Are the streets of Goosnargh paved with poultry? Do the good people of the village stroll along the sidewalks, idly filling their boots with discarded feathers to fashion a fresh pillow for the evening?
We only ask because this Preston-ish parish does pretty damn well out of our local chefs. Barely a menu in this city is free of its fowl. The Goosnargh index count at Spire, a buzzy neighbourhood bistro in Wavertree, was two out of a possible ten mains. Twenty per cent. That’s practically an outbreak. Still, we’re happy to report that this amiable suburban eatery isn’t just for the birds.
Chef-owner Matt Locke (ex-London Carriage Works) really has struck gold here, in a suburb not short of decent places to meet over a slow roasted belly pork, or grilled tilapia.
For our money, the best suburban restaurants beat their fancy-pants city rivals hands down. Free of NCP fees, haughty sommeliers and pap-hungry WAGs you can turn a meal out into the sort of event that the French have down to a fine art: a leisurely, comfortable, lengthy evening with friends, accompanied by dishes that favour comfort over complexity. And Spire has it in spades.
Yes, the tables are ridiculously close together, but this is a small restaurant, and thus economics, not interior design, dictates the floorplan. Which is fair enough. And, anyway, it adds to the atmosphere and makes evesdropping on your neighbours’ tables as delicious as the starters.
This is the kind of restaurant that makes you feel so comfortable you can bring in your photo album and proceed in boring your companions half to death with tales of your travels across the southern hemisphere. I know this because she was on the table next to us. It’s the sort of restaurant where the friendly front of house team aren’t afraid to say (about the lurid green coloured basil oil which accompanied our focaccia) ‘it looks disgusting doesn’t it, but it tastes amazing!’. She was right. On both counts.
But, most importantly, it’s the sort of restaurant that delights and surprises at every course. A carpaccio of beef fillet, rolled in hoisin with wild rocket and parmesan (£6.75) was rare, sharp sweet and, what’s that other one, oh yeah, umami. In short, all our basic taste needs were tickled.
Goosnargh chicken, or duckling, aside, mains included a manly 10 oz rump of Scottish beef with flat cap mushroom (£16.95) that ticked the ‘comfort food’ box and was hunky enough to take on the chunky chips and come out bloody, but not beaten.
Spire opts for seasonally changing menus, and they’re no doubt heading into a change around of flavours any day now, so we’ll avoid any more of the ‘we had this and our partner plumped for the risotto’ nonsense, or the ‘we really didn’t think we’d have room for dessert, but we simply couldn’t resist the…’, nor will we bang on about its particularly well chosen wine list. That sort of talk butters no parsnips with us, anyhow.
Even after one visit, we know that Spire’s a restaurant for all seasons. So bring on your menu of mellow fruitfulness. We will return.
Church Road, Wavertree
Tel: 0151 734 5040