If being seen eating is your thing, be seen in one of these places...
LOOKING for bare bricks, parquet flooring, dangly filament light bulbs, Scandi chairs, clipboard menus, natural wine, staff in trainers, chefs in flatcaps… you get the point.
Here, in partnership with the
Gary Usher’s fourth restaurant, and counting, generates a warmth that somehow manages to radiate down the road. As you approach, past the huddle of no-messing black-clad bouncers and the grim bouquets for a young murder victim, there it is, on the corner of Slater Street, glowing like the farmhouse light that guides the lost on a cold and lonely night.
Inside the 19th century watchmaker’s factory it’s all brick and wood, softly lit, homely and hospitable, the old building’s raw materials displayed to their best advantage: solid and reassuring. Staff have an energy that’s infectious and a calm assurance that belies their youth. Patrons span the generations but there are more than a few hirsute hipsters in search of something a little more grown up than the usual dirty burgers and burritos to nest in their beards. At Wreckfish, there’s no glitz, no pretence, no big I am, just a warm welcome and bistro food prepared to a standard that’s pretty much guaranteed to make this everyone’s favourite city centre restaurant.
Slater Street, Liverpool L1 4BS
Passionate about Venetian small plates. Akin to the backstreet Venetian tapas bars which inspired this central Liverpool bar and restaurant, there is something about Salt House Bacaro that makes you never want to leave. Part of Paddy Smith’s Red and Blue group, the team behind Salt House Tapas and Hanover Street Social, Bacaro is all about cicchetti: diminutive small plates, perfectly formed. The menu shifts with the seasons and availablity but favourites include goats cheese pearls with honey and walnuts, mixed Italian meats (Coppa di Parma ham, bresaola and fennel salam or slow cooked lamb with pecorino. Choose from a clutch of pizzettes, and Stornoway black pudding with chicken livers in a marsala sauce. King scallop could be served in their shells, while aperitivo include various takes on negroni and Bellini. Timeless good times on tap.
47 Castle St, Liverpool L2 9UB
Irresistible Middle Eastern fusion small plates – a slow burning smash hit. Inspired by (and named after) the Middle-Eastern flavours of Paris’ Marais district, Maray provides an informal, communal dining experience which revolves around excellent falafels, small plates, fine wines and cocktails. Courtesy of a young team (including Dom Jones, Tom White and James Bates), attention to detail is spot on. In particular, there’s a sizeable vegetarian offering, which could includes hummus, muhammara, confit squash with ginger, harissa-pickled eggs, and pumpkin arancini with brie and a fresh rhubarb chutney. In reference to its cosmopolitan namesake, the fish and meat plates feature modern European staples shot through with eastern colour; monkfish cheeks with Aleppo aioli, or smoked ham with fennel, date syrup and Egyptian spices.
The interior explores the possiblities offered by wrought iron, exposed brickwork and pendulous LED lighting. They bake all their own Persian bread in house, and together with new sister venues in Allerton, Maray is a hipsters’ favourite. Finish off at the bar with a marmalade-infused house whiskey sour, or Agent Cooper – a bittersweet concoction of vodka, Patron XO, Frangelico and bitter chocolate.
91 Bold Street, L1 4HF
Following a punchy review by Confidential’s Deanna Thomas – and, latterly, the Guardian’s Grace Dent – it has been hard to secure a table at Liverpool’s maverick newcomer Belzan. The self-described ‘neo-bistro’ opened in 2018, the baby of a £20,000 Kickstarter campaign by the owners of Duke Street cocktail emporium Filter and Fox. As such, wines and cocktails are carefully curated while small plates are handled by ex-Maray chef Sam Grainger.
The menu could include fish skins with harissa, BBQ savoy cabbage, butter beans with beef dashi and parsley cream, and calves liver with everything (PX sherry, pancetta, Parmesan, truffle and more). The house secreto successfully pairs delicate Iberico pork with date, mustard fruit and caramelised cauliflower while puddings such as tonka bean rice pudding or bergamot sorbet round things off with more trademark punch. Given all the excitement on the plate, the white-washed walls, wood tables and navy blocks feels calm by contrast.
371 Smithdown Rd, Liverpool L15 3JJ