Vicky Andrews finds traditional favourites and a ‘Dash’ of Pan-Asian on Victoria Street
‘Don't ever save anything for a special occasion. Every day you're alive is a special occasion,’ wrote the American author Ann Wells. She passed away in 2007 at the age of 85, but the message behind her essay What Special Someday Are We Saving For?, printed in the Los Angeles Timesin 1985, still finds its way to new generations.
It’s a sobering thought in these times. Remember when the worst thing about 2020 was The Masked Singer? Then a global pandemic struck and nobody knew if they were going to see their family and friends again. Afternoon tea is usually reserved for a wedding, anniversary or birthday but, with Wells’ words burning in my mind, I decided to rip up the rulebook and schedule a well-deserved catch-up at Dash Restaurant with my good friend Christian.
Dash opened its doors in 2018 with interiors inspired by travels in New York and Paris and you know you’re in for something special from the moment you walk up the stairway. The elegant dining room is elevated above the hustle and bustle of new look Victoria Street, which now boasts sweeping pavements and a stylish refurbishment of the Metquarter.
You’ll find an impressive array of New York-style cocktails on the drinks menu and each one comes with its own poetic detail. The Downtown Daiquiri muses, ‘In New York, you work hard, then you play hard. You deserve a cocktail so you head downtown with your friends and let loose.’ It might not be the finest American prose but it does capture the magic of New York and Liverpool, two Transatlantic twins that have always dared to dream.
Lee Evans, executive chef at Dash, is classically French-trained and has an eclectic love of food, having been inspired by different cuisines during his travels. Lee spent his early years as a chef working for Michelin star chef Paul Heathcote. His style is modern and playful with a little bit of theatre and the a la carte menu is a modern spin on fine dining, with a unique fusion of Asian-inspired dishes and British classics. Alongside gyoza, bao, robatayaki and poke bowls, you’ll find 28-day-aged British beef steaks, wagyu burgers and a Sunday roast.
Afternoon tea is a little quirky here too; classically minded but with an Asian twist. The British custom of tea and cakes in the afternoon is said to date back to the 1830s when Anna Russell, Duchess of Bedford, found herself a bit peckish in the gap between lunch and dinner. She began inviting her friends over to Woburn Abbey for a cheeky snack and then brought the habit back to London, where it caught on with the upper class socialites.
It’s highly unlikely that the Victorians ever got sushi on their cake stands but at Dash it’s a finger food that’s right at home. Our afternoon tea included two smoked salmon sushi nori with yuzu cream cheese and avocado, which were excellent quality and packed with punchy Pan-Asian flavours. A lobster brioche with a sprinkling of tobiko caviar was another exotic twist, put together with top quality ingredients and a passion for detail. On the more traditional side, freshly prepared sandwiches on the platter included egg mayonnaise with micro pepper cress and grilled chicken with grain mustard mayo, both fresh and fabulous.
Indulgent desserts are always the biggest draw of an afternoon tea and I have to say that although I’m more of a savoury head, my sweet tooth was dancing at the sensational selection of puds. The kitchen must have had as much fun dreaming up these cakes as we did eating them; a cherry blossom-infused choux bun, white chocolate and raspberry delice, rich chocolate brownie with molasses honeycomb and a Pornstar Martini tart with Prosecco, passion fruit jelly and citrus vodka. To finish, artisan scones with rich Cornish clotted cream and jam. Game, set and match.
Afternoon tea at Dash starts from just £22.50 per person and you can upgrade to Prosecco (£27.50 pp), a cocktail (£29.50 pp) or Champagne (£35 pp). We had a pot of Earl Grey tea and a glass of bubbly each and the selection of snacks, cakes and treats was the perfect size. Attention to detail went above and beyond, as did the service.
It’s true that the best friends are those who make conversation effortless, even when you’ve not seen them for ages. Champion of them all is the BFF who will let you have the last piece of cake. Hold on to that friend and never, ever let them go. Carpe diem; because every day is a special occasion.
Dash Restaurant, 15 Victoria Street, Liverpool L2 5QS