Clockworks owner Jordan Bergson on Steampunk Britain, pie’n’mash and the best hangover cure ever
WHEN you think of Wolstenholme Square, you probably think of nineties trance blaring from the basement of the former Cream nightclub and a million hangovers you’d really rather forget. That, or the weird squiggly sculpture thing that looks like something off In The Night Garden on acid. What you probably don’t think of is a rich narrative of history, good British grub and a sentimental story that’s enough to give you the warm and fuzzies.
We’ve also got high praise from the horse’s mouth about the black pudding bonbons and the house-brined ham hock with honey mustard glaze
This week, Confidentials caught up with Jordan Bergson, owner of Clockworks, which made 11 Wolstenholme Square its home back in 2017, to talk all things past, present and future. We started where every great story should start, at the very beginning, where Clockworks first began…
It all comes back to a hankering after a good pie, a decent pint and some stellar tunes. Jordan’s mate Callum had moved to Liverpool from Glasgow and (rightly) lured Jordan there too on the promise of a crackin’ night out. Jordan (rightly) fell in love with the city and never looked back but felt that there was one thing missing… somewhere to get a good pie.
“Where can we get a pie and mash?” Jordan mimics as he recounts the lads’ ongoing quest for the humble dish and recalls how, in an ideal world, this establishment would also be playing rock music and pouring great pints. At the time, it was something the city didn’t really have to offer – “unless it was a Wetherspoons or a chain,” Jordan tells me, so the savvy Scotsmen decided to create it for themselves. That’s how Clockworks was born – out of a desire to dish up simple but well-cooked, quintessentially British comfort food.
So, “what is it that makes Liverpool so appealing to an independent business like yours then?” I ask Jordan, to which he gives one of the best lines I’ve heard all year: “Liverpool just loves being Liverpool.” And he’s so right. We waxed lyrical about the sense of community here and how “the city gives independents a real chance because everyone is pulling in the same direction” and how it takes its food and drink more seriously than other regions (*cough* Glasgow *cough*).
In agreement that Liverpool is epic, I wanted to know more about how the shabby little building in the corner of a square which had certainly seen better days managed to steal their hearts. Jordan starts by telling me he and Callum had stumbled across the building under construction, then went on to admit they already knew the venue for reasons I won’t disclose (rhymes with ‘shmillegal shrave’). Working at Alma de Cuba at the time, which shared the same landlord, the guys were in a good position to swoop in and save the historic building from its demise of demolition.
The three-storey venue is more than 300 years old and housed a blacksmith back in the day. Jordan tells me how he hates seeing so much architecture with hundreds of years of history being knocked down and so it was total sentiment that saved 11 Wolstenholme Square. Oh, and the beautiful exposed brick walls which lent themselves so perfectly to the lads’ ambition of creating an industrial-style space reminiscent of a clocktower, stealing inspiration from Steampunk.
Jordan laughs while telling me how that was the most PG idea they had for the venue and how they just loved the twisted Steampunk vibe – “Britain with an edge” he called it – a motif that also runs through the food and drink menu. Of late, the Clockworks chefs have been experimenting with dishes that are a little more “out there”, but, for 2020, they have big plans to go back to their roots.
Proper British comfort food is where it all began and that’s what we can expect from these guys going forward. Think shepherd’s pie, fish and chips, bangers and mash, and a Glaswegian fry-up that Jordan confidently guarantees is “the best hangover cure ever”. We’ve also got high praise from the horse’s mouth about the black pudding bonbons and the house-brined ham hock with honey mustard glaze, homemade rosti, poached egg and mushy peas.
A sister restaurant going by the name of Stonecutters is also set to open in the next few days, we’re told, so keep your eyes peeled for that one. It will stay loyal to the Clockworks brand but specialise in aperitifs, wine and pizza. Both venues plan to give live music a larger platform in the city, throwing up two fingers up to those who say restaurants and loud music can’t go hand in hand. This jangle comes from a guy who boldly claims to have “the best music taste in the world”, so expect great, great things, because I know we are.
Clockworks, 11 Wolstenholme Square, L1 4JJ. Open Monday-Saturday 9am-midnight and Sunday 10am-11pm