When I first moved to Liverpool in late 2009, I’ll admit that I didn’t exactly have the best perception of the city’s food. Blame it on the chip on the shoulder that I carried around with me as an exiled Mancunian, or just blame it on the fact that I didn’t watch nearly enough Brookside when I was a kid, but (I’m ashamed to say), I thought that the only culinary highlight I’d find would be a plate of Scouse. Well, I hold my hands up – Liverpool, I was wrong about you. And, as time goes on, I’m beginning to see that there really is more to the Merseyside cuisine than Gregg’s pasties and Egg & Chips.
And I’m not the only one. Of late, there’s been a real gastronomic buzz around the place, a feeling that Liverpool is finally beginning to catch up with the rest of the world. Dining clubs such as the excellent Liverpool Supper Club and the newly formed Scousetroclub are allowing fellow gourmets to mingle with each other on a regular basis whilst dining on inventive and delicious dishes. A quick walk around the city centre reveals a plethora of brilliant independent eateries, from the consistently excellent 60 Hope Street, Lunya and Delifonseca, to the vibrant Leaf and Bold Street Coffee (pictured – which a Mancunian coffee shop-owning acquaintance of mine recently conceded served the best Flat White in the North of England), both of which have helped to reinvigorate Bold Street. Look across the water and you’ll find Da Piero, a restaurant which – according to the Guardian – is currently serving up some of the best Italian cooking in the country outside of London, and Fraiche, one of the few restaurants in the North West of England to be awarded a Michelin star. OK, so none of these places are reinventing the wheel, but you’d be hard pressed to argue that they don’t do what they do extremely well. Indeed, when it comes to fine dining, I’d actually say that we’re capable of doing it a lot better than our noisy Mancunian neighbours.
But here’s the thing. Why aren’t we making more of a fuss about this? Scousers aren’t shy of putting themselves forward when it comes to asserting that the city has produced some of the best art, music and sports teams in the world. Yet when it comes to boasting about our wealth of gastronomic riches, the cat appears to have caught our collective tongue. I’ve lost count of the times recently that I’ve watched Gregg and John on Masterchef raving over a mediocre London restaurant, completely unaware that there’s somewhere in our corner of the world serving up exactly the same stuff, only done a million times better (which makes me wonder when the powers that be behind these cooking shows are finally going to pay us a visit to praise our food, rather than cooing over us as if we’re exotic beasts at the zoo having just acquired the power of speech).
So. Here’s a radical thought. It’s time for Liverpool to start making some noise. To head to blogs, to Facebook, to Twitter and tell the world that there’s more to this city’s cuisine than meat and two veg. To convince respected food critics to come visit us and see what we have on offer without tugging our forelocks every time someone from the London media elite proclaims our restaurants to be quite good. To just generally be a bit more Scouse. Because if we don’t do it, no one else is going to do it for us.