Gordo goes on a trip well worth taking in the city centre

“Would you like to carry on munching on this?” Asked Ella, my server, eyebrows slightly arched, a six-foot grin and no sign of a 1000-yard stare.

It was halfway through dinner at the newly opened Voyagers Restaurant on Parr Street in central Liverpool. I burst out laughing, understandable from an old feller brought up on the genius of Talbot Rothwell’s writing for The Carry On movies in the sixties and seventies, with the pun-laden lines delivered by the girls on top of their game, Barbara Windsor, Joan Sims and Liz Fraser.

The drinks list is very pan European, you can drink from St. Petersburg in fur or Saint Tropez in Gucci silk. Take your pick. James Bond would be at home.

If I can give you an idea of the general vibe of this very new addition to the Liverpool restaurant scene, it’s best described by Ella and the rest of the front of house team.

Welcoming, knowledgeable, well dressed, comfortable, colourful, fleet of foot and having a blast.

“Ooh, that’s my favourite!”

And guess what, I believed her.

2024 05 01 Voyagers Exterior
Outside Voyagers Image: @voyagersliverpool / Instagram

The kitchen has pedigree, headed up by Jake Parry, ex-head chef of the rather good Pinion in Prescot, one of Gary Usher’s stable. Whatever you think about Usher, he’s a bit marmite, but a good cook and very good trainer of people.

Watching Jake examine the plates coming onto the pass from his open kitchen, you can spot the signals of Usher’s training. Riddled with attention to detail, nothing gets off that pass without his OK.

The furniture is scandi, but with colour and super-comfy padding. Lighting is low but readable, whilst during the day the floor to ceiling windows let the light flood in. I don’t know who did the interior design but they’ve got the magic touch of making a new-build comfy and warm.

Voyagers shares a very smart bar with its big brother hotel, the remarkable Halyard, so you could have a cocktail or two before getting down to the serious stuff, nosebagging.

2024 05 01 Voyagers Interior
Inside Voyagers Image: @voyagersliverpool / Instagram

Moroccan Mint Tea (£4). I was driving. But I really enjoyed it. Service is 12.5%. I could baulk, but I would forgive Ella anything. It’s a small plate strategy, so it’s all about sharing. I’ve a feeling that small plates will start to fall out of fashion in the upswing over the next couple of years but let’s make the most of them for the time being.

Take my advice on ordering, choose in batches of three, each batch ordered once the previous has arrived. They aren’t kidding when they say that your choices will arrive as they become available off the various stations. In real-politik speak, that generally means all at once. Hence, the ordering strategy

No problems for me then, my initial triumvirate of crab cake (£8) Prawns (£12, and bring a change of clothing) and Gordal olives (£5) arrived in good order.

The Gordal olives are always a favourite of mine, they’re on the dear side, but Jake serves them warm, a first for me. That turns out to be a smart move, it takes something from great to really great. Loved them. I was tackling the crab cakes at the same time. They came with a pot of coriander, lime and chilli jam, and quarter slice of lime. I tried the cake, it felt like something was missing.

2024 05 01 Voyagers Olives
Gordal olives Image: Confidentials

I’m normally non-plussed with Asian condiments. Bottled in litre plastic bottles, they are too sweet, industrial and generally radioactive. The head man was passing my table. “I’d make sure you take a dollop of that sauce, sir. Then an extra squeeze of the lime”.

Suddenly it blossomed. The sauce wasn’t sickly sweet or sticky; it was beautifully balanced, the coriander, lime and chilli having little moments to themselves yet boosting the fishcake, which wasn’t anything like those old shoe tongues in less interesting Thai restaurants. That lime wedge was, again, warm. It had been chargrilled. Dear god, it all woke up and transformed an average 6.5/10 into a 9.25/10

It was a one-word note on my pad.

‘Dynamite.’ With a full stop.

2024 05 01 Voyagers Thai Fishcakes
Thai fish cakes Image: Confidentials

Prawns. Well, let’s not beat around the bush. Char Grilled Black Tiger Prawns (£12). Char grilled and dressed in a confit garlic, lemon and chilli butter. In the shell, but carefully snipped to help removal of the black vein, soak up the sauce and aide big fat fingers and thumbs in pulling out the little-finger sized chunk of tail meat, which had taken on just the right amount of tingling butter. Don’t have this one on a first date.

