Jonathan Schofield has an easy time of it in a easy-going place
So Salsa won't blow your mind, won't have you re-enacting the England women's teams celebrations when they won the European Championship last year. You won't be whipping off your shirt and swinging it round you head.
But it's good, comfortable, a nice little stop off while in town.
There's nothing that will be too much of a surprise on a fairly tight tapas menu
We have lots of words and phrases banned from our food reviews on Confidentials.com but 'nice' isn't one of them.
No-one is allowed to write 'plumped for', 'plumbed for', 'tasty', 'eaterie', 'to die for', 'iconic', 'quite unique', 'swanky', 'glitzy', 'flavourful', 'scrumptious', 'washed down' or even 'quite good' or 'really quite good' because we demand certainty in our writing. The weather at the time of the review can't be mentioned because it will probably be different weather when the reader goes. The weather is irrelevant.
Nobody genuine wants to read pieces written in a Cheshire Life style.
'Nice' is allowed because it is a very specific measure of a virtue. It's a word which evokes comfort and ease but not enthusiasm. It's not uncommon for people to say they going to 'curl up on the sofa and have a nice cup of tea'. We instantly know what they mean, a picture forms in your head. There is, of course, another use of 'nice' but not for us, not now.
Nice hits So Salsa on the nose. There's a comfortable room with warm shades, a sweet bar on the south side, decent room between tables and staff who smile at customers and make them feel at home. It's lively too. Clearly popular.
The same goes for the food. There's nothing that will be too much of a surprise on a tapas menu. It seemed churlish to not get calamari (£8), everybody in a tapas restaurant has to get calamari. It's an unwritten rule. The garlic mayonnaise was fine, maybe could do with a little more garlic character. The squid itself was flabby. This was poorest of dishes.
The star of the show was the paella (£8) with chorizo and chicken. This was an attractive number with its firey reds, its chilli heat, good flesh with both pig and fowl and a spankingly on form rice, sticky, cementing the ingredients of the dish effortlessly together. Almost went for the seafood version as well.
The scallops dish (£10) was good too but might have had a couple more scallops. A rich Romesco sauce, charred spring onion plus a little trick up its sleeve. These were the flaked almonds that added texture and helped bring out the scallops fishiness with, almost paradoxically, the nuttiness.
I don't like chocolate much, I know, I know, and the churros and the chocolate brownie were obviously fat with it, so I had remaining choice which was the torta de Santiago. This was filled with more almonds but that didn't matter so much because it came with a cherry cream which was gloriously sweet yet with that cherry bit.
The building hosting So Salsa, which also has an older outlet in Crosby, goes way beyond nice. It's a little treasure, from 1882 and built for goldsmith Robert Jones. On the exterior there are Renaissance details, cute balconies, columns. It's a smallish building but perfectly formed, complementing the large buildings on spectacular Castle Street a treat.
The picture above shows the building when it was operated by Santa Maluco. I would have taken my own picture but it started throwing it down with rain. The intensity was missile-like. It was not worth a picture.
Just a minute.
I've mentioned the weather.
Broken the rules.
In that case eh?
So Salsa was really quite good as were its staff. Some of the dishes were tasty and quite unique, the flavourful paella was to die for and while the eaterie isn't swanky or glitzy it sits in an iconic building. The Rioja I plumped for helped wash down the meal and provided a scrumptious end to the meal.
That should do it.
So Salsa, 2 Castle St, Liverpool L2 0NA.
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.
Calamari 5, paella 7, scallops 6, torta 6