Rebecca Fry brings the outside in at south Liverpool’s new garden café

WE'RE pretty blessed in the North West to have such a sizeable amount of green space. Not only do we have five Grade II-listed parks in Liverpool, we’ve apparently got the biggest area of park space outside of the capital – not bad for a region that’s just a fraction of its size now, is it?

Our selection of small plates was hit and miss, with over half of our picks being pretty damn great and the rest disappointing

Still, although I’m a big supporter of our parks, I can’t honestly say I visit them that regularly. They’re great for short stops but the lack of anywhere suitable to eat or drink (aside from the odd ice-cream van) and the only toilet being a nearby bush, mean they’re not the ideal place to go if you’re in it for the long haul. Fortunately for grown-ups (who aren’t blessed with the youth required to fully enjoy the swing park), there’s now a proper café-cum-restaurant inside the beautiful Greenbank Park, and it serves food, wine and cocktails seven days a week.

2019 07 05 Watering Can Exterior
'Au naturel': The Watering Can
2019 05 05 Watering Can Cake Counter
Cakes and bakes

The Watering Can is a stunning-looking building that manages to blend seamlessly with its leafy surroundings thanks to its ‘au naturel’ take on décor. Naturally it’s kitted out almost entirely in wood, floors, chairs and counter tops, and from the outside the restaurant could be mistaken for the crème de la crème of garden sheds. The partially covered dining area at the far side of the restaurant boasts a conservatory-style glass roof and huge open panels looking out into the park, and is complete with comfy patio furniture and more flowers and foliage than Chelsea Flower Show – so you won’t be short-changed if you happen to be dining al fresco.

By day you can order all the traditional café bits, by which I mean sandwiches, toasties, tea and homemade cakes (there is an enormous cake counter), but more up my alley is the new evening menu. As with the majority of restaurants nowadays, it’s all about small plates ideal for grazing and, in this case, testing the waters with somewhere new.

2019 07 05 Watering Can Bread
Homemade sourdough bread with trio of butters
2019 07 05 Watering Can Croquettes
Tomato and bacon croquettes and aioli

Our selection of small plates was hit and miss, with over half of our picks being pretty damn great and the rest disappointing. On the positive side was a selection of homemade sourdough bread (£3.50) served with a trio of mystery butters, the flavours of which weren’t individually listed on the menu but each one was distinctive and interesting in its own right. The croquettes (£4.50), served with a bucket-sized vessel of garlic aioli, were another winner. The flavour of the day, tomato and bacon, gave the crunchy little balls a good balance of sweet and salty, and my only complaint would be that I could’ve eaten triple the amount.

In contrast to the croquettes, a sharing plate of stuffed chicken thigh (£6.95) was a misfire. I’d describe it as a chicken sausage but years of passively watching MasterChef would suggest it was a ballotine. Whatever it was, the cylindrical tube of chicken meat was impressively tender but pretty bland considering it was filled with herbs and chorizo. A long way off the crispy thigh I was anticipating (and would have much preferred).

2019 07 05 Watering Can Chicken Thigh
Stuffed chicken thigh
2019 07 05 Watering Can Pizzettes
Tomato and buffalo mozzarella and sausage and cavolo nero pizzettes

The pizzettes weirdly fell either side of the borderline. The simple tomato and buffalo mozzarella (£5.50) was tiny but delicious, the sweet tomatoes bursting on top were full of flavour and it was well made and confident in its own simplicity. The sausage and cavolo nero edition (£5.95) wasn’t quite as flavourful and had a bitter aftertaste that I’ll put down to the slightly charred kale on top.  

I always like to end on a high when it comes to eating and this one comes in the form of halloumi fries (£5.95). They were deep-fried to within an inch of their lives but fortunately that just so happens to be how I like my cheese. Perfect for dunking in the sweet tomato dip and a salty antidote to one of The Watering Can’s sweet summer spritzes.     

2019 07 05 Watering Can Halloumi
Halloumi fries and sweet tomato dip
2019 07 05 Watering Can Aperol Spritz
The Watering Can Aperol Spritz

While I do appreciate it’s still early days for the restaurant and for the evening menu in particular, there’s still a little room for growth on the food front, but (if you excuse the pun) I honestly can’t wait to see this lovely little restaurant blossom.

The Watering Can, 64 Greenbank Road, Greenbank Park, L18 1HQ

2019 07 05 Watering Can Receipt

The scores:

All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidential and completely independent of any commercial relationship. 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.

  • Food 6.5/10

    Bread 7, croquettes 8, chicken thigh 4, tomato and mozarella pizzette 8, sausage and cavolo neropizzette 5, halloumi fries 7

  • Service 4/5

    As efficient as possible on a very busy night

  • Atmosphere 5/5