Lindsey Bennett visits a popular local cafe which needs to bed in, again.
Sometimes the best perspective can be gained from the outside looking in. With no disrespect to the many charms of The Wirral Peninsula, a real draw is the chance to look across the Mersey to Liverpool for superlative views of the recently retained UNESCO World Heritage status Pier Head.
To situate a casual café cum wedding/party venue in a beautifully restored space that provides a panoramic vista of the Three Graces, Albert Docks and more, is a no-brainer. So I headed off on a tempestuous Friday morning to Woodside Ferry Terminal to eat some eggs at ‘Home’ and gaze upon the Liver Birds, themselves gazing over a particularly churning and windswept River M.
Home is a friendly, airy place with busy service that's a little hit and miss
Alas, I must have missed my chance by mere days, as Merseytravel, owners of the Grade II listed ferry terminal decided not to renew Home’s decade long lease, leading to the latter’s vacation just this autumn. Now, the venue’s evocative interior white gates are chained up and the glossy white wood panelled walls frame an abandoned dining space.
But despite this recent setback the Home empire persists, with their three other venues; so it required a short drive to Home, Oxton – sited in a former bakery – for brunch.
Oxton may be best known for the legendary Fraiche restaurant (which has held its Michelin star for eleven consecutive years) but the picturesque conservation village has many diversions, of which Home – which was continually busy during my two-hour visit – seems to be a daytime favourite.
But sadly, the much-anticipated eggs were very forgettable, as was pretty much everything we sampled. The menu itself states “our food is just as interesting as our architecture” but on this visit it is hard to agree. Even discounting the well-preserved ferry terminal from the equation, Home’s interior outclassed its food on every account.
One was varied, appealing and comfortable with multiple textures, including a beguiling arrangement in the cosy street-facing window and an atmospherically different conservatory space. The other was mediocre at best with standard breakfast plates and sandwiches looking so dry that to even cast a glance necessitated an immediate drink of water.
I ploughed through free-range eggs, scrambled and just about scraped some butter onto my very parched slabs of toast (£5.75). The eggs were slightly burned with that firm sliceable quality reminiscent of a hotel breakfast buffet.
Home hash potatoes, field mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, two free range eggs and one slice of toast (£7.25) were unremarkable, save for the delicious grilled tomato which had a smoky charred taste, elevating it way above firm, overcooked poached eggs and timid potatoes.
Someone’s decision to include wrapped pats of Anchor butter direct from the wholesaler was instantly off-putting. Further baffling was the brown sauce - which arguably would have looked fitting in its original glass bottle - being presented in an ill-suited shot glass. Perhaps this was a clear clue to a recent general malaise in the kitchen.
American style pancakes appeared in different guises on the menu and we went for the version with blueberries (£6.95). These were decent; moderately sized and reasonably fluffy, with blueberries baked into the batter.
Alas the Americano (£2.55) didn’t elevate either the breakfast plates or the cakes we moved on to. Cakes are home-baked by the owner’s daughter and there is an extensive selection. A classic chocolate sandwich cake and carrot cake (both £3.25) were good, with the chocolate cake not too dense and with a light but fudgy crème between the two layers.
Home is a friendly, airy place with busy service that's a little hit and miss, but confident. To me, that’s an indicator of a united workforce, proud of their venture – and maybe just a little upset about the unwelcome closure of the Woodside branch. Despite my lack of enthusiasm for the food, they should be defiant.
Practically next door is their Homebrew Tap and the Homebrew Bottleshop - with another Homebrew Tap in West Kirby and an online shop. The Tap room was not yet open for the day but a gander in the bottle shop revealed an extensive collection of craft beers, very nicely presented, from both local breweries and those further afield, alongside curated sample wines and spirits. Regular tastings and events occur.
Happily then, the empire expands; perhaps once the sting of losing that incredible position on the Mersey coast recedes, a little more flavour and love might return to the food. Till then it may be better to enjoy a pint or two in the well-appointed and tastefully decorated Tap Rooms down the road.
Home Coffee, 62 Christchurch Rd, Oxton, Birkenhead CH43 5SF
All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidential and completely independent of any commercial relationship. 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.
Scrambled eggs 3, American style blueberry pancakes 6, Hash potatoes, mushrooms, eggs, tomato 5, Chocolate cake 7, Carrot cake 6
Perkily patient and confident
Lovely interior touches and space between tables