When this is over we’re all having three lunches and two dinners every day
Every month our writing team usually gathers together a list of the best things we ate. It’s round up of the dishes they all recommend you seek out from Liverpool’s restaurants. Obviously we can’t do that at the moment, but what we can do is dream.
Here’s what we’re missing the most from Liverpool’s rich bounty of restaurants and cafes and what we’ll be making a beeline for when they are back in business again.
Gordo - I’m missing what may well turn out to be one of the best Chinese restaurants I’ve been to recently; certainly outside London. I’ve known the chef, Dave Critchley, at Lu Ban for a number of years. He is a great cook. He invited me to eat to help with a story and fed me on the chefs table which leads into the kitchen. It firmly turned me on to classic Chinese again. I was ready to come for a pig out. Then the virus struck. I’ve been crying ever since.
Another pal, ‘Porky’ Askew, is chef-patron at The Art School, another on my wish list. He and his team are at the top of their game currently. They do a cheese soufflé that I’ve been dreaming about. Its every bit as good as the legendary anchovy and spinach soufflé at Langan’s Brasserie in London. Don’t let me start on Porky’s pork chops.
Finally, Anton Piotrowsky, another chef patron at Röski. Perhaps the best value high end restaurant with ridiculously outstanding food and wine in the area. I’ll be there the first week we’re back. It’s all about the langoustines. Out of the freezer, they ain’t.
Megan Walsh - There are many things I miss about our previous life of liberty, and so many things I now realise I haven taken for granted. Like Sunday mornings at LEAF Smithdown, wolfing down a pile of Turkish eggs and sourdough after a brutal spin class at Rise Cycle.
I needn’t mention how empty my life feels without Maray because I’m sure you too will feel my pain. Aubergine shawarmas and sharing plates exist only in my memory, but at least we can have a go at the infamous disco cauliflower and falafels at home.
Now the good weather is here, I miss that smug sense of achievement after grabbing the last sun-trapped table at Salt House Tapas: catching up with friends over Malaga fried fish and a bottle of the crispest white wine.
And dare I say, I actually miss going to work – if not for routine but for a quick lunchtime dash to Mowgli for a chip butty and those chat bombs I couldn’t replicate no matter how hard I tried.
But above all else, what I miss most about our previous way of life is the simple yet precious act of going out for coffee, with properly steamed milk and maybe a treat to accompany it. Flat whites and cake at Coffee and Fandisha or Mother Espresso are the things I crave most about normality and a sacred weekend ritual I’ll not take for granted again.
Steph Whalley - Honestly, I think one of the hardest decisions of my life has had to be answering this question. We’ve been in lockdown for weeks now and the bars and restaurants closed their doors even longer ago so trust me when I say the withdrawals are REAL. I’ve gone from being a total food snob who would snub their nose at anybody who said that the Hungry Horse was their favourite restaurant, to seriously considering eating the rock solid cheese remnants off the McDonalds bagel wrapper I found in my car the other day. Don’t worry, I didn’t… licking the salt off the hashbrown bag was enough to tide me over…
Joking apart, I really, really miss the Liverpool food and drink scene and not just for its food and drink either. I miss the sounds and the smells. I miss the psychedelia of flavours from around the world. I miss Maray falafel. I miss Bacaro chicken Milanese. I miss kidding myself I’m eating healthily while stuffing my face with plant-based junk food at Down the Hatch. But most of all, I miss little Mowgli and that Mother Butter Chicken.
Mowgli is easily the best example of Indian street food in the city (in my humble opinion) and the Mother Butter has long been my go-to. Rich, creamy tomato sauce all silken in its twinkling tiffin box and swimming around chunks of tender, fragrant meat. The perfect balance of salt, acid, sweetness and heat - a symphony of multi-sensory aromas I vow never to take for granted again. Until we meet again, I’ll be dreaming of a Mother Butter with some Tamarind Treacle Fries and a Mango Lassi on the side. Oh, Mowgli, how I miss you.
Becky Fry - For somebody that rarely makes it out of bed before 10am, it’s somewhat ironic that the thing I’m missing most is breakfast, or to be more accurate: brunch. Despite my admirable efforts trying to replicate various incarnations of my favourite hot drinks, unsurprisingly my instant Nescafe just isn’t cutting it and whilst the internet goes wild over frothy Dalgona coffee, all I want is a hot cappuccino from my local favourite One Percent Forest.
Whilst my avocado on toast game is as strong as ever and I’ve finally cracked how to poach an egg (get it?) there are certain breakfast dishes that even with my best intentions to re-create just wouldn’t be the same at home. A tower of Daim waffles with bananas and whipped cream for example brings me endless joy at Hanover Street’s Malmo but would feel obscene eating it on my own couch. Only in East River is it acceptable to have a side of popcorn chicken and gravy with your breakfast and only at Yard and Coop would I ever consider putting fried chicken inside a croissant and washing it down with a cocktail first thing in the morning.
The incredible ham hock crumpet with smoked paprika hollandaise from Bone and Block at Duke Street Market is far too time consuming (and complex) for me to construct before noon, likewise their neighbours at Finca’s incredible pancake stack swimming in mango caramel is well out of the realms of my culinary ability and my store cupboard.
Most of all I miss the satisfaction of dragging myself out from the duvet, diving straight into a steaming coffee and spending hours eating breakfast and catching up with friends. So, until the time comes when I can do that again, I reckon I might just stay in bed.