The city's new veggie venue proves a mixed bag with plenty of promise
BOLD Street has undergone quite the renaissance in the last few years, with units emptying and being replenished with more boutique style premises and recently greater numbers of delicatessens and restaurants.
The most recent addition to this cohort is Our Kitchen, the vegetarian and vegan brainchild of erstwhile Children’s BBC presenter Tara Maguire.
There is a palpable sense of pride in the menu, surveying what was leaving the kitchen and the passion the staff had in discussing dishes with patrons
Once inside the slim façade, a glance upward gives the impression that an electrical spider fed on a diet of skittles has been employed to do the lighting. The restrained sprinkling of colour is a welcome contrast to what is a fairly Spartan arrangement: metro tiling, magnolia painted plaster and a bamboo mosaic are a welcome break from distressed brickwork - although Edison filament bulbs are still in use, twinned with a satisfactory amount of natural light.
There are many bases covered by Our Kitchen. Glancing at the menu it provides a reasonable number of breakfast choices (up to midday) along with some interesting juice bar stylings, hot drink offerings and a smattering of small plates. The pleasing thing is it never feels overwhelming or a “vegetarian by numbers” offering. There is some invention here, among the safer offerings.
The staccato delivery of our order was a little odd, but welcome, given elbow-room is a bit of a luxury and table space is somewhat a premium. First past the post was the sweet potato and spinach frittata with whipped feta cheese (£5.50). Both in terms of appearance (a decorated slab of a dish) and by the tap dance it did on our palates, this was a very high benchmark for the rest of the food to meet. Plenty of contrast was on display, with the sweetness of the potato, astringency of spinach and the rich umami of the cheese. This dish provided a very pleasing blend of flavour and texture.
Sides of baked kale with lemon and sea salt (£2.25) and skin-on parmesan and parsley fries (£3.50) provided good ballast, with the seasoning just right on each.
The other dishes arrived a good 10 minutes after and neither were quite up to the standard of the frittata; Grilled halloumi (£5) was cooked well and presented with fresh and beautifully dressed salad leaves and red amaranth but was, perhaps, just a bit too simple, while the three spicy, mini bean burgers (£6) looked massively enticing and held up, integrity-wise, pretty well. The salad, chutney and texture of the burger were all great, however, the seasoning was distinctly lacking and could have benefited from some additional spice to a dish which can be notoriously (and was) short on flavour.
Thank goodness things shot back on track with the arrival of dessert. Ice cream (available in both vegan and dairy) with berry compote and cacao nibs (£3.75) was delicious; there was no hint, on any of the scoops (strawberry, chocolate and vanilla), of artificial flavouring and the colour was a dead give away of a homemade quality, lovely tangy (and almost boozy) acidity, richness and a good balance meant it was enjoyable all the way to the final bowl-scraped mouthful.
The chocolate and macadamia brownie (£4.50) was again, on another level. An unusual but highly enjoyable array of textures was given by the brownie itself, a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream and the satisfying crunch of raw cacao. From crumbly, to cakey and onto gooey, the mixture of macadamia, chocolate and walnut never really reached a point of decadent overload; no tooth-shattering sweetness and just the right level of dark chocolate bitterness meant a great punctuation to this meal.
Other take home notes from the experience of Our Kitchen are rather a mixed bag. They do not take bookings, but service is very friendly, brisk and tables seem to turn over at a healthy frequency. Some minor aberrations on the bill were dealt with without fuss and in a pleasant manner. The ambience is at a good level for most people; the undulating conversation levels never really have to be raised thanks to a considered volume and suitable soundtrack for the premises.
Given the increasing demand for vegetarian cuisine and the gathering momentum of veganism, there is a definite market for this kind of establishment and it has hit the ground running at a reasonable pace.
There is a palpable sense of pride in the menu, surveying what was leaving the kitchen and observing the passion the staff had in discussing dishes with patrons around us. This doesn’t mean there should be any resting on laurels; there is room for improvement on something with pretty solid and somewhat enjoyable foundations.
All scored Confidential reviews are paid for by the company, never the restaurant or a PR outfit. Critics dine unannounced and their opinions are completely independent of any commercial relationships.
84a Bold Street,
Liverpool, L1 4HR.
Tel: 0151 709 0606.
Frittata, 9/10; bean burgers and halloumi, 6/10; sides and ice cream, 7/10; brownie, 9/10
Brisk, affable and very friendly
Aurally and visually pleasing, lacking in a bit of comfort space however in the name of increased covers