Vicky Andrews revisits the Crosby bistro that’s reaching for the stars
It might have sounded a bit over the top when I proclaimed in a restaurant review that Mustard and Co was going to go “meteoric”. But having since scored two AA Rosettes, a new French head chef, and a bit part in a Hollywood movie - this Crosby bistro is certainly reaching for the stars. Michelin? Maybe.
We would have been well happy with one. But to get a very confident two - we were in shock.
When I reviewed Mustard in the summer of 2021, co-owner Andrew Flynn had already invested three years of blood, sweat and elbow grease into the bistro on College Road. Mustard had earned a good reputation among the local community and some of Hollywood too, as it was used as a filming location in Rebel Wilson’s new movie, The Almond and the Seahorse.
“It was quite surreal,” says Andrew as I chat to him on the Mustard terrace.
“I basically got a call off one of the directors of the movie saying, we like the look of your restaurant and we’re thinking about using it for a movie scene, is that ok?"
A location crew was sent down to have a look and loved it. The next thing Andrew got a phone call from the director to say that Mustard would be used in a shoot with Rebel Wilson and Charlotte Gainsbourg. The pressure was on for the chefs as Rebel would likely need between six and 10 plates of the same dish to get the take right.
“She had a lovely halibut dish and they were made up with the food,” says Andrew.
“At the end of that scene they asked if they could stay for lunch. So Rebel Wilson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Eddie Izzard and the two directors stayed for lunch. I waited on Eddie Izzard and totally messed up, I was a blubbering wreck. So yeah, that was mad!”
The publicity from the filming was just what the business needed after lockdown. When COVID-19 hit in March 2020, Andrew’s main job was in wholesale fruit and veg. Chef Tom Caldwell had joined the restaurant with a vision for fine dining in Crosby. The team put their heads together and adapted by selling fresh produce and cook-at-home meal kits.
Andrew says, “We’ve got a really good community thing here because during the lockdown we were selling fruit and veg and everyone was coming every day, there were queues here. We got chatting with people about what we wanted to do.”
Both Andrew and I agree that it’s quite hard to put a label on Mustard. British? European? The menu is packed with local and seasonal produce, like Wirral asparagus and wild garlic, but you’ll also find dishes with global influences like pan-Asian.
“We launch a new menu about every six weeks, because it does need to be super seasonal,” says Andrew.
“It’s fine dining, but it’s relaxed and people have warmed to that.
“I like all these fine dining restaurants, but I don't want someone brushing the crumbs off the table. There’s a time and a place for that obviously, but we want that more everyday customer. We are a special occasion place, but we don’t want someone once a year; we want someone coming in once a month.”
“Chic bistro cooking in Crosby”, is how the AA inspector described Mustard when they awarded it two AA Rosettes for Culinary Excellence.
Meteoric? The rosettes are certainly an incredible achievement for the team. Mustard and Co is only the fourth Liverpool restaurant to get two rosettes and the others are all in the city centre; The Art School, Roski, and London Carriage Works.
“The rosettes have been big for us,” says Andrew. “I’m so proud - really, really proud. We’ve all worked hard and to get two…it’s hard to explain!
“You’re always looking out for the reservation for one person. But you just never know. One day this lady came in and we served her and at the end she came over and popped up with this little AA card and said, ‘can I have a word?’
“We sat down with her and she said, ‘a very good standard of food - a very confident two rosettes.’ I mean, we would have been well happy with one. But to get a very confident two - we were in shock.”
As chef Tom Caldwell moves on to pastures new (Australia, to be precise), this summer marks a new chapter for Mustard and Co. French sous chef Romain Baudilot is now leading the kitchen and will be joined by his brother from Lyon. Both have worked at Michelin restaurants in France and have been given permission to introduce a very special dish to Mustard’s new menu; “Monsieur Githenay’s lobster salad”.
The dish - which features British south coast half lobster, apple jelly, seasonal vegetables, and a herb and flower salad - pays homage to Romain’s mentor, Lionel Githenay of Les Iris.
“The lobster salad was the signature dish of my head chef,” says Romain.
“As a joke he said, ‘oh, so you will do my lobster salad?’ And I said, can I? He said, 'I would be very happy for you to do that.' It’s a proper homage, with his name on the menu.
“Part of the lobster salad is to eat flowers and herbs. I’m not sure if the people of Liverpool are ready for that, but it’s a proper challenge. We will see. It’s a new experience, and that’s food. It’s always a new experience.”
Andrew says he’s excited to see Romain’s influence on the new menus.
“It will be a bit more classic with Romain, because he does have a different style to Tom,” says Andrew. “Still - amazing plating. You will notice a different style but it will still be fantastic.”
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