Wild garlic gnocchi, Vietnamese banh mi and a paradox of puddings
Despite many of our favourite restaurants and bars getting pinged by Test and Trace more times than a knackered lift, Liverpool's food and drink scene is still bouncing. With so many new openings coming at us all the time, it's actually a bit of a struggle to keep up.
Rest assured, dear reader, that our writers are sticking at it to bring you the very best insider experiences, from rooftop dining to dive bars. Reviews are back and we've brought you a cracking vegan tapas place in Wirral and the flashy new pan-Asian in Liverpool ONE. In fact, there's a distinctly Asian vibe to this month's best dishes.
Read on for our top picks of the plates you should be spinning in July.
Gnocchi with Wild Garlic Pesto - Vegan Tapas (£7.50)
After many months of cooking meals and cleaning the kitchen over and over again like some sort of gastronomic Groundhog Day, every morsel served to me at a restaurant has tasted sensational. A complete and utter delight, in fact. Top of the pile this month though has to be the Gnocchi with Wild Garlic Pesto I inhaled at the new small plate-centric Vegan Tapas restaurant in Heswall.
I just can't stop thinking about those pillowy mouthfuls of fresh fried gnocchi, slathered in homemade wild garlic pesto; bejewelled with toasted pine nuts and sweet, blistered cherry tomatoes. It all tumbled on top of a generous smear of roasted onion puree - a powerhouse combination of classic, failsafe flavours. Just don't forget to take a mint or two if you're planning on a game of tonsil tennis after. This dish has texture and taste down. I couldn't fault it even if I tried. Nothing tastes quite as good as someone else washing the dishes though, right?
Steph Whalley hihungryharriet
Vegan Tapas, 68 Pensby Road, Heswall, Wirral, CH60 7RE
Pork Banh Mi Baguette - VietNom (£8)
I'm very partial to a good sandwich - as you may or may not have seen with my list of Manchester's best butties earlier this year. So when I heard VietNom on Berry Street was launching its Banh Mi Club, you butter believe I was going to check it out. Banh Mi is the Vietnamese version of a Subway sandwich – only without the microwaved cheese and bag of Quavers. I opted for the traditional pork baguette, which came with pickled veg, pate, mayo, cucumber, chilli and coriander. It was a belter and just what you want from a sandwich – sweet, tangy, full of flavour and the right amount of crunch. Time for you to join the club.
Jake Ogden theogdogg
VietNom, 54 Berry St, Liverpool L1 4JQ
Pan fried chicken, bubble and squeak - LEAF on Bold Street (£12.95)
If you’re planning on turning over a new leaf anytime soon, make it the new menu at LEAF on Bold Street. Here you will find this absolute gem of a dish; pan-fried chicken, served with bubble and squeak, creamed cabbage, bacon and crispy shallot crumb, drizzled with a sublime honey mustard dressing. Perfect for a summer evening in their outside seating area, I was completely blown away by this awesome plate of food. I’ve raved about it to everyone I have met. With menus changing all the time, I can only hope this is one to stick around for the foreseeable. Get a glass of their Ren sauvignon blanc to accompany it and you’re set up for a phenomenal meal.
Chris Grundy the_liverpool_foodie
LEAF, 65-67 Bold Street, Liverpool L1 4EZ
Char Siu Pork - Konjö (£10)
I didn’t really think that our city needed another gourmet food hall – I mean what could top the Duke Street Market? Well, I give you the Metquarter’s General Post Office (GPO). Haven’t been yet? Then I suggest you do. And when you get there, head straight to Korean BBQ Konjö and pick up a portion of its barbecued char siu pork neck. I honestly wasn’t expecting to be so amazed by a plate of meat, but here we are. It was juicy, salty and sweet with a subtle heat that was amplified by the scattering of spicy nam jim sauce made from chillies, lime and sugar. Squeeze that slice of fresh lime you get on the side and you have yourself a chef’s genius on a plate. Sorted.
Megan Walsh megwalsh10
Konjö, The GPO, MetQuarter, Whitechapel, Liverpool L1 6DA
Coconut and peanut butter chocolate delice - Mamasan (£8)
I gave Mamasan a bit of a hard time about its prices when I reviewed it this month, but you’ve got to hand it to their head chef when it comes to desserts. If you’re landing your private chopper on Chavasse Park - whoops, there I go again - then this Pan-Asian bird of paradise should definitely be on your flight path.
Puddings are a paradox of exotic and humdrum. Oolong tea and lychee tiramisu; marbled black sesame cheesecake; nashi pear sticky toffee pudding. But it was the coconut and peanut chocolate delice that left me flying high. Dark and devilish, served with pink fleshy peaches and a thick cloud of chestnut cream. Take a seat in the urban-garden roof terrace, order a Japanese whisky on the side, and don’t ever come down.
Vicky Andrews PlanetVicster
Mamasan, 24 College Ln, Liverpool L1 3DS
Read next: ‘One flavour powerhouse after the other’ - Vegan Tapas, Heswall, reviewed
Read again: Free Bloody Marys at the dock and new openings - Bitesize food and drink news
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