David Adamson wishes this city centre restaurant gave it more of a go

What: Shiraz Palace

Where: 45 Ranelagh St, L1 1JR

Food/ Drink type: Middle Eastern and Mediterranean bistro serving charcoal-grilled meats and pizzas

When: Sun to Thurs: 9am to 11pm // Fri and Sat: 9am to midnight 

Independent or chain: Independent

2024 03 13 Shiraz Palace Interior 3
Outside Shiraz Palace Image: Confidentials


Shiraz Palace no doubt delivers on the decor. The place is festooned with elaborate decoration, be that hieroglyphs of some royal gift-giving above the kitchen pass, the vaguely arabesque scenes arched into the walls, or the bloody great tree in the middle of the restaurant. 

Two minutes walk from Lime Street station, and just on the corner of that criminally underused main drag, Shiraz Palace is particularly inviting from the outside; large full height windows give a glimpse into a warm, mahogany-hued interior and the promise of a charcoal grilled kebab entices you all the more. 

Go inside and you're greeted by friendly, almost exclusively student-age waiting staff and it's all very welcoming. It's also more than a bit kitsch, like a near-eastern take on TGI Fridays, which is fun in its own way. I don't mind a bit of slightly crazed maximalism, if the food delivers.

2024 03 13 Shiraz Palace Interior 2
Inside Shiraz Palace Image: Confidentials
2024 03 13 Shiraz Palace Interior
Inside Shiraz Palace Image: Confidentials

The Main Event

Part of the appeal of Middle Eastern restaurants for me is that there isn't really that much choice. You probably know what you came for, and so will they; chances are, it's a kebab. The menu of Shiraz Palace largely ticks the boxes of what you'd be looking for; mezes hot and cold, a comprehensive list of charcoal grilled kebabs, and salads. I wasn't really in the market for a pizza, a calzone or a double cheeseburger for that matter, and was a bit baffled why a third of the menu is dedicated to Italian food or something from even further afield. I guess Hamburg is east of somewhere. 

The starters suggested a solid means of Shiraz Palace showing its culinary chops, so I went for that most revealing of litmus tests; deep fried calamari (£5.90). They arrived unnervingly quickly, but were piping hot, so no worries there. The batter was satisfyingly crispy and well-seasoned, and the accompanying tartare sauce was fresh and tart to a pleasant extent, as if someone had taken care to balance its flavours. So far so good. However, tests can give you a false read, and unfortunately the calamari was as good as it was going to get. 

2024 03 13 Shiraz Palace Kalamar
Calamari Image: Confidentials

A printed out page from The Liverpool Echo stands proudly by the bar, proclaiming that "one reviewer said it was 'the best kebab I've ever tasted'". Now, I'm also only one reviewer, but I would have to disagree. If you came here for something equal to the shishes of Istanbul you're going to be disappointed. Blame a slow day at Reach PLC.

2024 03 13 Shiraz Palace Echo
The echo chamber Image: Confidentials

I went for the chicken shish kebab (a steep £17.50) and was served a dish arranged to Tetris levels of order but with very little love. A sad looking kebab. The chicken, while still fairly tender thanks to being thigh meat and charcoal grilled on spits, was seriously under-seasoned and in need of more than an extra dose of whatever the marinade was. I'm not even sure there really was one. Well-grilled, but that's it.

The salad was limp, joyless and in serious need of dressing, the red onions seemed depressed, and the rice lacked that buttery quality of good Middle Eastern rice. The bread was largely on the money, if a little fat for a flatbread. Why there was so little of it was genuinely baffling. 

Now, the sauce. Many of us have lingering memories of that fantastic, crimson-red kebab shop chilli sauce. The stuff that looks like it could revive a corpse, and in some ways, on some weekends, does. It has the levels of swazz that bring the potential beigeness of chicken, rice and bread up to something greater than the sum of its parts. So adored, it's like a precious molten metal. 

The sauce that came with Shiraz Palace's chicken shish kebab was watery, wet and utterly miserable; so genuinely strange in its flavour but also vaguely familiar that it felt like being gaslit by a condiment. Then it hit me - it tasted like Lloyd Grossman pasta sauce. Baffling. There's no other word. 

2024 03 13 Shiraz Palace Kebab
Chicken shish kebab Image: Confidentials

Judgement Day

Everything from the location to the late opening times and reasonably straightforward menu queue up an opportunity for Shiraz Palace to be a surefire hit with weekend drinkers ready to rip through the city's pubs and bars. It can also be that place you and your partner love going to on a quiet Wednesday night, but for it to have those honours the food has got to deliver. Here, it did not. 

Shiraz Palace seems stuck between cuisines and continents, caught in the middle between wanting to be the best kebab in Liverpool while also seeming happy to churn out endless shish with little love. It should ditch the pizzas and train its efforts on elevating what can be up there with the most alluring and repeatable of cuisines. And when people have found 'their place' they rarely stray. Shiraz Palace should earn that loyalty and if it delivers, would be deserving. But as things stand it's just too limp, too lazy and more concerned with the decor than the dishes.

Shiraz Palace, 45 Ranelagh St, L1 1JR

2024 03 13 Shiraz Palace Kitchen
Shiraz Palace Image: Confidentials

The Scores

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?

  • Food 6/10

    Kalamar 6.5, Chicken shish kebab 6

  • Service 3.5/5

  • Ambience 2.5/5

    Like a Relate waiting room