Whisper it: Liverpool may just be developing a nice little nighttime corner away from the scallies and the chains, the 2 to 1’s and the vapid ‘discerning clientele’ style bars. The nexus of Duke, Hanover and Paradise, where the curved contours of the streets’ gable ends are now home to a smattering of bars and restaurants (and another is due to open up any week now, next to Tracey Bell’s salon).
Hub, a new venture from the Bistro Jacques people is an assured addition to the area, with its gastropub-by-numbers template of rustic bric-a-brac, shelves gleaming with continental beers, chalkboard specials and oversized wooden tables. The only odd note is that the copper pipes lead to a false mash tun, giving the impression you’re in a real microbrewery. We know we’re entering a theme park approximation of a timeworn ale house, but don’t build up our expectations by placing a whopping big lie in front of the counter.
Still, the Alehouse is no great pretender when it comes to its cask ales, with decent brews from the Lancaster Brewery and the Liverpool Organic Brewery freshly arrived on SevenStreets’ visit. There are few surprises in the wines, and the malt whiskey selection is pitifully uninspired – but we’re hoping that may grow over time.
The food, though, is hearty and competent: the Bistro Jacques formula seems to have just been tweaked to provide the same range of comforting national classics, this time for the shores on the other side of the English Channel. You’re not going to slip into a food-drug enhanced bliss out, but, equally, you’ll not find any glaringly crunching gears either. And the food’s not microwaved to order. We opted for a fish pie, but were politely told it would take 20 minutes. No good for us, as we were on a quick lunch stop, but comforting to know the pies haven’t been wheeled in from Brake Brothers.
In the end, a pint of Lancaster Blond and an encyclopedia-thick ham sandwich (£4.95 – the ham could have been sliced thicker)and plate of (real) chips (£2) was adequate enough. The Hubslaw (we’ve had it analyzed in the SevenStreets gastrolab – it’s coleslaw with red cabbage) was delicious.
You can come at night for meatier mains, such Welsh Black sirloin steak (£14.50), Pork belly, Chorizo and Lentil Cassoulet (£10.95), Guinness, roast tomato sausage, spring onion mash and red wine gravy (£8.50) and the like, or, as our friendly waitress pointed out, just come for a drink, and you’ll not be rushed away: you can sit snuggly around the table all night if you like.
And, while this might not be the most original addition to the city’s evening economy, the prospect of doing just that seems like a pretty good idea to us. At least, until the rest of the city finds out about it.
The Hub Alehouse and Kitchen
12 Hanover Street, Liverpool