For a foodie, Liverpool One can be a bit tricky. Ideally we all want to go to quirky, organic, locally-sourced, off-the-beaten-track delights – but it isn’t always possible.
And there’s no disgrace in going to a chain to eat. They are, generally, good at doing ‘good enough’ food at reasonable prices, the epitome of the ‘know what you’re getting’ genre.
Liverpool One has the always-reliable Cafe Rouge and the impressive Bar Buritto – but SevenStreets has eaten at a couple of other contenders that barely leave even a vague impression. Not good, not bad, somewhere in the middle. £30 for a meal for two and drinks. Never revisited.
Liverpool One is a strange place to want to have a meal. Situated above shopping streets and alongside a gigantic ODEON, it smacks of the food halls that became popular in malls in the early 90s. No chefs earned their stripes working in one of those places.
But a summery day in Chavasse Park transforms the strip into something fairly rare in Liverpool – an outdoor dining venue.
Which brings us to the latest in this genre of restaurants: Liverpool One; reasonable prices; broad choices; safe bet. It’s Pesto, a tapas-style Italian with lots of pizza and pasta and mezze dishes in small doses – so-called Piatinni.
The dishes are pleasing in their simplicity and strong flavours, but some confuse simple with basic. A chicken liver pate on crostini arrives with diced raw onion, where an onion chutney would have tasted and looked much better.
Meanwhile, fish cakes with salty pancetta worked well in print, but the overly fatty and soft pancetta didn’t make for a good companion.
The acid-test pizza and pasta dishes were full of flavour and cooked well however, while a dish of roasted peppers went down particularly well with SevenStreets’ companion.
There are some decent-looking wines and interesting cocktails, but SevenStreets doesn’t drink and drive, so they go untasted.
Eventually, the asked-for black pepper and parmesan arrived, but the meal has been all-but demolished. Not great service, but it’s pretty unreasonable to expect to be waited on hand-and-foot in busy places like Pesto in the view of SevenStreets, and the service was friendly.
Tasty, inexpensive food is not as easy to find as it should be – and good examples are worth bookmarking. Despite a couple of quibbles, the range of dishes suggests a return visit will be in the offing, if only to try something as endearingly simple as smoked salmon with capers and lemon.
14 Paradise Street
T: 0151 708 6353
Photography by Scorpions and Centaurs