Food, vibes and victuals bolster Waterloo's fortunes further. By Gerry Corner
QUIETLY, barely perceptibly, eating out opportunities in Waterloo and Crosby have been on an upward curve.
Nepalese, Indian, Mexican, British – courtesy of the outstanding Ellington’s – and more are pleasing the palates of the populace. You can add The Workshop to that list now.
I say Waterloo and Crosby, or Crosby and Waterloo if you prefer, because they are, in some ways, the same thing, each an extension of the other. Rival siblings, accentuating their differences, but sharing the same heritage, boundaries blurred to the extent that even the authorities appear confused: Crosby Library is firmly in Waterloo, Crosby beach begins there.
I should say we liked The Workshop a lot... A few tweaks, a careful eye at the point of delivery, and you won’t be able to keep us away
The Workshop is in Waterloo. Just. About 200 yards from the border, it’s a lot closer to Crosby than Crosby Community Cinema is.
Only Thursday night but it’s four fifths full and there is a bounce about the place. That’s in part due to the presence of Vinyl Solution who, in their words, are “four middle aged guys with no talent playing quality old tunes on an outdated format”.
Nothing special or unusual strikes you about the interior; whitewashed walls, fairy lights, bare wood tables, and yet there is a friendliness and a feel that draws you in immediately.
Small plates and wine are the speciality of the house, the former good, the latter very good. Other food offers include a weekly “chippy tea” and Sunday roast (which gets rave reviews).
More than 30 wines are all available by the glass, starting at £2.70 for a small sauvignon blanc or merlot, through to £9.20 for a large Chablis. In between, a superior New Zealand reisling (£8.50 for 250ml), a pinot noir (£6.50, 250ml) with depths many of its counterparts lack, and a picpoul de pinet (£7.80, 250ml), which, I’m assured, is “dry as the Kalahari”.
From the small plates menu, we began with chicken schnitzel (£6) made with meat from the thigh, which adds succulence and flavour, the breaded coating golden and agreeable, even if it could be a tad crisper. Sauerkraut, with a subtle acidity, supplies a welcome variation.
Don’t let the thought of pig’s s head croquettes (£4.95) deter you; this is a standout dish, the crumb greaseless and crisp, the filling tender and tasty, and a neat, crunchy piccalilli on the side.
Loin of lamb leaves us with mixed feelings. The “mint jus” and carrot puree are nothing special. In the plus column, seared baby gem lettuce lettuce adds colour and a sweetly savoury note, and the meat, yielding and with a decent flavour, is cooked just right. Even so, it feels overpriced at £10.
Monkfish cheeks (£5.95) are meaty and satisfying but underseasoned and the promised shellfish is missing both times I have this dish. Alongside is samkin, a smaller version of samphire and a pleasing accompaniment, fennel, which we fail to detect, a rather overzealous use of onion, and lemon butter which is a little watery on one occasion and fine, if a little sparse, on the other.
King scallops (£9) are cooked bang on. They come with ras el hanout cauliflower puree that’s a little loose and lacking richness; better is the lightly battered tempura samphire, a nice idea.
Goan curry (£4.95) made with sweet potato and chickpea is well balanced, gently spiced and, says my friend, “delicious”, and would have proved very good value had mini poppadoms not been totally limp.
Desserts, all made in the kitchen, are excellent: chocolate pecan brookie is a brownie crossed with a cookie to produce the perfect progeny; my friend’s camomile tea panna cotta has a “delicious, oaty buttery topping”, the camomile well judged, distinctive but not overpowering.
A word for our server, a good egg with a sense of humour and sound advice on pairing wine with food.
I should say we liked the Workshop a lot; we enjoyed the food, the drink, the vibe. Any criticisms are well intended. There isn’t a lot wrong; they are details but they all make a difference to the outcome. A few tweaks, a careful eye at the point of delivery, and you won’t be able to keep us away.
It’s clear a lot of effort is going into making the place a success. With a rolling programme of events, from vinyl to vegan nights, The Workshop is well named and deserves to do well.
The Workshop, 47 Crosby Road North, L22 4QB. Tel. 0151 329 2797.
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.
Chicken schnitzel 7/10, pig’s s head croquettes 8/10, loin of lamb 6/10, monkfish cheeks 6/10, king scallops 6/10, Goan curry 7/10, brookie 8/10, panna cotta 8/10
Warm and welcoming
Solid and smiling