David Adamson has his head turned at the all-American bar for sports and shorts
What: Hooters Liverpool-
Where: New Zealand House, Water Street
Food/drink type: American sports bar fare
When: Sun - Thurs 12-11pm // Fri and Sat 12 - midnight
Independent or chain: Chain
It's a cold Thursday lunchtime and Hooters Liverpool is quiet.
A chain with Saturday matchday atmosphere almost available on tap, it has the vibe of a theatre in the hours before an evening performance - that air of unspent enthusiasm that must be hard to maintain ahead of the punters arriving.
Thankfully, as my onion rings arrived a steady conveyor of strangers came through the door (for you Sopranos fans out there) and the place began to be imbued with a bit of life, much of it made up of work lunches, groups of girls and couples, with the obligatory two blokes drinking Budweiser. Before that, the TV screens that pretty much act as wallpaper piped out OSC Lille v Toulouse, the UEC Cyclo-Cross Championships and the Mallorca Ladies Open (for you sports fans out there).
In reality, Hooters is a sports bar. Like pale ale and NFL, it's an American import that's misunderstood by Brits unless you give it a go, and the gimmicks of staff uniform aside, you'd struggle to find a better sports bar in the city.
Of course the gimmick can't be ignored. The staff (all female today but open to everyone) are kitted out in the iconic t-shirts and dolphin shorts, with sunny all-American attitudes but scouse accents, which is as refreshing as the Hooters Special Beer (£5.50) that I ordered with the onions rings. Long Train Runnin' by The Doobie Brothers comes on, and it's the closest to 'merica you'll get without jumping on a boat at the port down the road.
The main event
With places that clearly set their stall out, I tend to order what they pride themselves on. If you go to McDonalds, you order a burger. Only a nutter visits the salad bar of a Pizza Hut, and when it comes to Hooters, you go for the chicken wings.
I chose the Hooters Style Wings with Datona Beach sauce (£11.95 for 10pc) and the aforementioned onions rings (£5.95). It's only 1pm after all, so the closer I can get to a light lunch the better. These were plump, well-fed chickens judging by their wings, and the Daytona Beach sauce they were lathered in was exactly as described, "a little sweet, a little hot" - stall well and truly set out. I was less keen on the blue cheese dipping sauce but that's fine, the wings were good just as.
Onions rings are such a perfect staple of bar food that they really should be state-subsidised and handed out to waning drinkers like Watchtower leaflets. They're also an ideal accompaniment if chips are just too much to take on, and that's exactly what these were. Not loaded with the entire bulb or the size of a hoola hoop, these were battered with restraint and served with a ranch dip that had a garlicky tang.
The Hooters Special Beer was a nice variation on American lager, which you can imagine they stock a bit of (Budweiser, Coors Light). But even in the interests of reviewing, I draw the line at Budweiser.
If you fancy somewhere to watch the game, your favourite pub is full and you haven't had any breakfast, there'll almost certainly be room for you at Hooters. Of course you wouldn't eat there every day, and probably not even every matchday, but it's an institution that us buttoned-up Brits could do with a few more of.
Don't moan that there's nowhere that shows the match.
Hooters Liverpool, New Zealand House, 18 Water St, L2 8TD
Well-made, solid food for a few lagers.
Sunny and easygoing service
A packed-out room for a big game would no doubt bump this closer to 5