Damon Fairclough takes along a ragbag full of memories, but leaves his washing at home
Back in a time before the reach of digital technology, I sat at a table by a window in Keith’s on Lark Lane. Having just arrived in Liverpool, I’d been viewing a flat round the corner and needed somewhere to drink coffee, have soup, and ponder on the twists of fate that had brought me to this city, this street, and this sticky-tabled bar.
There’s plenty of snacky stuff should you want it, but I was after something heftier...
As I spooned the soup – no doubt garlicky, lentily – into my gaping mouth, I gazed across at The Albert pub on one corner and the Clean Inn launderette on the other, and decided that here was everything I needed to feel at home. And thus roots were put down, a Liverpool life blossomed, and I’m pleased to say it grows here still. Not on Lark Lane, but near enough.
This sepia-tinted moment spirited into view as I sat sipping coffee in Pippin’s Corner, which now occupies the site of that steam-fugged, formica-clad launderette. For me, Lark Lane and its environs crawl with youthful ghosts, but if I felt regret that this place no longer does duvets, the glimpse of still-thriving Keith’s across the road made me smile.
As for Pippin’s Corner itself, it fills the handsome corner site with some style. Its tasteful tints of ocean-hued blues, tall arched windows and sense of sturdiness and space all help create a welcoming interior – one that accommodates elderly pals, friends on their lunch hour, and post-Sefton Park parents and toddlers equally.
There are photos of the old Clean Inn too, alongside images of its successor (this venue’s immediate predecessor) the much-loved Moon and Pea restaurant. For good or ill, the pictures chart a function-to-food trajectory with which we’re all now familiar.
Pippin’s Corner opens for evening trade during the latter half of the week, but we were there for a more-than-a-sandwich weekday lunch. The large menu offers everything from American breakfasts to Greek salads and British big plates – a hotch-potch perhaps, but one well suited to the Lane’s disparate daily crowd.
There’s plenty of snacky stuff should you want it, but I was after something heftier, and the ‘homemade pie of the day’ sounded substantial enough to fill my gap. The choices were either veggie or vegan; mine was cheese, onion and leek with a large dollop of mash (£9.95).
Structurally, the puff pastry case was subject to some lop-sided subsidence, but the pie’s molten filling had the satisfying tang of strong cheddar, with plenty of leeks and onions adding crunch. The accompanying mash was dense rather than fluffy, but with its generous dressing of rich gravy, it was a dish that tasted of autumn – perfect for anyone celebrating a major conker fight win.
Our vegan burger (£9.95) with extra onion rings (£1.20) wasn’t quite as advertised, as there was no brioche bun to encase it. But still, the burger itself was thick, crisp on the outside and studded right the way through with brightly coloured chopped veg – as if it had been rolled in midget gems. The chips were immense, both literally and metaphorically, and the onion rings were fantastic, as good as any I’ve tasted. The burger sat on great rafts of super-fresh lettuce, and the whole thing looked the very picture of a balanced meal.
The dessert selection sits under glass on the counter, with a fine-looking range including cheesecake, Victoria sponge, brownies and other delights. Banoffee pie (£3.95) was solid and satisfying, dusted in cocoa and dribbled with a little butterscotch sauce. The side serving of berries added colour, though the fruit flavours weren’t needed – I preferred the pie’s banana and toffee layers without the extra zing.
Apple pie with custard (£4.50) was equally good, with a spongy lattice top and decently sized, well-cooked apple chunks. Again, the autumnal force was strong with this one. Few desserts are as well suited to an afternoon spent kicking through piles of dry leaves and cursing the hidden dog muck.
We went for seasonal comfort with our drinks too, slurping through a reasonable cappuccino (£2.40) and an excellent hot chocolate (£2). Then as we left Pippin’s Corner behind us, bellies full of food and mellow fruitfulness, the street did its best to snag me yet again with sudden recollections of a place and time far gone.
While it’s true that you can no longer dump your washing here, it seems that if you’ve got a ragbag full of Lark Lane memories, Pippin’s Corner is as good a place as any to set them free.
Pippin’s Corner, 64 Lark Lane, Liverpool, L17 8UU
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.
Pie and mash 6.5, vegan burger 7; apple pie 7; banoffee pie 7
Does the job
Lark Lane loveliness