2024 05 01 Voyagers Prawns
Char Grilled Black Tiger Prawns Image: Confidentials

The next three ordered started with Honey & Soy Pork Belly (£8.50) Slow-cooked, pressed and glazed with pak choi. I was loving the expert use of lime, chilli and garlic as both seasoning and volume control in the dishes that suited it.

However, this dish needed more work. The skin wasn’t used and with no crunch the fattiness wasn’t toned down enough.

It did, however, look gorgeous. But so did Barbie, and as us lads discovered, there was nothing of substance down below there either.

2024 05 01 Voyagers Soy Honey Pork
Honey & Soy Pork Belly Image: Confidentials

In the meantime the ‘fried chicken’ dish, AKA Crispy Fried Chicken (£8.50) of salt and pepper chicken thigh, chilli pickled watermelon and house sriracha stunned me. The chicken thigh meat is treated to an early bath in brine, towelled off, treated to another bath of buttermilk then breadcrumbed and fried. Plated up with a fat dessert spoon of what I’ll call ratatouille ‘Asian style’ and small, hot cubes of pineapple that had been soused in another bath of spice and chilli. They explode on impact, giving that last flourish to the dish.  This was an absolute dream.

2024 05 01 Voyagers Fried Chicken
Crispy Fried Chicken Image: Confidentials

The broccoli was ordered and did its duty. Well, what else can you say? The pangrattato (the spell check kept trying to replace this with ‘pancreatitis’, apt I’d say) was a needed addition and helped me down the stuff.

2024 05 01 Voyagers Brocolli
Broccoli Image: Confidentials

And finally, a Liverpool tart (£9).

She’s a fine old tart, that’s for sure. Excellent pastry, filling getting close to a syrup tart consistency but more of a lemon tart. A delightful play on texture and flavour, and a big scoop of muscovado cream on top. I’m having that again.

2024 05 01 Voyagers Liverpool Tart
Liverpool tart Image: Confidentials

The drinks list is very pan European, you can drink from St. Petersburg in fur or Saint Tropez in Gucci silk. Take your pick. James Bond would be at home.

The wine list is well thought through. Reasonable mark ups with a good section by the glass and flask. Bottles start off at the mid-twenties, with a Premier Cru Fourchaume Chablis by Louis Jadot; a bit naughty not listing the year mind you. But could be great value at £80 the bottle.

Voyagers is a real treat; there’s something for everyone here. The table next to me was an octogenarian six. One of them, Andrew, was severely disabled in a rather smart motorised wheelchair. The staff handled him with little fuss and a lot of skill. 

Andrew couldn’t speak but fuck me could he eat and drink cabernet. By earwigging (is that a term today?) I found out this rum team have been together since primary school. Andrew has been in the chair and mute few years due to a stroke. When asked by Edith what he thought of the Liverpool Tart, he got his notebook out, and Edith read the reply to everyone. “As sweet as Mary’s lips."

I think Mary was the lady who went as pink as Barbie’s A-line skirt. And well done to the lad on his first date. He got a kiss on the way out.

Voyagers, 38 Parr St, L1 4JN

2024 05 01 Voyagers Gordo And Ella
Gordo and Ella Image: Confidentials

Voyagers is on Confidential Guides

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The Scores

All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, and ALWAYS paid for by Confidentials.com 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.

If you want to see the receipt as proof this magazine paid for the meal then a copy will be available upon request. Or maybe ask the restaurant.

Venues are rated against the best examples of their type. What we mean by this is a restaurant which aspires to be fine dining is measured against other fine dining restaurants, a mid-range restaurant against other mid-range restaurants, a pizzeria against other pizzerias, a teashop against other teashops, a KFC against the contents of your bin. You get the message.

Given the above, this is how we score: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: sigh and shake your head, 10-11: if you’re passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: nothing's that good is it?

  • Food 8.5/10

    Olives 8.5, Prawns 8, Thai Fishcakes 9, Fried Chicken 9, Belly Pork 6.5, Broccoli 7, Liverpool Tart 9

  • Service 4/5

  • Ambience 3.75/5