Jonathan Schofield is calling all foodies to visit Nord
The Plaza isn’t particularly tall (65m, 265ft) but it’s a right blob on the skyline, almost twice as long as it’s high. It was the former headquarters of Littlewoods, the defunct catalogue retailer, perhaps better known for encouraging household gambling with its football pools. The building was completed in 1965 and looks it.
Service, décor, food was almost perfect and that is a very rare occurence
Fortunately, the building has been rescued by Manchester-based Bruntwood, perhaps the finest developer in the country for making sixties structures remain relevant in 2023. They were a safe bet for the ex-HQ of the football pools. To drag out the weak wordplay on gambling Nord Restaurant is another safe bet. Indeed, the meal they provided is the best dining experience I’ve had in Liverpool city centre for years from a restaurant with clear ambitions.
Nord is right there as you enter the vast building, just behind reception, almost waving a welcome. If lighting can be both moody and upbeat then that's achieved here. The arches to the kitchen, the half circle lamp shades, the colour scheme riffs on the optimism of the sixties and does it well.
The menu makes your mouth water with many of the ingredients supplied from within 20-30 miles. It changes regularly but this is the one we had.
The restaurant comes via local chap Daniel Heffy, ex of The Art School and various posh establishments in Scandinavia where Michelin-starred restaurants are cropping up as frequently as bodies in a Scandi-noir TV series. Cooking on our visit was head chef Paul McLoughlin who is one of the most affable and sunny chefs I’ve met.
Indeed, the whole service was affable and sunny yet totally professional. Darryl, our waiter, who it turns out was the assistant manager, was fabulous; knowledgeable but able to have a laugh. He trained as an actor but this wasn't acting, it was service that seemed genuinely happy to see you.
We were gifted as a teaser by the kitchen the gougere with Mrs Kirkham’s cheddar and chive. These came with a scarecrow’s haircut of parmesan. They were exquisite, choux pastry, cheese and chive, light as a summer breeze and solid with delicate flavours. Some Gordal olives (£5) were big, bold and juicy.
Just as satisfying was a burattini and zucchini with a mint and hazelnut dressing (£13). The burattini was more the size of a burrata but it was a cracker. The dish mingled the softness of the cheese with the bite of the zucchini, but what lifted it were the hazelnuts, a simple addition that added crunch and flavour. The beef tartare, tallow, almond and Wirral watercress (£11) was good but I wanted more seasoning with the beef and less of the overwhelming greenery.
There was nothing wrong with any of the other dishes, they were all fabulous. Ok, the cavatelli, globe artichoke, tomato and lavage pistou (14) was too big too finish but it still had a real identity and chunky flavours, helped by the artichoke - I bloody love globe artichoke. Cavatelli by the way is a pasta and pistou is like pesto without pine nuts.
The Texel lamb rack with a salsa verde and fresh onion (£23) delivered meat which was almost sweet, yet rich too. The salsa verde could have been a distraction, it wasn’t. The whole ensemble was a cracker.
But let’s write poems for the sheer simplicity of the roasted jersey royals (£6) with café de Paris butter. The herby mustardy butter was the perfect accompaniment for the sublime skin of spuds.
More than anything else these reminded me of pilfering potatoes from home as a kid, making a camp fire, wrapping the spuds with butter in foil and chucking them in the embers. One of three things would happen, an incinerated mess or an undercooked toothbreaker, but every now and then a perfectly cooked and thoroughly smoky spud would emerge. There was something of that smokiness about these little wonders.
A dessert of baked Alaska with blueberry sorbet (£16) was thoroughly entertaining. Baked Alaska is a mad thing to look at; a meringue snowy mountain island, which to keep the geology going, when cut open looks like the cross-section of a volcano with the lava flowing. This was a festival of sweetness helped along by a glass of Ginestet Classique Sauterne (£6). A Rippa Dorii tempranillo (£30) from Ribero del Duero had been enjoyed during the meal.
When I'd first heard of this restaurant without seeing the word written down my brain jumped not to Nord but Gnawed. Seemed a bit savage for a restaurant but hey, who knows with marketing?
What I now know is Nord is a must visit in Liverpool for foodies. It’s located in a bit of an out of the way end of the city centre off Old Hall Street, but it is a destination restaurant worth seeking out. Service, décor and food was almost perfect and that is a very rare occurence.
Simply put, Nord should not be igNORD (that pun was worth the wait eh?).
Nord,100 Old Hall St, Liverpool L3 9QJ.
You can follow Jonathan Schofield @jonathschofield on Twitter and Insatgram
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.
Olives 8, gougere 8, beef tartare 6.5, burattini 9, cavatelli 7.5, Texel lamb rack 8, roast jerseys 10, basked Alaska 8