Stay cool and classy with these delicious (mostly) cheap eats, tried and tested by us this month
Four sorts of salad (£5.25) - The Garden by Leaf at FACT, Wood St, L1
Top value and does what you want salad to do – taste good, do you good. Up to four sorts on a large plate for £6.95, or slightly smaller portions for £5.25. Delicate spring potato salad features dinky pieces of potato, wafer thin radish slices and flecks of coarse grain mustard. Their own pesto marries well with butterbean with rocket, while Greek salad isn’t all that Greek, but is very good; finely sliced yellow pepper, olive and tomato wrapped in perfectly simple light dressing.
Melanzane al Forno (£7.95) - San Carlo, Castle Street, L2
The thing about aubergine parmigiana, to give it its more well known handle, is that no Italian has ever tasted one as good as the one made by his mamma. You ask one, go on. This version, served as a starter at swishy San Carlo, certainly does its best to dispel that universal truth. Meaty slices of aubergine are latticed with tangy parmesan and a terrific tomato sauce and then baked to a gorgeous finish. You can go large for £12.95 and you won’t regret it.
King scallops (£6.95) Cargo, Princes Parade, L3.
It’s got the sunsets, it’s got the ships and it’s got all the seafood - and it’s in Liverpool. Treat yourself to Cargo’s generous and bang-on-fresh king scallops over a well judged - and perfectly paired - saffron sauce. It’s a bit like encountering Cyprus on a plate - at the sort of prices you’d find in downtown Limassol. Share them with a special friend and don’t be shellfish.
Sambal Ikan (£6.50) - Tiger Rocks, North John St, L2
That’s a perfectly grilled, crisp skinned and shiningly fresh fish to you, covered in a chilli sauce (don’t worry, chillies keep you cool) with the tang of tamarind. It’s loaded with caramelised red onion that goes surprisingly well with the fish. Tiger Rocks does south east Asian “hawker food” which you’ll find on the streets. This baby is a favourite in Malaysia.
Spicy Bean Soup (£5.95) - The Pen Factory, Hope St, L1
Transport yourself to a Moroccan souk with this deeply delicious, velvety concoction. In the mix: butterbeans, paprika, garlic, cumin, sweet potato and a rich base of aromatics, drizzled with a herb oil for added luxury. With that you’ll be wanting a hunk of Wild Loaf Sourdough which is now made in a kitchen just behind the Pen Factory’s own. And you’ll get one included in the price. Get dunking.
Cod Fillet (£13.95) - Al Dente, Lark Lane, L17
In this mad mash up of restaurant, gin bar and shish garden comes this gleaming and glorious fish arching its nicely seared back over a generous bed of green beans and broccoli. A colourful Mediterranean “tapana” is sprinkled across the top but the cod speaks for itself. Well it doesn’t because that would just be trippy and scary.
Grilled lamb meatballs (£4.49) - Anar Turkish Barbecue, Laurel Road, L7
This is the place to be on a balmy summer’s evening and there are plenty of dishes to make you glad you haven’t forked out on a Mediterranean holiday this year. These excellent grilled lamb meatballs are a moreish triumph of taste meets texture. They’re not really meatballs at all, but four roughly shaped patties, lightly flecked with fresh chilli and charm.
Meat and cheese board (£14.95) - Petit Cafe Du Coin, Berry Street, L1.
Just the thing to soak up that bottle of Château Pineraie, an intense, brooding Malbec from Cahors (£24.95) and some great late night live jazz. This is exactly how we enjoyed this very Gallic platter last Friday night - our priciest food and drink excursion in the list. Four types of smelly French cheese, chutneys and porky processed stuff. All of which is a lot better than I’ve just made it sound.