repeat. All this before the sun has even thought about setting. It's disorientating.
A beautiful piece of artwork that lends itself to the name of the venue, but that’s where the tranquil connection ends
Zenn also offers a kids menu at the affordable price of £12.50 for three courses. But why you’d want to bring your children with you to a club-style venue for lunch or dinner, I’m unsure.
There’s a painted mural of a woman in a peaceful, sleepy pose with a lotus flower above her head. A beautiful piece of artwork that lends itself to the name of the venue, but that’s where the tranquil connection ends. The image would probably be better suited to the walls of a health spa.
We spotted the ‘Zengria’ whilst browsing the menu. Being fond drinkers of sangria we went for a sharer of the peach sake mix; white wine mixed with peach liqueur and orange topped with sake. The carafe was filled more than halfway with ice and, unfortunately, it tasted like a watered-down orange cordial with the faintest hint of white wine.
Hoping that the food would be Zenn’s saving grace, we ordered an 18-piece mixed sushi platter to share along with a portion of teriyaki beef and satay chicken skewers.
Sadly, we were wrong. The food came worryingly quickly around five minutes after placing our order. In fact, the sangria took the longest to arrive out of everything at around 20 minutes - concerning to say the least.
The sushi was meek in flavour and colour, the raw fish looking a bit worse for wear as if it had been sat for a while. It was hard to distinguish the different cuts of fish and meats from each other as they all had very similar tastes.
The satay chicken came in a portion of two medium-sized skewers. The sauce tasted almost like the curry you’d get from a chip shop but with a kick that hit the back of the throat - luckily we had the melted ice from our Zengria on hand to kill the heat.
The teriyaki beef was a small portion sliced thinly, pink in the middle with crispy shallots sprinkled over and a pot of teriyaki sauce in the middle. However, it was dry on the outside and took a deal of chewing to be able to swallow. By this point we were both feeling dissatisfied and hungry having tried and left the majority of what we had ordered.
The waitress brought over a grubby dessert menu that was covered in food remnants which was quite off-putting. Something you’d expect from a greasy spoon, not a venue trying to offer a premium experience.
We chose the chocolate dome with strawberry ice cream and strawberry caramel. A playful dessert that could have been really effective if executed well, but unfortunately the chocolate didn’t melt away nicely when the hot caramel sauce was added. Both the chocolate and the strawberry ice cream tasted cheap and the strawberry caramel sauce was claggy. After two or three mouthfuls we gave up as, like the rest of the meal, it just wasn’t hitting the spot: disappointing for an £11 dessert.
Known for their entertainment and tabletop dancing, Zenn is still able to draw a crowd although it feels like the quality of the food and drink being offered has been forgotten about.
Zenn is a confused concept as it currently stands. The menus don’t feel cohesive, the vibe is totally off for early evening dining and the signature sangrias need a little more thought behind them to make them worth the price.
The word ‘zen’ doesn’t match the energy of this place at all. As a cocktail bar or club, Zenn ticks all the boxes of what you’d expect atmosphere-wise and I can see it being a good venue for celebrating a birthday with pals. But, as for somewhere to enjoy a meal with your date, you’ll be struggling to hear yourself think over the booming tunes and likely leave disappointed with the lack of love given to the food.
Zenn, 49A Victoria Street, Liverpool L1 6BL
All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidentials and completely independent of any commercial relationship. They are a first-person account of one visit by one, knowledgeable restaurant reviewer and don't represent the company as a whole.
Venues are rated against the best examples of their type: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: Netflix and chill, 10-11: if you’re passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: cooked by God him/herself.
18-piece mixed sushi platter 3, chicken satay skewers 3.5, teriyaki beef 3, chocolate dome 4
Staff were friendly, welcoming and attentive. Can't fault them.
If you enjoy eating in nightclubs you’d probably like it, but forget about being able to see your food and have a conversation.