New family-friendly, kid-friendly and dog-friendly venue will be Liverpool’s most inclusive culinary hangout
In the Victorian era, the old warehouse at 46 Duke Street was home to John Bellingham - the barbaric brains behind the brutal assassination of British Prime Minister Spencer Perceval in 1812, with a single gunshot to the heart. This week, 207 years later, the very same building - still with some of its original features in tact - opens up as the home of brand new food and drink hall, Duke Street Market. Isn’t the correlation between time and geography bizarre?
Basically, this is going to be one helluva friendly party and you are all invited
Two years ago, the guys from Graffiti Spirits Group (behind five of the city’s most popular hangouts including Santa Chupitos and Salt Dog Slims) were burning the midnight oil with the lads from Urban Food & Drink, who, with their roots in property development and construction, had come across a dilapidated 5000 sq. ft. warehouse on Duke Street and seen an opportunity to give Liverpool something it was yet to discover.
Flash forward a couple of years and here we are, watching the idea come to life as the city’s latest food and drink market opens its doors for business.
We caught up with Matt Farrell of Graffiti Spirits to pick his brains on what we can expect and how he sees Duke Street Market standing out in a city where food halls have become very much mainstream.
When I inevitably brought up the potential comparison between them and the likes of Baltic Market, Dockside Dining Club and the Grand Central Food Bazaar, Matt was keen to quash any suggestion of competition. He told me that ‘strength comes in numbers’, that this is a totally standalone concept and there’s plenty of room for everyone around here. Okay, I made that last bit sound a bit more Spaghetti Western than Matt had said it, but that’s what he meant.
So, how is Duke Street Market different then? Well, for a whole plethora of reasons, but one of the main ones being its dedication to building a sense of community, familiarity and inclusivity. They want customers to become acquainted with staff on a first-name basis. They want to help champion locally-sourced produce and the region’s independent businesses. They want to hold flower arranging, wellbeing and craft events. They’re family-friendly, kid-friendly and most importantly of all, dog-friendly. Basically, this is going to be one helluva friendly party and you are all invited.
The second notable difference is a distinct lack of novelty street food - another element Matt was eager to convey. Forget halloumi fries and cookie dough; we’re talking plated dining in canteen style seating with edible highlights including an open charcoal barbecue at CINDER, Cuban delicacies from FINCA, artisan pasta and pinsa at Cucina di Vincenzo, a 1kg cote de boeuf from Bone & Block and fine flavours from the Far East at Ginger. The food offering will be as expansive and inclusive as the culture, with plates starting at £6 nibbles and elevating all the way up to a £40 giant fish dish designed to be shared by up to six people.
Six hand-curated vendors, which have been chosen through a series of conversations and cook-offs, will also be joined by Pilgrim, which launches its flagship restaurant. Pilgrim triumphed in the third series of BBC’s Million Pound Menu and now brings complex flavours from the Iberian Peninsula to Liverpool with a contemporary take on tapas-style dining.All of the vendors are on long-term contracts to really embed that community ethos and create a social hub that is fuelled by quality food and acclaimed cookery.
Now, it wouldn’t be a Graffiti Sprits-lead project if there wasn’t a bit of mixology magic to shake and stir things up too. Matt told me that the guys have been giving it the old elbow grease in the Graffiti Sprits Drinks Lab, playing with new ingredients and experimenting with innovative techniques to master a bespoke menu of both modern and classic beverages. The mezzanine bar will be slow-paced and sophisticated, while limbs can get a little looser at the lower tier bar where gin and cocktails will be a-flowin’.
Upon it’s launch, the antique venue currently holds around 350 covers at capacity but there are plans to expand this to 500 in the next six months or so. A great deal of financial and emotional investment has gone into making this high-spec building a sight to behold and the first step towards bringing our iconic Duke Street back to life.
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Wednesday: 7:30am – 11:00pm
Thursday & Friday: 7:30am – 12:00pm
Saturday & Sunday: 8:00am – 12:00pm