Harley Young warms up with a fairly-priced winter menu
Nestled away on Seel Street is Wreck, previously known as ‘Wreckfish’. It’s currently hidden under scaffolding, making it a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it dining destination.
But keep your eyes peeled and you’ll be thoroughly impressed by what you find behind the door; a neatly-dressed dining room with exposed brick walls, wooden tables with cast iron feet and an open plan kitchen mere metres away from the tables ensuring swift service.
Wreck is warm and snug. Not that sickly artificial kind of heat that makes your throat feel all dry, but the kind that comes from good cooking. Almost like walking into your gran's kitchen on a winters evening. A welcome comfort blanket, especially in January.
It's a restaurant with undeniable charm and a calm, collected appeal
Currently available is their January dining offer; two courses for £15 or three for £20. Incredibly good value for money, you have to admit.
The January bistro menu is neatly laid out with two options per course; each course having a vegetarian option. Alongside the three courses are sides and snacks, including truffle and parmesan chips (£5), rosemary and thyme focaccia (£5.50) and salted almonds (£3).
I visited Wreck with my Liverpool Confidential colleague and dear friend Lowri, so we did the only sensible thing we could and decided on one of everything from the three-courser menu.
We ordered a couple of non-alcoholic cocktails and got to work.
Kickstarting the meal was a trio of arancini with black olive and tomato, served on a bed of salsa verde. As all good arancini should be, these balls were delightfully crispy with a slight tang from the olives, cut through by the sweetness of the tomatoes. The rice inside was stodgy, but not too stodgy and they went down a little too easily.
The other starter, which was affectionately called ‘Tutto fa Brodo’ ('every little helps') was a delicious soupy broth made with winter vegetables, plenty of onions, and a sprinkle of dried shallots on top for good measure.
Sat beside it was a slab of rosemary and thyme focaccia with an olive oil drizzle and sea salt sprinkle, which, when dunked in the soup, tasted like heaven.
This dish was a true winter warmer and something I'd order on its own due to its hearty nature. I could almost hear my imaginary Italian Nonna saying "eat up, it's good for you".
Moving onto the mains, we were served a beef and red wine ragu made with rigatoni pasta. Adding a little bit of zest and crunch on top was lemon and thyme pangratatto.
Having recently eaten at Rigatoni's in Manchester just the week before, I wondered whether the pasta would live up to the one served by the restaurant 35 miles away. Surprisingly, it did. The pasta was cooked perfectly al dente and the portion size was spot on - something I've still not mastered in all the years of making pasta at home.
The beef ragu paired with the pangratatto provided enough texture to keep the simple dish lively from start to finish.
Now, on the menu, this dish didn't really tickle my fancy. But I'm so glad we ordered it. Roast butternut squash with butterbean and roast garlic mash, served with a sage and hazelnut butter.
The butternut squash was cooked to perfection; not too soft or too hard, slightly caramelised on the underside for extra sweetness and flavour. The butterbean and roast garlic mash has had me in a chokehold since I ate it. It's might just be the creamiest mash I've ever tasted, further complimented with the sage and hazelnut butter that was served with whole toasted hazelnuts on top. Sublime.
With our main, purely because we simply couldn't resist, we ordered a portion of the rather moreish-sounding truffle and parmesan chips. This golden bowl of heaped potatoey goodness was served piping hot with a sprinkle of sea salt dusted over them. The were very attractive to look at; crispy on the outside without trudging into the unwanted territories of 'burnt'.
They made a satisfying crunch as I bit into them and filled my mouth with fluffy, starchy, well-seasoned potato - A.K.A the best, most versatile vegetable in the world.
We concluded our meal with dessert, of course. How else can you?
Lemon panna cotta that you can't help but jiggle, served with a delightfully floral rose syrup and topped with pistachio crumbs. Sometimes panna cotta can get a bit dull on the ol' tastebuds due to the same texture and taste throughout, but the rose syrup and pistachio crumb did just enough to elevate the dish.
Then came the walnut praline ice cream with espresso syrup poured over the top was presented in a small glass tumbler. The ice cream scoops were well formed (a sign of quality gelato) and there was a few scoops worth - just enough to satisfy a sweet tooth. Served in affogato style, this pleasant portion was just what was needed to conclude a well-rounded meal.
The staff at Wreck are a testament to the strong community ethos that birthed the successful crowdfunding of the restaurant, seeing a whopping 1,522 Liverpudlians back the business venture in 2017.
Now, firmly rooted in one of the city's trendiest districts, it's a restaurant with undeniable charm and a calm, collected appeal. No big I am, just warm welcomes and superb bistro dishes.
Wreck Bistro, 60 Seel St, Liverpool L1 4BE
Follow Harley Young on X @Harley__Young
All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, and ALWAYS paid for by Confidentials.com 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.
If you want to see the receipt as proof this magazine paid for the meal then a copy will be available upon request. Or maybe ask the restaurant.
Venues are rated against the best examples of their type. What we mean by this is a restaurant which aspires to be fine dining is measured against other fine dining restaurants, a mid-range restaurant against other mid-range restaurants, a pizzeria against other pizzerias, a teashop against other teashops, a KFC against the contents of your bin. You get the message.
Given the above, this is how we score: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: sigh and shake your head, 10-11: if you’re passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: nothing's that good is it?
7/10 Tutto fa Brodo 7, arancini 7, ragù rigatoni 7, roasted butternut squash 8, truffle parmesan chips 8, walnut praline ice cream 7, lemon panna cotta 7