Lindsey Bennett visits this trendy new market with its own Peninsula sunrise
MARINE Street Social makes no attempt to hide its seaside take on Altrincham Market, Manchester’s Mackie Mayor and Liverpool’s Baltic Market. For me, the latter’s DNA is clearly imprinted in the New Brighton venue with several of the vendors openly talking about copying the M.O. from ‘the dark side’ (not my term) directly.
On a much smaller scale than its inspirations, this initial iteration has room for about six food stalls, a large bar with plenty of beer on tap, a music stage, bench seating and a Perrier Jouet rooftop terrace. MSS will also host special events and art installations.
It’s a good effort; attractive navy uniforms, neat logo and friendly staff who don them. But despite the specifics of the location, there was that sense of ‘if we copy this successful thing – we too will be successful’, which illustrates a lack of anything new to say.
I visited in the dying hours of an incredibly sunny May bank holiday; for an opening weekend, MSS could not have been luckier. Their official launch was a four-day event with DJ sets, live music, a screening of the footie final and the chance to view the Liverpool Festival’s Tall Ships as they began their journey to Dublin.
On a peachy spot overlooking Marine Lake, the roof terrace bar has fine views over Canada Dock, River Mersey and the Irish Sea, whilst the ground floor opens directly onto the beachy decking of the lakeside walkway that connects the shops, restaurants and cinema to the Floral Pavilion and old-school Arcades over the promenade. The owners hope MSS is a place for all the family, including the dog. The clientele crossed young and posy with a few buggies, mobility scooters and the occasional canine.
It had died down by the time my group made our first food choices whilst soaking up the vaguely Balearic beats on the terrace over a few chilled lagers. So we chatted with three vendors about how they’d enjoyed a pretty busy weekend and would probably stay in-situ for about three months.
Buttermilk fried chicken with mac ‘n’ cheese from Hatch (£8.00) was quite the surprisingly delectable initiation; chicken breast coated in a light and crunchy batter atop an also light mac ‘n’ cheese that very happily felt like it might not drop like a greasy stone through the digestive system.
Pleasantly unstuffed and having now finally secured an approximate set-up of seating with a spot in the sun, in the far too un-furnished roof terrace, we moved onto the Pitmaster sandwich from Cowfish Smokehouse; 12 hour oak-smoked brisket, pickles, a black bun and BBQ sauce (£9). The sauce was a bit cloying, but didn’t detract from the entrenched smoky flavour of the good brisket. The light pickles were delicate companions. The bun was black, which is an affectation I’ve never been wowed by.
For our third round, I was excited to see Chutney here with a small menu; a local had suggested I try this Indian street food restaurant in nearby Oxton village. I love a dahl for both flavour and benefits to the soul, so was inordinately happy to see one offered here. Masoor red lentil dahl with chilli, garlic, kafir lime and rice (£7.50) didn’t quite require deifying but I enjoyed the comforting, dense texture and gentle flavours. The rice was too much padding and would have been better replaced with more dahl – or even spinach? Bengali kathi roll, filled with chickpea tikka, cabbage, sweet pepper and spinach (£7) was a pretty, but tasteless flop that managed to undermine its agreeably fresh texture with an utter lack of flavour. As a bready wrap, it was a chore.
We swerved Izakaya’s offering (they’re soon to open a restaurant in town) and the cornered off and sweetly lackadaisical Terrace BBQ burgers (too sunny for the ‘chef’ to stand there cooking, the stall looked closed) and the yoghurt dessert place.
Not being overly familiar with New Brighton’s leisure habits, I may be speaking out of turn when I question entirely how Marine Street Social can sustain opening seven days a week from 8am (according to their Facebook page). There are plans for a shared workspace, so with the possible addition of a good coffee vendor, maybe it will be filled with Wirral’s movers and shakers, no doubt enjoying the spectacular Peninsula sunrises here too.
Marine Street Social is an enthusiastic place and welcome change from the chains that surround it, even if there is something of the copycat about all of it. The owners have stated they wish to use their ‘social hub’ to promote independent vendors with Wirral sourced and local food and drink. If this comes to pass then there’s no reason to think Marine Street Social won’t find its own identity soon enough and show us ‘over the water’ something new.
Marine Street Social , 4 Marine Point, New Brighton, CH4 2HZ
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.
Chutney Dhal and Kathi roll 5, Hatch fried chicken with mac 'n'cheese 7.5, Cowfish Pit master bun 7
Very friendly, service quick. Dearth of bins and slow clearing.
Caters for an easy mix of people minus one point for copying.