Time was that SevenStreets would frequent the Tavern Company in Smithdown Road two or three times a week. It made a relaxed drinking establishment and the food was always tasty and affordable; as a result the place was always rammed.
The food has always consisted of simple dishes like all the usual Mexican stand-bys with Creole dishes and a few additions like halloumi and catfish to flesh it out a bit.
SevenStreets has probably tried them all over the year – at a guess the majority, if not all, of the menu has remained identical for well over a decade now.
Generally the Tavern Co pulls off simple, hearty, filling dishes bursting with flavour and spices and offers a good wine list and convivial atmosphere. Simple pleasures, but important ones – and the reason why we’ve returned again and again.
However, the visits became a little less frequent over the years, as both iterations of the Tavern – the Smithdown Road branch and the Queens Square outfit – turned in occasional off days that became less occasional.
But the memory of times past drew us back again recently, for a family meal the likes of which we used to enjoy when the cajun chicken sandwich for a fiver used to tempt us.
It was, as it usually is, a decent meal that everyone seemed to enjoy. SevenStreets had a fried swordfish with jalapeno mushy peas (mushy peas with sliced jalapenos on top). It was pretty bland stuff, something the Tavern never used to be, though it was still decent value for money.
But the Tavern used to make a virtue out of doing the basics right, and doing them for very little cash. Back then there was no Liverpool One and the likes of Allerton Road and Lark Lane had yet to explode with loads of other restaurants offering decent food at decent prices.
There are now dozens of foodie places that serve up the same formula. Is the Tavern different enough to keep people coming back – and are they coming back for the memories rather than the food?
Tough call, but the Tavern’s excellent surroundings and laid-back atmosphere are reasons enough to keep giving it another go. Maybe that menu could do with a mild refresh, though. And the food never seems quite as good as it used to be. Or are we just remembering, as with so many things, with rose-coloured glasses?
The Tavern Company
621 Smithdown Road
4 Queen’s Square