Angie Sammons swings by this Ibizan-themed, Ab Fab style restaurant and bar
I took flight to Spain last month. It was very sudden and very necessary, that’s all.
I found myself at a generous friend’s “finca", in the mountains (it’s good to know one person in, literally, high places) in one of the least populated areas of Europe. A place of circling vultures and zero light pollution. No Brits, no anyone, no bother.
The friend missed the bit where I said I had come for peace and quiet and threw a surprise afternoon paella party in my dishonour. It was attended by interesting people, many of whom spoke no English to my no Catalan; who drank vast quantities of wine and discussed all the Things In The World.
As the sun and the red went down, we bonded in the universal language of The Beatles before they all merrily lurched into their vehicles and careered off, via perilous hairpin bends, into the night. Another day we ate from a dazzling spread of perfect, wholesome dishes in the tiny village’s restaurant - three courses and all the vino for ten euros.
The whole episode has been playing on my mind since, but vast, stretching Spain is like that. It beguiles, it offers contradictions, its fiercely different regions and islands displaying completely different charms - modest and mellow one minute, passionate, classy and sassy the next. It may explain, in part, why so many people from other shores have embraced this world within a world either settling there for good or yanking its myriad ways back home.
Those more proficient in Catalan will already know that Eivissa is the official name for what we call Ibiza, the Balearic island which grew from 1960s hippie colony to 1990s rave capital of the planet and where few will have difficulty being understood or finding a beat to bond over.
Now, back in the land of crushing reality, we have La Finca Eivissa, the latest reimagining of the restaurant originally known as Tapas Tapas and, most recently, Rookwood Bar & Cue. This time it is an Ibizan themed bar/restaurant but instead of looking out on the Med it faces FACT, in Back Colquitt Street.
As a premises, it scrubs up well in whatever outfit it’s wearing, and they didn’t hold back when they were fitting this one out, Ab Fab style. With its salty, beachy driftwood furnishings, enlivened by rich, Moorish fabrics, lamps and tarpaulins, there are mattresses for lounging on and even a couple of swings by the bar, because that kind of thing is fun, right?
A fun bar calls for a fun drink and, this being a flustering day, we are encouraged to order an Aperol Glitz (£8) in which rose gin, Prosecco, fruit and soda are added to the resurgent Italian aperitif. It is refreshing and none too sweet, and naturally, this being Ibiza, it is garnished with a glo-stick
“Tapas” - the T-word few British restaurants dare utter these days (preferring the weary phrase “small plates”) - is emblazoned loud and proud over a long list of dishes on a chalkboard next to the bar. Plus there are the ubiquitous sharing platters
A welcome nod to the Iberian approach to tapas allows us to stay put in the bar and any ordered food will simply arrive as and when, acting as a ballast to the booze. Or we can go to the first floor restaurant and do it the Anglo way - food first, drinks an afterthought, if at all.
For some reason, nearly everyone who accompanies me on these dining adventures likes to drive there and back - and not in a devil-may-care Spanish way. Upstairs, then, it ruefully is.
The uncomplicated, low-risk menu isn’t entirely faithful to the White Isle, evidenced by the sticky chicken wings (£5.50) which have been glazed in a rum finish and scattered with desiccated coconut. They are more of a success than the mushy sweet potato bravas (£5), served with an incongruous lime yoghurt dip, all of which is discarded like a toddler’s tea.
We fare better with the well-crafted albondigas (£5), meatballs to you, in a sweet, light broth of nothing more than fresh tomatoes, garlic, seasoning and herbs. Sauces tend to be good here and some ordinary “Spanish pan-fried mushrooms” (£5) are elevated by another made with white wine, stock, lemon, garlic and chilli.
Also worth ordering: prawns with soft crumbly chorizo ( £7) and to accompany it all, two properly roasted and seasoned skewers of aubergine, peppers and courgette (£6) a fiesta of colour.
Dessert, a chocolate brownie, made with Rioja and orange (£6), needs more cocoa content for my liking, a little more orange, and none of the fondant on top. But those with a sweet tooth will undoubtedly gobble it up.
We are told that La Finca Eivissa’s head chef is the same man who ran the Tapas Tapas kitchen in 2010, a time when we had an office at the front of the building. Every Monday morning, a bulk order of ripe, mouthwatering produce would be waiting in the hallway. It was impressive. He didn’t cut corners then and, aside from the decor and the name, little seems to have changed.
What we do have in 2018 is a cheerful flight of fancy: good for a chat, a bit of food and a drink. That’s it - and it’s alright with me.
La Finca Eivissa, 14 Colquitt Street, Liverpool L1 4DE Tel: 0151 709 0999
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: put the kettle on instead, 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: made by God him/herself.
Sticky wings 7, sweet potato bravas 4, albondigas 7, Spanish mushrooms 7, prawns and chorizo 7, vegetable skewers 6, chocolate brownie 5
Chatty and attentive
Here comes summer