Harley Young eats in Stoke (no, not that one)
Conveniently situated a stone’s throw from Liverpool Lime Street station (No, really. It’s right next door.), you’ll find Stoke inside the Radisson RED hotel.
Originally opened as the North Western Hotel in 1871, the gargantuan building more recently served as student accommodation and office spaces before being turned back into a more modern spin on its former dwellings under the Radisson hotel group.
I’m more familiar with Radisson Blu’s than RED’s so I did a bit of Googling to find out what the difference was. According to the website, these types of accommodation provide a “playful twist on conventional hotel stays, offering hangouts with a casual feel, buzzing social scenes and bold design personality.”
The lightly toasted brioche was ideal for mopping it up anyways
The lobby definitely lives up to that statement, paying homage to The Beatles (of course, how could you not?) and British Mod culture with a Union Jack-adorned Vespa and side carriage parked on a circular rug ready to greet you on arrival. The space combines retro design with modern functionality with cosy pods for working tucked to one side and a snug bar space sat under art deco lighting.
The building itself is just stunning. Marble pillars, high ceilings, parquet flooring, and what I assume to be the original tiles near the lobby’s fireplace.
Walk by the red submarine (not a yellow one unfortunately, but you get the gist) and you’ll see a slither of restaurant Stoke peeking into view from down the slender corridor. The same tasteful decor continues, only this time with large 16th century-style prints with new-age twists like the subjects taking a selfie on an iPhone. There’s also a nice black and white picture of the queen with the red on her dress re-coloured. There’s a theme, if you hadn’t already guessed.
We took a seat in a booth over by the window with a full view of the open kitchen in front of us and St George’s Hall behind. After browsing the well versed cocktail menu I chose a Velvet Martini and my colleague a Red Zombie.
The velvet martini (made using Disaronno Velvet as the key ingredient) was sweet, light and fluffy, going down a little too easily and was polished off before I’d had the chance to take a proper look at the food menu.
To start, I went for the sticky fried chicken which absolutely blew my socks off. If I’m being honest, I’m a wuss when it comes to spice so it probably wasn’t as spicy as I’m making it out to be. It definitely made the old eyes water though. With the dish being coated in a Korean BBQ glaze I was expecting a sort of sweet umami flavour instead of a hot sauce. The chicken itself was enjoyable, though, and not too fatty as thighs sometimes can be. If my tastebuds hadn’t been on fire I’d have probably polished it off.
My vegetarian colleague who has a nut allergy looked over the main menu and realised that the only veggie dish (roasted cauliflower) had nuts in it, so decided to order a handful of starters as her main meal. With a decent-sized menu it was hard to believe that one of the most common allergens hadn’t been considered when creating the only vegetarian option.
Instead, she chose the sticky BBQ oyster mushrooms, truffle arancini, and some triple cooked chips. The truffle arancini was beautifully presented and both smelled and tasted divine. As she pressed her fork into one of the arancini balls there was the unmistakable crunch of crispy breadcrumbs followed by the oozing truffle centre. Just delicious.
The oyster mushrooms were chopped into chunky sections and lightly sprinkled with sesame seeds and brushed with a soy glaze. The slight browning of the mushrooms make them look almost like pieces of chicken breast. Fresh and meaty without the meat. Pleasant for both veggies and omnivores alike.
The chips were the chunky type that you’d get at a typical British country pub. Lightly seasoned with salt for you to make your own judgement of whether you need more or not to suit your palate. Not bad.
For my main I fancied something substantial. The ‘Stoke burger’ made with wagyu beef, smoked cheddar, truffle mayo and crispy onions on a brioche bun, served with a generous portion of fries, filled a hole nicely. When I lifted it and gave it a slight smush the beef patty dripped a little with fat, but that’s to be expected with wagyu - the lightly toasted brioche was ideal for mopping it up anyways. As for truffle mayo it either makes or breaks a dish. Sometimes it’s just too overpowering and all you can taste for the remainder of the day but, thankfully, this one was well balanced.
Just before dessert I ordered a Disaronno sour to cleanse my palate. Yes, I could’ve used water but then where’s the fun in that?
While browsing the dessert menu a couple sat across from us urged us to try the special that they’d ordered - Italian chocolate semifreddo infused with orange, biscuits and berry sauce. They kept telling us it was “massive but lovely” and pleaded with us to help them finish it. It did look nice, but wasn’t what I was craving.
Instead, I chose the dark chocolate delice; dulce de leche paired with hazelnut ice cream which, when combined, tasted just like a Ferrero Rocher. The dulce de leche was slightly claggy and difficult to get off the spoon without using your teeth (probably not a very sexy dessert to eat on a first date). But the flavour was there and it satisfied my sweet tooth.
My colleague got the yuzu tart, made using white chocolate ganache, matcha and a scoop of clotted cream ice cream on the side. Light and creamy with a subtle hint of matcha for that savoury-sweet feel. An enjoyable way to finish any meal.
This restaurant is in a prime location and well decorated, menu items are well-made and fairly priced, and the signature cocktails are playful and inventive. It would be great to see more dishes to choose from but, having only been open for nine months, I’m sure it’s something that will be developed in time.
Stoke at Radisson RED, 7 Lime St, Liverpool L1 1RD
All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidentials 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.
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.
Sticky fried chicken 4, truffle arancini 8, oyster mushrooms 7, triple cooked chips 6, wagyu burger 7, yuzu tart 7, chocolate delice 7