Inspired by SevenStreets’ recent article Seven Bars We Miss and the trip down Memory Lane that ensued, I too am saddened by the loss of Liverpool’s older, established businesses that had a firm place in our hearts.

Disillusioned by the generic glitz that is L1 and stupefied by the fact that Chicken Bazooka has outlived many quality eateries, here are my top seven of restaurants that may no longer be with us, but have left an impression on my tastebuds.

Golden Phoenix, Hanover St

Having opened in the late 60s, the GoldenPhoenix (pictured, top) was the most talked about Chinese restaurant in Liverpool. Despite smelling like a curious mixture of the neighbouring NCP and sweet and sour, diners kept going back for more, be it an unfeasibly large business lunch for a fiver, a midnight banquet to mop up the drinks consumed at the Old Monk or to avail of the ‘pensioners’ discount’.

The focal point was its Dessert Island in the middle of the restaurant- essentially a drained fountain with a load of cakes in. Sadly, it was demolished in 2007 to make way for the new, characterless Liverpool.

El Macho, Hope Street

Considered a posh-yet-accessible Mexican by many a 1990s student, El Macho was the place to eat when there was someone to impress, had someone visiting from out of town or wanted to celebrate the end of term.

Its USP was the fact that despite being in an old Georgian house, it managed to pull of the Mexican vibe in a non-contrived way with fake bulletholes in the walls and retro film posters.

Diners could choose between sitting in the palm-filled conservatory or in a cosier, intimate upstairs room. Up until its 2010 closure, the prices were the same as 1999, making this once pricey joint a relative bargain.

Buca di Bacco, Harrington Street

Famous for claiming it had ‘the best garlic bread in Liverpool’, Buca’s (as it was fondly known) offered warm Italian hospitality with a Scouse twist. Located in a basement, the smells of oregano wafted up the stairs, enticing you into its checked tableclothed lair.

Besides its garlic bread, its Minestrone at £1.50 was a bestseller and their hot drinks were always served with a Flake- truly la dolce vita.

The icing on the cake was the décor- souvenir tack that made the place look like a shrine to Del Boy’s flat.

Uncle Sam’s, Renshaw Street

Yes, I realise it has been reincarnated in Bold Street, but the Renshaw Street branch will forever be in my heart. Back in 1999, I had a crush on a different member of their Mediterranean/ Middle Eastern staff every week and made contrived jokes that they were the ‘dishes of the day’.

Word of mouth spread that if it was your birthday, they would give you an extra large ice cream with sparklers – I had a birthday every month and nobody twigged.

Uncle Sam’s focal point was its fishpond consisting of some hungry looking koi carp struggling in three inches of water – and urban myth has it that a sozzled lady fell into it.

Kebab House, Hardman Street

The owners of the Kebab House were wise and catered for all markets – the ground floor was strictly for solo diners, romantic couples and businessmen, basement was a cacophony of ouzo-fuelled hen parties and international students.

Their food didn’t have the quality of Zorba’s or the selection of Eureka, but the atmosphere in here came by the bucketload.

The live bouzouki music by three blokes who looked like extras from My Big Fat Greek Wedding interspersed with cheesy choons a la Boney M, coupled with the opportunity to throw a few plates around made this a smashing night out, no pun intended.

The Albany, Old Hall St

Older foodies will know this place as part of the defunct Berni Inn chain which became an independent steak house in the nineties until its closure in 2004.

The Albany had a prime location in the business district but its sphere of influence widened once people heard about its £8 three-course evening meals.

Its iconic green Chesterfields between the loos and the bar area were so comfortable, it was easy to fall asleep while waiting to be seated.

Featuring retro faves like prawn cocktail, steak Diane and black forest gateau, the Albany united all those who wanted a break from spicy foreign food but were dissatisfied by the small portions pub grub offered.

Asha, Bold Street

Despite gaining infamy on Sky 1’s UK Border Force for employing illegals, Asha was Liverpool’s oldest Indian restaurant and its owner credited himself with introducing Liverpudlians to then-alien concepts of aubergine and coriander.

