Jonathan Schofield has a scrap with some food but still loves the Schloss
The building was the Liverpool Gas Company and now the fires have returned, well at least in the front area. Albert's Schloss is a chain that follows a formula and in this splendid Art Deco structure from the 1930s they're not straying from the formula. We're in a mythological 'mittel Europe'.
There's lots of timber, there are pork knuckles, the place spells house 'haus' and there are skis, a stage and a photobooth. It's wonderfully bogus. There's no pretence with the Schloss because it's all pretence and we buy into it as soon as we cross the threshold. Nothing is real in the Schloss, it's a castle of the imagination designed for revelry. Straight-laced folk need not apply.
This is not a restaurant, it is not a bar or a pub, it's a show
But the food. Jeez. Take hammers. Take chisels. Take the whole Black and Decker toolkit. Especially for the pork knuckle, or even Schweinshaxe (£19.50), which looks like an experiment gone wrong and on this occasion happened to be coated in reinforced concrete. I hacked at it to no avail.
Eventually I rushed out and stole a pneumatic drill. That shattered. Fortunately a small team of dwarfs from The Lord of the Rings passed by and broke open the crackling. They mined for me a rich vein, because underneath the concrete crackling there was real succulence. Here all was yielding pig, lush, juicy meat with loads of fat. It was perfect pork. I remember a pork knuckle from a takeaway van in Poland. This was better than that.
The other bits on the dish were as insignificant as lice on a lion's back. The menu claimed the meat had been seasoned with carraway, fennel, black pepper and apple sauce; well, I got a bit of the apple but not much else, maybe some fennel. The 'rich gravy' and 'red cabbage' was sluggish and unpleasant.
A starter of Paprika prawns (£9.50) was ok but I can't push the description further. The firey paprika sauce boosted the seafood but the Frankfurt sauce was horrible, a creamy mess of of herbs. Yuck.
A pudding of Black Forest Gateau (£8) was, ye Gads, big. It could have fed three people for two days, morning, noon and night. It was bigger than the actual Black Forest.
In the 1980s every Berni Inn featured Black Forest Gateau served to women in Indian print dresses by hairy waiters doused in Old Spice sporting Magnum PI moustaches. It was an overly-sweet dessert then and it's not changed.
But the Black Forest Gateau is all part of the game.
The dish suits the strange retro-fantasy of Albert's Schloss which isn't really about the food, it's about the occasion. Stick a drag act on stage, deliver us some smutty caberet, put a spotlight on an Ed Sheeran cover act and laugh until your tonsils fly across the room.
Albert Schloss's food is wholesome, bolstering, filling, or even exhausting if you get into a fight with the pork knuckle. It can be very good too, I've had a whole plaice in a Schloss which was a delight, I've had some fine breakfasts too.
But the food is not why people are here.
They are here because the whole concept is pure entertainment and the people watching the best you can get.
And what's more, and why you have to admire Mission Mars, the company behind the Schlosses, is that it gets the whole family in. Albert's Schloss is cross-generational. When it's motoring along with live music and people of all ages dancing about on the tables, it's a joy: an oddly old-fashioned joy, something out of misty days decades ago in Blackpool.
The staff are delightful too, they an intergral part of the Albert's Schloss experience.
This is not a restaurant, it is not a bar or a pub, it's a show.
Albert's Schloss, Radiant House, 18-26 Bold St, Liverpool L1 4DS
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?
Prawns 5, pork knuckle 5, Black Forest gateau 5