Des Hogan plays pass the parsley at this place
January seems to come and go quicker than I expect it to. I'm just as skint and tired as everyone else seems to be, but there is at least one guarantee of a get together in this gloomy month, and that's my little sisters birthday.
I decided to take her out to Papillon, in the ever-popular Georgian Quarter of Liverpool. The area hosts an array of restaurants, bars, and pubs that would suit any occasion. I've visited Papillon before, but only ever for a post-work drink. The drinks menu is impressive with exciting cocktails and a varied beer list, but this time I wanted to see if they had a food menu worthy of a celebration.
Cutting open a crispy poached egg to expose a runny yolk as it cascades over melted cheese is one of life’s little pleasures
We were booked in at 7pm on a Friday, and the restaurant was buzzing. Two Espresso Martinis were fairly pricey at £8.50 but honestly worth it. We also fancied some olives, but our waitress already had her back turned and was away before we could get past the ‘O’. The restaurant has live jazz on a Friday which really suited the atmosphere. The decor is one of my favourite things about Papillon, it's something they have definitely got right.
Their food menu doesn’t really have a concept as such. Lots of variety for meat eaters, but it’s slimmer pickings for vegetarians. We had a mushroom pizza with truffle oil, and a wild mushroom and pesto linguini. Do chefs think vegetarians only eat mushrooms?
The place was busy with mostly drinkers at the bar and our food felt like it was taking a while to arrive. Chips and katsu sauce to share (£3.50) was a winner, it's not your usual dipping sauce but it works. Welsh Rarebit with a crispy poached egg (£6) seemed to go cold really quickly, leaving the cheese to go a bit stodgy. However, cutting open a crispy poached egg to expose a runny yolk as it cascades over melted cheese (aka #eggporn) is one of life’s little pleasures.
The Mushroom Pizza (£9) was a great choice - though a little on the large side. The mushrooms were generous, delicious and felt like a real treat, but I had to leave some so was annoyed at myself when I got home later that night, knowing I should have finished it.
Wild mushroom and pesto linguini (£10) was delicious and not too heavy, but there was no pesto in sight. Not sure what happened there. The sauce was creamy and topped with parsley rather than basil. We’d ordered a side of garlic focaccia (£5) to dip in the pesto (sorry, cream sauce.) It was an average looking flatbread, topped again with parsley.
Desserts were the saving grace of the whole meal. Key lime cheesecake (£5) with a ginger nut biscuit base was tasty, but served in a very small mason jar, so it was annoying to try and scrape your big spoon around it without looking like a fiend. My sister just went straight in with another cocktail for a more liquid dessert. Cranberry Fizz (£8.50) was basically a long Aperol spritz with peach puree and cranberry juice - incredibly refreshing.
The cocktails at Papillion outshine both the food and the slightly disinterested service. Listening to the live jazz with a really great cocktail in hand would suit me just fine….ok, maybe a side of those chips with katsu curry sauce, but definitely NO PARSLEY.
Papillon, 31 Hope St, Liverpool L1 9BQ
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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.
Katsu chips 8, Welsh rarebit 6, garlic focaccia 3.5, mushroom pizza 8, mushroom llnguini 6, key lime cheesecake 9
A bit abrupt and inconsistent
Smart and laid back