Asha fulfilled all the requisites a proper curry house should have: Sticky, chintzy carpet? Check. Booths? Check. Twangy music? Check. Since its demise, the mantle of Liverpool’s oldest curry house has been passed to the U.n.I in Renshaw St.

That trip down Memory Lane has left me hungry. Hungry to hear about your most-missed restaurants.

If you happen to know the whereabouts of Dessert Island, the band from the Kebab House or know what charity shop is selling the green Chesterfield, please get in touch.

You can read more from Vindaloo Queen at her brilliant blog

Main image by EvilElliot, Flickr

66 Responses to “Seven lost Liverpool restaurants”

  1. LiverpoolRR

    I don’t really want to cause an argument, but really? The Asha, El Macho and Kebab House, I’d be more likely to celebrate their demise rather than lament their passing. The Asha served nothing but mundane straight out of a jar/packet/lager catering tin slop, everything Indian food shouldn’t be. As for the other two they never managed anything more than average.

    To be honest I don’t really miss anything much, the original Ziba (what is now TriBeca) was good, I’m not sure its new version is really worth visiting. On the whole the food scene in Liverpool is so much better now, the last 10 years have been very good to us, I don’t think we’ve lost much or anything worth lamenting.

  2. Will Neville

    Definitely most missed is the Shapla on Whitechapel that changed to Saffron then a multitude of other restaurants – it was the best curry house in town for sure

  3. heart and soul. It had everything. Chumki’s warm and wonderful welcome, good, honest food, a nice selection of View Two art on the walls. And occasionally an impromptu samba class. What’s not to like? Wish she should open somewhere else. Nothing quite comes close to a night in Heart and Soul.

  4. The Asha provided the worst curry I’ve ever had in Liverpool. There did seem to be a complacency around the restaurant at it pulled in punters on the back of ‘the oldest…’ claim.

  5. TerryHindle

    I think the rose tint to this article is fascinating and can only say that none of the places featured ever appealed to me. The food in the three of these I was unfortunate enough to eat in was dire and the service was equally dire, there is more to Liverpool dining today than Liverpool One and the expectations of customers drove these cheap and nasty places out of business. It is a good thing that they have bitten the dust and all of our digestive systems are better for their demise!

  6. Rachel G

    Agree with Dave about Heart and Soul. Also I miss Cafe Puschka/Dish Diner–when we moved to Liverpool it was the only place doing really good affordable bar/bistro food. Shipping Forecast et al are filling the void now.

    Last time I went to El Macho it didn’t leave a good taste, I think the Clove Hitch serves better food. Still wish there was a really good Tex-Mex place in Liverpool, but maybe one day.

  7. Guys – this isn’t exactly a hard-hitting expose into the death of the restaurant trade. It’s a fond look back at some curios times gone by. Surely phrases like ‘a drained fountain with a load of cakes in’ at least hints at that?

    As for the ones I miss, Allouette was very good on Lark Lane, though it always looked like it was falling down on the outside and had a horrible PVC door. Thinking about the new Lark Lane, full of bars and vertical drinking, made Allouette a bit lost on the Lane.

    And Voodoo Queen is absolutely right about El Macho. When it opened – around the late 90s I think – it was the place to go for students. I forget whether it was any good – I’m afraid whenever I went I was very, very drunk.

    And I miss Deli Mamma, with its excellent pizzas that would occasionally come with bits of ash on them from the wood-fired oven. A pizza and a beer for £4.50. Excellent.

    Oh, and whatever happened to the Green Fish?

  8. VindalooQueen

    @Rachel G not tried the Clove Hitch yet but menu looks fab online! Still struggling to find a good Tex Mex in Liverpool or Manchester, the best one I tried in the UK in recent years was in Edinburgh- a tad far away for a night out 🙁

  9. VindalooQueen

    @TerryHindle What can you say, I’m just nostalgic at the grand old age of 29! I’m a bit like a moaning old dad who says ‘chart music isn’t what it was in my day’ but with food and Liverpool nostalgia. A few of my friends who are on 6 figure salaries also sampled some of these places and while it may not be haute, we had many a fun night/ lunch out there and were part of the late 90s/early 00s for us.

  10. VindalooQueen

    @LiverpoolRR I’m looking at it not from a haute, refined view but a bit like the article lamenting the demise of Fab Cafe- a fun place to go as part of a night out. Like Lewis’s dept store, these places may have been considered ‘posh’ at one time and then slid down a bit, but like them or loathe them, most people have been to at least 2 of them and had a laugh there. I wasn’t fussy on Uncle Sam’s food, I could make better myself at home but it always provided a purse friendly alternative for meeting friends and having a nice chat.

  11. VindalooQueen

     @ramseycampbell99 don’t think they did! I liked the restaurant that was in Mr Chilli’s location in the early 00s, Palm Oasis it was called, done a mix of Arabic and Spanish grub. Never made it to Mr Chillis but fancied it

  12. alan ward

    The Oriel on the corner of Covent Garden and Water Street,the most expensive restaurant in Liverpool £12 for half a small lobster in 1976,salad extra.An adjoining table complaining that the wine list was more pricey than Westminster!Jennys Seafood place in Fenwick Street and yes the Golden Phoenix.first place i ever saw anyone eat Chicken Maryland complete with banana fritter height of sophistication in the 60`s.The restaurant at the top of the tower on St.Johns market when it used to go round.Not forgetting the Brunswick Hotel corner of Brunswick Street where I was the Grill Chef for a short and forgettable time.There was also one under India buildings whos name escape who once poisoned half the city centre with duff chicken.

  13. I remember Jenny’s Seafood Restaurant. It seemed thirty years out of date when we went there but it had a curious appeal – the menu was vast, and always included some specials as well. The prices were sky-high but the portions were huge – their saute potatoes were the best! And the tartare sauce,,,,I miss it, simply because it was so retro ad theres nothing like it in the city any more.. The waiters wore dicky bows as well.

  14. Does anyone else remember the Lyceum Library Restaurant – at the bottom of Bold Street, Posh and upscale, wonderful food, loads of little extras – and they shut it to open that abortion ‘Blue’ which has to be the worst restaurant ever in our fine city

  15. I was served some of the worst slop that ever passed itself as food in El Machos and had horrendous food poisoning after a meal in St Petersburg! Definitely best rid of those two, I reckon.

  16. John Cochrane

    Saddened to hear that El macho has met its demise, Moved to South Wales a number of years ago but spent two happy years as one of the chefs there in the early 1990s. Fond memories of working with Victor and Jamie and Mum Gerri holding court from the bar area.

  17. Buck di bacco opened in 1979 had a good 32 year run
    I too miss the ahsa great food
    Also the tower restaurant sat there on a turn table looking at the city exiting times as a kid

  18. Bucca di bacco sorry spell check on great Italian food it was one of the original Italian places to eat proper Italian food catered for Italian people not for the English pallet they used to do some great dishes like aranccini the rice balls covered with bread drums which was a Sicilian dish which wasn’t. Around anywhere and the pizza for me has never been replaced

  19. liver birdie

    Does anyone remember Churchills? It closed down and turned into a horrible Sports Bar.
    It was one of the best restaurants at the time, I think it was Italian owned. They served the best Duck ‘Cerise Noir’ I’ve ever tasted. It was such a special place, and a shame it closed. Shame that Don Pepe, the Far East are no more. The Algarve too. All of Liverpool’s best restaurants are closing, this is probably due to the revamp of Liverpool 1.
    Bring back the restaurants with character and great food!

  20. MadMadaMim

    Buca di Bacco’s was known as Bacco’s. great food and very popular after 11pm when they cleared the tables and it was a club for the ‘scallies’. The Kebab house did the best pita bread I’ve ever had and every pita since then never quite lives up to theirs.

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